Judge In Casey Anthony Case Publicly Proclaims His Belief In Her Guilt and Dishes On Case

Perry-Belvin-circuit_smallJudge Belvin Perry appears to believe that, as Oscar Wilde advised, “the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.” Perry decided to get his 15 minutes of fame by granting an interview on the Casey Anthony murder trial during which he attacked Anthony as “very manipulative.” I will remind you that Anthony was acquitted of the first-degree murder of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. There are also judicial ethical rules meant to bar such commentary by judges. The question is whether the state bar will take action after this grossly inappropriate interview. Perry is the chief judge on Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit.


Perry assumed the mantle of both legal commentator and armchair psychologist in dishing on Anthony. He explained on the Today show that “[t]here were two sides to Casey Anthony. There was the side that was before the jury, where she portrayed the role of a mother who had lost a child, someone who was wrongfully accused, and then you could notice the change and transformation in her when the jury went out. She was very commanding, she took charge of different things, and you could see her sometimes scolding her attorneys.”

He then proceeds to describe meeting with her counsel and non-public conversations with her and counsel. He relayed how Anthony reacted to an offer for a plea of aggravated manslaughter: “I will never forget that day,” he said. “All of a sudden, you heard shouting coming from the holding cell, some four-letter words coming from the holding cell, and she was quite upset. So upset that one counselor suggested that she was incompetent to proceed.”

Perry further tells the public of his “surprise,” “shock” and “disbelief” at reading Anthony’s acquittal and that “[t]here was sufficient evidence to sustain a verdict of murder in the first degree in this case.” In other words, despite her acquittal, Perry wants the public to know that he thinks she murdered her daughter.

He also described the prosecutors as “better lawyers” and, in a backhanded compliment, described the lead defense counsel as a used car salesman.

I view this interview as nothing short of a disgrace. His conduct in my view clearly violates Canon 2 of the state judicial rules that state: “A judge shall respect and comply with the law and shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.” The comments to the rule note:

Irresponsible or improper conduct by judges erodes public confidence in the judiciary. A judge must avoid all impropriety and appearance of impropriety. A judge must expect to be the subject of constant public scrutiny. A judge must therefore accept restrictions on the judge’s conduct that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen and should do so freely and willingly.

There was no evidence of any concern about the erosion of public confidence in the judiciary as Perry decided to proclaim the guilt of an acquitted individual and dish on the lawyers.

Canon 5 states:

A Judge Shall Regulate Extrajudicial Activities to Minimize the Risk of Conflict With Judicial Duties

A. Extrajudicial Activities in General. A judge shall conduct all of the judge’s extra-judicial activities so that they do not:

(1) cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge;
(2) undermine the judge’s independence, integrity, or impartiality;
(3) demean the judicial office;
(4) interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties;
(5) lead to frequent disqualification of the judge; or
(6) appear to a reasonable person to be coercive.

The rules only expressly address public comments during a trial or appeal that can undermine a case. However, these other rules clearly state that a judge, let alone the Chief Judge, must conduct themselves in a way that does not undermine the court as an institution. It is hard to imagine a more harmful act than joining the mob in proclaiming the guilt of an acquitted person and mocking her and her lawyer. Perry should be required to answer for this abuse before the bar. Otherwise, his example is likely to be followed by other judges eager to throw off the yoke of impartiality and professionalism.

Source: Today

Kudos: Bert Geiseman

30 thoughts on “Judge In Casey Anthony Case Publicly Proclaims His Belief In Her Guilt and Dishes On Case

  1. What the hell was he thinking? Why would any lawyer want to ever appear before this clown again?

    Come on meteor!

  2. Bad enough incompetent lawmakers get elected, now we have to worry about the judicial branch too.

    The Supreme Court has made some doozies too here lately!!!

  3. Hogwash! Most of the world thought she was guilty and she was. I always thought that jury should have been dismissed and sent for mental testing.
    The judge did not say anything to undermine her case during the trial. I have no problem with him stating his opinion about this case after it was over at all.

  4. John…. There are and have been many, many incompetent legislators throughout history…. The think they have going for them is there is more than one…… This situation is a gross violation of his tole as a judge as well as his qualifications to continue to maintain the integrity of the office he has sworn to uphold…. Not only has he violated his ethical duties of a judge, but he has revealed information that was on going to a plea bargain….. He is a clown in the first degree….

  5. We ought to have a weekend series. I propose a running head of “Judges Run Amok.” There is an unlimited amount of material out there. I have a long list myself. I recall one judge in Madison County, MS who got into an argument with a fellow at a service station gas pump over who got there first. The judge issued a contempt citation against the fellow. It was thrown out of course when the man appealed, but IMHO, the contempt citation was not the only thing that needed throwing out.

  6. This judge belongs in jail! He must be looking for Pirro’s spot on Fox. He has broken all kinds of rules and shown that he has no respect for the system in which he serves. He needs to be removed from the bench and disbarred. My guess is however he won’t be.

  7. I think Turley needs to get his undershorts must be starting to bind him for such a trivial matter to get this kind of response. The case is over. Get a life. Does Turley respond to the total and complete intellectual dishonesty going on in today’s courts that are really run by special interests? No, not at all. He is just fine with corruption, just so long as that it is not conducted out in the open with money changing hands.

  8. Judges are human so I assume it is impossible to remain perfectly impartial about the defendant at trial. However, the assumption is that even if they have an opinion on the case each defendant will be tried impartially. Obviously Case Anthony had an impartial trial and the verdict was remarkable given the poisoned publicity. I followed the trial and I believe that given what evidence they had the prosecution overcharged her. That cost them the case. There was no doubt that the proof didn’t exist for either a murder 1 or murder 2 conviction. She may well have been guilty, but the evidence justifying those charges simply was tenuous.

    While we of course give latitude to our Judges in action, that latitude fits into certain proscribed rules and expectations. I agree with JT that this Judge violated Canon 2 and Canon 5. His behavior is unbecoming and unfit for any Judge. The verdict in the case of necessity needs to stand as a result of a fair trial process. By voicing his opinions this Judge calls into question the whole basis of the legal system’s and his authority to obtain justice. While personally I believe that our legal system is broken, it cannot be repaired if those who are charged with upholding it show no faith in its process. Had he been speaking in the abstract then he would be within his right to raise the question of whether justice runs smoothly. Once he commented on a specific case before him, after the fact, the only result can be a further erosion of the system in the public’s mind. Since this case was a publicity bonanza for all concerned his motives for speaking out should be questioned as acute self aggrandizement. He should lose his judicial position for these Canon violations and to my mind has proven himself to be unfit temperamentally to hold a judicial position.

  9. Judges are regulated. They are not supposed to speak out on the guiilt or mental capacity of a defendant in thier court. Similarly, lawyers are not supposed to criticize judges who try their cases. Turnabout is fair play. The judge has criticized the lawyer’s client. The lawyer should protect the client and be able to fire back and criticize the judge.
    Why was the judge nodding off after lunch? He sounded drunk in chambers.
    Why was the judge looking at porn on his computuer during breaks from trial back in chambers when they were discussing motions?
    The defendant acted differently when the jury was not present? You too fatso.
    All rules are off. Every lawyer in the country should be free to criticie the way in which this trial was handled by this fatso. Why did he deny the defendant a fair trial by allowing those cameras in the courtroom? Did he want fame? The lame want fame. ItchinBay wants to say something here and is rearing to bark into the Dogalogue Machine.

  10. This is grossly inappropriate behavior for a judge. Why would he go on a talk show to give his opinion n anything. This is clearly a man why wants camera time more than he wants a judicial career.

  11. It is hard to imagine a more harmful act than joining the mob in proclaiming the guilt of an acquitted person and mocking her and her lawyer.

    The authoritarian tyranny virus going around will continue the notion of the jury trial, which is what the judge is attacking.

    He and the mob mentality militate against the counsel of the history of the jury system as a pillar in the struggle of overcoming despots.

    Perry should be required to answer for this abuse before the bar. Otherwise, his example is likely to be followed by other judges eager to throw off the yoke of impartiality and professionalism.

    Ok, any Florida Bar members here, file a complaint.

  12. Dog forbid that any truth somehow escape about or by the “Court-House Gang”

  13. Defense lawyer was a like a used car salesman and the prosecutors were better lawyers? Then why the verdict?

    Guess he’s following Scalia and Thomas in speaking out inappropriately.

  14. I agree he should be sanctioned but my cynical self knows that nothing substantial will happen.

    In our state judges cannot be subject to recall elections. But it doesn’t matter since they are just as protected as the run of the mill politician is.

  15. The Founding Fathers created Juries and Grand-Juries as a constitutional “check” on corrupt judges, corrupt prosecutors and corrupt police officers (not stereotyping the good judges, prosecutors or cops that uphold their oath of office). Juries are there when the judges, prosecutors and cops get a little too cozy with one another and collude to subvert constitutional due process or cheat. If they don’t respect the jury’s authority, they don’t respect the rule of law itself.

  16. One of the camera people from that trial has a boat at the marina here where we dogs hang out. Gossip is that the judge was hitting on one of the female camera crew during the trial.

  17. Why would any one think that the Judicial Branch is any less corrupt than the Executive or Legislative Branches?

  18. Joy: The Founding Fathers didn’t think humans in general were angels to be trusted operating unilaterally – ever! The whole premise of constitutional “checks & balances” was to counter-balance the powerful groups with equally powerful offsets. Juries are a very unique “check” because regular citizens were supposed to have authority superseding the judge and prosecutor – only subordinate to the laws and U.S. Constitution.

    It’s interesting that the United States is the world’s leader today in “prisoners” largely due to the near extinction of jury trials, abusive plea bargain system, mandatory minimums, starving public defenders and courts for funds – the least funded of the three branches of government. According to MotherJones.com in some parts of the United States a public defender has only 7 minutes to meet with a Defendant to the defend the accused in court while the Executive Branch police/prosecutors have wide lattitude as to how much money they spend and are rarely penalized for abuse or outright fraud.

  19. Frankly: “What the Hell was he thinking?”

    Perhaps: “Now everybody thinks I was the judge who let the Casey Anthony case go to Hell so if I shoot off my mouth like a Fox News commentator, I’ll be able to ditch this damn stupid job and get myself a place in the sun where I can pontificate on everything and take home the big bucks. Yeah…”

  20. Isn’t the whole point of having life-time appointments so that judges would be insulated from politics and could interpret the letter & spirit of the law or Constitution weighed against the merits of the case (for non-jury trials)?

  21. I didn’t follow the trial, which is why Mike Spindell’s comment resonates with me. My guess was the story that emerged in court was not the story reported by the media, which whipped up a frenzy in their forever-effort to grab more attention and make more money, and their too-frequent lapses of judgment not to mention ethics. In the face of all those headlines (which I did read), the jury has to be congratulated as the defense attorney bestowed with honors for doing what the justice system rarely does–mete out justice.

  22. There is a difference between a bumper sticker and a novel. Jurors sometimes spend weeks (full time job essentially) listening to testimony studying all details and weighing it against the admissable evidence of the case. What the rest of us see on TV is only the “bumper sticker” version, while we were working our jobs the jurors were studying the case at hand – that’s why we shouldn’t be playing arm-chair quarterbacks determining what the verdict should have been or trashing the jury. We should respect the verdict of the jury since they are the only ones that actually put in the time to know every detail of the case and the laws pertaining to the case.

    The media and Press also sometimes distort the public perception. If a case lasts several weeks and the Defendant smiles or laughs for 2 seconds – that is the photo that ends up in the newspaper – the Defendant laughing during trial (misrepresenting the full context). It’s not a perfect system but juries are as close as it gets!

  23. Judge Perry is incorrect. There was not sufficient evidence to support a first degree murder conviction. How do I know that? Because the jury said so. As for the rest, if Judge Perry can’t resist publicly discussing his cases, he needs to resign and become a legal commentator. Until he does so, or reaches mandatory retirement age, my unsolicited advice to him is identical to my unsolicited advice to Justice Scalia: shut up and do your job.

  24. There is a rhyme and reason.. i just dont see it. and people please lets not act like juries have always been 100% right.

    If that were so we wouldnt have need of such agencies as “The innocence project” and all agencies who have worked unpaid and tirelessely to free the wrongly convicted

  25. It’s a horrible precedent and this behavior can only spiral out of control when Judges post-trial comments are public entertainment (of sorts). Too much like what has happened to the anchor people that call themselves journalists.

    In the particular, however; (and exceptions make very bad law)…, I just viewed Stirling Hayden’s performance in the film adaptation of Billy Budd. Keeping the integrity of the law in appearance is a farce.

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