Jose Baez doesn’t mince words when talking about “the storm” that whirled around the Casey Anthony murder trial.
He’s not shy about lambasting the media for its tabloid-like coverage or prosecutors for their reliance on junk science.
The defense lawyer even questions the judge’s handling of what Time magazine called the social media trial of the century.
But there is one group that emerges from Baez’s critique unscathed – the Florida jury that acquitted Anthony of first-degree murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.
“I’m absolutely appalled that this jury was so vilified,” he said of the death threats and harassment that followed. “They didn’t volunteer for this job.”
Baez, who gained fame because of his successful defense of Anthony, appeared in Buffalo this weekend as part of a seminar held by the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and used it to advise his “brothers and sisters” on the pitfalls of high-profile murder cases.
Even now, two years later, he is frequently asked how he beat back what many thought was a slam-dunk prosecution of Anthony.
“My honest answer is that it was pretty easy,” he told the lawyers who gathered at the federal courthouse downtown.
Easy, he said, in the sense that this was a case that hinged almost completely on forensic evidence he was able to discredit piece by piece.
There were air samples from Anthony’s car that prosecutors insisted showed signs of human decomposition but that Baez argued were from garbage she had left in the trunk.
He also ripped apart the prosecution’s suggestion that chloroform, also found in the air samples from Anthony’s car, was used to kill Caylee by reminding the jury that low levels of chloroform are often found in the air.
“It reached the point of outright silliness,” Baez said of the government’s case. “It really was fairly easy.”
What wasn’t so easy were the personal and professional attacks that both he and Anthony endured throughout the trial.
He showed a newspaper headline that read, “Casey Anthony is most hated person in America,” and talked at length about the 24 Bar Association complaints he had to address during the trial.
“I can’t tell you how stressful this was,” he said.
In the end, he said he succeeded because of a jury that was sequestered and largely kept from the media circus that surrounded the case.
And for that, he’s thankful.
“They were the only people that mattered,” he said during an interview.
There is one aspect of the trial that still gnaws at Baez. It’s the unanswered question of who dumped Caylee’s body in the woods where she was found.
During the trial, he argued that Caylee drowned in the family swimming pool and that Anthony and her father, nervous about being implicated in her death, tried to cover it up.
“You don’t treat a child like that,” Baez said. “I’m a father, and when I step out of my shoes as a lawyer, that is the one fact that still disturbs me.”