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Nancy Grace

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Judge Perry Lays Out Rules For Closing Arguments

Judge Belvin Perry issued an order Friday instructing the attorneys at Casey Anthony’s murder trial on what he will and will not allow when they present their closing arguments to the jury on Sunday.

The list of 16 restrictions cites specific case precedents for each item. It could limit the defense’s ability to refer back to defense attorney Jose Baez’s claims in his opening statement that 2-year-old Caylee Anthony drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008, that Casey’s father George Anthony helped cover up the death and that meter reader Roy Kronk did something with the remains that prevented them from being found until December 2008. Baez had also claimed that George sexually abused Casey and that her brother Lee also attempted to molest her.

The third item, in particular, restricts attorneys from “making arguments that are not based on facts in evidence or reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom.” What the defense can say may ultimately come down to Perry’s interpretation of what a “reasonable inference” from the evidence they presented during the trial is.

Other things the attorneys are not allowed to do include:

• Offering their personal opinions on the guilt of the defendant or the credibility of witnesses
• Asking the jury to place themselves in the position of the victim or the defendant
• Commenting on the other side’s decision not to call a particular witness, unless the judge approves of it first
• Using derogatory terms to refer to the defendant, a witness or opposing counsel
• Ridiculing the defendant’s theory of defense
• Making statements with the sole purpose of evoking the sympathies, fears or biases of the jury
• Commenting on the defendant’s demeanor in the courtroom
• Commenting on objections made by the other side
• Making an argument that is “fairly susceptible” to being interpreted as referring to the defendant’s choice not to testify
• Referring to the potential impact of the verdict on the community or “some larger social good”
• Making statements that shift the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense
• Making comparisons to other highly-publicized cases

Also, the defense cannot concede Casey Anthony’s guilt to any charged or lesser offenses in front of jury without getting her approval and putting it on the record first.

Closing arguments are expected to begin Sunday at 9 am. The attorneys are scheduled to meet at 8:30 to deal with other matters before the jury is brought in.

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