Monday, May 10, 2010
Judge Belvin Perry Jr. presided over yet another pre-trial hearing in the murder case of Casey Anthony. As he has done in prior hearing, he reigned in counsel and made Jose Baez get to the point when he would wander off into flights of fancy. During the hearing, Perry ruled on some motions and deferred others to a later time. He also managed to get through the entire list of outstanding motions not related to the death penalty in under two hours.
The first motion discussed was the Amended Motion For Change of Venue.
Jose approached the podium with a huge stack of papers and what appeared to be a book.
Linda Drane Burdick then got up to say that the State waived seating a jury in Orlando, but would have comments later concerning what had been discussed at the April 30 hearing. This would mean we would not have to hear Baez' speak to that issue!
I have a notation in my notes that she didn't want a jury from Dade County.
Baez said that the defense agreed to have a sequestered jury. He then presented the defense argument for Dade County and southern Florida in general as being the location where the least percentage of population were aware of the case and less subject to the intense media. He mentioned two murder trials he's had in the past year. In Orlando, all the jurors knew who he was and in Miami only one person knew.
Baez also felt that northern Florida was inappropriate because of the Hayleigh Cummings and the Somer Thomson cases. He pointed out that even the names were similar with Hayleigh and Caylee. He went on to mentions bounty hunter, young woman, TES and lawyers injecting themselves into both cases (another slap at TES and NeJame).
Baez really wanted to persuade the judge to physically move the trial. He went on at length about the helicopters and angry protesters on street corners when he accompanied Casey home from jail three times. He continued on in this vein for a while and said that he compared this case to the one in "To Kill a Mockingbird" and began to describe the tense situation in that courtroom. Judge Perry put a quick stop to that and headed Baez back on target. Baez apologized to the judge and continued . He objected to jurors being brought back to the Orlando "atmosphere" and court should consider this.
Some of what he said now he said before, so I'll spare you a repeat!
Baez then read off some statistics. The case had generated $19 million dollars in advertising revenue The media frenzy, he said, was not about justice, not about Casey, not about a small child. It was about MONEY!
Personally, I think a trial is about justice for Caylee Marie Anthony.
In his quest for south Florida as a location of the trial, he sad that it can handle media coverage and that the two jurisdictions had switched trials before.
Finally, he asked to give a two minute presentation.
The judge allowed it and we were all treated to a poorly produced video with screaming protesters with their signs and people demonstrating outside the Anthony house shouting "baby killer" and "go to hell". Amazingly, he showed George and Cindy fighting with the protesters.
Judge Perry then asked if other than 4th Judicial Circuit, did Baez have any objections to any other jurisdiction. Baez conferred with Mason and added the 1st Judicial Circuit (Pensacola) as well due to media coverage and demographics.
Drane Burdick spoke next. First, she handed the judge a sampling of all areas of Florida which includes demographics, racial, median income from 2007 Census Bureau.
She then stated the statute which says that if a jury is sequestered and there is a change of venue, the jury SHALL be brought to the venue trying the case... ORLANDO!
Concerning the "atmosphere", she said that State is confident the Court can handle the atmosphere in the courtroom. She cited a case she tried with Mason three years ago where there wasn't any media attention. The families in courtroom were creating problems and the situation was dealt with.
Then end result was that Perry indicated he would rule on this at an appropriate time and stated what his ruling would be. It was exactly the same as he indicated at the April 30 status hearing. There will be a change of venue, the jurors will be brought in from another jurisdiction to Orlando where they will be housed at an undisclosed location. He will also issue a gag order on the attorneys once they are made aware of the location.
As for the situation with the protesters, the judge indicated that he was sure that the Orlando County Sheriff's Office would be able to deal with the situation.
Cheney Mason spoke briefly about the Motion To Seal Jail Visiting Logs. I had to go back and re-listen to this part because Mason spoke very quickly. No unsurprisingly, the defense had failed to notice the Orlando County Jail, which has jurisdiction over the logs. I can't understand why the defense continues to fail to notice the jail!
I have to wonder if Judge Perry, when he hears the motion, will agree to seal the logs as there is the real possibility that the experts who will interview Casey may give away the defense strategy in the case. It is also possible that the same arguments from the jail's attorney as were given about previous jail videos and documents will be given and accepted by the judge. We'll have to wait for another hearing to find out.
The next motion up for discussion was the Motion In Limine To Exclude Irrelevant Evidence of “Party Pictures”. Baez began to speak and and Perry interrupted him to say he had viewed the pictures and read the motion. Baez quickly stated that the vast majority of the photographs were irrelevant, that they did not relate to the crimes Ms. Anthony is charged with.
He stated he would save the rest of his argument for rebuttal, but did state that he was at a loss as to what these photos allegedly prove.
Linda Drane Burdick referred to these pictures a before and after photos. Concerning the photos taken before June 15, 2008, she stated she would agree to proffer them prior to introducing them at trial and that she would not refer to them in opening statements.
Linda Drane Burdick referred to these pictures a "before" and "after" photos. Concerning the photos taken before June 15, 2008, she stated she would agree to proffer them prior to introducing them at trial and that she would not refer to them in opening statements.
Drane Burdick said that the Court could not rule in on the motion in vacuum, without the context of how the pictures would be used. She then went on to demonstrate that the same was true of the Defendant’s Motion In Limine To Exclude Lay Opinion Testimony.
If the defense were to offer testimony that Ms. Anthony was a good mother, if they were to open the door to that topic, Ms. Anthony’s activities during the almost 3 years previous could come in to rebut the testimony. Likewise, previous pictures could come in to do the same.
Drane Burdick said that the Court could not rule in on the motion in vacuum, without the context of how the pictures would be used.
Concerning the “after” photgraphs, she stated that the State has a time line of Casey's whereabouts from July 15-16.
Drane Burdick said that the prosecution intended to use the photos to prove what her activities were during this time frame, not that she was a bad mother.
She also said that the number of pictures would be limited, that there was no need to introduce them all as just one or two would prove their point. They would establish demeanor better than by words alone. They would not be a feature of the trial.
Judge Perry then posed a question to her.
He asked her to assume for the moment the defense offers evidence that Ms. A. is a good mother. What relevance do photos of Ms. Anthony in club with the blue dress have to do with her being a good mother? What was the state's theory on that?
Drane Burdick replied that the blue dress pictures were taken during the time frame she had indicated earlier. They would not necessarily go to challenge the depiction of Casey as a "good mother". They would challenge the fact that Casey claimed she was looking for her daughter when the pictures were taken. She further indicated that the dress would not be an issue. She said there were cases of Casey sitting in a booth with other people which would not feature the length of the dress.
At this point in the hearing, Casey looked very tense.
Perry stated that most of photos would dealt with before trial. Perry said that he didn’t want the jurors to be locked up in jury room while they make arguments about the pictures. He added that he had concerns about some of them. He agreed with Drane Burdick that it is hard to rule on these in a vacuum.
Drane Burdick then stated that, as the trial gets closer, they would be able to narrow the evidence to be presented. They will preview them all with the defense with the intention that it would be reciprocated.
Baez addressed the photographs taken before June 16; he said that he didn’t know what they could indicate as to whether or not Ms. Anthony was a good mother or not. Just because she's drinking beer and is having a good time with her friends doesn’t indicate that Casey wasn't a good mother; that her child were well fed, being taken care of. It was a sexist comment!
He then said that it was the State's theory is that Caylee Anthony died June 16, and that what happened on June 20 wasn't relevant. Baez said that the State's motives were very transparent, they wanted to paint Ms. Anthony in a bad light.
Judge Perry said he would defer ruling and that the State and the defense, under reciprocal discovery rules were to narrow down the issues by March. He said he would hold a hearing March 31 to settle issues about them.
Drane Burdick asked if that was to include all photos. Judge Perry stated the hearing would deal with these and photos of remains of victim.
Cheney Mason gets up to speak to the next two motions, the Omnibus Motion To Exclude Heresay Evidence, Gossip, And, Innuendo and the Defendant’s Motion In Limine To Exclude Lay Opinion Testimony.
I must say that when I read the first motion, I had made a note that any good attorney knows the heresay rules and exceptions. I found that the defense making a long list of statement by various witnesses in statements and depositions was a big waste of time. These issues usually come up on a case-by-case basis. Most of you have followed trials and the sound of an attorney standing and saying "objection, heresay". Then the lawyers will debate with a judge as to why or why not the testimony that would come would be heresay. How many times have we heard an attorney say that the testimony would go towards state of mind, not for the truth of the matter?
Mason said that Doesn't think this, waving and shaking the motion was all that necessary since the prosecution knows what they are doing! He pretty much indicated that the long litany of heresay motions was a big waste of money and that the issue of heresay is more like shifting sands.
I thought to myself at the time that he agreed with me.
He did say he wants State to have a date by which they can present the heresay they intend to use.
Perry agreed with Mason. A lot of the statements could cause heresay objections. He said he would deal with anything theyhave big issues with.
These "things of great concern" will be heard prior to the trial. He said he did not want a mini-trial
Drane Burdick said she didn't have much of a response, agreeing that these issues would have to be a case-by-case basis.
She said that she had a problem with the defense referring to the 911 call as being heresay. She said she would be willing to talk with the defense about redacting it.
Perry stated that his order issued last Friday gives a deadline for all motions. He pointed out that the deadline for the photos is an extended deadline. (March 31) The main deadline is December 31.
Drane Burdick said she would include a motions to redact and to narrow the focus for trial purposes. She stated that the prosecution was not willing to pre-try every issue.
As to the 911 calls, Drane Burdick indicated that the defense only addressed 2 of 3 calls. She said the State was going to use use last one. They would be arguing that Mrs. Anthony's statements are excited utterances. She added that the Court can't rule out of context and they aren't heresay.
Judge Perry said he would reserve ruling on the issue for the present time.
We now got to the Motion To Dismiss Defective Indictment.
Perry asked the defense was going to rest on the pleadings and Baez indicated he was.
Drane Burdick said she had prepared a two page response and handed it to the judge.
Perry took a few moments to read her reply and denied the motion.
The final motion, Renewed Motion To Compel Bench Notes, Standards, Data, And Communications With Law Enforcement, Et Al., was filed by the defense on August 11, 2009. It laid out a laundry list of materials the defense wants.
Baez indicated that they had received some of the material and had not received other information.
They have some of the requested material but not other stuff.
Perry asled what specifically had asked for and from whom (as far as what they still needed).
At this point, I am not going to burden you with all the details. Just going through that gives me a major headache.
Suffice it to say that Baez said that he was missing some CV's (curriculum vitae). Jeff Ashton pointed out that only expert witnesses are required to provide them. Perry asked for the names of those who fit the parameters and Baez came up with four names.
Ashton said that he had no objection and will supply them although one of the names was from the FBI, whose production was complete as of his last discussion with Linda Kenney-Baden.
Baez mention ASCLAD documents from all the certified labs. When Baez mentioned the OCSO, Ashton pointed out it wasn't a crime lab.
Judge Perry asked about Oak Ridge. and Ashton indicated that it was run by the Federal Government and wasnot a crime lab. The awyer representing them has indicated that previously.
Baez then said that certain evidence was sent from FDLE to other labs. He said they do not know if FDLE they ran any tests.
Ashton said he saw no reference to them that he hadn't seen in the14,000 pages of discovery and that they didn't run any tests.
Perry then asked his favorite question, "Next?".
Baez simply said bench notes
Ashton said that Baez needed to be more specific. He' already provided four to five thousand pages of such documents. He said that he had immediately complied with what he had received from the defense.
It was then discussed that Baez needed to speak with lawyers for the Federally run labs.
How many times have we heard this before?
Ashton said that the State had provided everything that they are willing to give that has been asked for and that the defense needs to get this information by going to the jurisdiction of those labs. He added that they could discuss specific items, but they have been compliant.
Perry asked what has Baez not received that he has asked for that he is entitled to.
Ashton replied that counsel should make new motion with specific items and then he can help.
Baez stated that this has been an ongoing issue. He said he'd received nothing from OCSO.
He was again told to list what he'd asked for.
Perry then made a differentiation between experts and crime scene investigators. He asked if there any experts from OSCO who did testing who would testify as experts?
Ashton said that there were only two Sandra Kahn, and Steven Stanger (computer experts). He said that their entire, extensive report has been produced. He added that much that Baez has asked for, such as notes, are undiscoverable.
Perry asked Baez if he would concede or not concede that he had received the material from computer experts.
Baez said that he could only accept Ashton's statement that they are not in existence.
Ashton got testy at this point and indicated he said some of the material is not discoverable.
Perry asked Baez again to list specific items and who he had not received from. He said that the rules of discovery are specific as to whether he is entitled to notes here are rules about whether Baez is entitled to rough drafts and notes. He added that this would be discussed at another time. He mentioned Brady(that the State must provide defense with exculpatory evidence). He again indicated that Baez had to be more specific in what he was missing as it was difficult to go through "this" without knowing what you are missing from whom.
The motion was stabled, and if there is a listed expert the defense has not received bench notes from, they are submit a response and the State can reply and they all can discuss whether they are discoverable.
Baez was given ten days to present this information and Ashton can reply within ten days at which point a hearing for the issue will be set.
Baez asked if he had to file a new motion and the judge told him to rearrange what he has and indicate what he wants from whom.
What the judge was saying was that Baez has to show what exists, does not exist, what hi is entitled to and what he is not entitled to have! In other words... get organized defense!
That was the end of discussion for today's hearing. Tomorrow, Andrea Lyon will be present to present the death penalty motions.
I'm looking forward to seeing Perry vs. Lyon!
Watch the hearing: