Yesterday was not a good day for me and for the defense! My problems started when heavy thunderstorms popped in after the first 30 minutes of the hearing. At that point (having already having fried one computer), I shut down and settled in to watch what I could on InSession. The storms continued on throughout the rest of the hearing including the time when InSession went off and reruns came on.
Once the storms had passed, my computer totally crashed and at the current time is under total reconstruction from my hard-working husband. For the time being, I'm borrowing his computer. I have no bookmarks, no e-mail, and am stuck using an aged track-ball mouse which is next to impossible for me to operate. So, you are getting my Cliff Note's version of the hearing!
The rest of the problems were for the defense side.
It was rather ominous when Judge Perry was late to the bench by about two minutes. Lawyers were seen going in and out of the courtroom. The courtroom itself was so silent, I thought there was something wrong with the feed!
Once Judge Belvin Perry took the bench, we learned that Casey Anthony had waived her appearance for the hearing. We later heard that she had tripped and fallen on the elevator on the way to the courtroom and needed medical attention. It is interesting that in one of her letters to her jail "buddy", Robyn Adams, she mentioned that she was a "klutz" and had nearly fallen in the courtroom on the way to her seat.
Once court was in session, Cheney Mason led the defense in the arguments over the sealing of the visitor logs. If you recall, at the JAC hearing on May 11, there was an extended side-bar between the defense and the judge concerning one type of expert they did not wish to name. In their motion to seal the records, Mason pointed out that this was the same expert whose name (or names) he did not wish to appear on the jail visitor logs. His remedy for this was to either have the logs sealed or the name(s) redacted.
Orlando County attorney Tamara Gappen spoke to the motion as we have heard her do before. The main issue is that there is an issue with the Judicial Branch's inability to impinge on the Executive Branch, which runs the jail.
After a few more arguments, Judge Perry told the attorneys that he had already done extensive research on the issue both within the State of Florida and nationwide and had yet to find case law that would apply. He is obviously concerned that he not step over the line. In order for him to find for the defense will be to find case law which confronts the issue of the Judicial Branch and Casey Anthony's constitutional rights to due process and representation.
Perry indicated he would do some more searching this touchy issue and have a decision next week.
Personally, I don't think he will find anything new, but we'll leave a little glimmer of hope out there for the defense.
Defense ? State 0
The next motion was to unseal the surreptitious tape made by searcher Joseph Jordan. Mason claimed that the information about Jordan came from "incomplete" documents from TES.
I thought they came from Ms. Laura Buchanan.
Mason stated that when Jordan met with defense PI Mort Smith and his attorney Kelly Sims, Jordan stated that when he searched the area and found no remains and that the area was dry. This information would open a "huge door of reasonable doubt" as to whether or not Casey Anthony placed the body in that location since she was incarcerated at the time of this search.
Mason, unlike Todd Macaluso, indicated that this did not rule out the possibility that Casey killed Caylee. In July, Macaluso stated that it proved her innocence!
Mason also stated that in statements to LE, Jordan had changed his story. He also worded his comments to indicate that LE had somehow influenced him to change his story. According to Mason, one version was the truth, and the other was a lie.
In reading the interviews with Jordan, it seemed to me that Jordan changed his mind as to exactly where he searched. When he spoke with Smith, Jordan was under the impression that the remains were found near where he and others had located a cooler and a blanket. When taken to the site, Jordan realized he had been in error.
I will admit that if I were the defense, I would jump on this information as well. However, it would seem that a deposition of Mr. Jordan might be in order so that he could explain the situation in his own words.
Judge Perry asked Mason if he felt that the original ruling by Judge Strickland was tainted (by his "bias" for which the defense asked him to be recused) or for a "second bite of the apple".
Cheney had no way to answer this and chuckled. Had he answered to either, he would have a major problem.
Cheney indicated to the Court that due to the circumstances of the meeting, there was no expectation of privacy and that the tape could be unsealed. He also cited one case, Incieranno, where the VICTIM of the crime turned on a tape during the commission of the crime. I would have loved to hear how Cheney could explain how this exception to the rule related to a meeting with a PI and an attorney! Unfortunately, Cheney couldn't find the case and the hearing moved on.
Judge Perry mentioned the Atkins case in which there is an absolute prohibition for the use of the tape. Mason pointed out to the judge that Judge Strickland had left the motion open for a "second bite" and in the end, Perry denied the motion, but left the door open for the defense to argue it again, AT TRIAL.
Defense ? State 1
Next up was George Anthony's Grand Jury testimony. The State had requested and received the transcript last fall so that they could check for any inconsistencies between George's testimony October 14, 2008 and his deposition in August of 2009.
Mason began by indicating that the defense strongly believed that they had a right to the testimony simply because the State had gotten it. He erroneously stated that the State wanted to compare his Grand Jury testimony to his infamous Morgan & Morgan deposition given because "someone" had filed a civil suit. He corrected himself at the end.
Jeff Ashton spoke briefly, reminding the court that the target of his investigation was NOT the Morgan & Morgan deposition. He also pointed out that he had filed a report with the Court stating he had found no inconsistencies and would not be using the still sealed testimony.
He indicated that the defense should file a motion with appropriate legal grounds, in camera, for the judge to reconsider.
After a few more brief arguments, the judge denied the motion stating that Grand Jury testimony is sacrosanct.
Defense ? State 2
When the issues of aggravating factors came up, Mason pointed out that the State had not backed up their list of aggravating factors with the facts of the case to back them up.
Ashton replied that the trial was a year away and things could change between now and then. He also stated that the defense was upset with the "may" was not "will" as far as the application of these factors.
I got that one right!
Judge Perry read the law on this situation and indicated to the defense that the State had given what was required by his Order and that the State was not required to do any more than that. In addition, aggravating factors can be added and taken off the table even during the trial.
Did anyone else notice the bit of a twinkle in Judge Perry's eyes when he mentioned that the State had listed only the statute numbers?
Defense ? State 3
Next, we were up to the infamous tips. I think we all remember the drama back in 2008 and early 2009, when Jose Baez asked for all those tips? He came before the court to complain that he had been "ripped off" because there were mainly psychic tips? Well, Linda Drane Burdick certainly mentioned it when she spoke!
Baez indicated that the defense had spent $1500 to obtain tips and Drane Burdick indicated that the Sheriff's Office indicated that there was $1500 due to them for the tips. I have a sneaking suspicion that the defense never bothered to pick them up. Drane Burdick indicated that she understood that the defense had sent someone to the Sheriff's Office to inspect the tips, but had abandoned the project. Baez indicated that they had finished the job.
So, I'm wondering why they need these tips now? In fact, the only "tips" that Baez mentioned were those by Roy Kronk and the e-mail from Joseph Jordan.
As I recall, the Sheriff's Office was required to produce all tips that were not still under investigation. Since Roy Kronk later discovered the remains in December 2008, his "tips" were more than likely still under investigation.
Well, when push comes to shove, the judge didn't even bother with ruling on this motion. He indicated to Jose Baez that he could go down to the Sheriff's office and pay the outstanding $1500 and get the tips. Baez claimed that Casey was indigent and couldn't afford them. The judge then reminded him that he allocated funds for public records requests and allowed him up to $2000 for the tips and he'd better be able to justify the expense if he wanted more funds from the JAC. I'm betting that he sends someone down to finish going over the tips and pays for the Roy Kronk tips.
As for the infamous e-mail, the defense already has it and, as Drane Burdick pointed out, was not a tip!
I'd like to give the defense a "win" on this one, but they only are getting what they already had. They just have to pay for them. Since they have funds available, we won't get to hear any more motions on this issue!
Defense ?? State 3
The last motion up for discussion was the defense motion for additional discovery. There was an interesting exchange at the beginning of this portion of the hearing. Jeff Ashton objected early on and indicated that he had not received Baez' Excel spreadsheet presentation until two days ago.
Baez told Ashton he'd like to argue his motion in his own way! There then followed and rambling discussion about scientific research, Dr. Arpad Vass, etc. etc. There was mention of novel science, etc. etc. There was mention of a wire article about the search for bodies in the Manson case which was done a while back.
Judge Perry made a rather strong mention asking if this wire article was from a learned treatise or scholarly book. Nope! An article...
Perry also asked Baez why the defense was asking for this information prior to deposing Dr. Vass. He indicated that this information should be brought up at a Frye hearing.
Baez basically said in more than so many words that he wanted the information prior to the deposition, scheduled for July, so that the defense could ask intelligent questions.
Perry explained that the State had yet to state which documents they intended to use at trial. He used an example from the DEA, where the state was not in constructive possession and did not have a "compact" with the DEA to obtain the documents. In addition, the information that the defense wants is proprietary information and cited a case which deals with breatholizer codes. He asked Baez what authority he could state where he could make the State produce these documents which might be produced in civil litigation (I'm assuming where the information is the focus of the case). He also said that if there were some "quackery" involved in the information which could cause a conviction to be overturned!
This motion was also denied. The defense will have to find its way around all the problems in their own way, obviously!
Defense ?? State 4
It's obvious Judge Perry is annoyed with the pace of the trial. In his opinion, the case should be 98% complete at this point. Ever the diplomat, he indicated to both the defense and the prosecution that they needed to obey the deadlines in the case, and not for the first time. We know that this particular comment was aimed at the defense!
Watch the hearing here:
Listening to the discussion on InSession this morning, I learned a little about grand jury witnesses.
The laws vary from state-to-state concerning whether or not a grand jury witness may discuss his/her testimony.
Florida is a state where a witness may NOT discuss their testimony with anyone. That explains why George Anthony's testimony is so important to the defense. They can ask him, but he can't answer!
Also, there's something interesting at the end of the hearing. Jose Baez was complaining about all the witnesses the state was adding. Judge Perry indicated that the deadline is August 31. We're at June 1 now!
Oh, and Linda Drane Burdick has even a bigger problem! She has virtually NO witness list! Two years in, and the defense has only submitted a limited list of about 3 experts. Otherwise, it mirrors the State witness list.