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?”