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Jury selection for Casey Anthony trial hobbled by objections

Casey Anthony is seen here with daughter Caylee in an undated personal photo. Personal Photo

Jury selection for Casey Anthony trial hobbled by objections
Casey Anthony in court, Wednesday, May 11, 2011
WTSP

(CBS) MIAMI, Fla. - A jury hasn't even been seated in the Casey Anthony murder trial, but already objections rule the day. The judge, the attorneys and even the potential jurors themselves have raised concerns about how the selection process is going. Let's look at some of the highlights...

Pictures: Casey and Caylee Anthony, Personal Photos

On the very first day, Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. objected to the tears Casey Anthony shed as the charges against her were read in a Clearwater, Fla. courtroom. Judge Perry had to instruct jurors not to be swayed by displays of emotion coming from the defendant. Then Anthony's attorneys promptly objected to the low percentage of minorities in the initial jury pool. They weren't happy that out of a hundred-plus jurors, there were only two Hispanics and four African Americans.

On day two, a potential juror jumped into the fray. Patricia Young objected to being summoned to possible trial duty, in front of her fellow jury pool members. What did she have to complain about? Turns out, she's on the witness list for the trial itself. In addition to being a volunteer with Texas EquiSearch, a group that searched for Caylee Anthony in the summer of 2008, Young had also sought criminal charges against the defendant's father, George Anthony. She claimed George shoved her during a confrontation in front of the Anthony home. Because she discussed the case in front of other potential jury members, they all got booted. All 50 of them.

Jonathan Green, potential juror dismissed
WTSP

Others went to even greater lengths to get out of serving. On day three, Wednesday, a Publix employee, Jonathan Green, was dressed down by the judge after he approached a female TV news producer to talk about the case. She turned him in. The judge found Green guilty of contempt of court and handed him a $450 fine. Reporters followed him out of the courtroom and as he was working out his $50 a month pay schedule he was overheard saying, "At least I got out of jury duty."

Pictures: Casey and Caylee Anthony, Personal Photos

Nearly a hundred others have also jumped the Casey Anthony ship...before it even sails. They've cited objections on how attending the trial - which is expected to last 6-8 weeks - would negatively impact their lives. Dismissals for hardship issues range from upcoming deployments to caring for elderly dependents to a man who said he couldn't attend the trial because his wife doesn't like to sleep alone. One woman was excused after explaining to the judge that she is a devout Catholic and the trial would disrupt her daily prayers.

Watch videotaped instructions seen by potential Casey Anthony jurors

Judge Perry had to draw the line somewhere. He refused to exempt a man who professed to be a narcoleptic. The potential juror expressed concern that he might fall asleep without notice at inopportune times during the trial.

Casey and Caylee Anthony
Personal Photo

Despite the drama and delays, the judge is determined to find jurors...anywhere he can. As the pool began to dwindle on Wednesday afternoon, and mindful of defense complaints that minority candidates are lacking, the judge proposed seeking prospects next door to the courthouse...at a homeless shelter run by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Department. With a straight face, Judge Perry said he'd been told there was a high percentage of minorities at the shelter.

Pictures: Casey and Caylee Anthony, Personal Photos

A stunned silence fell over the courtroom, but for once, nobody objected. The judge asked Casey Anthony's attorneys if they wanted him to send deputies over to see how many shelter residents had a driver's license, to make sure they were eligible to serve. Her attorneys said yes.

With the trial slated to begin on Tuesday, May 17th, there are concerns that a jury might not be in place by then. Normally it takes two to three weeks to seat a death penalty jury. But Judge Perry is insisting they stick to his timeline, which means a jury will have to be empanelled by Saturday, at the latest.

Watch videotaped instructions seen by potential Casey Anthony jurors

This story was reported by CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella and producer Megan Towey

Complete coverage of the Casey Anthony case on Crimesider

  • Kelly Cobiella

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