Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Judge Rules Casey Anthony's Jail Logs Will Not Be Sealed

At the end of the hearing on June 1, most people who watched the defense argue for the sealing of Casey's jail log records pretty much knew it would be denied.

In his seven-page decision concerning the defense motion to seal Casey Anthony's jail visitor logs, Judge Belvin Perry discussed the issue in depth. In each section, he included numerous legal citations.

Point-by-point, the judge knocked down all the defense arguments.

The first point Perry discussed was the lack of authority of the Court to violate the separation of powers between the Judicial and Executive Branches. Here is what the judge said, leaving out all the legal citations.

In adherence to this basic principle, the judiciary is precluded from interfering with, much less usurping the proper authority of, the executive... Moreover, a trial court is forbidden from entering an injunction that requires an administrative agency to perform its duties in a particular way...

In addition, it is well-established that a trial court my not interfere with and does not have the authority to enter into the decision-making process which is delegated to an executive agency...

The jail visitation log record is an administrative procedure utilized by the Orange County Jail to ensure the safety and security of inmates, jail employees, and the general public by recording the identity of visitors to its facilities...

He speaks a bit more to the issue, but I think we have pretty much have heard this all before. In previous motions to seal jail records and recordings, the defense had heard much the same from the Orange County attorney and from Judge Strickland. Let's hope that seeing every detail in this motion will finally stop the defense from filing further motions!

Next, Perry addressed the issue of Casey Anthony's right to equal protection under the law.

First, the Defendant's claim that failure to seal the jail visitation log is violative of her right to equal protection of the law is without merit.

Perry goes on to explain the meaning of "equal protection".

"Equal protection of the laws" means that each person is entitled to stand before the law on equal terms with, to enjoy the same rights as belong to, and to bear the same burdens as are imposed on, others in a similar situation... All similarly situated persons are equal under the law and must be treated alike; the rights of all persons or classes must rest on the same rule under similar circumstances...

Casey, at the present time, stands in the same place before the law as any other person charged with first degree murder. She is not different from them due to the publicity (much of it fostered by the defense and the Anthony family). Death is different, yes. But Casey is no different from others facing death.

...Consequently, the Defendant's contention that she is being treated disparately from similarly situated persons, i.e., other inmates, is simply unfounded.

(Bold is mine)

In the original motion, Mason Cheney stated that

2. The inability to maintain confidentiality of visitors to the Defendant prohibits the defense from being able to properly prepare her case for trial in that the mere identity of some expert witnesses that the defense desires to visit with Miss Anthony, if revealed, will cause unfounded speculation, as well as investigating and "google" inquiries about said visitor, thus, severely hampering the Defendant's preparation for trial and her entitlements to due process, equal protection of the law, and effective assistance of counsel.

I was surprised when the defense made this motion because of this argument. Prior to asking for the jail visitor logs to be sealed, there were a number of times when someone new appeared and was "googled" by those members of the public who follow the case closely. So far, the most discussed person has been the mitigation specialist, Jeanene Barrett. However, there was no major "red flag" that she was there. Should this new witness be a psychologist, I am sure it would have raised some interest and discussion. However, with this motion, Mason is putting up a huge field of red flags, waving in the breeze. THIS WITNESS IS IMPORTANT AND CRUCIAL TO OUR DEFENSE!

Judge Perry knocked down this argument as well.

Equally implausible is the argument that if the jail visitation log isn't sealed, the Defendant will not receive effective assistance of counsel. Even if the Court was vested with such authority, it is not convinced that the disclosure of the jail logs would give the prosecution any tactical advantage. The disclosure of jail visitors' names does not hold the potential to reveal privileged communications In fact, the Defendant ultimately will be require to disclose to the prosecution the names of all testifying experts, along with other reports or statements of experts made in connection with the case....

Here is my favorite line in this ruling:

Furthermore, any "unfounded speculation" on the part of the news media is beyond the ambit of the Court.

The final discussion of the issue by Judge Perry concerns the assertion by the defense that not sealing the logs would result in Casey's rights to due process of law being violated. Perry didn't buy into that idea either.

...Although the Defendant's Motion contains some very general allegations concerning the nature of this alleged due process violation, it fails to cite any authority that stand for the proposition that jail inmates have a fundamental right to seal visitation log records.

(Bold is mine)

Perry included a very interesting footnote here:

The issues presented in this case do not breach procedural due process matters.

Period. That's it. However, to make sure that the defense fully comprehends this, Perry states that:

Perhaps most telling, the Motion is bereft of any citation to legal authority at all.

Perry then mentions the case mentioned at the hearing by Mason. It is Powell v. Foxman, 528 So.2d91 "is not analogous to the instant case."

The remainder of the comments by the judge addressed the response filed by Orange County and the arguments of Tamara Gappen at the hearing. He agreed with everything he said.

My loyal reader, FRG, perhaps said it best in a post to the Orlando Sentinel.

Sign in The Honorable Judge Strickland’s office: “Do you miss me yet?”


FRG said...

What a wonderful article!!!! Thank you so very much!!! You are "the best"!!!!
Now, don't I feel good you acknowledged me... boy oh boy!!! Thank you.
well, don't you just love judge Perry??? I don't usually read the rulings but this one I read from top to bottom and boy, he lashed out at the defense. As you already know CM has not impressed me so far... which you know I don't like him (LOL), I expected more from him, I guess he is just another JB added to the long list of lawyers defending "convicted felon indigent KC"!!!!
BTW, what's all the secrecy JB wants to keep us from learning? We already know who their experts are, they were on National Media already!!!! Besides as JP noted we will know it eventually. Big deal. Have they "ever" heard of Sunshine Florida Law??? LOL.
Now, between you and me, LKB sent JB to argue her Motion so she would be spared of the embarrassment. *wink wink*
Did you see AL's students have been busy lately? They have filed more Motions again.

FRG said...

I was not sure it was me that posted that so I went back to reread it... it was Deb that posted that, so if you want to give credit for her. I have said something similar to that but I don't think it was today. One thing you are right I am your loyal reader, love your articles and so does JB... just kidding!!! LOL

ritanita said...

FRG, it WAS you! I thought it was a perfect ending for the article.

I haven't seen the latest from the defense. They are responses to the State's responses to the death penalty motions filed last November.

Judge Perry will rule on these motions without a hearing.

They will most likely fail because they all challenge the constitutionality of various portions of the FL death penalty laws.

It's a case of the defense doing those things that they have to do to defend the case. These issues could come up in an appeal.

FRG said...

Did you read on WESH that the hearing on June 17 was changed to June 15 @ 2:00 pm, IIRC it is the one that TES will be arguing about their 4,000 searchers records to be be revealed right? I can't wait to watch this hearing, you bet JB will make a fool of himself (well, nothing we don't know). JB will whine and say that you know LB and JJ were on TES list and blah, blah, blah... more ummm, and mmmm... good Lord!!! I have to take some zanax (is it the name of the drug?) to put up with JB's arguments. Unbelievable!!!!
From my understanding Florida DP laws are not unconstitutional, are they???

ritanita said...

FRG, I just checked. The date is July 15 at 2 PM. We have a while to wait!

All the FL death penalty laws are constitutional as of now.

These laws are constantly under challenge. Sometimes, on appeal they can be overturned. That's why attorneys file all these motions for the future.

Down the line, someone else may file and win a motion on a particular part of the death penalty and win. In that case, those cases with the same argument will also will have the same decision to overturn a verdict.

If attorneys didn't file these motions in the original case, they couldn't appeal their case. Thats why we have all these motions. Ms. Lyon is doing a good job with this.

That happened many years ago with the death penalty in the US. It was declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. States could only reinstate the death penalty only if it met constitutional guidelines.

FRG said...

Went back and read TES article and it was very enlightening!!!! Thanks!!
I have a question an it is regarding the defense witness list... From my understanding, if Someone is called to testify for the Prosecution you have no choice but to attend right? Well, if defense calls a person that it is NOT on the State's list, will they "have to be deposed", if you know what I mean? Is there any rule? Can this person to refuse to testify for KC or not? Thank you!!!!

ritanita said...

FRG, I had to change the comment above yours because the date was wrong, it was July 15, NOT June 15. We have a little longer to wait.

Florida has some unusual rules. Anyone on either witness can be deposed by the opposing side.

Jose Baez didn't attend prosecution depositions before (and I don't know if he is now). The prosecutors attend the defense depositions.

Individuals who are on the witness list are subpoenaed to attend and they can be found in contempt of court if they don't. Judge Perry mentioned that at the hearing when Linda Drane Burdick indicated that some of the defense witnesses wouldn't agree to be deposed.

Since they don't live in Florida, forcing them to come to a deposition is much more complicated, so I've been told.

If these witnesses refuse to be deposed, they can't testify at the trial.

If a person is deposed, they receive use immunity, which means LE can't use what they say against them.

It's interesting that the depositions for Roy Kronk's relatives haven't gone forward because of this. I've also heard nothing about Laura Buchanan being deposed, either.

Perhaps they didn't want to talk to the prosecutors UNDER OATH and repeat the things they told Mort Smith when they were not under oath.

That's my second favorite issue, just after TES right now.

Since I removed the erroneous comments, I'll repeat the link to the article on that motion:


I'll post a list of all my articles on the TES motion before the hearing if you want the whole saga!

FRG said...

I am sorry I made a mistake over the dates, I wrote down June 15th and I meant July 15th, I apologize.
Wow!!! Thanks for the explanation. I do remember when JP told that on the hearing but I thought it could just be applied to the expert witness! From my understanding there are different categories for witnesses right? So, Mr. Kronk's ex bitter wives were not deposed? Oh Lord!!! I felt so enraged when defense went on National Media after Mr. Kronk's deposition and stated he should be a suspect, it felt I was going to cry!!! That was a dirty trick, I did not know they could go so low!!! I can't remember all the names of the people to be deposed by the defense now, I don't think Jill Kerley is on it but not sure so I think there no more than 40 people listed.
I sure want to read the whole saga!!!

ritanita said...

That's ok! I read it wrong, too! Those "J" months can be so confusing!

The only deposition in the Kronk situation was Jill Kerley. She's the one who has cancer. They did her deposition via Skype.

I would really like to see her deposition and compare it to what she told Mort Smith. Maybe it will come out in the next doc. dump!

Linda Drane Burdick filed a response to the deposition schedule and said that Crystal and Brandon Sparks (ex-wife and son) were evading the depositions.

Also, Laura Buchanan.

This doesn't sound good for the defense.

katfish said...

Once again Ritanita, Thank you! You not only answered some questions I had, you answered a few questions I didn't know I had. Kudos to you!

Another question I think I know the answer to but when I read the last sentence of the paragraph taken from the judge's order, I'm not so sure.

"In fact,the Defendant ultimately will be require to disclose to the prosecution the names of all testifying experts, along with other reports or statements of experts made in connection with the case...."

Here's my question:

Do reports and statements of "any" experts consulted in the case have to turned over to the other party, or just those of testifying experts? TIA xxxxx

donchais said...

Ya gotta love Judge Perry!

ritanita said...

Thank you, katfish.

Here's the "good" part of this. The defense only has to turn over information from witnesses who will testify at trial.

Let's use a hypothetical here. Let's say that the defense wants to use some sort of psychological defense. They send a specialist in to examine Casey.

That expert says the defense won't work. He's not reported to the State. They get a second one, a third one, etc. They all say no. The State gets nothing.

Number four expert comes up with the perfect diagnosis and voila! The witness is added to the list and the State gets a copy of the report.

Now, the defense knows the names of ALL the experts the defense used.

Liz said...


Your skill at making what appears so complex easy to understand is amazing - it would seem that all the defense has gained from the change of Judge is a strict timetable - perhaps not what they expected.

Many thanks for your detail and analysis - much appreciated

katfish said...

I thought it was just the experts who will testify, but when I read that excerpt I was tired and my mind wanted to take that "any" literally.

Following your hypothetical, not only will the state know the names of the experts....if they are psychiatric experts they will be able to determine precisely what type of psychological defense the defense wants to use.

For example in the Stacey Barker case the judge was discussing the defense witness list in a hearing because the defense hadn't turned over any reports. After the judge said their names this "evil blogger" Googled their names and found one specialized in post-traumatic-stress-syndrome and the other was an expert on false confessions.

I've only looked at Perry's schedule once but IIRC August 31 is the due date for defense expert witnesses to be listed for the state.

It seems like the defense doesn't know what to do with this case. If they just throw in the kitchen sink of motions at least Casey can't claim they didn't give her a vigorous defense.....even of it does make them look silly. Oh well all is not lost....Mason is having fun.

I doubt Casey will allow them to try and negotiate with the state for a plea deal as long as aggravated manslaughter is on the table.

Have a great day everyone! The weather is lovely in IL today.....hopefully they will resume the search for Stacy Peterson today.I haven't check the local press yet.

FRG said...

Wow, you raised a good point here. The visitor jail log records were not sealed and it is possible that what the defense feared was the visitation of, hypothetically speaking, three Psychologists and add to their list "only one" name... BINGO!!!! What other type of tactics could they use to garner sympathy from the jurors than to come up with an "ugly coping" defense? Not that I believe it will stick.
Defense is stuck with the Zanny the phantom nanny right? In the infamous jail letters KC babbled away about Zanny, wrote about possibly being sexually abused by her father George, groped by her brother Lee... which statement released by the Anthony's through Conway denied the abuse... maybe they intend to put KC in the hot seat, maybe not, after all she has nothing to lose.
We will get to know as soon as somebody starts posting KC's jail visitor logs. Now, that will be very telling.
Thanks a lot Ritanita!!! You are great!!!