Todd Macaluso is now officially off the Casey Anthony "Dream Team" of high powered attorneys brought in by Jose Baez over the past year or so to help defend his client, Casey Anthony, who is accused of capital murder in the death of her daughter, Caylee.
When Macaluso first came on Team Anthony in March, 2009, he was already facing charges with the California Bar Association. The Notice of Disciplinary Charges against him were filed on January 13, 2009. At that time, Macaluso was charged with eight counts. They consisted of one count of Moral Turpitude-Issuing NSF Checks, two counts of Failure to Maintain Client Funds in Trust Account, three counts of Moral Turpitude-Misappropriation, on count of Failure to Maintain Client Funds in Trust Account, and one count of Misuse of Client Trust Account.
Apparently, Macaluso had used about $170,00 from clients trust accounts for expenses in his business, including the leasing of a jet. While he is not accused of stealing any money and states the money was returned to the accounts, this definitely fits into the category of misappropriation of funds.
He filed a response on February 13, 2009. This document is interesting to read because it is chock full of various defenses in the case. I copied some of them from the document, but have not included the affirmative defenses at the end. Please go read them!
Firstly, Macaluso indicates that none of his clients ever complained about the situation. The banks involved, however, were required to report the problem to the Bar.
His major defense concerned his brother, who died in early December, 2005. In his reply, Macaluso stated the following, over and over:
3. Any errors that were committed by Respondent were a direct result of mistakes by his office staff in administering and supervising the trust account, because of his inability to attend to those duties at that time.
My friend who is an attorney pointed out to me that it is not allowed for anyone but the attorney himself to be responsible for the accounts. He said a lawyer may not delegate this crucial responsibility to anyone. He also told me that this is a very serious allegation. It also bugs me that he blames his staff. There's nothing worse than passing the buck and refusing to take responsibility for his actions as Casey stated (whether she meant it or not) at her check fraud trial.
5. Respondent specifically denies any wilful (sic)violation of Business and Professions Code, section 6106. Respondent’s actions in failing to know that his trust account contained insufficient funds at those particular times were not a result of gross negligence, moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption, but the result of insufficient training and supervision of his office staff, due to a personal tragedy in Respondent’s family, the sudden and unexpected death of his only brother, which caused him severe emotional and psychological trauma.
Out of respect to Mr. Macaluso and his family, I won't post everything he wrote in his defense here, but you can read it in the original document.
As I was watching Jane Velez-Mitchell tonight, Judge David Young made an interesting comment about Macaluso's reasoning. He said that the excuse that he was grieving the loss of his brother in the mismanagement of the funds was , "a bunch of malarkey".
On March 2, 2009, Macaluso was brought in to the case. At the time, he told reporters that he was joining the team because he excels at cross-examining technical experts.
March 12, 2009, Macaluso submitted an AMENDED VERIFIED MOTION FOR ADMISSION TO APPEAR PRO HAC VICE. I've never located his original motion, but I would assume that he had to present and amended motion to include his situation with the California Bar. He included a list of informational items which I've copied here:
STATEMENT IDENTIFYING PENDING DISCIPLINARY ACTION
COMES NOW the undersigned foreign attorney, TODD E. MACALUSO, In support of the Verified Motion for Admission to Appear Pro Hac Vice, and states the following:
1. That it has come to the attention of the undersigned counsel that there is a pending disciplinary action
that was filed January 23, 2009.
2. The pending investigation case number is 6-0-14552.
3. That a response was filed February 13, 2009. See attached Response to Disciplinary Action.
4. In December of 2005, Attorney's brother, Glenn Macaluso passed away unexpected (sic) of an
undiagnosed heart condition.
5. As a result thereof, the Attorney was away from the office for approximately one year and three months
consoling his family due to the tragic loss.
6. During that time, two checks were drafted that were returned by the bank due to an accounting error by
the office staff.
7. The accounting error was immediately and swiftly corrected.
8. No client complaint was ever filed to the State Bar.
9. The only reason the matter was reported to the Bar was because the bank reports automatically by
10. The Attorney is a member of the California State Bar and is in good standing. A certificate of good
standing will be provided forthwith.
In his motion, Macaluso included a copy of his response to the charges.
On March 17, Judge Stan Strickland admitted Macaluso to practice law for the Casey Anthony case. By August 21, Macaluso had taken the lead in the fight for TES records with his now-famous statement to the Court:
As Your Honor knows, the body of Caylee Marie Anthony was found very close to the Anthony home, and the body was found in a wooded area that if one were to search for a missing child, this is the first place you would go search. There is substantial evidence that we’ve discovered, and that’s been set forth in our brief, Your Honor, that the body or the remains of Caylee Anthony were placed there after Casey Anthony was locked up in the Orange County Correctional Facility. There is substantial evidence, and that proves, Your Honor, her innocence. That’s exculpatory evidence, it proves that somebody else placed the remains in the area where it was ultimately found.
Apparently, Macaluso's case didn't turn out to be "a simple mistake that is still being worked out". Instead, he is facing an Alternative Discipline Program and will be ineligible to practice law since he will be placed on the inactive list during this time. Darren Kavinoky, another attorney on JVM indicated that the reasons Macaluso gave were probably what got him the alternative program rather than a stronger discipline.
Whatever the future may hold for Todd Macaluso, his role in the case is over.
Casey Anthony: August 21 Hearing Report
Video: March 13, 2009
Casey's New Attorney In Trouble With California Bar
Attorney Steps Away From Casey Anthony Defense