Media and the Casey Anthony trial

5:38 PM, May 9, 2011   |    comments
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Clearwater, Florida --  In this day in age, it's not hard to be exposed to information.

Maybe you heard the latest news update on TV, or read it in the newspaper.  Maybe you got it in the palm of your hand on your smart phone.

Accurate or not, the information is constantly flowing and it sometimes creates a problem for our justice system when it comes to seating fair and impartial jurors.

The constant saturation of the media on the Casey Anthony case forced an Orlando judge to move jury selection in the mother's murder trial to Pinellas County.

Even before the sun came up and before the announcement was officially made, more than a dozen media trucks lined up outside the Pinellas County courthouse after information was
leaked to the media.

At 6 a.m., the announcement was made official.

Pinellas County residents will serve in one of their most important roles as citizens - as jurors - and they'll be sitting on a panel on one of the most high-profile cases in the state.

Over the next week, the pool of more than 100 jurors from Pinellas County will be asked whether taking 6-8 weeks of their time to serve on this jury in Orlando will create a hardship, but the court also wants to know what each potential juror knows about the case.

"You have to make sure people are not there for the wrong reasons," said Jay Hebert, a local defense attorney who has defended clients in other high-profile cases.  He is not working
the Anthony trial. "You want to look for and eliminate any potential rogue jurors, people that want to be on and have an agenda."

The Anthony story created a media firestorm when the young mother was accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, in 2008 and it's a case you can choose to follow live, as it happens on wtsp.com or on Court TV.

The media attraction to the case is obvious.

"You've got a pretty, single mother, a beautiful little girl and a mysterious set of circumstances," points out Stetson University Law professor Charles Rose. "It builds and builds and builds and every time you think it's gotten under control and you understand it, something new pops up, so folks are literally waiting to see the end of this
story."

Due to the concern of the intense media coverage of the case, it was felt it would be too difficult to find someone in Orlando who had not made up their minds already.

Hebert tells 10 News he is confident an impartial jury will be selected in Pinellas County.

Twenty are expected to make the cut: 12 jurors and eight alternates.

"There's no doubt they're going to have to be very tedious and they're going to have to go into details and ask about what they do know and how they feel," said Hebert. "The concern
for the government is to obviously make sure there isn't a rogue juror that may be out there that wants to sign a book deal or sell his story to a media outlet."

But he added, "This is the system we have.  It's worked for 200 years. It's the best system in the world and, hopefully, we'll get a fair and just result."

Anthony faces the death penalty if convicted.

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