6/03/2011

Watching the Casey Anthony Trial - Judge Belvin Perry Is One Great Trial Judge

Watching the daily television feed of the Casey Anthony trial, lots of the good work that Judge Belvin Perry is doing gets lost, as the TV channels take the opportunity for throwing in commercials the minute that the presentation of evidence is halted. 

That's too bad, because lots can be learned from watching Judge Perry in action. 

What makes me think that Judge Belvin Perry is really good at what he does?  Lots of things, but these come to mind immediately:

1.  He understands the lawyers' jobs.  Granted, my background is in huge, voluminous civil cases that take weeks if not months to try.  One example:  in these cases, there's lots and lots and lots of paper, and amidst all that pressure of trial, there's the need to keep track of all that stuff.  Judge Perry offers the lawyers a secure place to keep their files there in the courtroom  - not all judges do that; I have horrific memories of waiting for the firm courier and his cart so we could move all that stuff back to the office every evening, and into the courtroom every morning.  Pack up the bankers' boxes, unpack the bankers' boxes.  How nice to have the Judge give that secure space, it's a little thing but it's a big deal, too.

2.  He lets the jury know that they are the Important Ones here - along with everyone else in the courtroom.  I respect the American system of justice primarily because in the search for truth, that jury really does tend to sniff it out.  True, it's not 100% of the time, but it's amazing to watch those 12 individuals take their spots in the jury box and meld into a cohesive whole.  The jury in a trial does become an entity:  the factfinder.  It's great to see the trial judge here give the jury the respect and courtesy that it deserves.  Judge Perry will ask them to make the call on staying late (he did this yesterday); Judge Perry will blast the lawyers on how the Jury wanted to work Memorial Day and their desire to keep moving is going to be respected. 

3.  He's approachable.  Racehorse Haynes was one of my mentors when I was a baby lawyer, and one of the things he told me was that the masters of the profession knew who they were, and let you know that, too.  They brought their own personalities into their work, they didn't conform - he told me to watch for the ones that didn't wear the blue suit, that didn't carry the Right Briefcase, you get the idea.  Judge Perry doesn't demand respect from the bench, he assumes it will be given - you know he's been doing this for years, without checking his background.  He could be intimidating or arrogant and we'd accept it.  He's not, he listens to the lawyers and while he's routinely denying Jose Baez's requests for sidebars, Judge Perry is accommodating and ready to help everyone get their jobs done, as best he can.

I could go on and on about this judge.  He's just wonderful.  I really, really, really respect Judge Belvin Perry.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I concur 100%. Judge Perry also comes across as compassionate and thoughtful. His interaction with the jurors and witnesses has been patient and kindly. I especially appreciate that he doesn't play favorites in the courtroom in regards to protocol.

I do think Baez should have been held in contempt more than a few times, though, for blatently ignoring Perry when he has sustained an objection by the prosecution and snidely sneeks in additional improper cross-examination. Personally, I think Baez is a disgusting, egotistical little weasel. It wouldn't surprise me one iota that if convicted, Casey will get retried due to incompetent legal representation (and I've heard more than one of his colleagues say they think he should be disbarred). The man is a complete pig, IMHO.

Reba Kennedy said...

Hi Anonymous,
Yes, my respect for Judge Perry continues to grow by the day. This morning, his calm reading from the Evidence Handbook on how hearsay is acceptable for a testifying expert to include in his analysis was amazing, and his calm direction to the lawyers to read over the Handbook over lunch was remarkable.

Will his patience reach an end before this case is over? I dunno.

Contempt? That's a biggie - but heck, wouldn't that be something to see?

Thanks for writing,
Reba

Theresa said...

I agree completely. Judge Perry is certainly no Judge ITO.

I have limited knowledge of legal proceedings and won't pretend that I could find my way out of a courtroom with a map and signage but I do know from a lay person's perspective this judge seems to know his stuff.

From what I've read he has had many death penalty cases and NONE of them have been overthrown. If it is POSSIBLE to save this trial from BAEZ .. Judge Perry is the best person for the job.

Theresa said...

Reba, Have you reviewed the footage of the drama from the jury selection phase? Some crazy from the spectator section hollered out something during the proceedings. Judge Perry ripped her a new one.. I was fascinated.. although I'm sure you have seen this sort of thing in your career.

Just curious if you've seen it.

Theresa said...

Wow.. Electric chair is an option in Florida:
http://www.dc.state.fl.us/secretary/press/1999/elechair.html

Reba Kennedy said...

Hi Theresa,
As for the electric chair, I think they nicknamed it Old Sparky - but Florida's been steady with lethal injection process for years. If you surf around, I think they have photos of it. Spooky.

And NO I haven't had time to watch much but really appreciate the heads up on the jury selection video. I want to see that, will try and catch up on things this weekend. Maybe. Just remembered its Fathers Day. Argh!

Thanks for writing!
Reba

Anonymous said...

As a young trial lawyer, Judge Perry's calm and measured control of the courtroom, the case and the lawyers gives me hope for the rest of the bench. All to often I am confronted on a weekly basis with judges who are unwilling to make decision, those who are still living out their days as plaintiffs lawyers on the bench and ruling as such, or those who have absolutely no respect for the counsel who appear in front of them. Wish we had more like Judge Perry in my jurisdiction.