Saturday, February 5, 2011
I can't begin to tell you how many trials I have watched. I began with the first Court TV trial, OJ Simpson. Since I was at work during much of the trial and Court TV was then gavel-to-gavel, I was able to tape most of what went on while I was at work and watch the remaining portions live. I seldom needed to go back to my video-tape to get the flavor of what was going on. Since then, I've been a trial junkie. Summer vacations meant I would always be watching some trial or another. I truly grieved when they cut back the coverage so that it ended at 5 PM. Now, I watch InSession and trials that are live streamed.
What drew me to the Casey Anthony case was the sheer absurdity of the whole situation. The child wasn't reported missing for 31 days. The parents of the accused and her defense team went on a seemingly unending media blitz. Mainly, though, it was the grief that Caylee Marie Anthony, a beautiful almost three-year-old toddler was missing and later found in trash bags and laundry hamper, her little bones strewn all over a vacant, swampy lot literally around the corner from the Anthony home.
This was also my first opportunity to watch a case develop from the first 911 call, discovery, indictment, and now to trial. It has taught me a great deal about the law, especially as it is in Florida. It has also given me the opportunity to watch the vast majority of the pre-trial hearings. At this point, however, I wish the pre-trial hearing would go away and we could get on with the trial itself. Yesterday's hearing and the previous release of information about the TES investigation concerning Brad Conway and Laura Buchanan (Part 1, Part 2) have put me over the edge.
Yesterday's hearing marked the first time I was unable to continuously take notes and watch. At a certain point, I reached BS overload and just sat back and watched. Shame on me! Now, I'll have to watch it all over again.
The hearing began late. The attorneys were in a conference in Judge Perry's chambers. At one point, Cindy Anthony was summoned to leave the courtroom and later returned with Baez&Co.'s attorney Michelle Medina. (I sure would like to know what all that was about!) It was also noted that Sgt. Allen was in attendance at the hearing. The rumors are running rampant. I'm sure we'll learn something about it sooner or later.
Once court convened, the first item of business was the status of LE depositions. It would seem that the defense had their microphone turned off, because all I could make out was something about eight being scheduled for this week and mumble, mumble, mumble from Cheney Mason.
When the State was asked if they concurred, Linda Drane Burdick indicated that there were no depositions set beyond the court's deadline and one other. Other than that, only civilian witnesses remain.
Next up were the depositions of expert witnesses. Jeff Ashton spoke to Jose Baez' Motion For Extension Of Time To Comply With Order For Expert Witness Reports. He deferred to the defense concerning the motion. I was amazed to hear Baez say that he didn't believe the motion was "calendared"! (Was he hoping it would hang out there forever and past his unique opportunity to confab with his experts in Chicago?) He indicated that the defense was "only" talking about three witnesses plus one, who is "unavailable." (Read that as Dr. Spitz, who is recovering from two serious surgeries.) Of course, Baez considered that information confidential and railed at Jeff Ashton when he mentioned it was a "medical problem". (Hey, we all know about the chicken bone and the bowel perforation from a motion in another case!) The other experts are Dr. Logan (for Frye Hearing on Oak Ridge), Cathy Reichs (forensic anthropology), and Dr. William Rodriguez (taphonomist).
Baez went on about his unique opportunity to meet with the three on February 21 at the AAFS meeting beginning the 21st. Judge Perry interrupted to say, the 21st of January? Baez explained that it was the 21st of February. Baez gave sort of a rambling explanation of wanting to get all his experts together so the were essentially able to provide the State with their reports.
Judge Perry then asked Mr. Ashton's opinion on the matter. Ashton said that as much as Baez might want to meet with it's experts together, it was too late. The deadline was January 26. The only one he understood about was the Dr. Spitz situation. Essentially, Baez' convenience was not justified since the State was delayed by a month in setting up their depositions. (Let's remember, the Frye Hearings will be in late March.)
Ashton then provided the defense and the judge with a copy of Cathy Reich's tweets which showed her to have been home, caring for a sick cat, working on her book, and now vacationing in Tahiti.
Judge Perry then reminded both parties that they had agreed to the dates for the reports after a previous hearing and both Baez and Ashton agreed that it was so.
Judge Perry then asked Baez that, with the exception of Dr. Spitz, who has a medical issue (take that Baez that it was under seal), if he had any compelling reason to file for an extension.
He then brings up Dr. Kathy Reichs' tweets that she is on vacation in Tahiti.
After a bit of babbling about how he had been in touch with Reichs, Baez then mentions that HE has information that he would like to share with all his experts together. He then said that the prosecution seems, through their depositions, to be attempting to tie their experts' testimony together. Baez doesn't know if this is proper, but he seems to want to do the same thing with his experts when he goes to Chicago. (I am not an attorney, but I do believe it is proper to have all of your experts in tune with each other as their testimony will dovetail to present a cogent case. I've seen this in many different trials. It doesn't mean one expert's testimony changes, but reinforces the case as a whole.)
Baez then indicated that he could get Reichs to put together a one or two sentence e-mail as her report (similar to one he claims the State has). BUT, if, after meeting with her and the other experts, she just may come up with a NEW idea. Then, he would have to submit a NEW report to the State which would be REDUNDANT!
After a little back-and-forth about what Dr. Logan's field is, Jeff Ashton explained his position.
The court began ordering these reports in late November and with today's modern technologies such as teleconferencing, there was no reason this meeting of the minds could have already taken place. He believed there was no good reason for any more delay and Mr. Baez' explanations were unacceptable. He also said he had now knowledge of any of his experts giving a one-line report. Mr. Ashton was very frustrated!
Baez then ranted on and on about Mr. Ashton deposing some of his experts more than once because Ashton "forgot" to send some materials, yadda, yadda, yadda. He complained that the State had a new expert and that they continued to add and now HE would have to go back and depose some more. He made a big deal about the State stating the diary, had the diary in it's possession for over two years. (Note, the State did NOT have the diary until Brad Conway turned it over to them.) Baez added the new computer searches and new reports for Dr. Huntington to study. He even used the old "pot calling the kettle black" analogy. (Baez just can't seem to get it in his mind that YES, this case is ongoing until the jury goes out for deliberations.)
Then, Baez went off on a tangent about how he had spent his own money to pay for this meeting in Chicago, "and he (Ashton) just wants to sit up here and raise a big stink..." (I don't think Baez even thought about the fact that he was ordered to get the reports moving back in November, even before Dr. Spitz' medical emergency in late December).
As Baez turned and shrugged at his co-counsel, Judge Perry spoke up again.
"...with the exception of the expert who has the medical problem, do they have telephones?"
I had to laugh out loud when Baez replied that they do, with possibly the exception of Dr. Reichs, who may not have a phone in Tahiti! (remember the tweets from Tahiti!)
After a brief conference with Cheney Mason, Baez returned to the podium to mention to the judge that, "with the exception of maybe one or two experts, specifically the experts we are talking about now, have agreed to do their work pro-bono. They have not submitted any vouchers to the JAC, even though they've been appointed. Most of these experts are certainly doing it 'for the cause' as opposed for the slave wages that are offered by the JAC."
Yikes! Mr. Baez needs to think before he speaks! This is definitely not the way to make "nice" to the recently re-elected, African-American Chief Judge Belvin Perry, Junior! In addition, there is an assumption that pro-bono means the experts do not have to obey court orders!
Judge Perry addressed Baez rather elegantly by saying, "Mr. Baez, does the rules of criminal procedures.... make a distinction between whether they work for free, people that work at slave wages, the people that work at luxury wages, do they make a distinction between those folks, sir?"
Baez answered "no sir" but started to go on for a bit before coming to a total halt in his words. It was a rather awkward pause as Perry seemed to contemplate his computer screen for quite a while. It was obvious that Linda Drane Burdick and Jeff Ashton were not pleased with this hearing as they waited for the judge to speak.
After a brief discussion about Dr. Spitz' availability, Judge Perry ordered his report by March 11, 4 PM. Jose Baez again indicated that Dr. Spitz' report would only reflect what he had already submitted to the court.
Next came Dr. Logan (head of the DNA lab in PA doing work for the defense). He is supposed to be involved in the Frye Hearing concerning the air sample testing. Jose Baez stated that he had been unable to contact Logan by voice mail or e-mail. (Or is it that Logan is avoiding him?) Judge Perry again had some questions about telephone technology. Did the lab have a secretary or receptionist who answers the phone? Did Baez ever try to reach him that way? It was yet another laughable exchange.
My concern is how Baez could, without having spoken with Dr. Logan, managed to schedule a meeting at that conference? Is he planning to ambush him from behind a potted palm since he expects him to "fully" be there at the conference. Jeff Ashton opined that he is contactable through the NMS Labs, of which he is the director.
When the Judge asked Baez if he had tried to contact him through a secretary, Baez said he felt his efforts were "sufficient"! (How is it sufficient if you don't make contact with an important witness? I think Baez might have been thinking to himself, "Why didn't I think of that?"
When Baez wasn't able to tell the judge the deadline for his report, Aston piped up with, January 26th. Judge Perry's comment was, "I think you don't want him to testify."
Baez responded, "certainly not" and indicated it was the reason he filed the motion for an extension.
Judge Perry goes into Law 101 mode to inform Mr. Baez that:
When you file a motion, you need to calendar to be heard, they do not automatically get calendared to be heard. It is the attorney's duty not only the attorney's duty not only to file, but to schedule the motion to be heard.
He then ordered that Dr. Logan and Dr. Reichs have their reports filed by February 15, or they will not testify. Judge Perry said there were to be no more motions to extend the deadline, nor would he entertain any. (As of today, February 5, Baez has 10 days to come through with the goods, well prior to his unique opportunity).
As for Dr. William Rodriguez, Baez said that the first opportunity he would have to sit down and talk to him would be at the conference in Chicago as he is a recent member of the team. Again, the judge reminded Baez that there is such a thing as a telephone.
Baez went on about needing to share photographs and documents and so forth and so on. When the judge asked his specialty, Baez responded Taphonomy (decomposition).
This reminds me. There is a Motion To Appoint Expert In Taphonomy filed November 24, 2010 and a Response from the JAC in my "motions pending" file. It's never been calendared, never been heard.
After clearing up for Judge Perry that this expert would not testify to "sniffer stuff", Baez explained that his role would be looking at all issues relating to decomposition. He would need photos. Judge Perry recommended he Fed-ex the pictures and talk on the phone about them.
Apparently being so new, Baez has not been able to get all the material to him, blah, blah, blah.
Judge Perry gave Dr. Rodriguez until February 21, 4 PM to provide his report. (Gee, that's the first day of the unique opportunity!)
Baez ended the discussion of his motion asking for clarification. Judge Perry had ordered that only material in reports and depositions could be testified to at trial. Baez asked if that is true for the State. Judge Perry reminded Baez that if he reads the court order, the rule applies to both sides. He then asked that if the state forgoes depositions of his experts, if the rule still applies. The judge replied that it does.
Drats! That means the State's experts, who were deposed by the defense can testify to a great deal more information than the defense's experts. That is, IF the State does not depose them all, say, due to the fact that the reports were submitted so late?
Jeff Ashton pointed out that he doesn't want to play any games with this as to what's in the reports or not.
Judge Perry said that the ruling was initially made so that each side would know what the other side's experts were going to testify to. He then went on to say that he wasn't looking for any "gotchas". He added that, "I'm not interested in surprises. It's simple. … If it's not in a report or deposition, it's not going to be allowed."
That pretty much ended the discussion on experts and Jose Baez' motion. Jeff Ashton did indicate that he would be scheduling Dr. Furton's deposition for a Saturday during this month.
It was at about this point that I stopped taking notes and started watching the action. As I look at what I've already written about the hearing, I'm going to call it a day. I will hopefully finish the hearing Monday. Yes! I'm actually getting to take a day-trip tomorrow with my long-suffering husband who tolerates late meals and sometimes no meals at all so that I can cover this case.
For those who haven't seen the hearing yet,
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
Special thanks to Muzikman as the Internet's best source for documents in this case!
Your hard work is very much appreciated.