Saturday, April 17, 2010

Defense Wants Strickland Off Casey Anthony Case

I usually enjoy reading motions and picking them apart. The latest one, impressively titled DEFENDANT, CASEY MARIE ANTHONY'S MOTION TO DISQUALIFY TRIAL JUDGE, has knocked me for a loop. It has to be one of the craziest motions I have ever read.
Why do I think that? Well, for one thing, I have watched every hearing for the case and reported back here at T&T since August 12, 2008. I have watched Judge Stan Strickland work through so many motions with the patience of Job. He has tried to steer Jose Baez through the process at the same time. As far as I can tell, as a layman, the judge has been more than generous with the defense. He has ruled to the letter of the law and when a motion hasn't met it, he has often advised Baez on how to get what he wants in an appropriate manner.

Now, the defense doesn't want him on the case and has come up with some interesting reasons. From what I've read across the Internet since this motion saw light of day at the close of court, the defense must file such a motion within 10 days of becoming aware of the situation.

The main reason given in this motion has to do with a fellow-blogger, Marinade Dave.

The precipitating grounds for disqualification is the revelation that the judge has apparently developed a personal relationship with journalist/blogger known fictitiously as "Marinade Dave", who has historically presented numerous stories of severe bias and prejudice against the defendant.

This so-called "relationship" consists of a brief chat at the bench at the end of a hearing and a phone call to wish him well after a medical procedure. Apparently, the judge had seen the blog and declared it one of the most balanced.

I read over at Dave's and find him to be quite balanced. He's been one who tells people not to be so judgmental and shows a great deal of compassion for the Anthony family. In terms of his blog, the terms "severe" and "prejudice" against Ms. Anthony are laughable. They even include three examples for the judge to consider. It's too bad the motion only includes them at the end and fails to discuss the content of the articles, only the titles. Had they read them, they would know that "Casey Anthony must die!" compares many people in the Internet world who are full of blood-lust, much as the Romans at the Colosseum calling for the blood of the Christians.

That chat at the bench occurred last October. Isn't that more than 10 days ago? Oh! It was less than 10 days ago that Dave agreed to be interviewed by defense investigator Jeremiah Lyons. The phone call to Dave occurred in February, more than 10 days ago. All right, somebody must have tipped the defense off that Dave had received the call.

What does this prove? Well, I read all sorts of blogs while following the case. I read the Casey-lovers blogs, I read the Casey-hater blogs, I read a few message boards as well. I'm intelligent enough to figure out which is which and I'm certainly intelligent enough to know the biases of each-and-every one of them. Just because I read them, my personal perception of the case is not changed. I want to know all the information that is "out there" and where various people and groups stand on the case.

I'm sure that Judge Strickland is a whole lot smarter than I am. He knows the law and rules by law. No journalist/blogger is going to sway his legal judgement. In this sense, this motion is an attack on Judge Strickland's professionalism and his intelligence

While discussing blogs, we all know how the defense feels about the vast majority of them. They believe that the vast Internet is a good reason for a change of venue. In that motion and others, the defense has included copies of websites and website references. In order to read the entire motion, the judge is literally forced to go to the Internet to read the cited references! In fact, the defense, in the Memorandum attached to the motion, has the following:

...By January of 2009, eleven out of Marinade Dave's fifteen posts during the month were about Miss Anthony's case. See Dave Knechel, "entries from January, 2009", Marinade Dave's Mindblogging, "Available at"

That sends Strickland back to the blog!

There are also accusations in the Memorandum which were not mentioned in the motion proper. One cites the comment Strickland made at the bond hearing on July 22, 2008.

"...the truth and Miss Anthony are strangers.

What is omitted from this quote is the key information, the beginning of the quote. At that point in time, Strickland had to set her bond. He indicated that his decision had been based on the fact that Casey had provided no truthful information to LE to help find her missing child. There was the trip to Sawgrass Apartments and Universal studios. Casey herself, in the interview she did with Detectives Allen and Melich, admitted that she had lied about everything, well, according to her, ALMOST everything. In my opinion, the judge was just stating what the defendant herself had told LE.

The Memorandum also mentions Strickland's complaint to the bar about Baez and that he was completely cleared of the charges. As I recall, the decision was that there wasn't enough evidence to prove the allegations.

The defense also accuses the judge of making:

... off the record comments to both the prosecution and Miss Anthony's defense lawyers that he (the judge would like to wait until after his re-election is over to set the trial in Miss Anthony's case...

If what is alleged in the memorandum is true, I have to wonder why Baez didn't file a motion in July, 2008, after the bond hearing.

If what is alleged in the memorandum is true, I have to wonder why Baez didn't file a motion within 10 days of hearing the judge make the statement about waiting until re-election to hold the trial. According to the accusation, both the defense attorneys and the State's attorney's heard it and, as officers of the court, they would have had to testify truthfully to what they heard.

If any lawyer is out there reading this, please tell me: Does the judge have to consider these two allegations which are NOT in the actual motion?


Judge Strickland now has 30 days to make the decision to stay or withdraw from the case. If he leaves, the defense will have a new judge. If he stays, they can cite every decision he makes from now through the trial as a reason for appeal. He's really stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Regardless of his decision, I believe the main issue here is not the judge's impartiality, but the reason for the motion.

Does the defense really want Strickland off the case? Two local attorneys who have provided legal opinions to the media have stated that it is a bad move by the defense.

WFTV cites legal analyst Bill Sheaffer agrees, saying the motion is a mistake because Knechel is not directly involved in the case. Sheaffer said the defense could not ask for a more impartial, patient or fair judge.

WESH led off with the headline:

Attorney: Anthony Judge Recusal Defense's Worst Move

The article went on to cite legal analyst Richard Hornsby.

There is little doubt that one day the defense will look back on the motion (as) the worst move they've made," Hornsby said. "Judge Strickland has previously shown a fairness to Casey in the way he sentenced her in the check case, and now they don't know who their judge will be.

Hornsby said the No. 1 rule in criminal defense is to know the judge presiding over the trial.

Why change judges this late in the case? I've been wracking my brain for a good reason and have come up with a couple.

1. With J. Cheney Mason now on the team as "for all intents and purposes", lead attorney, he wants a do-over on motions that have been filed and denied by Strickland.

2. Mason wants Strickland to stay on the case, but hold the decision over his head in the hopes of better rulings in the future.

If you have any ideas, I would like to hear them. Please, though, no bashing!


FRG said...

Thank you for your article, you are so good at what you do.
In my layperson opinion, this is just a "delay tactics" so the defense has gained more time to twist the truth and throw more people under the bus. BTW, defense wanted the attention off of KC's letters. As the legal analysts stated it was a bad move because who knows who will be next Judge.
I felt utterly sad since the news broke. How low can defense go? They started throwing suspicions on Mr. Kronk and the rest we all have seen. Just take the attention off who it should be. IMO

Marinade Dave said...

Thank you for telling it better than me, Ritanita. I am going to put up a new post linking to your article, which is, by far, an excellent critique of the latest motion.

As for what FRG said, I absolutely agree. It was my first thought on Friday; that the defense is still looking for escape routes and delay, delay, delay is one of their favorite tactics, As if we will simply forget Caylee.

arlene_mccarthy said...

My two cents worth!!

It appears to me that Judge Strickland was in full accord with the requirements of Canon 2B with regard to the following pertinent questions:

Based on the alleged content of Judge Strickland's brief courtroom conversation with Marinade Dave, would a reasonably intelligent person be led to believe that the Judge was attempting to advance the private interests of himself or Marinade Dave? IMO, the answer is "no" as he only complimented MD on his writing skills and the fairness of the articles he wrote as compared to those he had read on some other blog sites.

Did Judge Strickland convey or permit Marinade Dave to convey the impression to others that MD was in a special position to influence the judge? IMO, this answer is also "no." Judge Strickland did not permit Marinade Dave to broadcast an edited version of his private conversation with the Judge via his blog site. While it is true that Marinade Dave may have conveyed the impression via his blog site that he was in a special position to influence the judge, he did so without the prior knowledge and consent of Judge Strickland.

ritanita said...


Thank you so much for your intelligent and informative reply.

As I have said many times, I'm a word person which is why I like picking apart motions.

I am definately not an attorney!

Thank you so much for your interpretation of the canon. It makes a lot of sense to me.

ritanita said...

Dave, I agree with both you and FRG about the delaying tactic.

I still think there's a lot more behind it.

I suppose we may get an idea after Strickland rules. Meanwhile, I'm just sitting back and reading what everybody else has to stay.

I definately see a takover in motion by Mason. There is no way that Baez can be first chair when the trial comes about... if it ever does.

katfish said...

This summary is just one of the reasons that you are one of the first people I turn to for an objective and intelligent interpretation of the legal issues as they come up in this case. Marinade Dave is the other.
Kudos to you both! I trust Judge Strickland will make his decision on this motion based on the law, as he has through-out this case. I hope he will stay on this case, but trust him to make the best decision.

ritanita said...

Amen, katfish, and thank you.

Anonymous said...

I dont believe Mason wants this case tried. I think he wants the State to accept a reduced charge eg involuntary manslaughter. He's savvy enough to know there is no credible defense to get this girl acquitted. This single case has caused Court cases in Orange County to become back logged and introducing a new judge at this late stage is going to add at least another year to a trial commencing. Mason is imo trying to wear down the already overworked and cash strapped SAO who have a duty to voters and taxpayers, whilst keeping the wheels of the justice system forever moving. Unfortunately Casey Anthony's case is not the only horrific crime they have to deal with. Imo Mason wants to deal this case off the statute. Mason is playing poker with the State imho. And maybe he's trying to create a little history before he retires. The Justice system is the loser. As for MD, he needs to put a sock in it, asking his readers to harrass the PI does not help Judge Strickland who was incredibly naive to have communicated with him from the get go.

ritanita said...


I am sure Mason is playing games, but I don't believe the State would take a plea deal of less than 1st degree murder with a life sentence.

Mason has stated to the media, prior to being on the case, that he would have made a plea deal.

I hope the State calls his bluff.

BB12-Chris said...

Everyone I know wants KC to get the fairest trial. Have the best possible mature professional defense. What it appears KC has are attorney that have OTHER selfish agenda's. $$$ Greed and Pride. That is why Caylee does not have JUSTICE.

ritanita said...

Yes, BB12-Chris, and the sad thing is that we often get so wrapped up in the multi-ring circus that we lose sight of Caylee.

She is always the first one we should all think of as we watch events unfold.

Anonymous said...

Agree with FRG and MD (and anyone who thinks this is more stall/delay tactic). And Totally Agree with the statement 'as if anyone is going to forget about Caylee'...
No doubt Cheney has Every Intention of Re-Filing Each Motionless Baez/Lyon Motion with a slight change in wording making it no less a motionless motion;) The games the defense continues to play are simply Absurd to anyone Sincerely wanting to get at the Truth of this Tragedy. There is only room for so much Smoke and so many Mirrors in Judge Stricklands (or any other judges) Courtroom. Starting over with a New Judge does Not Reduce the amount of smoke or number of mirrors already placed in the courtroom by Anyone on the Defense side of this Tragedy. Contrary to the Defense thinking......the public is aware of All their Tricks of the Trade....and I for one find it Annoying.

Sprocket said...

Brilliant as usual ritanita!

Spector tried the same move (getting the judge removed from the case) ....after the first mistrial.

That motion was denied and the California Supreme Court did not "overturn" the decision. As we all know, Fidler was the judge in the retrial.

The rules for removing judges may be quite different in Florida vs Cali.

BB12-Chris said...

Fran // April 18, 2010 at 10:58 pm
This is a comment from one of the judges on WS.
"One thing that just occurred to me today is that JS could deny the motion as “legally insufficient” based on the fact that the only allegation that would justify disqualification (the supposed comment about “fairness” etc.) happened six months ago and was presumably known to the defense six months ago (because MD sure wasn’t keeping quiet about it). The only thing that happened recently (within the time limit for a motion to disqualify) is that the defense learned that the judge called MD in the hospital and therefore, perhaps, was reading MD’s blog–which IMO is not even an appearance of impropriety.

kellygreen said...

As usual, Ritanita, you are the best!

Undoubtedly, the latest defense motion is another ruse to distract the public from the death of Caylee Anthony. While the murder of Caylee must remain first and foremost, this motion evokes another important issue: The 1st Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech/expression. Does that freedom apply to everyone—or does it apply to only those who are not members of the judiciary? And if the judiciary is ordered to have absolutely no contact or access to media—well, that creates a mighty slippery slope. If judges are ordered to have no access to media, then who is next: Lawyers? Cops? Teachers? Parents? Children?

If this ridiculous motion succeeds, then judges will NEVER be allowed to peruse the newspapers, weekly shoppers, radio, TV, Internet, blogs, personal mail…. So, as a society, what will we do? Will we incarcerate ALL judges to insure they don’t covertly seek out the media?

If this were to be a bench trial, perhaps, perhaps, the defense might have a valid argument; however, the murderer of Caylee Anthony will be tried by a jury of her peers—a jury will decide whether Casey is guilty, and a jury will decided whether Casey gets the needle.

Until the Supremes determine it’s inappropriate for judges to read ANY information regarding their assigned cases, it’s acceptable for the judiciary to choose which media they peruse. And there’s not a snowball’s chance in Florida, that the Supremes will ban the judiciary from the media.
Unfortunately, Judge Strickland was honest—and his honesty was his mistake—he reads blogs regarding his assigned cases. In the future, no sitting judge will ever admit to perusing any form of media. Never.

donchais said...

Excellent report ritanita!

I must say, it is pitiful that a baby was murdered and tossed away as so much trash yet all a bunch of folks can think about is turning this into a media circus.

The motion itself is stupid and insulting and what the heck was Mason doing as an expired notary?

Way too many people need to be ashamed of themselves!

FRG said...

From the beginning defense has made statements and even filed Motions, my memory has faded so I always go back to refresh my memory... and of course to remind myself how despicable defense has been, they make no sense at all.

Do Casey Anthony’s Lawyers Know She Killed Caylee

I am sure you remember that and as my hubby always says, has KC's defense gone for the defense KC killed Caylee and it was an accident maybe KC would be out of jail in no time and we tax payers wouldn't have to spend all of our money on this case. We are not lawyers but JB went for the "glory" as you (Ritanita) stated once and I thought it was "genius".
This is a "media Circus" indeed!!!!!
One more note: defense forgets jurors have brains!!!! I have two words to say "Scott Peterson".

ritanita said...

LOL! That's a real blast from the past! Donchais wrote that then and it is still true today.

The only physical evidence in that case was one of Lacy's hair in a pair of pliers on his newly acquired boat...

IIRC, dogs did trace her scent at the marina...

Donchais will correct me if I am wrong!

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Scott Peterson, I have read that if he had not given the TV interviews and carried on with phone calls with Amber Frey, which law enforcement was taping, he might have walked. During the first part of SP's trial, the press angle was how skillful the "high-powered celebrity lawyer" Mark Geragos was compared to the "plodding prosecutors."

My recollection is that the dogs followed the scent to the main highway where it was lost. I believe SP was observed going to the marina. He was apparently checking to see if Laci's body was going to be found.

Ritanita, thanks for your work.

David From TN

ritanita said...

Thanks, David.

Scott did himself in with all his lies and Amber was the one to get them all on tape. Her testimony clinched it.

I think that's one reason so many compare the two cases... the defendants are pathalogical liars.

The big difference is that the crucial tape is of Casey actually telling those lies.

You can bet that the defense will want to have that tape excluded from the trial.

The problem with that is that she wasn't in custody or a suspect at the time they did the interview. They were trying to find precious Caylee. She wasn't.

FRG said...

I am very sad today but I knew JS would make the right decision as he has always done. He certainly didn't deserve it. This is so surreal to me.
Cheney Mason also should step down, in 2008 he made analysis not so flattering of the person now he is defending "KC". I hope his remarks will come back to hunt him in the future.

ritanita said...

I just read this, FRG, and am sad. On the other hand, the case will go on.

I'm going to eat a nice dinner and then sit to read Judge Strickland's decision.

I'll try to have up something tomorrow if I find some time between preparing for company and having a new heat/air system installed.

Thank goodness the weather has cooperated!

shari said...

I am truly in shock that Judge Strickland has recused himself from this case. This judge was the most patient and fair judge I have ever seen........sad

ritanita said...

Well, since FRG posted, Shari, I read what Strickland had to say. It's full of piss-and-vinegar and a lot of stuff he would have liked to have said had he not been such and Honorable Judge.

Let's hope Judge Perry is less patient with the defense and just as fair as Judge Strickland.

I'm thinking I'll have my comments up tonight. Cross your fingers!

arlene_mccarthy said...

It is with a heavy heart and keen understanding that I respectfully accept Judge Stan Strickland's decision to disqualify himself as Trial Judge in the matter of State of Florida vs. Casey Marie Anthony. I consider his decision to do so to represent a substantial loss to not only the prosecution but to the defense as well.

However, regardless of the person appointed to serve as Trial Judge in this matter, and regardless of the "down and dirty" tactics employed by the defense, I remain confident that the prosecution's case (based on truth, reality, evidence and expert testimony provided at trial) will eventually win out and justice for two-year-old Caylee Marie Anthony will have been achieved.

Nora said...

All I can say is UNBELIEVABLE! What a mess. Strickland seemed to be a very patient, caring judge, who stuck to the letter of the law and common sense. I would hate to see him leave this trial after all this time and what he's accomplished thus far. The defense keeps turning this into a canival at everybody's expense, including their own client's.

Sprocket said...

Dave in Tn: Laci Peterson murder:

Although Laci's scent was lost on the highway, the dogs did hit on it again at the boat docks/loading ramp.

Although the defense challenged that evidence, the Judge let it in because Scott Peterson himself admitted he was at the Marina in that exact same area.

(I believe that's correct.)

ritanita, your sixth sense as to what Strickland would do is spot on. You are the only reporter on the beat who has been able to predict the outcome of motions as well as be "fair and balanced" when it comes to reporting on this case.