Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jeff Ashton Fires Back at Casey Antony's Defense Team

Last night, the Orlando Sentinel published an article concerning a motion filed by State's Assistant Attorney Jeff Ashton which was asking for sanctions against the defense.

The article included some information from the motion which clearly points out that the State has "had it" with the defense team, notably Jose Baez.

We all remember the first feeble attempt at discovery presented to the State. It was a copy-paste of their defense witness list with snide comments. Jose Baez was, at that point, playing the delay game with the State and Ashton was none too happy. At an emergency hearing at 5 PM on December 12, Judge Perry put down a stern list of requirements for the defense to turn over to the prosecution. He followed it up the following day with his Order.

According to the order, the judge indicated that both sides must provide the following:

1. The expert's curriculum vitae or qualifications of
the experts;

2. The expert's field of expertise or medical specialty;

3. a statement of the specific subjects upon which the expert will testify and offer opinions;

4. The substance of the facts to which the expert is expected to testify; and;

5. A summary of the expert's opinions and the grounds for each opinion.

Baez responded on December 15, (one day late for two of the witnesses to be deposed) with this rather mis-named Response To State's Motion For Clarification Of Expert Witnesses and an attachment, a 323 page Exhibit with a curriculum vitae for each expert witness, although I understand a couple of experts are missing.

When I read the response, I scratched my head and had to wonder in what way Baez thought he was being open and honest with the State. I won't copy all the statements he made here, just a few choice items.

Jane Bock (forensic botanist) would testify IF:

a. Whether the State calls Dr. Hall as an expert witness.
b. Whether Dr. Hall's opinions are approved by this court as being based on scientific principles (Frye challenge)
c. Whether Dr. Hall can effectively survive cross examination.

Apparently, the defense is going to challenge Dr. Hall on whether he qualifies as an expert witness in botany? Is botany an accepted field of scientific study? If he survives cross examination?

These are all rather barbed comments about Dr. Hall's credentials!

A section about Dr. Scott Fairgrieve, the Canadian forensic anthropologist states:

4. If Dr. Fairgrieve were called to testify would depend on the following:

a. With this Court for the first time in the history of this state admit testimony
concerning cadaver dog "alerts" as substantive testimony.

b. Will this Court allow a canine to testify, via a dog handler, given Miss
Anthony's 6th amendment rights to confront her accusers and despite the
fact that all "alerts" in this case are unrecorded, and resulted in negative
results for human remains.?.....

5. Of course a dog cannot testify. In the event that the State attempts this
unusual tactic....

Here's a little bit from the Henry Lee section:

If Dr. Lee were called to testify, the substance of the facts that he would be expected to testify would be to rebut any false claims raised by CSI investigators in this case. Until that occurs it is difficult to give a complete summary of his opinions and the grounds for those opinions.

(This reminds me of the time I wrote a term paper about why it was impossible to write a term paper.)

It's no wonder Jeff Ashton decided to go after Baez. There is no substantive information in these documents for him to have the vaguest clue as to the nature of the testimony of these "expert" witnesses. It's unbelievable to think these highly educated people have no ideas and opinions of their own in the case.

Jeff Ashton, after demonstrating great patience during the past two-and-a- half years is looking for sanctions against the defense. In Ashton's own words as quoted in the Orlando Sentinel...

the state would contend that the defendant is in deliberate non-compliance with the court's order as to certain of their listed experts and that sanctions to address the non-compliance are necessary."

Ashton notes that the defense has said expert Dr. Henry Lee "will render opinions on…crime scene analysis, collection and preservation as well as recovery."

But he says the defense team's inability to summarize so-called "false claims" by crime scene investigators that Lee will rebut "is disingenuous and just plain laughable."

"If Dr. Lee has no opinions that would impeach the testimony of any witness, then compliance with this court's order would
require a statement to that effect," Ashton argued. "If he has relevant opinions, the court's order requires that they be listed and the facts supporting them be clearly stated."

The intent of the defense to defy the authority of this court to issue orders of discovery is crystal clear", Ashton wrote.

Quite frankly, Baez' response sounds like one, big smirk. One has to wonder what expression Judge Perry will have on his face when he addresses this motion in court.

Besides his motion, Ashton also filed a State's Response to Court Order. The response begins with:

... Defense counsel's representation to the court that only fifty percent of the State's listed expert had provided reports was erroneous. Of the thirty eight witnesses listed by the state with the classification of expert, thirty six have either submitted reports, or co-signed
reports, as to their testimony and opinions or have their testimony and opinions referenced in the reports of others.

Ashton then followed up with a complete list of his experts and the reports filed. As is typical for Mr. Ashton, he shows Mr. Baez how a real lawyer operates.

Thank you Muzikman, YOU ROCK and your hard work is appreciated.


Liz said...

In all the trials I have watched there has been some sight of friendship and or respect between the attorneys on both sides. It was quite common to see them exchanging comments (whether about the case or the weather) during breaks / before hearings.

Mr Baez does not seem to understand anything about Court etiquette /procedures or what is required in terms of the rules of evidence. I have seen on the videos from this hearing nothing but angst from the defense when anyone from the prosecution is present in the court room. The Judge has commented on the attorneys not being able to "get along" a number of times. I believe the prosecution has tried but has had little, if any, success. It seems they have little choice but to file motions - I have little doubt that the ruling on this motion will reference both sides (as did the ruling on providing the discovery details).

The person who will be most effected by this - is, of course, the defendant. The impact of the ability/or lack thereof, of her attorneys in many areas of the law is critical to her defense.

Thank you again for your updates Ritanita.

ritanita said...

Liz, I have to agree with you about the relationship between lawyers. It should be collegial and professional. I don't believe Baez "gets" that part. I've seen lawyers argue like crazy in court and then leave arm and arm discussing families.

I disagree with you about Perry's ruling on the motion, however.

I forgot to put the ending on the article and ran into awful formatting problems. I cannot use Blogger with MIE, I have to use Firefox! Silly me, I happened to be on MIE when I realized I needed to add a little and the whole article went haywire!

At the end, I mention that Ashton filed a response to the judge's order in which he specifically points out how he has complied with the judge's order.

The only attorney who has not adhered to the rules is Baez. He's the one who will face sanctions, should Judge Perry decide they are merited.

Remember at an earlier hearing he said, "And I believe in sanctions." Baez hasn't "gotten it" yet. Let's hope this motion wakes him up. LOL, I do think he'll reply to Ashton. It will be an interesting read!

donchais said...

I have to wonder if Baez is purposely trying to get himself tossed from the case.

He was playing so out of bounds with the defense experts list that Ashton called for sanctions. Good on Mr. Ashton!

Now he admits Roy Kronk is not involved. He knew that the other day when he made a fool of himself at the hearing, yet couldn't man-up and inform the court this was the case!

He has blatantly lied in court and, like his buddy Mason, its all on tape for the entire world to see!

Truthfully, after this last faux pas, if I were Mason, Finnell or any of the experts (are they really on board with Baez?) designated by the defense, I'd be on the first train out of Dodge!

Liz said...

You are probably correct - I just find that like most Judges he does attempt to be very fair to the defense - so I am imagining a response that begins "Both sides must adhere to my rulings" - he may then continue with "in this instance the defense has not"

I read Mr Ashton's response after I posted on T&T - it was certainly an impeccable (sp) response and followed the requirements explicitly.

Thank you for perservering with the right/wrong browser - I have been known to have loud verbal arguments with my computer when things don't operate in the manner that I require.

ritanita said...

Donchais, I think that the circus act is losing its luster as Mr. Baez' trial balloons fizz out and drop to the ground. Roy Kronk is just the latest example.

Liz, I'm sure Ashton has the support of the SA office on this, it's a pretty strong motion he's presented to the judge.

I'm just waiting to see Baez' promised reply. He said he'd do one! Oh, but what does that mean?

Valhall said...

Merry Christmas everyone!

FRG said...


Your article is great, thanks a lot!

I think JB is no fool and for him it is all a game... but this game is getting old and people are getting sick of him trying to make jokes and play the smart pants in the case. This is not about him! I am just sick and tired of his games... can you imagine Mr. Ashton and Mrs. Drane-Burdick? It has been unbearable for them.

JB is very unprofessional and I just hope JP won't be punishing both sides in this. There is no other choice left for the Prosecutors than to file for Sanctions, I believe.

I think I heard JP saying he won't be working next week so we will have to wait until he gets back because this is a hearing I don't want to miss it.

Hopefully Santa brought new colored crayons for Jb so he can start scribbling his response to Mr. Ashton. LOL

Anonymous said...

With a case of this magnitude and publicity, the actions of Baez/Mason are astounding. I get the impression this is the rock Baez lives under, but I'm surprised Mason chooses to be remembered for this pitiful performance. A few well-chosen words in a goodbye note to the team would be in his best interest.

Anonymous said...

Judge Perry should just hit them in their checkbook as a as not to predjudice the defendant.....the FL bar may have some real sanctions to impose later.
Hope you all had a Merry Christmas. Mine has been so busy I haven't been able to write a thing about the hearing on the 20th. I'll be back in the Iceburg with 6 inches of snow environment that's very conducive to writing :)
I don't have all my passwords in on my netbook yet so I'll just sign my name......katfish

shari said...

Baez never ceases to astound me. I truly wonder how he got his bar license. He is taking this way "too personally"....wonder why?
He is soooo contentious to the other side. Everyone above is correct. Most lawyers are contentious IN court, but all know and respect each other out of court. Baez is an anomoly! Mason seems to have lost his "game" also.
I sure hope Judge Perry reigns this in quickly or it will become another circus of errors (a la OJ)