Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Crime News: Jose Baez Has A Tough Job as Defense Attorney for Casey Anthony

If you read People magazine at all, or watch CNN's Nancy Grace any day of the week, then you're aware of the "tot mom" case: young mother Casey Anthony has been charged with killing her 3-year-old daughter, Caylee Anthony, sometime this summer.

No body has been recovered, and the Anthony family maintains that the little girl is alive and well, having been taken by evildoers.

Heavy Media Coverage Turns to Jose Baez's Relationship with His Client

Media coverage has been heavy in this case; I've already posted about fair trial and due process concerns given the heavy media play (see 09/15/08).

On the web, the Websleuths site has dedicated an entire forum with numerous, active threads specifically dealing with the Caylee Anthony disappearance. The Websleuth forums have heavy traffic 24/7.

During the past week, however, the piercing eye of the press has turned away from Casey, the formal investigation, and the manned searches for Caylee's remains to Casey's defense attorney, Jose Baez. Web chatter has followed close behind.

It seems that Jose Baez hugged his client during two separate jailhouse visits, and jail officials have asked him to refrain.

There were early reports that the Florida Bar Association was investigating Jose's activity for purposes of formal disciplinary action - but the FBA has nixed those reports as untrue.

There have been many unsavory suggestions that Jose and his client have entered into a personal relationship - again, without factual support.

The Unmitigated Gall of Hugging Your Client

A hug might have been a big deal during Victorian times, just like showing the female ankle, but in our present culture, nothing could be more innocent than a hug. Friends hug. Grandmas hug. Colleagues hug. You hug your pet, you hug your pillow, you hug your doctor when he gives you good news and you hug your pastor on Sunday after a particularly touching sermon.

Of course, jail officials will point to past precedent of contraband being passed to prisoners during apparently innocent hugs -- sometimes, yes, by attorneys -- and that this is a legitimate reason for their request to Mr. Baez.

Jose's Defending a Client Who Has Already Been Found Guilty or Crazy By Many People

Jose Baez has the job of representing a woman who, before she has reached the age of 25, faces formal charges of murdering her only child - and possible execution for this crime, if convicted - as well as charges of assorted felony thefts that carry enough jail time that she'll be lucky to get out of jail before she is eligible for an AARP card.

Public opinion has pronounced her guilty, she's been labeled a monster by the masses and armchair psychologists have been busy diagnosing Jose's client as a sociopath, a psychopath, or someone suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder, Histronic Personality Disorder, or Borderline Personality Disorder.

Jose's Defending a Client Who Hasn't Told the Truth and Has No Support System

In addition to the public arena, Jose has the job of defending a client who hasn't told the truth to authorities regarding the circumstances surrounding her daughter's disappearance (that's all in the recorded interviews and transcripts) and who has lost apparently all her friends, who assumedly feel betrayed by her lies to them. It's one of her former close friends, for example, that pressed the felony theft charges.

Jose's client has not had a visit from family or friends since she was returned to jail, based upon the murder indictment. According to media reports, Jose Baez is Casey Anthony's only visitor.

A Criminal Defense Attorney's Relationship with His Client

It's not the job of a criminal defense attorney to judge his client's guilt or innocence: that's the job of the factfinder, be it judge or jury. Doing so -- making the call on whether or not your client did the deed -- can sometimes hamper your work, in fact.

It is the job of a criminal defense attorney to make sure that a client's rights are protected, and that the prosecution truly proves its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Defending the accused is an honorable and vital role in our criminal defense system. If you or a loved one are accused of committing a crime, you will want your attorney to defend you, not to judge you.

The Relationship Between Attorney and Client

Representing someone who has had their freedom taken away from them is a heady matter. It's a tremendous responsiblity to defend someone sitting in jail, much less someone facing a death sentence.

You need not be your client's friend in order to feel compassion and empathy with their plight -- and if you hug your client, it doesn't mean you are sleeping with her.

Representing Casey Anthony would be a tough job for the most experienced of criminal defense attorneys, much less one with the years of experience that Jose Baez has. This media exposure places him in the most glaring of lights -- every decision he makes is second-guessed (and often ridiculed) by media talking heads. Still, many of Jose's motions to the court have been granted, and he seems to be holding up well under all the pressure.

Make no mistake -- not only is Casey Anthony's life on the line here, so is Jose Baez's professional reputation. And Jose knows it.

The Paradine Case

Of course, it makes a better story the other way around ... and if you're interested in the plot of a criminal defense attorney falling in love with his client, check out Gregory Peck in Alfred Hitchcock's The Paradine Case. (And, yes - of course the client was guilty of poisoning her husband in the movie, would it be a Hitchcock movie otherwise?)

1 comment:

Thom said...

I realize this is a fairly old post, but I just ran across it today. Excellent points are made. I let a penchant for drugs run me into the ground and legal trouble. I thank G-d for my lawyer. I guess what rubs me wrong about Jose is that he was pretty much the opposite of my lawyer.
As you pointed out this is the United States and even a howlin' werewolf is entitled to a solid legal defense. I knew I was burnt and truly felt it was time to turn life around. My lawyer did not promise to 'get me off' nor did he break out in a song and dance anytime the news came sniffing around. He worked out a deal that the cops, DA, and judge could be happy with and that I could LIVE with.
You were too professional to point out why the general public despises him almost as much as his client. His love for the camera and disdain for everyone just does not mix well. Any decent lawyer up here in PA never makes a comment until AFTER the trial.
Well, thanks for an interesting article from a lawyer, always worth a read. Defense lawyers are the real 'day-today' defenders of the Constitution.