To begin, Jeff Ashton indicated that he had filed an objection to the cancellation of the Oak Ridge depositions scheduled for the same day as this hearing. He asked Judge Perry if he had received it, and Perry said he had. Jose Baez indicated that he had not read it. Ashton pointed out to Baez that he had e-mailed it to his office the previous Friday. At this point, part 8 ran out and at the beginning of part 9, it seems to have been decided to set a hearing for this issue.
Jeff Ashton brought up one more forensic issue at this point. He said he had spoken to the defense last Tuesday about scheduling the defense's botanist and forensic anthropologist (who hadn't been involved in the examination of the evidence) for depositions. He mentioned that there may be or not be reports from them. He was considering traveling to them or doing the depositions by Skype. He wanted to know if the defense had any information about that.
Baez indicated that he had been busy with the experts that had come to Orlando and hadn't had a chance to deal with that yet. Ashton wanted to get them set because they are "presumably" done with their work.
Judge Perry indicated that he was in discussions with Cisco Systems to install a system in the courthouse and that they should wait to make plane reservations. He said that the system had life-size figures and no delay and was better that the view they had in the courtroom. Cheney Mason asked about the hearing and was assured that it was excellent. Ashton liked the idea as the experts mentioned were in Colorado and Canada. Perry said that the system would be able to show documents to them real-time.
Ashton added that he would be submitting motions for preliminary discovery from these two witnesses because he assumed that they were done and hadn't been told otherwise.
Jose Baez then brought up an issue that had been brought up at the the last hearing, the 5,000 pages of discovery the prosecutors had given him. Those were all those letters! Baez had been so busy with all the other things that were going on that they hadn't been able to fully investigate them. He just wanted the judge to know that.
Baez then mentioned that the defense would like to test several items of evidence that had been examined. He said that he had already had preliminary discussions with Ms. Drane Burdick about sending some of them to his experts because it wasn't feasible to do so during the examination due to lack of proper equipment at the OCSO. It mainly seemed to be concerned with identifying the tiny, tiny insects. Those would probably be the coffin flies already identified by the State's forensic entomologist.
Jeff Ashton stood up and told the Court that those sorts or questions should go through him as he was the one who was handling the forensics for the prosecution team. He mentioned that he would have no problem with that and added that he had offered them to Dr. Huntington a year-and-a-half ago. He had also offered to have Dr. Huntington come and examine the entomological evidence with their expert. Both offers were declined by the defense.
Baez said that he would let Ashton know, in the next week or so, which items they wanted to test.
To speed things along, Judge Perry told Baez that if they couldn't come to an agreement over the items to be sent, they were to see him the following week. Ashton pointed out that, although he would be out of town, he'd be available by work e-mail or telephone.
Then, Baez brought up a topic which was the "bombshell" of the hearing. He had filed a motion that very morning to seal an audio tape of a conversation he had with a prison inmate he described as a "prospective witness". At this point, Baez hesitated and indicated he didn't know how much information he needed to make available at the time.
At that point, Linda Drane Burdick stated that she had already made Baez aware that she had made arrangements to recieved "certain items" from a state prison facility that would ultimately be made available through discovery. She said she didn't even have the "item" yet. Ultimately, the motion filed by Baez was in response to that. She pointed out that there was nothing to protect at this time, as it was not in her possession. She felt that discussion about the "item" at the point was premature.
Judge Perry read the motion as he sat on the bench. After the long pause, Judge Perry asked, "Do we know whether this person taped it themselves or the institution taped it?". Baez answered, "I believe it's the institution". Drane Burdick said that she had the same information via a third party.
Judge Perry said that the issue should be set down for a hearing and reminded Baez that he needed to notice the correctional institution, since they are a member of the executive branch. He added with a slight smile, "Mr. Mason's favorite branch." Linda Drane asked if she should NOT obtain a copy, the judge told her that she was ordered not to release a copy.
Baez then tentatively argued the motion by mentioning that the Court had had the same issue with the Joe Jordan tape. Ms. Drane Burdick had not listened to it because it was a third degree felony. He "joked" that he didn't want to see her get arrested.
Judge Perry said that it would be up to the State Attorney, Lawson Lamar to determine that.
To end the hearing, Baez brought up the "feet shackles" and how uncomfortable they are during long hearings, what with them being uncomfortable and cutting off her circulation. Drane Burdick pointed out that the situation involved a "third party" (the jail) and they weren't there. Baez indicated that the shackles were not worn during trials, to which the judge replied, "sometimes they are, sometimes they're not." He asked Baez if he meant that when she stepped over the threshold of the courtroom the "leg irons" be removed and Baez agreed. The judge said he would take the matter under advisement. Perry also made it clear that this would apply to the courtroom only. I noticed Casey nodding slightly with Baez' agreement with the judge.
That ended the hearing for the day.
Since the hearing ended, the phone call Baez wants sealed has become quite the topic. One hint to me that it may come out was Perry's question as to who had taped it. When Baez said it was the institution, my head literally exploded! Baez claims he wasn't notified the call was being recorded! It turns out that an ex-inmate called Baez to tell him that an inmate would be calling him later in the day. Baez' secretary took the call and forwarded it to Baez. It has turned out that Baez has become entangled in an ongoing investigation into an illegal three-party phone scam and a career criminal named Robin Lunceford.
Here are some articles about the situation:
Casey's Attorney Hanging Hopes On Inmate
Casey Anthony attorney wants 'illegally recorded' phone call with prisoner sealed
Here is an article about Lunceford's involvement in another case:
Rilya Wilson Witness has Cold Feet
Part 8 Perry Ruling on 911 tapes (cont'd)/Motion to Seal Evidence Lists/Status Hearing
Part 9 Status Hearing