Despite presiding over countless trials, fighting for adequate state court funding, and taking leadership roles in professional activities such as the Florida Innocence Commission, Judge Belvin Perry will likely always be remembered for his work on one particular criminal trial.
"If I could write what I wanted people to remember me by, it would not be the Casey Anthony case," said Perry. "It was just by pure fate I got that case."
The chief judge insists he did not appoint himself to take over the case when the original trial judge, Stan Strickland, recused himself. Instead, Perry reveals it was was Administrative Judge Reginald Whitehead who came up with the idea.
"He said, 'You.' And I said, 'Me? OK. I don't really want it, but I'll do it," Perry said.
During the eleven days of jury selection and six weeks of trial, Judge Perry became a household name due to the extensive media coverage.
"When I look back, the media was no problem. That was probably the easiest part of the case," said Perry. "My biggest challenge was managing the whole thing. The crowds getting in and out, the logistics with the jury, and managing the parties in the case. Any time you have lawyers with very strong personalities, like both the state and the defense, it's a challenge."
Was there ever a moment Perry thought the trial would go off the tracks?
"I've seen things that happened in that case that never happened in my entire judicial career," said Perry. "But I don't think there were things that would have caused this case to derail."
Perry has said he was shocked by the jury's verdict, but he still believes the system worked.
"Any time 12 citizens of this state raise their right hand and swear to take an oath to follow the law and apply the facts as they see it, and render a verdict, then justice was served."
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