John Edwards, Expert Trial Attorney, Indicted Today in Six Count Indictment From Federal Grand Jury: This Should Get Interesting Fast.

This afternoon, actually in about an hour and a half, former Vice-Presidential nominee (with Kerry in 2004) as well as a Presidential candidate on more than one occasion, John Edwards is going to make his first appearance as a defendant in a North Carolina federal courtroom, since he's been indicted by a federal grand jury on six counts of essentially campaign fraud.

This is going to be a case to watch, at least I find it interesting. Not only is John Edwards a career politician, he's got a history as an extremely successful trial attorney.

Put those two together in the current scenario, where's he is fighting to stay out of jail, and this is going to be fascinating.  Not that he's really demonstrated all that much savvy so far.  I mean really. 

My first question: who is John Edwards choosing to be his lead criminal defense lawyer?  This will bring a whole new meaning to the phrase "controlling your client." 

Oh, and fine. I've been expecting this for awhile. Back in August 2008, I wrote a post wondering about the money after the Rielle Hunter story broke. I asked about campaign financing back then. Guess I got my answer today....

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.

Posting on the Casey Anthony Trial - Better Late than Never

Like most of the country, I've been following the Caylee Anthony tragedy almost since the afternoon that Cindy Anthony's 911 call was first released by the national media.  I'm not sure why so many of us are so pulled to this particular case.  I know there are several theories, but there it is:  enough viewers around the country that the trial is being shown all day long, every day, and then countless Talking Head shows are doing their various replays and analyses during the evening.

It may not be the O.J. Simpson trial, but it's getting close.

I haven't been posting on the case for one reason: Terry Lenamon, the first death-qualified attorney on the Casey Anthony defense team, is one of my writing clients. I didn't want to give any appearance of impropriety and for a very long time, I didn't write about this case. I just watched; discussed developments with friends.

However, I've changed my mind about this for these reasons:

1. Terry Lenamon hasn't been on that case for years now, and he has never (ever!) discussed the details of that representation with me. No, I haven't read the memo. No, I don't know the backstory about how he got on that case or why he got off. No, I don't know what his opinion is on what is happening now - haven't got a clue. 

2. There are important things for all of us to learn from this trial.

  • First, there are more details here on the reality of how trials work, which is important because TV expectations (like CSI forensics) do impact how lawyers have to present their cases now.  Having jurors of the future see the Real World of forensics, how evidence is presented, how experts are vetted, these are all good things.
  • Second, having representing abused and neglected kids for three years here in the local Children's Court, I think this case helps bring light to those issues: not every mother (or father) has that parenting instinct we tend to assume they do.  One of the biggest shockers that hit me in the face when I first started working that docket was my naive assumption that these parents loved their kids, put their kids first - you know, the way that you would think.  Nope.  Nope. Nope. 
  • Third, there are damaged people out there. We need to know more about what mental illness is, why it happens, how we can help. Or, if we can.  Having met and worked with diagnosed narcissists, sociopaths, bipolars, and borderlines through that Children's Docket, I know now that there are people out there that see the world, and how to live in it, differently that I do - and some of them are very scary, and some of them will not change.  Maybe they cannot be helped, maybe they don't want to change. 

3. I'm getting lots of questions about this trial, and I think that in the balance, it's better for me to post here on Casey Anthony than worry about this Terry Lenamon tie. Terry's posted his public statements on his blog for all to read, they are over there. What I post here are mine. No connection. I'm a 20+ year AV-Preeminent attorney in Texas, and I have something to contribute to this national dialogue. (Hopefully.)