Judge Perry's Order granting the State's motion for Clarification is now available. It's a good read.
Also, the Clerk of the Court has listed a telephonic hearing for tomorrow, December 14 at 4 PM. Since it is a telephonic conference, I going out on a limb and guess it could be with the JAC concerning Baez' request for more investigative funds and an expert in tapophony.
I won't be around at that time tomorrow, but I will report on it if there is a video posted later as with the last telephonic hearing.
Just recently, WESH has put up an article with some of the details.
Again, muito obrigada to FRG
Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. was none to happy with the defense yesterday when presiding at the 5 PM hearing concerning reciprocal discovery by the defense. In the picture to the left, he has just glanced at the Baez e-mails and heard from the "for all intents and purposes" lead attorney that yes, indeed, his response to the Court's order the court's order had been the series of e-mails.
This hearing was a culmination of a series of events. On November 19, Assistant State's Attorney Jeff Ashton filed a Motion To Compel Additional Discovery. The motion was heard at the hearing on November 29. As a result, Judge Perry ruled that day and also issued an Order Addressing Motions To Compel Additional Discovery And Other Discovery Matters on December 3. The pertinent part of the ruling for this hearing was:
...Defendant shall also provide to the State a list of the Defendant's experts and shall include the subject matter as to what the experts will testify to and the area of expertise for each expert.
Jose Baez took this to mean that he could fire off an "amended" e-mail of the witness list to Jeff Ashton containing sophomoric comments such as, "YOU SHOULD KNOW THIS ALREADY".
On December 1, Jeff Ashton fired back a Motion For Clarification/To Compel Compliance With Order For Additional Discovery. He thoughtfully included the e-mails between himself and Baez (unfortunately redacted).
Since the prosecution needs to do the depositions of the expert witnesses by the end of January, time is very much of the essence, hence the Friday, 5 PM hearing.
Once the hearing had been called to order, the judge called upon Jeff Ashton to argue his motion.
Ashton responded by reading the judge's ruling (first oral, then written) concerning the information the State was to receive from the defense. He then stated he had received the initial partial compliance on Wed. Dec. 1, in the form of an e-mail.
Judge Perry interrupted briefly to ask if the reply was in the form of a pleading or an e-mail Ashton replied that it was in the form of an e-mail. He said that the e-mails contained general area of expertise for some and some more vague. When he asked the defense was going to comply with the order, he received a reply which indicated that Baez wasn't about to comply with any meaningful information. He stressed that he had about seven weeks to complete the depositions and one was already scheduled for next week.
This first deposition is set for the forensic anthropologist Dr. Scott Fairgrieve next week. Mr. Baez has listed him as possibly testifying about canines if there is a hearing. (Talk about vague!) Ashton also pointed out that he had done what research he could and had found Dr. Fairgrieve did not seem to have a background in "canines".
To further complicate issue, Ashton pointed out that the deadline for filing motions on scientific issues requiring testimony was November 30 and no motions had been filed yet, making the prosecution doubly prejudiced.
Ashton mention a Dr. Freeman, a forensic epidemiologist and there are no such issues involved in the case. Furthermore, Freeman wants to charge $575 an hour for his deposition! Ashton stated that he didn't want to pay this person $575 an hour to fish around to find out if he had anything to offer.
In Baez' last e-mail, he admitted to giving the State only what they already knew.
Ashton closed out his argument by asking the Court that, if Baez hadn't complied fully with the ruling, to clarify what the defense must turn over. He had thought the judge meant a "brief summary" of the testimony. However, he is willing to abide by Judge Perry's decision.
Baez then opened his arguments by stating that he doesn't know why they are here! Ashton already knows what they will testify to and all he needed to do was call if he needed more information. Baez even admitted that, when Ashton wasn't satisfied with the information he'd been given, he "filled in some more of the blanks"! (Gee, I didn't know that "Discovery" was a fill -in-the-blank game.) He also said he gave more information about what they MAY testify to!
In a sense, Baez was using Cheney Mason's "you-trust-me-don't-you?" game. Baez seems to think it fine just to "fill-in-the-blanks" over the phone. (At this time, it sounded like the defense was at a gaming convention versus a court of law!)
Baez sounds full of umbrage that, instead of playing the "phone-fill-in-the-blank-game", Ashton
instead he filed a motion. According to Baez, this hearing is "taking up their time" hearing this motion and they are not "here to hide anything". Baez also said that the court had "thrown them a bone" by even requiring the defense to tell them the subject matter the expert witnesses were going to testify to.
At this point, Baez went off-track to refer to the fact that they didn't receive such information about the 350 "ordinary" witnesses. (Personally, I have to wonder if the defense spent as much time poring over the discovery from the State as many of us did.)
Baez summarized that this was a "huge waste of time" and could have been resolved with a "simple" phone call from Mr. Ashton. Short of a "script", Baez would be glad to TELL Mr. Ashton what he needs to know. In frustration, Baez slapped the e-mail motion down, calling it "nonsense".
Some unfortunate choice of verbiage by Mr. Baez here. He's starting to sound like his client!
At this point in the hearing, Judge Belvin Perry slowly, but steadily made Mr. Baez aware of how NOT "nonsense" all this was. (Slightly edited for length)
Perry: How many experts does the State of Florida list, Mr. Baez?
Baez: Approximately 20.
Perry: How many reports have been turned over to you?
Baez: Approximately 12, there are some who have not written reports. About half.
Perry: How many experts have you listed"
Perry: And how many reports did your experts author?
Baez: None. One has recently submitted an affidavit which I will be attaching to a motion.
The judge then asked Mr. Ashton if he agreed with what Baez had said. Ashton disagreed He said that any expert who will render an opinion on the basis of analysis has written a report. He also said that some people listed as "experts" were not involved in analyzing the evidence and would therefore not write a report.
The judge then did a question-answer sequence with the State and the defense.
Perry: Oh what date was the defendant indicted for murder in the 1st degree, Mr. Ashton?
Ashton: Oh boy, I think it was October 12, 2008, I could be wrong on the date....
Judge: And Mr. Baez, on what date did you file your motion for discovery?
Baez: (Unintelligible after any number of reruns)
Judge Perry indicated that discovery has been going on from 2008 through 2009 and now 2010.
He pointed out that there is a a trial date that is quickly approaching. Then, he got down to his ruling:
Perry ordered that where experts have not prepared reports, or reports on their examination or tests, BOTH sides will provide:
Curriculum vitae, qualifications of expert
Field of expertise or medical specialty
A statement of specific subjects upon which the expert would testify and offer opinions
The substance of the facts to which the expert is expected to testify
A summary of the expert's opinion and grounds of each opinion
The deadline for the majority are due by December 23, by 3 PM.
For the two depositions to be taken next week (Fairgrieve, Bock), next Tuesday by noon.
At this point the judge raises his voice to say:
It is to be filed by a pleading in court.
The judge asked if there was anything else. It was at this point that Jeff Ashton added the name of Dr. Bock, the botanist to the deposition schedule for next week.
For once, Baez had nothing more to say.
Judge Perry then told everyone that his ruling would be available in half an hour. Jeff Ashton said he'd be happy to receive it by e-mail.
A number of articles in the MSM have written article about how the judge laid down the law to both sides. That's what he always does. However, let's remember that the prosecution has already supplied reports, curriculum vitae, etc. to the defense following Linda Kenney-Baden's motions over a year ago. I know they did because I scrolled through pages and pages of discovery and read some of the reports myself. The prosecution may have a few odds and ends to clear up, but their work has already been done.
As for the defense team, I'm not sure what is going to happen. Sometimes, I wonder if their experts haven't written reports because they haven't found any information to counter the prosecutions' experts. I also wonder if the experts on the defense list who weren't approved by the judge and funded by the JAC are working pro bono.
The good news is, the defense has been given the chance to comply. I can't imagine what Judge Perry will do if they continue to invent new games to play.
One thing is for sure; he defense team would have had to give out a lot less information had they complied in the first place. Let this be ONE lesson Jose Baez and Cheney Mason have learned.
Watch the hearing