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article imageOp-Ed: The problem with Anthony defense attorney Jose Baez

By Alexander Baron     Jun 29, 2011 in Crime
Orlando - As a record number of bloggers followed the live testimony in this controversial murder trial, lead defense attorney Jose Baez plumbed new depths with his psychological torture of George Anthony.
Two years ago, the Reprieve organisation branded Linda Carty’s attorney Jerry Guerinot the worst lawyer in the world. That claim was totally unjustified, although Mr Guerinot may just have had the most uncooperative client in the world.
There is little doubt that Jose Baez is defending one of the most vilified women in America if not the world, but he is doing a remarkable job of sinking to the same perceived depths of Casey Anthony in the minds of the American public including the record 99,000 bloggers from all over the world who followed this trial today on WFTV.
The first witness today was Cindy Anthony – yet again - and the first question from Jose Baez was do you remember years ago there was an issue with your son Lee going into Casey’s room at night? Her response was an unqualified no.
Mr Baez tried other, similar questions, but did not make any progress. After Cindy, George was recalled again. He spent considerably more time on the stand than his wife as Mr Baez tried desperately to implicate him in the disappearance of his granddaughter.
In January 2009, George Anthony attempted suicide and left a note. Baez asked him if he had been paid $25,000 for a particular media appearance. He didn’t of course ask how much of that money went towards the search for Caylee or for his daughter’s legal fees.
Commenting for WFTV, legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said the treatment meted out by Mr Baez amounted to (psychological) torture. Worst was yet to come, Baez actually asked the unmentionable questions that he was virtually committed to ask after his dramatic opening speech. Did you ever sexually molest your daughter? The answer was an emphatic no.
As was to be expected, Jeff Ashton’s cross-examination was extremely sympathetic, but it achieved what the deeply offensive examination of Mr Baez had not managed to do, namely it reduced a grown man to tears.
If Mr Baez was hoping to induce some sort of confession from George Anthony by his psychological torture, he succeeded. Unfortunately, it was not the confession he hoped for, and by putting a distraught grandfather through this, he will have succeeded only in further alienating an already disgusted jury from his sociopathic client.
Later, he sprang all manner of bizarre questions on the still grieving grandfather, a man whose daughter is facing a potential death sentence. One of these questions related to his staying at an hotel, and who footed the bill, but as Bill Sheaffer pointed out, Baez himself had dinner with George and Cindy at that time, more especially at a time when – he would have the world believe – Casey Anthony had told him her father had sexually abused her as a child and had covered up the accidental death of her daughter, Caylee, which resulted in her facing a first degree murder charge.
After George Anthony, Mr Baez called Brandon Sparks, who identified himself as the biological son of Roy Kronk. Mr Sparks said his father told him that in a telephone conversation in November 2008 that he knew where Caylee’s body was. This testimony was intended to impeach Mr Kronk, the only problem being – if true – is that as was proved yesterday, Mr Kronk contacted the authorities on three consecutive days the previous August.
After the son had left the courtroom, the father returned, and Mr Baez attempted to impeach his subpoenaed witness. He didn’t succeed. Then Yuri Melich returned yet again. After a short session he was excused subject to recall.
The next witness – who was examined by Dorothy Simms - is a highly qualified academic, but it remains to be seen what contribution she could make to this case. Dr Sally Karioth is a certified traumatologist; Jeff Ashton didn’t want her tendered as an expert witness at all, but Judge Perry allowed her testimony without a second thought, probably wanting to give the defense every chance in its uphill struggle.
The purpose of calling her was obviously to explain Casey’s bizarre behaviour by stressing that grief affects different people in different ways. It is not clear what Bill Sheaffer thought of this, but he made it abundantly clear what he thought of Casey’s “grief” pattern.
Jeff Ashton was obviously skeptical, and suggested to her that virtually any behaviour is consistent with grief in her lexicon. At the time she was advised about the trial she was living in London and didn’t know much if anything about the case.
“Have you ever worked with women who murdered their children?” asked Ashton.
Her response was that she had indeed: Susan Smith! Although the Susan Smith case dates back to 1994, it is of such notoriety that many of the jurors will almost certainly be au fait with it.
This was yet another ostensible defense witness who turned out to be another witness who was certainly not good for the defense, and did the State’s case no harm at all.
The case continues tomorrow.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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