How Casey Anthony judge plans to handle protesters

By Jacqueline Fell, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Chief Judge Belvin Perry is going to try to keep the peace during Casey Anthony's murder trial, which is scheduled to start in less than weeks, on Tuesday, May 17.

The judge issued orders Wednesday about how the public can get a seat at the trial, as well as rules for those protesting at the Orange County Courthouse.

The court knows protesters are going to show up. They were all over the Anthony family's east Orange County neighborhood, at the crime scene where the remains of Casey's daughter, Caylee, were found, and even at the 2-year-old's memorial service.

Of course, protesters will be allowed outside the courthouse. It's anyone's right to free speech. But the judge's order will limit exactly where they can protest.

Starting now and up through July 15, there are two "free speech zones" along Orange Avenue, where people are allowed to gather:

  • Livingston Street to the semicircle in front of the courthouse
  • Amelia Street to the other side of the semicircle

Court administrators said this is for safety reasons, and to be sure not to disturb other business at the courthouse.

"The Sheriff's Office and Orlando Police Department will be dealing with the perimeter of the courthouse," said court administrator Karen Levey. "In addition to that, no interviews or anything like that associated with this case will be accomplished on the steps of the courthouse, or anywhere close to the courthouse."

No one will be allowed to hold protests or press conferences on courthouse property.

"This trial has elicited a lot of emotion," said Major Ron Stucker, with the Orange County Sheriff's Office. "We also know at most given mornings here at courthouse, there are crowds out there: People trying to come in for jury duty, people just trying to line up to come in for business. We're now going to have members of the public that are lining up to come in for this event."

County officials will mark the free speech zones with red and yellow tape.

Court administrators told me Tuesday that the jury will not enter the courthouse through the main entrance. Levey would not say any more than that, but we do know the jury will be sequestered during the trial, and will not be able to see any protests when they come into court.