In every criminal trial the criminal defense attorney comes to a crossroads where he or she must determine whether or not to advise their client to testify. Ultimately this decision is in the sole discretion of the client as it is their right. That being said, it is rare that a defendant who has faith in their counsel will buck counsel’s advice and testify or not testify against guidance. Typically when a defendant decides the education they’ve received from Nancy Grace is better than their lawyer’s, they walk themselves into an irreparable disaster that ends with a tin cup and steel bars. Such is life. So what about this century’s favorite defendant Casey Anthony? Today, likely per the advice of her attorney Jose Baez, she elected not to take the stand in her own defense.
As a general rule, if my client is a well spoken, likable, intelligent person with little to excuse away in their case, I encourage them testify. Though they have a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, I am a firm believer that juries like to hear from the defendant. Many feel that if they were on trial they would demand an opportunity to be heard. Rightfully so. On the unnerving flip side of this issue, there are those that feel that if a person does exercise their Fifth Amendment right, they are hiding something. This is almost never the case as by the time the State has put forth their evidence, no allegation is left to the imagination.
So why not Casey? After all, Casey Anthony has never appeared to be extremely dim, and based on the jail tapes she does seem to be relatively well spoken. Wait, what about the excuses? They may be hang up. Were I trying this case, that would be one of my reasons for advising her to remain seated while the aircraft spins further out of control. There are just too many. She took too long to report Caylee missing. She partied, certainly contrary to any mother I know who recently misplaced their child. She wasn’t cooperative with her own family when they inquired and in fact seemed a bit nasty. Oh wait, I’m pretty sure she has a few felony check fraud convictions in there too bringing her total felony count to 6. Slightly relevant to her candor and just a bit useful for impeachment. What about the molestation allegation ? When that little tidbit is inquired about, she damn well better react correctly or the 12 angry men in the box will already have the bubbles thumped out of the syringe. As I recall she appeared in public with a button on her shirt asking to help find Caylee . I do believe this was prior to trial AND THE ASSERTION THAT SHE DROWNED IN A POOL. Seems like she may have mentioned the whole drowning thing then? I can’t speak for Jeff Ashton or Linda Drane Burdick but were I a prosecutor, I might like to inquire about this, amongst other things.
So, there will be no Casey at the bat. No opportunity for the most famous criminal defendant of this decade to tell her story. I can’t and certainly won’t say I would have tried this case in the same fashion Casey’s defense team has chosen. However, were I faced with the hand her attorneys were dealt before even undertaking as her counsel, I can say her seat at the defense table wouldn’t have had an opportunity to get cold. At the end of the day you can’t turn the charred steak your girlfriend cooked for you into a masterpiece you would be served at Bern’s. All that being said, with or without her testimony, Casey may be a charred steak.