Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Case Against Casey Anthony: All about motions going nowhere...

Today, one motion was shelved for future reference and one was half-granted.

Jose Baez topped the list. He spoke briefly and stated that the purpose of his original motion remained the same (to have the jail video of Casey's reactions sealed). The only difference was that his new motion, filed yesterday, merely added more information to assist the judge in making his decision.

Linda Kenny Baden then began discussion of the motions. She requested that the motions be adjourned until the defense was able to complete the deposition of Lt. Tammy Uncer and possibly take others. She indicated she would be willing to pass the additional information on to the judge as the depositions continued.

State's Attorney Linda Drane Burdick then explained to the judge that in the original motion filed in March that the defense intended to seek action against Orange County.

Tammy Giffin, the attorney for the Orange County Department of Corrections pointed out that she had received the new motions last night and still did not have copies of the related depositions. She also stated that the new motion contained many allegations against the county and she needed sufficient time to prepare for a hearing on the matter. She also said that she had already filed a motion on this issue.

Drane-Burdick then pointed out that the State now had the tape and that it was turned over to Mr. Baez, making it now a public record. In addition, the new motion had not been delivered in a timely manner for her to prepare to respond to it. Lastly, Drane-Burdick pointed out to the judge that the media had not been "noticed" on either of the motions and had the right to speak. As there were no attorneys for the media, Judge Strickland gave them seven days to respond.

From what was said in court today, both the State and the defense have no problem with keeping the video under seal. It's too bad Baez didn't "notice" the media and the whole issue of the video could have been over today. Now, the media attorneys have a week to come up with arguments to convince Judge Strickland that it should be released.

I have another issue with these motions that someone who knows the law a lot better than I could help me with. Wouldn't the defense have been better off separating the issue of the release of the video from any actions they would like to take against the entities which plotted to violate Ms. Casey's rights (State, Federal, medical, etc.) and make it a separate motion? That would have made life much simpler. At this point, this layperson feels that the whole issue is a terrible mess, or perhaps a "loco-motion"?

At this point, there was a pause in the hearing and Jose Baez "introduced" the new death penalty qualified attorney, Andrea Lyon (The Angel of Death Row), to the court along with a mini-curriculum vitae. State's Attorney Jeff Ashton tossed out a zinger to Baez, saying that while he appreciated the "commercial," he would appreciate receiving her documents which would admit her pro hac vice and certify her as being death penalty qualified.
Baez didn't take the comment well and mumbled something about "... not to belittle it to a commercial when some one's life..." He was interrupted by Judge Strickland who commented that, it was a "plug for her successes." Jeff Ashton laughed at that one.

With the first two motions addressed and postponed yet again, the hearing moved on to the motion for the phone records.

Attorney David Evans spoke for Roy Kronk, the meter reader who discovered Caylee's remains. He had already spoken with Baez and had agreed to a time restriction of January, 2008 to the present. However, he objected that the motion needed to be carefully crafted to limit the records to those numbers related to the case. He cited case law which promoted Mr. Kronk's right to privacy. He asked that the defense provide a list of numbers and why they want them. Judge Strickland agreed that this solution was agreeable to him.

Attorney Kirk Kirkconnell then spoke for Amy Huizenga. He agreed with the case law provided by Mr. Evans and went on to state that he wanted an end date of the day Casey was arrested since the two had no unrecorded communication since that date. He also made a distinction between phone calls and text messages. He indicated the difference was that phone calls have no content, text messages do. Mr. Kirkconnell's main objection appeared to be the release of the phone numbers of Amy's doctors, family, pizza delivery man. He stated that the media would be calling them all. Kirkconnell also indicated that Baez had an alternative way to find out the record of calls and messages between Amy and Casey. He has Casey's phone records, and Amy's are all there!

Somehow, I think Baez wants more numbers than that.

My favorite attorney of the day was Jesse Gund's lawyer, Marty White (I hope I got his name right.) He approached the podium and proceeded to give a well-organized, fully documented presentation. He cited both statute and case law. First, he indicated that as a former policemen, Jesse Grund has the same rights to privacy as every other citizen and in addition has special rights. While his records could be turned over to the defense, they could not be made public. This aspect even surprised Judge Strickland, who had never heard of it before.

White went on to discuss materiality and necessity. He pointed out that, in his motion, Baez had provided neither. Baez had asked for "any and all" records without giving the judge a good reason. In the end, Judge Strickland agreed with the lack of materiality in the motion and indicated he needed to study the information concerning the special statute for law enforcement and ex-law enforcement personnel.

Former Deputy Richard Cain's objection has apparently been moved and wasn't addressed at the hearing today.

Jose Baez then stood to reply. He started out by stating he was at a disadvantage because he had to address different issues with different lawyers. (He's lucky all the people subpoenaed didn't have attorneys present!)

Baez began to argue his motion and was immediately interrupted by Judge Strickland who stated that he had no problem with what Baez was asking for, except for the motion being overly broad. He mentioned that Baez had seemed to have worked out the time line issue with the individual lawyers. However, he felt that Baez had not given good reason for wanting the information. The judge said that he could look at the names and figure out why he wanted them, but that he needed Baez to amend the motion to include his reasons.

Baez began his reply to the judge by pointing out that law enforcement had thought the phone records important enough to get them for all but Mr. Kronk. Then, he went on to address the issue of Jesse Grund. He said, "Mr. Grund was, for all intents and purposes a suspect in this case" and had taken a polygraph.

Okay, I blew my stack here. Jesse Grund was just one of Casey's former friends, boyfriends who took a polygraph. Every one of us knows that in such cases, polygraphs are used to exclude people. My goodness, if you go back and listen to one of Cindy Anthony's interviews in August, one of the detectives told her Jesse did not have Caylee! To make matters worse, Baez then went on to toss Amy Huizenga into the same category. Balderdash!

Baez then went on to point out that the records LE had asked for were limited. (I suppose that's because they only asked for what had materiality and necessity as pointed out earlier by Mr. White.) He said he was not on a fishing expedition and His Honor could see the materiality by just looking at the names.

Baez indicated that he didn't want to divulge who he's looking at and why (Mr. Ashton smiled at this.). He was shocked that LE didn't look into Mr. Kronk's phone records. He said, "what I am doing in this case is what law enforcement should have done."

Judge Strickland then said to Baez, "you're kind of straying a bit here, tell me why you want it, not what they didn't do."

Baez went on and on about how doing what the judge wanted him to do "crosses the line" and would essentially broadcast to the prosecution his defense strategy. (Oh yes, Mr. Baez, this is a fishing trip couched in terms of Ms. Casey's Constitutional Rights!)

The judge hauled Baez back to to the issue of what the law requires, materiality!

Baez continued on and on about how he isn't in the business of releasing people's phone numbers and he's even discussed a confidentiality agreement with Kronk. Essentially, Baez was giving his word, he wouldn't turn the "stuff" over to the media! In other words, I want it all and I will only turn over what turns out to be evidence in discovery! Oh, and I'll tell those whose information I'm using as evidence about it so they can file motions then.

Judge Strickland then told Baez that if he could come to agreement with the attorneys, it would be fine with him. He said he was only hearing the motions because of the objections of the attorneys. Baez replied that he had no plans to release or sell any information. (Sell information?)

Drane Burdick spoke to this issue, pointing out that if the material is turned over to her, she is under the obligation to make the information public.

Judge Strickland then introduced a couple of moments of humor into the proceedings when he got Roy Kronk's lawyer confused with Jesse Grund's lawyer. Once the confusion was straightened out, the judge, hoping to short-circuit the discussion, asked Mr. White if he wanted the request made in writing. Mr. White, citing case law again, stated he wanted specificity in everything Baez is asking for and went into great detail about it. Mr. White wanted to know this so HE could decide what is relevant. (I love this guy.)

When Baez attempted to address this, the judge interrupted him to point out that he (the judge), needed to follow the law and that Baez, in his motion had only listed names and not the reasons why.

Baez responded by saying that there wasn't a requirement in the rules to do so! The judge promptly corrected him, saying, "there is a rule about materiality (quote approximate). Baez said that he understood that. (Is there no wonder I'm confused here?)

The judge then asked if Baez had anything to add and Baez went back to the main issue for him. "The pleadings is (sic) opening the door...."

The fact is, Baez originally wanted to address the issue in private. When that didn't work, he submitted his broadly focused motion. He knows very well what is legally required, but he doesn't want anyone to know WHO he is focusing on and why. The trouble is, he never figured out a way to do this legally! There was an article at WFTV on April 21 in which explained how it could have easily been done without going through these hearings:

Sheaffer said Baez could've identified the witnesses' cell phone providers during depositions and then subpoenaed the companies' records directly. Instead, he's asked the judge's permission.

"That will force Baez to tell the court what relevance these phone records may have to the defense," Sheaffer explained.

Sheaffer was right! I highly recommend going to the link I posted and read the article and watch the raw interview. This is where some experience comes in handy.

Back to the hearing! Judge Strickland told Baez his request needed to be finely tailored. Baez
replied that putting the request in writing would only postpone the inevitable. He also indicated the case was moving at a snail's pace. He agreed that he wanted it "done right" and added that he didn't need to put everything in the pleading, just indicate the materiality. (I'm sorry, I don't follow this argument at all.)

At this point, Judge Strickland granted the motion for those who did not have lawyers present: Tony Lazzaro, Cindy Anthony, George Anthony, Lee Anthony, Ricardo Morales, Dominic Casey, James Hoover, and Keith Williams. As for Jesse Grund, Amy Huizenga, and Roy Kronk, Baez will have to go back and rewrite the motion. Richard Cain will be done at a later date. He also mentioned "tweaking" the dates and recommended from June until possibly the present.

Baez indicated that the State is not saying the death was an accident, that it was premeditated murder and that there was a need to have information prior to the in- (he almost said incident here), when Caylee disappeared. He said it's not a situation where there was an incident, and everything moved onward from there.

Eventually, Judge Strickland said that Baez would have to list the numbers he wanted from each and state the materiality. He also made it clear that Baez would not have to state his case strategy when filing the amended motion. He would only require a couple of sentences to determine materiality.

Baez then suggested that if a "special master" could deal with the situation to essentially keep him from revealing too much information the defense didn't want out there. The judge stated that if all the parties agreed, it could be done. He did point out that the court doesn't have special masters and it would be up to Baez to arrange for payment. He gave Baez a few days to try and arrange this.

Strickland again granted the motion for those who did not object and told Baez that he would withhold a denial of the motion without prejudice for one week. If all else were to fail, the judge said he would do so himself in camera. Baez asked if he'd have to pay him!

At this point, I thought the hearing would be over, but no!

Judge Strickland asked Linda Kenney Baden if she wanted to speak to her motion and the amended motion. She got up and introduced Todd Macaluso (See, I said there were a lot of lawyers!) to speak. At this point, my notes tell me he addressed the court using such phrases as "cruel," "inhuman," "illegal," and "unconstitutional"to describe the treatment of Casey the day that her reactions were videotaped. Macaluso also pointed out that there was a plot by OSCO and the jail personnel to videotape Casey. He cited Sgt. Richardson and Lt. Uncer's depositions. He said that the defense had learned more information when they deposed them.

County attorney Giffin objected at this point and asked that the matter be continued until she had the opportunity to read all the pertinent documents. The judge granted the motion and indicated Macaluso could continue his arguments.

As Macaluso started to read quotes from Sgt. Richardson, Giffin objected again, pointing out that she had not had the opportunity to read the depositions. She again requested a continuance so she could be properly prepared to answer. The judge sustained the objection.

Baez then stood and offered her a copy of the deposition. The judge wisely pointed out that giving it to her would not give her the opportunity to read it. Giffin went on to say that the county had no objection to the tape being sealed, she was only concerned about all the allegations contained in the motion. It was her duty to protect county employees.

Drane-Burdick then stood and indicated that the State had no objection to the tape being sealed. She continued by saying that the only party interested in seeing the tape unsealed was the public. She pointed out that the issue would be dealt with in a week. She felt that they were straying into a suppression issue.

The judge then told Macaluso to limit his discussion to why he wanted the tapes sealed and not get into details on the other issues. The judge wanted Macaluso to say why the release of the tapes would harm his client. Macaluso then stated that the tape wouldn't harm his client and didn't prove or disprove anything. He stated that the tape was a violation of her rights to medical privacy. He doesn't want the media to "spit" on the video. He also says he didn't believe the video would ever be used in trial. Finally, he indicated that during the 30-45 minutes Casey was there, her attorney was not permitted to see her.

Drane Burdick spoke for a few moments and suggested the judge view the video prior to the hearing on this issue.

Next up, Linda Kenney Baden told the judge she agreed with his decision to hear arguments on the motions correct (considering it was only filed the day before and the judge, prosecution, and county attorney had not had a chance to even read it). She went on to say that this was now a death penalty case and not an issue of the public's right to know. At this point, the defendant's rights trump the public's right to know. She also indicated that once admitted pro hoc vice, it would be the duty of death penalty qualified attorney Andrea Lyon's responsibility to address the issue. Kenney Baden also stated that there was also the issue of monitoring counsel in meetings with the client involved. She asked the judge if he wanted her to discuss the issue now. Judge Strickland stated it was pointless right now.

After some discussion of scheduling, Andrea Lyon rose to address the court. Drane-Burdick was on her feet immediately, objecting to her speaking, since her documentation for pro hac vice had yet to be filed.

There was more discussion of scheduling at the bench. While we waited, Attorney Jose Garcia and Casey had time to chat.

As the bench conference ended, so did the hearing. At this point, we should hear next week whether or not the tape will be released.

Video of the hearing:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


shari said...

If one watches this hearing (and others) closely....Casey shows little emotion until one of the male lawyers attention is focused on her....she then lights up like a candle. She continually plays with her hair and never once does she glance back into the gallery or look towards her parents either entering or leaving the courtroom. My guess is, in jail, with male guards...she will be extremely content. This is one scary individual.

Sprocket said...

An absolutely fantastic entry on the hearing ritanita. Great job. And I love that "Angel of Death Row" moniker for the new DP attorney.

donchais said...

I have to imagine that Judge Strickland is getting pretty tired of Baez's motions.

Heck, even I could write a better motion!

Anonymous said...

Saw part of this on TruTV. Loved Linda KB's blonde hair with bangs, a la Jayne Mansfield 1963.....

ritanita said...

Sprocket, I can't take any credit for coming up with that monicker. Ms. Lyon's new book, "Angel of Death Row: My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer", comes out in January, 2010.