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Criminal Cases

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Submitted By cesarancik
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For my court observation, I chose to watch the Casey Anthony trial that started on May 24, 2011 and concluded on July 5, 2011. This was a long trial because of the amount of evidence admitted (over 400 pieces) and the large number of witnesses called to testify for both the prosecution and the defense. I am pretty sure everyone knew something about this case, but what I witnessed watching the actual trial was appalling, to say the least. This case tugged at my heart because a mother, Casey Anthony, was being accused of killing her own daughter, 2-year old Caylee Anthony. The case drew national attention because of the gruesome facts and because of the many lies Casey told investigators and police authorities. The in-depth search by numerous agencies and private citizens to find clues kept the case in the media spotlight. In fact, I wondered how “fair” the trial would be due to the amount of national coverage the case actually received. I found myself going into the trial with already formed opinions about Casey’s culpability. As such, I was very anxious to actually watch the proceedings and see the facts as presented in the courtroom versus the national media. The opening arguments by the prosecutor set the stage for what was to come. The prosecutor stated: “It’s time to tell the story of a little girl named Caylee Anthony.” From there she went on to describe in detail this 2-year old’s life with her grandparents, who adored her, and her mother who seemed more concerned with her own “made-up” life than the welfare of her own daughter. As the prosecutor explained the details of Caylee’s life, the defendant, Casey Anthony, had an array of facial expressions including shaking her head when she disagreed with something and some occasional crying moments. Other than that she had a straight face during most of the 2-hour opening statement seemingly un-phased by the facts being presented by the prosecution. As the prosecutor continued to speak about Caylee’s life with her grandparents, George and Cindy Anthony, a video was played showing George devastated by the death of his granddaughter. I could tell it was not easy for him to sit and remember all the happy times he shared with Caylee. Cindy Anthony had her head buried in her chest for most of the opening arguments. When the prosecutor mentioned George and Cindy I could tell it was uncomfortable for them as the spectators looked at them. Casey continued to sit without any emotion. When it was the Defense’s turn to present their opening statement, the mood of the defendant switched to being much more emotional. She was constantly crying. It seemed very much “staged” to me. The prosecuting team would whisper to themselves while listening and the audience looked very intense. The overall mood of the courtroom was understandably very gloomy. This case lasted over 2 months and during that time many witnesses were examined and cross-examined. For purposes of this paper, I chose to watch the testimony of the grandparents, who had the closest connection to the Caylee. The prosecution’s questioning of these two witnesses was pretty straight forward. However, when the defense attorney, Jose Bias, asked George Anthony questions, there were times that everyone became frustrated. George Anthony was repeatedly asked similar questions again and again. This led to objections by the prosecution and led to a feeling of frustration and annoyance by those watching and participating. I noticed at certain times the defense attorney even became antagonistic towards the witness and gave him sarcastic smiles. This made the feel of the courtroom slightly hostile. When Cindy Anthony was called to the witness stand everything became very emotional. The prosecution and the defense were polite in asking her questions and the bailiff was very kind in how she helped Cindy up to the stand. It was a much more understanding approach as opposed to the antagonistic tactic used when George Anthony was being questioned. When the final verdicts were read, I was shocked to see all the faces in the audience virtually emotionless and unmoved by the not-guilty verdicts on murder, manslaughter, and child abuse charges. The prosecution looked disappointed and had straight faces the entire time. The defense, however, was elated. Casey Anthony was crying tears of relief. Jose Bias and the rest of the team were smiling and hugging each other. I was just very, very sad and left to wonder if justice had really been served.
Corinne,
This was an outstanding documentation of your observations in this case. While this was a very tragic event, you were detailed in describing what you saw and how you yourself felt about the case. My goal with this assignment was to give you, the student, a different look at and facilitate early, practical exposure to the court system. I hope that the exposure might lead to a less naive perspective of the court system because the observations of the interactions between the different roles involved, present a much different picture than what is sometimes portrayed on television. This is exactly what I was looking for and if you don’t mind, I would like to use your report as an example for future classes on what I am looking for and how to document it. I found no errors in your report. Oh and my name is spelled Erroll not Errol.

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