Friday, April 29, 2011

Phil Spector: Wrongful-Death Civil Suit Trial Date Set

Phil Spector, California Department of Corrections and Rehabililtaion booking photo

The Associated Press is reporting that a trial date of January 9th, 2012 has been set for the Clarkson family's wrongful-death suit against Phil Spector. The Clarkson family is represented by the highly respected team of John Taylor & David Ring of Taylor & Ring.

Last I read, Spector is now represented by Leslie Abramson. Leslie Abramson, who recently attended the oral arguments for Spector's appeal of his murder conviction, is best known for her role in the defense of Erik and Lyle Menendez for the August 20th, 1989 murders of their parents Jose and Kitty Menendez in their Beverly Hills home.

The Washington Post wrote this about Abramson's representation:

The Washington Post, May 4th, 1996

The most dramatic part of the Menendez trial -- the retrial, that is -- was not watching two ghostly young men sit in silence as a prosecutor demanded their deaths for the crime of murdering their parents. It was watching their star attorney sit in silence as a colleague pleaded for their lives in her stead. Leslie Abramson, condemned to silence. Gagged, as it were, in that final, critical moment after five years of hellbent, heaven-rending fury in defense of her client, Erik Menendez, and his brother, Lyle. Worst of all, silenced by accusations that she ordered evidence altered, ...
Will Spector continue with Ms. Abramson as his attorney for the civil case? We'll have to wait and see.

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Possible Delay in Conrad Murray Manslaughter Trial

CNN is reporting there could be a delay in the Conrad Murray trial, slated to start May 9th, 2011.

It is no surprise to me that the trial might be delayed at the request of the defense. I suspected something like this would happen at the end of the preliminary hearing. Judge Pastor states my thoughts exactly when it was first reported the defense was ready to go and the trial would commence within 60 days.

"This is precisely the matter I fully expected that was going to happen when the defense said it wanted to go in 60 days," Pastor said.

By the questions the defense asked at the preliminary hearing, it was clear they were going for a defense that Jackson either injected himself with propofol or drank it while Murray was out of the room taking a bathroom break. Now they are asking for a delay, directly related to that defense. Judge Pastor informed the defense to let him know by the end of the day whether or not they wanted a continuance.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Casey Anthony And Her Team Strike Out Yet Again, Hearing Scheduled For Monday

Judge Belvin Perry ruled on two motions today. The first is the Order Denying Amended Motion For Hearing On The Unreliability Of Expert Opinion Testimony Of Dr. Hall. This finally puts to rest the defense arguments that Dr. Hall cannot give his opinion based on his experience as a botanist.

The Court stands by its prior finding that Dr. Hall will present pure opinion testimony at the trial based on his training and experience, and no hearing is warranted. The jury will be entitled to determine the credibility and reliability of his opinion, which it may accept or reject.

So, as is true in many trials, there will be dueling experts with the members of the jury deciding who to believe. If Judge Perry said it once, he has now said it at least three times!

The second one, the Order Denying Motion For Reconsideration Regarding Motion To Exclude Stain In Trunk Of Car should let Mr. Baez know that he wasn't confused at the hearing when the original motion was argued.

Yesterday, Perry ruled that the Chloroform and computer searches could come in. In his Order, Perry went all the way back to the first use of the science involved in 1900. In essence, the science of GC/MS is well established in the scientific community. What is up for discussion will be the professional opinions of Dr. Arpad Vass vs. Dr. Kenneth Furton.

All we have left now is the motion to exclude Dr. Vass' air samples which indicate the possibility of a decomposing body having been in Casey Anthony's car.

Today, it was announced that the next status hearing is scheduled for Monday, May 2 at 9:30 AM.

"Muito obrigado" to FRG for keeping me up to date. I've been ducking onto the Internet between waves of thunder storms for the past couple of days. Fortunately, we haven't had any tornados.

I also hope all our readers who live in affected states are safe and sound.

See you all in court Monday!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Casey Anthony Loses Three More Motions: What Will The Defense Do Next?

Judge Belvin Perry released three more orders today, all denying the defense motions in limine.

First is the Order Denying Motion To Preclude Phantom "Heart Sticker" Evidence. The defense had claimed that since the examiner had destroyed the evidence either inadvertently or in bad faith, it can not be used in trial. The judge explained that this situation came between the cases cited in the defense motion.

...The defense has presented nothing to establish that the state either intentionally or negligently lost or disposed of evidence or that the evidence was unavoidable consumed. Ms. Fontaine's testimony would consist of a description of something she observed while she was examining the duct tape for latent fingerprints.

Therefore, Ms. Fontaine will be able to testify to what she saw on the duct tape, although she can't say it was a sticker.

Judge Perry ruled on both motions concerning hair-banding in his Order Denying Motion To Exclude Unreliable Evidence (Post Mortem Banding) And Amended Motion In Limine For Hearing On The Unreliability Of Scientific Testimony By Karen Lowe On Post-Mortem Hair Banding.

He cited the NY case which the prosecution brought to his attention. My favorite part of the decision was when Perry indicated that

The court notes that Mr. Petraco's, Dr. DeForest's, and Faye Ann Springer's qualifications as an expert in the field of forensic science are not subject to dispute.

He also indicated that Karen Lowe, the FBI hair and fiber analyst had read the peer-reviewed journals going back to 2008 and was going to testify that the hair was "consistent" with post-mortem banding. It will be up to the jury to decide whether or not to believe the testimony.

The judge also issued an Order Denying Motion In Limine To Exclude All Evidence Relating To Canine Searches and Alerts.

In his decision, the judge went into great detail as to other cases, Trejas v State (Texas), Clark v State (Maryland), and Harris v. State (Florida). Without mentioning any of the testimony presented in this case, Perry felt that there was no reason to keep the cadaver dog evidence out.

There have been other motions filed lately as well.

George and Cindy Anthony's attorney, Mark Lippman, recently filed a whopping 15 page motion with a memorandum attached making the document a 96-page long read. The Motion For Relatives Of Victim To Be Excused From The Rule Of Sequestration And Memorandum Of Law.

If you recall, there was a hearing where George and Cindy both testified. At that time, Lippman argued for them to be present as next-of-kin to the victim. Judge Perry made a comment which mentioned "changing stories" and refused to excuse them from the rule.

Bill Sheaffer, as usual has made comments about this in a conversation with Kathi Belich. It can be found at WFTV. Just expect a slow load on this, it's obviously very popular. Sheaffer thinks that the chances are "slim" and noted that there would be a risk to the defense if they are in the courtroom.

Thanks to Muzikman, we also have a defense motion, Motion to Reconsider Trunk Stain Motion.

In this motion, the defense pretty much tells Judge Perry that he probably got mixed up during the hearing because
The arguments for this specific motion where (sic) held at the conclusion of several scientific related hearings in which evidence was admitted on a variety of motions. It would be easy to overlook what the Court believed to be presented for one motion, but was actually being presented for multiple motions as is the case here.

Baez then went through the arguments that were presented. I still don't understand why he keeps insisting there was enough food in that garbage bag to produce fatty acids! When it comes into the trial, the CSU people will testify to the total lack of rotting garbage in the bag and to the not-so-terrible odor that emanated from it.

I wonder if Baez still believes all the stuff Henry Lee said early on during the "Nancy Grace" show.

I had absolutely no trouble during the hearing sorting out what was what. I wonder if Judge Perry will take umbrage at what Baez said!

While I'm at it, I should also mention a Motion In Limine filed by the defense on April 21.

In it, the defense argued that the pictures could not come in because they cannot be used to show consciousness of guilt. The only problem I see with that motion is that, as many others have already said, the prosecution never said that COG was the reason they wanted them admitted! Valhall already has a great article about it at the Hinky Meter, it's a must read if you already haven't!

So far, we have no hearing date and it wouldn't surprise me if the defense filed some more motions before next week. Let's face it, there are only 8 weekdays between now and jury selection.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Casey Anthony: Judge Perry Rules: One down, more to go

Judge Belvin Perry has made a ruling on one of the the scientific motions. While we were expecting them all today, the judge only denied the defense motion to exclude mention of the stain in the trunk.

The defense seeks to exclude all evidence or any motion of the stain in the trunk of the Pontiac Sunfire automobile driven by the Defendant. As the movant, the Defendant bears the burden of proving the facts alleged in her motion and justifying the relief requested. Defendant however, did not present any factual evidence at the hearing in support of the grounds alleged in the motion, and therefore failed to meet her burden of proof. Consequently, any evidence relating to staining in the trunk of the automobile may be admissible upon proper presentation and foundation of the evidence.

The courthouse is closed tomorrow for Good Friday and we will have to wait for the rest. Let's hope Monday brings us the rest of the decisions.

To review what was said in court during the last Frye hearing session, I've copied a portion of Part 5.

Baez promised he would keep his comments brief.

He started by saying that probative value of the stain was outweighed by the prejudicial effect of the testimony. He said that he doesn't have to bring up evidence that most people have stains in the trunk of their car.

He then said that the stain had to have relevance to the case. The garbage bag was wet and moist, there was (sic) gasoline cans in the car. Presumptive tests used Blue Star and there was a glow that showed that there was a possibility of blood.

The test found that there was no DNA on the stain and was not serological of nature.

Ashton had stipulated to that. But, Baez pointed out, there was mass hysteria about the stain that it looked like the outline of a child. Baez even called it "stigmata-type" evidence.

Baez asserted that after all the tests were in, it was NOT biological in nature. The State went to GREAT EXPENSE to do these tests and found nothing.

He then went on to point out that presumptive tests (for blood, etc.) can have false positives.

Baez was insinuating that the stain came from the wet, moist garbage bag.

Next, it was Jeff Ashton's turn. He indicated there was no testimony presented in support of the motion. In his response, he clearly pointed out that the defendant has the burden of proof here. He said they have not agreed and there was nothing attatched to the motion (photographs) he received. He stated that even attaching the pictures would not make it proof. Dr. Vass found that there were elements which contained compounds consistent with human deposition.

Baez responded that he had proof that he he filed the attachments with the court. He mentioned that if they would have to STOP the trial to have a hearing, they could do that.

The judge asked if there is testimony concerning the composition of the stain.

Baez said there was testing for chemicals that were found in the stain. Baez also said that the chemicals are consistent with a plethora of other items. (Velveeta Defense)
Baez said that the non-physicist Arpad Vass would testify and Madhavi Martin would testify that there are other possible causes of the stain.

The judge indicated that Vass said the stain was consistent with decomposition.

Baez went back to the DNA and lack therein.

Ashton said that there were volatile fatty acids possibly consistent with decomposition, possibly of a human nature. Dr. Martin's LIBS testing was also mentioned. Ashton also said that DNA is not present in decomposition because decomposition destroys DNA.

Judge asked if there was any testimony regarding the composition of the stain...Baez answered Vass and Martin had that information.

Judge Perry Rules On Stain In Casey's Trunk

National Crime Victim's Rights Week: THE UNNAMED VICTIMS

Yesterday, DDA Alan Jackson wrote an article that appeared in the California political blog FlashReport.ORG. Below is a portion of the article and a link back to read the complete article. Republished with permission from FlashReport. Sprocket.


Alan Jackson, Deputy District Attorney, Los Angeles County - Candidate For District Attorney

April 20, 2011

I walked into the courtroom and felt immediately out of place. An odd sensation, especially for a public prosecutor, someone who has made his life’s work fighting for victims within the walls of courthouses throughout Los Angeles County. But those were my courtrooms. This was not.

The Second Appellate Division for the California Court of Appeals conducts its business in beautiful environs. Dark wood walls accent expensive-looking green marble. A meticulously crafted bench carved in a semi-circle provides a dignified stage for the appellate justices who occupy its space. Thick carpet quiets the almost serene tone of the room. But the elegance of the courtroom stands in stark contrast to the horrors described within it.

Continue reading at FlashPoint....

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Casey Anthony Status Hearing: The Defense Sort Of Wins One!

It wasn't a good day for the defense yesterday. They withdrew the second mental health expert, Dr. William Weitz, making most of the issues to be discussed moot.

They lost their opportunity to keep pictures from being introduced at the trial. They did have one objection that Judge Perry sustained. It was the objection to the smiling face of Casey taken just prior to her initial arrest on July 17, 2008. However, if the defense opens the door by asserting that when being interviewed by LE, she had been under the domination and control of the "big, bad, gun-toting detectives" we heard about when the defense tried to have all her interviews excluded. Then, the state can introduce the photograph to rebut the claims made. If this were to happen, I would imagine it would be during the cross-examination of Yuri Melich, John Allen, or Appy Wells.

Here's a brief explanation about the introduction of photographs into the trial. The state chose those photographs they would like to introduce as they interview the pertinent witnesses. Jose Baez objected to a few of them now, to exclude them from being used at trial. When Judge Perry denied the objection, it meant that the state could proffer them at the trial during the testimony of the witness.

For example, when Ricardo Morales takes the stand, he will be asked when and where he took the photographs. He will be asked to identify the "Big Trouble" T-shirt and identify the picture. The defense will then object to the admission of the photograph at that time and state their reasons. The judge will then make a ruling and, if Mr. Baez is overruled, the photograph will be admitted and published to the jury. The same will happen with other photographs, even if the defense did not object during the hearing. The state will have to lay the foundation for the relevance and tell the judge why it is more probative than prejudicial to Casey Anthony. (The photograph on the right is cropped.)

For the most part, these objections will be immediately ruled on by Judge Perry and the trial will move on. If the defense feels that some of the sealed photographs of the remains are cumulative versus probative, the jury might be asked to leave during the discussion. While I cannot be totally sure, I do believe that the sealed photographs will only be shown to the jury and go with them into deliberations. If the photographs are projected onto a screen, the TV cameras will not show them.

As for the hearing itself, it was almost all wait. There were long side-bars and two in-camera sessions due to the nature of the topics discussed concerning the mental health issues. The last side bar lasted nearly an hour and Casey Anthony, for the first time, joined the attorneys and judge in the jury room to participate in the discussion. When she returned to the courtroom and sat between Baez and Cheney Mason, she appeared extremely anxious, wringing her hands and making faces that showed her anxiety. It must not have been a pleasant experience for her. It would seem that reality is setting in and she is realizing her outlooks aren't exactly rosy.

There was a lot of interesting discussion and question-answer sessions between Jose Baez and Judge Perry. Due to sound issues on the live feeds, I waited until this morning to listen to the parts I couldn't hear before summarizing the actual hearing.

The hearing opened and Jeff Ashton was the first to speak, addressing the state's Motion For Examination By Mental Health Expert. It is a short motion and Ashton stated that it spoke for itself in that it cited two cases, Dilbeck and Hickson, which support that the defense will present mental health testimony which is based on the doctors' examination of Casey Anthony. After Hickson, the court recommended and implemented new rules allowing the defendant to be tested by State for mental defense in mitigation case. The Dilbeck case extended this to capital cases in the mitigation phase.

We know that it is a unique move the defense is trying to make here; they want to extend the issue to their case-in-chief.

Ashton pointed out to the judge that as the situation has progressed, the courts have routine found that the rules should continue to accommodate them. Ashton said that the court gives the court the power to submit the defendant to state testing.

Ashton indicated that the logic here is that the defendant herself is like a piece of evidence and should be examined by both sides, in this case, by experts.

He then addressed the defense response, beginning with paragraph 2. With this alternative, calling a defense witness who didn't interview defendant, Ashton stated that no such expert has been provided.

As to paragraph 3, Ashton said that the state has no objection to the defense being present, because there are rules in other situation that allow for it. He did point out that the attorneys for both sides should be there, but they couldn't interfere with the examination.

As to paragraph 4, he stated that the areas of inquiry those used by the defense experts should guide the questions. The topics were broad but they should be limited to the subject matter the defense went into, however, not necessarily to the specific relevance cited by the defense.

Ashton then addressed paragraph 5, that if none of the experts are called by the defense, the evidence wouldn't be used by the state in their case in chief. The state would be willing to litigate the use of Casey's statements to impeach the statements made by any of the mental health experts.

Jose Baez then stood to address the court with a "brief response," and for once, was true to his word.

He indicated that the key issue was that there is no law that permits the state to demand that the defendant be examined. Because this is not a mental defense, it is just being used to rebut consciousness of guilt raised by the state.

He's correct on that! He and his team are trying to sneak this testimony in through the back door.

Baez used the tattoo as an example. The state wants to use the nature of the tattoo to infer Casey's state of mind or consciousness of guilt. The defense should be able to rebut the state with something more "qualified" than speculation.

(So, they need mental health professionals to tell the jury what Casey Anthony told them about why she got her tattoo. Sounds like a game of telephone used with the purpose of getting Casey's side out without have to put her on the stand.)

Baez ended by saying again that this is NOT a mental health defense. He said that the state is asking the court to do something it has never done before. (Pot-call the kettle black!)

Judge Perry then referenced the two depositions that the defense filed under seal and the ones filed by the state under seal. They contain certain impressions by the mental health experts are basing their testimony almost entirely by what was told to them by a "certain person who will not testify."

Perry then referenced an opinion by Justice McDonald in the Hickson case. The opinion talked about allowing Mr. Hickson to testify through Dr. Krop's testimony. (Note: Dr. Krop is on the defense mitigation witness list.) He then asked how Baez could "get around that?"

Baez replied that this testimony had a different context; it was going to rebut the state. These experts relied on more than one person's conversation, they had other types of testimony and pieces of evidence provided to them.

Perry then asked Baez about a diagnosis. Perry then asked what would these doctors be testifying to and that the reports included Traumatic Stress.

Baez said that he thinks that the issue here is that because a mental health defense is not being asserted and the defendant has not been diagnosed as having a mental defect, there are aspects of behavioral science that would be discussed. He also said that these witnesses have expertise laymen don't. They would be testifying to alternatives to consciousness of guilt.

As Baez was speaking, he paused frequently to "collect his thoughts" and thread through the labyrinth he had created with his attempt to include mental state issues into the case without having his client diagnosed with any known and named mental disorder. I have to wonder if this problem has arisen because his client and her family refuse to admit to the possibility that there are any mental health issues in the family. It could also be that another of the doctors have examined Casey and given her a diagnosis the defense couldn't use to diffuse consciousness of guilt as mental defenses rarely work at trial. The defense may want to save it for the mitigation phase, where it could save her life.

Perry then asked what these experts would be testifying to.

Baez responded with a spaghetti mix of words which I interpreted to mean that they would testify to other reasons to explain Casey's behavior which can be assumed through her statement and actions. They would testify that the supposed consciousness of guilt could be something else. He indicated that a lot of the evidence that will be presented at trial would be irrelevant to consciousness of guilt because of what these witnesses would say.

Here's my hypothetical for this. The expert will state that Casey lies as a coping mechanism, she pretends to have fun while her child is missing due to being in the denial phase of grief, and her flat demeanor was due to the traumatic stress of her situation. Got it?

Judge Perry then broached the problem of the heresay rule and asked Baez to explain how he would get around it. Would the experts be reading reports that someone else said? They have not been cross-examined. Would there be individuals who testify to create a predicate for the introduction of these witnesses? He said that he wanted to avoid sending the jury in and out, "like a Pop Tart!"

Baez again had a hard time answering, again. The "ah's" and "uhm's" peppered his comments.

Finally, he said that they could be given specific hypotheticals and that they would have to lay out specific predicates (whatever that means). He added that there may be another "angle" by which they could have this evidence admitted. He said that a trial's not a scripted event. They are aware of the rules of evidence and will be able to answer objections.
Can anyone tell me if he actually answered the question?

Perry then asked what specific topics would they testify about.

Baez responded that they would testify to topics of psychology and the effects of trauma.

(I noticed that when Jeff Ashton wrote his Motion in Limine of April 13 stated that, "...certain statements were attributed to the Defendant as to events which are remote in time to the events surrounding the death of Caylee Anthony..." Could these statements be ones that throw her family members under the bus?)

Judge Perry then asked if there was anything else.

Jose Baez said "no." (I expect he was glad to be off the hot seat!)

Jeff Ashton spoke next to answer to the fact that neither of the experts is diagnosing a psychiatric disorder like PTSD or clinical personality disorder.

What came next was a big surprise. Judge Perry said he was called by the state and defense over the phone the previous day and that he had agreed to terminate the deposition at the request of the defense. He added that they all know the contents of Dr. Danziger's deposition. He started to say that there were certain things in that deposition...and at that point, he called the attorneys to the bench for a lengthy conference.

When the bench conference was over, Perry called for a ten-minute recess. Judge Perry, Jose Baez, Cheney Mason and Mason's clerk went back to the judge's chambers.

When the defense lawyers returned and Judge Perry resumed the bench, all the lawyers immediately approach the bar.

Baez said that the defense was withdrawing Dr. Weitz and the other motions are moot!

Jeff Ashton agreed with the exception of his motion in limine.

(I wish I knew what went on in that ex-parte hearing in chambers! It's so unusual for a judge to confer with only one side. I wonder if he read the riot act about heresay laws and the unusual methods the defense was using to get that testimony into trial. Whatever he said, by not ruling on the motions and having Baez withdraw it, Judge Perry has successfully removed one item from the appeal that will occur should Casey be convicted.)

Jose Baez then addressed the photographs to which the defense objected. I was surprised that they had so few objections.

Baez first objects to photographs of stickers taken from the Anthony home stating that they don't relate to any evidence in the case. It relates to the Phantom Sticker. He said that the analyst will testify that she saw something in the shape of a heart and can't say it was a sticker. It could be a leaf! It's not probative of anything.

He added that there was no proof there were ever any stickers on the duct tape. There is 0, not a shred of evidence that there was a sticker on the duct tape.

Jeff Ashton said that he doesn't agree with counsel's interpretation of what the witness said. He also pointed out that the motion on the sticker hasn't been ruled on yet. If it's allowed, the court would have to hear testimony about it. The analyst would say it appeared as if there were a residue on the sticker and he doubted a leaf would leave residue on the duct tape. He said that the motion is premature. The defense could object at trial.

Baez said that he would make a proffer, that the witness says she doesn't know what was on the duct tape. He indicated that residue is a matter of interpretation and that she saw it and it disappeared the next moment. He blamed Yuri Melich because used it when he erroniously put down that it was residue of a heart-shaped sticker on a search warrant for the Anthony home.

Judge Perry asked what she testified to in the deposition. Baez said she saw something heart-shaped.

Baez then added that there is no size, dimensions, photo of the item. It disappeared into thin air. The examiner and perhaps and unlisted lab person could testify to it.The jury shouldn't speculate.

He also said that one of the pictures has writing on it too. It's an attempt to link it to Ms. Anthony to the evidence, to say it was a "psychological love gesture" as an example. He said that it would be 100% speculative.

Perry asked Jeff Ashton where they were found. He said that they were found in the Anthony home. Some were found in Casey's room.

Perry asked where in the home they were found.

Ashton said that he would have to go back to the the CSU reports. He also added that the supervisor of the analyst who is on the witness list also saw heart shape.

Perry said that the pictures will be received and Baez' request will be denied without prejudice should the defense establish a foundation.

Next was the Bella Vita tattoo. Baez said he is renewing his objection on previously stated grounds. Again the judge ruled it may be admissible pending proper foundation by the state.

The most hotly contested picture was the picture of Casey Caylee in home of Ricardo Morales, in his bedroom to be exact. The room was disheveled

Baez said that the state's purpose is to show the T-shirt was or may have been found where the remains were recovered. He said that other assertions, "things" could be made from it. They are in the boyfriend's house, in the bedroom, slightly disheveled and Caylee has a little bruise on her face. The shirt is not clearly displayed. He suggested the photo be cropped.

Ashton stated that never noticed the bruise, but it does tie the shirt to the crime scene. It wasn't known to Cindy or George Anthony. It was possibly in the exclusive posession of the defendant.

Perry asked if there were other photos.

Ashton said that the pictures were from different dates. Ricardo Morales said it was a shirt that Casey kept for Caylee and didn't buy it for her.

Baez continued his objection that the photograph could lead people to start people guessing and speculating.

Perry asked if there were any other pictures taken the same day.

Ashton said that he thought were from from two different dates.

Perry asked Ashton that if it is the only photo from the date,, is the bruise caused by anything other than what Baez said (fall against a table).

Ashton said he didn't really know.

Perry asked if it could be airbrushed or photo-shopped out.

Ashton then showed Perry a second which is from a separate date.

Perry then asked if one could interpret it as a bruise and speculate. Finally, after a lot of this back and forth, told the attorneys to get together to stipulate to the nature of the bruise or airbrush it out.

Baez asked if the picture could be cropped.

Perry said that he was only concerned about the bruise.

Ashton said that they can stipulate to the jury that the bruise was not something nefarious.

Baez also objected to the Casey Anthony picture taken the day she was arrested. He pretty much said that Ms. Anthony will be in the courtroom and the jury will be able to see her. The smiling picture would lead to speculation about its relevancy.

Linda Burdick said that this picture was introduced in a previous motion that Casey was being held under the influence of the officers. The picture went to the fact that she was happy after her trip to Universal with the detectives. The picture would tell the jury that the photo was taken of a cooperative Casey Anthony. She stated it was etter than the officer's description of her cooperation. She asked were was the prejudice.

Baez said that a smiling person doesn't necessarily make them happy, that the picture had no relevance.

Perry gave Baez is one "win" for the day and said the objection is sustained unless the issue of happiness or unhappiness comes up in cross, the state can use it in rebuttal.

The last picture was of Casey Anthony hugging Tony Lazzaro at Fusian. Baez said that these photographs are not evidence of flight, were taken after the crime was over, have nothing to do with the crime, are highly prejudicial and indicative of nothing that has to do with a 1st degree murder case.

Frank George spoke for the state. It was very difficult to hear him as he didn't speak from the podium. He said Fusian photos chosen were taken at different times of night and showed different activities

Baez repeated that the alleged crime was over when the pictures were taken. They are not relevant to the crimes as charged. To add to his repetition, he said again that they were not evidence of flight.

Judge Perry asked the date it was taken.

George said it was taken June 20, 2008 and that Casey Anthony had said that she was looking for her daughter during this time frame. These photos were taken when Casey said that she was looking for her daughter.

Perry again denied the objection, pending foundation.

Baez' only objection to the crime scene and autopsy photos were that they were duplicative (cumulative) and could be argued at trial.

Ashton said that of the 400-500 photos, they had chosen the ones they did for a specific reason.

Baez then went on the jury issues. He filed a motion the judge got during the break. He believed a change of venue is in order, and the defense doesn't believe that 5 days is sufficient time to empanel 20 people. He objected to the idea of coming back to Orlando after 5 days.

Judge Perry told him that if there is progress, they won't stop and even mentions using the weekend! He said that "This is what's going to happen."
There's going to be some press in that area (not as much as you've seen here). There will be press generally throughout the rest of Florida, very similar to what is here.

One can try to see IF you can get a jury in the proper venue. You can try to empanel a jury in Orlando and then go somewhere else. But they are trying to go somewhere else.

If the first attempt fails, go somewhere else.

Baez responded that jury selection could be the most important aspect of the trial. He then said that if the media is the culprit that caused the damage, place restrictions on them!

Perry responded that we don't live in Egypt, Libya... there's a thing called the First Amendment and it's in the Constitution. He said that he can't control the media.

Then Baez suggested they turn off cameras in the courtroom under discretion of the court.

Perry, seeming a bit amused, explained that the Florida Supreme Court turned the cameras on, but he's never heard of them turning them off.

He also told Baez that the media would have a 48 hour reversal! (I have to wonder if Perry was thinking, "hint, hint, wink" when he said that.)

Baez continued to argue about turning the cameras off. He said that there have been jurisdictions that have had the cameras turned off. (Apparently not jurisdictions in Florida!)

Baez ended his argument by saying that Ms. Anthony's rights are the only ones that matter.

Perry said he knows of no decision and that he would first have to apply to the laws of Florida.

CheneyMason piped in that some places block cell phones. The rest of what he said was unintelligible to me.

Baez then renewed his motion for more advanced notice. He said he wanted to know how the jurors there will be summoned.

Perry addressed the jury issue first. They would be chosen the same way as every court in Florida based on drivers license records and a formula. He added that they wouldn't know what trial they would be coming in for.

Baez, who has money issues as we all know, wanted to know the jury location early so he could deal with planning, budgeting, staff considerations.

Judge Perry pointed out that they knew what to pack and that ill will be hard to find a hotel over $50 a night. He also said that only one person on each side is to know the destination and that they need to leave by 8 AM that morning for 9:00 jury selection. (He's narrowing it down a little more today.)

Jeff Ashton wanted to be able to tell his family where he is. Judge Perry asked if he had a cell phone and that he could call his family at 8 AM! The judge, who seemed to be running out of patience with Mr. Ashton, told him to "tell Mr. Lamar if you want him to replace you."
Then, Cheney Mason piped in for a second time to indicate that the defense wouldn't miss him. He actually said it twice. Linda Burdick had to restrain Mr. Ashton at that point and the judge reminded Mason about addressing other attorneys.

Ashton wants to see the questionnaire. He said he didn't want it to be more than one page.

Ashton then noted that Dr. Danziger was removed from both phases. He wanted to know if the same was true for Dr.Weitz. Baez said he was just being withdrawn from guilt phase only. Ashton said that they still want to unseal the deposition for their expert to see.

At 3:05, all the attorneys, Casey Anthony and the Judge go back to the jury room to hold an in-camera session. This is the first time Casey was included. It didn't end until 3:54. Casey and her team didn't look too happy.

It was one of those times it would have been nice to be a fly on the wall!

Jeff Ashton mentions something about the State's Motion in Limine as open business. I don't quite understand why, though. He does have another Motion to Unseal Depositions of Defense Expert Witnesses.

The judge then asked for input about the statement of fact which will be used to summarize the case for prospective jurors. This is due by next Thursday.

Perry also wanted the attorneys to give him times for the status hearings.

There was a discussion of the number of seats needed for trial.

Perry mentioned that the defense wants to sit against the side wall.

He also asked about any changes to equipment in the large courtroom to be used for trial.

It seems there have been some renovations to that courtroom.

Ashton is to check it out.

Finally, Judge Perry brings up the defense Fourth Penalty Phase Response and the newly added late witnesses.

Ashton only remembered the Dr. Weiss and Dr. Danziger. Judge Perry reminded him about the others.

Apparently, we will hear about it at next week's status hearing, whenever it is!

Watch the hearing: Part 1 of 4 | Pt 2 | Pt 3 | Pt 4

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Phil Spector Appeal: Oral Argument Hearing Notes

I am so glad that at the 11th hour, my friends in the mainstream media convinced me to attend the hearing for oral arguments in Spector's appeal. You know who you are and again, thank you for the encouragement to go. The argument that won me over, was appealing to my readers and giving my readers a glimpse of what the Appellate process is all about. What an interesting experience it was to hear oral arguments being presented before the California Second District Court of Appeals.

The hearing was scheduled to start at 9:30 am and I arrived in plenty of time. Here are some images of the front of the building I took with my cell phone from across the street.

The Ronald Reagan State Building at 300 S. Spring Street was built in 1990, before 9/11 and the implementation of security screening at many government buildings. The north set of doors into the building on Spring Street are now closed to the public and you have to enter through the south set of doors where the security screening scanners are set up.

The several glass doors are covered with an image overlay from California's State Seal. There were several notices on the doors. In bold red type one sign said: "Public entering the building are not allowed to have any sharp objects such as knives, blades, scissors, knitting needles, fingernail files, "Leatherman" multi-tools, etc." Another notice reads: "All service dogs or guide dogs must be on a leash and tagged at all times." And another: "No Weapons Allowed. All vehicles and persons are subject to search before entering." The biggest sign said: "ATTENTION: It is a misdemeanor trespass to "Intentionally Avoid Submission" to a safety screening station at a court or public building entrance where posted with warning signs that prosecution may result. CPC602y"

Here is a view of the back of the building.

After I cleared the first security checkpoint, I realized that I was in a wide open plaza that had an atrium feel to it. As you look up, you can see several open bridge-like catwalks at different levels. As I was writing this entry, I searched online for photos or sketches of the courtyard space but couldn't find any. When I stepped inside, I really wanted to take photos of the plaza so you could see the spacious, modernized mission-like design of the girders and catwalks. Even though I don't immediately see a sign stating no photography, I know there are rules against photography in county and federal court buildings so I don't take any. I call my friends who were meeting me and ask if they've arrived already. They are already here on the third floor in front of the Appellate court.

When I step out of the elevator on the third floor, there is a woman behind glass at an information booth. I ask her where the courtroom is that is hearing the Spector appeal. She informs me, "We only have one courtroom," and tells me which catwalk to take to get to the Appellate Court. After taking the catwalk, I see another security screening station that's manned by building personnel as well as several California Highway Patrol Officers. I see Linda Deutsch from the Associated Press, as well as defense attorneys Leslie Abramson and Dennis Riordan in line ahead of me. This article in the L.A. Times Blog should answer any questions as to why Leslie Abramson attended the hearing.

As I get closer to the security screening checkpoint, the very serious looking security personnel are telling everyone the same thing that's posted on the wall behind them, "Please remove all items from your pockets along with belts and watches before walking through the magnetometer." Also in front of me is Spector's greatest fan, Theresa, the schoolteacher who often wore Hawaiian type shirts during the second trial. She has a tall, blond-haired male friend with her. All our personal belongings have to go in the wood tray to be screened. All of our electronic equipment, including cell phones will be checked with the CHP officers. They are not allowed inside the courtroom. I note when Riordan passes through the screener it beeps.

The attorney in front of me is taking quite a while to get all of his belongings cleared through security. The CHP officer has opened his soft-leather briefcase and is looking through it all. When he is finally cleared, my bag and cell phone roll through the viewing scanner and I walk through. The CHP officer asks me if this is my cell phone. When I tell him it is, he takes my phone, puts a little numbered ticket around it and gives me a matching number with a clip on the end of it. I look at it and say to the officer, "Lucky number 75." He gives me a big smile back.

When I walk through the courtroom entry doors, I'm struck by how beautiful and stately the room looks. It's a large, high-ceilinged square shaped space with deep, rich wood paneling, a green marble wall behind the justice's bench and matching marble columns around the rooms' perimeter. The center of the space in front of the judge's platform consists of special seating just for counsel, a podium to present their arguments and in the right side of the space, a clerk's desk with a large computer screen. There is another desk area off to the left and closer to the judges where a CHP officer was seated. The center space is illuminated by six hanging upside-down half-dome lights. There are matching quarter-dome sconces on the marble columns. There's a little sign at the entrance to the counsel space to tell you "Counsel Only."

Along all three walls surrounding the center counsel space are several rows of seating covered by a low ceiling with recessed lighting. There are wide aisle spaces separating the gallery seating from the counsel area. I note the large, mission-style windows set near the ceiling on both sides of the justices, bringing in a nice dance of filtered light into the courtroom. The folding padded chairs were deep and comfortable. The seating areas against the side walls is roped off and people are taking seats in the section against the back wall behind the center counsel area, facing the justices.

I see Leslie Abramson shaking hands with Dennis Riordan in the counsel well. Against the back wall, there are two long rows of seats separated by a small aisle in the middle. My two friends are sitting in the back row near the entrance. In the front row section farthest from the courtroom doors sits Spector's loyal wife Rachelle, her Mommy, Nicole Spector, and Nicole's mother, Janis Zavala, Theresa and a few other supporters. Sitting in the front row, first seat across the aisle from them is Linda Deutsch. Leslie Abramson is back in the first seat across from Ms. Deutsch, sitting next to Nicole and when Abramson sees me, she stands up and loudly proclaims to the room, "THE SHIT WRITERS ARE HERE." Right afterwords, Harriet Ryan of the L.A. Times enters, gives me a smile and hello and takes the seat next to Linda. With another reporter in the room, Abramson quickly sits back down.

Donna and Fawn Clarkson arrive with Rod Lindblom's stunningly gorgeous wife, Caroline. I see Leslie Abramson get up and attempt to speak to Mrs. Clarkson. Louis Spector shows up with his long-time companion, Frieda. Next is Rod Lindblom who joins his wife and the Clarkson family. About this time, the CHP officer in the room addresses the gallery with the rules of the courtroom. He informs counsel to stay as close to the microphone as possible and that the proceeding are recorded. He tells the gallery that they can enter and leave the courtroom as needed. As more reporters and people arrive, it's like a who's who of the two trials. Miriam Hernandez from local ABC Channel 7 takes a seat with the other reporters off to our left in front of us. There is an attorney sitting to the left of one of my friends who is part of the representation of one of the cases being argued today. He tells us that during the trial, his side lost "badly". There are four cases being heard and we think the Spector appeal is first up.

Four justices take the bench. There are two men and two women and unfortunately, I cannot read the identifying placards in front of them. It's time to get my prescription glasses updated. My friend sitting next to me tries her reading glasses and cannot read the names either. I'll just have to try to take notes without identifying who's speaking. There's a loud, microphone type buzzing sound and apparently it's a cell phone belonging to one of the justices' on the bench. There's a bit of laughter from the courtroom and a sheepish smile from the male judge. The calendar is called and the counsel sides are asked to identify themselves and how many minutes they are requesting for argument. When the Spector appeal is called, Dennis Riordan identifies himself and states, "20 minutes and 2 minutes for rebuttal." Lawrence Daniels from the State's Attorney's Office identifies himself and states he will take 20 minutes as well.

The justices address counsel. "We have read what you've submitted and you don't have to start from scratch. (snip) Just hit the high points of your appeal and be prepared to answer questions."

The Spector case is not the first case up. It's a case involving a civil dispute between two neighbors over the cutting down, destruction of old-growth trees on a property that did not belong to the appellant. From what I can gather, the appellant wanted more sunlight onto her backyard for her pool and hired workers to cut down the trees clearly on her neighbor's property. She was ordered to pay over $240,000.00 in restitution costs. I believe she is disputing the cost of the trees and the devaluing of her neighbor's property. I find it interesting that, instead of paying what the court ordered her to pay, she spent her money on this appeal.

Spector's fan gets up and leaves the courtroom. (Sometime later, she does reenter.) As I'm admiring the room and taking notes on how to describe it, the beat reporter for City News arrives that I met during Spector retrial verdict watch. Since the back gallery seating was full, he takes a seat in the side gallery beside the door. The current case counsel are arguing the value of the trees when Tawni Tyndall, the private investigator for Spector's defense team shows up.

The next case up, the petitioner is Fireman's Fund. It's the case that the attorney sitting next to my friend is involved in. I'm totally lost following the merits of this case but I will describe it as best I can. It involves a whistle-blower (but that's not at issue), it's regarding "what did lawyers say to each other" and whether or not the trial judge's ruling, as one of the justices' described as, "too narrowly defined (the) attorney client privilege (and therefore) to be inconsistent with the 902 Code."

The next case up is the Spector case and one of the male justices leaves the bench. I believe one of the justice's says, "I have (asked) every attorney not to relive (their) briefs. (snip) Simply point to which manner of (prosecution? misconduct?) is unwarranted.

Rirodan: I could begin and end in the lead issue. I could rest on the fact that judges are meant to be impartial. Society is predicated on that judges are impartial.

Court: We agree. In what way did Judge Fidler .....

Riordan: and images of Judge Fidler placed before the jury (in closing argument). ....(leading the jury with the impression)....and this judge is on our side.

I have in my notes that the courts asks Riordan to be more specific.

Riordan: No your honor, what occurred in this case... (the prosecution's closing arguments) It had pictures of its witnesses. Three pictures of Jaime Lintemoot. Three pictures of witnesses. It put up three pictures of Judge Fidler.

I note that Riordan's tone and presentation is very passionate. One could possibly mistake it for being nervous but I doubt that's the case for this seasoned appellate attorney.

Riordan:'s some pictures of Lintemoot, Lynne Herold, Judge Fidler. Ms. Do said, "Here is what Judge Fidler said about the testimony."

Court: (The) issue was where blood spatter appeared on the victim?

Riordan: (The) issue, during (the hearing outside the presence of the jury) Judge Fidler demonstrates what she was taking as, .... which apparently was less than clear.

My notes are not clear if Riordan states this but I believe it's the court who says,

"After the video was played it was before the jury."

Court: What he actually said was, "Why don't you show us; that would be best." As you can see just as I had to demonstrate to you. (snip) It seems to me what Judge Fidler said to Jaime Lintemoot was to help the jury to understand (snip) what she meant.

Riordan: But it wasn't (before the) jury!

Court: Would you agree with me, if Judge Fidler asked to to demonstrate (while she was) on the stand (in front of the jury) she .... it would be the same?

(I believe, but I'm not positive Riordan agrees.)

Court: I don't quite understand (how) putting his photo up prejudiced your client.

Riordan: It makes him a witness.

Court: Why does it make him a witness? That's a pretty interesting gimic.

Riordan: I don't know of any (judge?) who tried a case (where) that judge needs a little... (I'm sorry. Unfortunately, the rest of my note here doesn't make sense.)

I believe Riordan is arguing that there has been no other case like this, where the trial judge's image was included in the closing argument. I have that the court disagreed; answered back with a different interpretation saying, "That's all that it is, why don't you tell me the difference." Riordan again presents his view of how this prejudiced his client, and I believe he cites at least one case because the court responds:

Court: We don't have that situation here. (snip) The last ten minutes, is that all we've been talking about?

It's right at this time that DDA Alan Jackson shows up and takes a seat in the first gallery row near the door.

I believe the court states that Lintemoot testified at both trials and Riordan goes over the closing argument again.

Court: Isn't that a leap from the cases you've cited?

The court lists several cases and the details of each and after each one says, "And that's not this case." Riordan states again no where in (California?) any case where the prosecution put up pictures of the judge. Riordan's tone and delivery continues to be very passionate.

Court: Are you going to spend your entire argument time on this (one) point? I think you should shift gears.

Riordan does shift gears and moves onto the 1101b witnesses, uncharged brandishing offenses.

The Ewoldt case law is discussed.

Unknown: It's clear in Ewoldt, (you) must meet stringent standards, but it doesn't seem identity is the issue here.

Court: Was identity really the issue?

Riordan: It's the whole issue your honor!

I have in my notes the next statements, but I'm not certain who said what.

Unknown: In this case, we know either Ms. Clarkson took her own life or Mr. Spector (did). That's not the type of identity that Ewoldt meant.

Court: The court instructed the jury (it could) consider other crimes. .... (the) result of accident, mistake or suicide.

Unknown: (Most likely the court.) What's wrong with that?

(I miss writing down Riordan's response.)

Court: This case, at very early in the morning there were only two people....

Unknown: Instructions have to be given on the evidence. The instructions (should?) support the evidence of this case.

The court now lists cases where the facts involve two people. "People vs. Wells from the 1940's. People vs. Woods, a seven-year-old died in foster care. (snip) What happens when, he says, he goes (0utside) and states he kills someone?"

Riordan: What he actually said, "I think I may have killed somebody."

(This is not exactly what DeSouza testified to in both trials. I feel I need to add here, that I watched the entire video taped interview of DeSouza at the police station during the second trial, and saw a portion of it during the first trial. It was very clear to me from the video that DeSouza completely understood the questions that the officer's were asking him. He had a good understanding of the English language. The problem was the officers. To me, it was the officers who had difficulty understanding DeSouza's accent, which is why they kept asking him the same question, phrased differently.)

Riordan: I submit to you, there has never been a (case) where a judge's picture has been used in closing arguments. (snip) And the judge's statements. (snip) when Mr. Weinberg says, (asks? that jury) be instructed that what you said is (not testimony) and the judge refuses.

Court: You've said that several times now.

(Please understand this is not word for word what Riordan argued. There were many statements and arguments that I missed writing down from Riordan and the court.)

Larry Daniels steps up to give the responding argument.

Daniels: The appellant received a fair trial.

Daniels goes on to address the picture the appellant dwelled on. This was an unusual situation. "It's highly unusual for any trial (to be video taped). (snip) They were admitted to give context and meaning to Jaime Lintemoot's testimony. "

The Court questions Daniels on the closing argument issue the appellant brings up.

Daniels: The judge simply clarified (her testimony).

Daniels explains that the video tape was no different that a court reporter's transcript being read back. The court asks another question about Fidler's restating and redemonstrating Lintemoot's testimony and gestures.

Court: That was permissible because? Trial judges do that all the time to clarify a point of fact. I think I've done it. (I believe my co-judges have done it.) That doesn't mean we're testifying. It meas we're clarifying an incident of fact.

Unknown: I don't think there's any problem to showing that in prior trial. Akin simply to a reporter's transcript.

Court: But in this case you've got a video tape. Focus on this explanatory difference.

Daniels: I think it's better. Your not bound only by words. (snip) The appellant did not object before the video tape was entered into evidence. He didn't object on these grounds. It was raised during the second time it was played. There was no objection at the first trial (in the special hearing).

Daniels: During the closing argument, the defense objected to the video. In closing, the video (was) shown in slow motion, Jaime Lintemoot's pointing and.... (snip) Judge Fidler was just a corroboration of what they showed.. Even if you assume it was prejudicial, it wasn't (prejudicial error?)....

Daniels moves onto the 1101b evidence. He lists several cases that I try to write but I don't think I have them all or the correct spellings.

People vs. Whisenhunt, that other evidence could be introduced to prove non-accident.
People vs. Lisenba.
People vs. Catlin
People vs. (?Andrews?)

Court: What part does the Doctrine of Chances play?

Daniels explains how the Doctrine of Chances applies to the gun being brought into play.

Court: It was highly prejudicial evidence.....

(I miss writing down Daniels response.)

Unknown: (Most likely the court.) And the justification is this doctrine of chances...

Daniels: The question about the Doctrine of Chances comes into play because the defense did argue the possibility of accident.

(I think the defense had to argue the possibility of accident in the retrial because Fidler ruled to give the jury the option of involuntary manslaughter. That was a different situation than the first trial, where the only charge was second degree.)

Daniels then brings up all the post incident behavior of Spector. His "true statement." The wiping of Clarkson's face, the attempted clean-up of the scene. The backspatter on Spector's jacket that proved he had to have been within arms-length of Clarkson. The bruising on her arms and wrists that showed a struggle.

Court: Counsel focusing on.... (the errors?) not as such that it would taint and be enough for reversal.

The State is finished and Reardon gets up for his rebuttal.

Riordan: The government completely misrepresented the facts.

Riordan goes over each and every time when Weinberg objected (to the video tape coming into evidence).

Riordan: The Doctrine of Chances was not - - it wasn't a jury instruction.

Court: What do you think it is?

Riordan: No evidence of a fired gun (ever before). No evidence of a gun placed in someones mouth. (snip) You can't say a gun was fired when ... if a gun has never been fired before.

Court: We're not the trier of facts.

That's the last note I have covering oral arguments.

It seemed to me that throughout the entire hearing in many instances, the justice's took an adversarial position to each counsel's argument, forcing them to defend their position. It didn't necessarily say to me that each and every time they did that, they did not agree with the argument being presented.

As everyone slowly leaves the courtroom, they pick up their cell phones and laptops that were checked with the CHP officer. Witnesses tell me Rachelle was shedding tears during oral arguments. My friends and I make our way down to the plaza level, find a bench and chat about the Cameron Brown case that probably won't go to trial until next year. As we're trying to decide where to go to have lunch, Miriam Hernandez asks if we've seen Ms. Deutsch. I look over to my left where I last saw her and she's no longer there. It was only about three minutes ago. The reporters must be trying to find where the defense is going to set up to make a statement about the hearing.

Linda Deutsch reported the following statement by Dennis Riordan.
Outside court, Riordan said it was impossible to predict what the court might do and noted that "the tenor of questions shifted" depending on the issues being addressed.
I find that quite interesting since I've been told that others supporting the appeal (on the web) have indicated it's practically a slam dunk that the court will reverse the trial verdict.

As I was discussing the Brown case with my friends, Rachelle's entourage of family and supporters approached. As they got nearer, they started to slow down but didn't stop. They kept on going. Once they past us, Rachelle's Mommy curled her right wrist up almost into a fist and made a gesture with her finger. Maybe I should have taken a video. It would have been much better than simply a worded description.

If you wish to comment on this entry, please E-mail me at sprocket.trials AT with your comment or question and it will be published if it meets T&T's commenting guidelines. Your E-mail address will NOT be published. If you wish to remain anonymous that will be honored. In the near future after the Anthony case is settled, T&T will be possibly moving to a new blogging platform with different commenting capability options. We will give you plenty of notice when that happens. Sprocket

Casey Anthony Hearing Friday! A Look Into Her Mind

Update #2!
Thursday, April 13

The State has filed two new motions.

Yesterday they filed the State of Florida's Motion In Limine which states that

During the depositions of Drs. Danziger and Weitz certain statements were attributed to the Defendant as to events which are remote in time to the events surrounding the death of Caylee Anthony.

Citing a "substantial issue as to the admissibility of these matters..., should the matters be ultimately found to be inadmissible," the State asks that the court prohibit any mention of these statements until the trial, at which time the defense would have to make a proffer outside the presence of the jury.

In a motion filed today, the State has asked permission from Judge Perry to be allowed to show the sealed depositions to their own expert for the purpose of giving them an expert's view of the comments made.

In the motion, we also learn that Dr. Jeffrey Danziger has been withdrawn as a witness by the defense. The State never finished his deposition.

Well, there's more to scratch one's head over! This adds to the topics that will be discussed tomorrow!

Thanks to Muzikman for posting these motions.

(10:23 AM)

WESH just published a Defendant's Response To Motion For Examination By Mental Health Expert.

There is going to be a status hearing on Friday, April 15 at 1:30 PM.

There will also be a motion argued concerning Casey Anthony's state of mind during the 31 days she went on her merry way minus her "kidnapped" daughter, Caylee Marie.

You see, the defense is saying that they sent two well-known experts, Dr. Jeffrey Danziger and Dr. William Weitz to have a "chat" with the defendant. While they didn't find her to be suffering from any mental disorders or diseases, the defense wants them to testify as to Casey's state of mind. They outlined this in their March 22 Motion Clarifying Motion For Leave To File Additional Witnesses.

Yesterday, the state filed a Motion In Limine As To Testimony Of Mental Health Experts. Prior to that, on the 8th, they also filed a Motion for Exam by Mental Health Expert.

According to Jeff Ashton, the state received the reports on March 25 and have been deposing these two expert witnesses. The depositions will be completed today.

Most importantly, Ashton argues that

3. Both the above reports and motion reveal that the testimony does not relate to a legal defense to any of the charges...
4. The reports indicate that the opinions of the experts are based entirely upon statements made to them by the Defendant.

And Casey always tells the truth! It's like a telephone game to keep Casey off the stand. Casey tells the experts and the experts tell the court. Isn't that called heresay?

Do you remember that at the hearing on March 24 when this defense was suggested by Ann Finnel? She said it wasn't going to be a mental defense and Casey shook her head to silently say no. She pretty much stammered her way through the explanation to the Court on this.

5. The reports do not diagnose the defendant as suffering from any clinical or personality disorders as recognized by the American Psychiatric Association.

Notice here that Ashton indicated that the reports have no diagnosis, not that the doctors haven't diagnosed her. I would bet the farm that should we have a mitigation phase, those diagnoses would be out there, front and center. I don't believe Casey or her family would want to have to admit to a personality disorder unless it were to save her life. We know that Casey has not mounted a "not guilty by reason of insanity" defense.

Ashton hits his home run in his summation of his argument.

It will be impossible for this court to fully litigate the issue of the admissibility of the proffered testimony pre-trial. The admissibility of those opinions will be wholly dependent upon the testimony of the Defendant. Their exist substantial issues as to the admissibility of the opinion even if the Defendant does choose to testify. The potential prejudice that would result from the premature discussion of these opinions could not be overcome by any instruction by this court, should the opinions be ultimately found to be inadmissible. (bold mine)
Based on comments during the last hearing, Ann Finnel will be arguing this motion for the defense. I wish her luck.

As to the status portion of the hearing, I would assume there will be more discussion about jury selection.

Of course, there could be some surprises at the end when Judge Perry asks if there is anythin else!

Casey Anthony trial: Prosecution wants mental health reports about Casey kept out

Prosecutors: Casey’s Defense Strategy Not Legal

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Phil Spector Appeal: Oral Arguments Heard Today

Update 4/13/2011: New entry covering oral arguments.

Right now, at the Ronald Reagan State Office Building in downtown Los Angeles, The California State Court of Appeal (Second District, Division Three) oral arguments are being presented for Phil Spector's appeal of his second-degree murder conviction. Spector was convicted on April 13th, 2009 for the February 3rd, 2003 shooting death of Lana Clarkson at his "Pyrenees Castle". Spector's defense strategy at his first and second trial put forth the theory that Clarkson shot herself with a gun from Spector's home.

Spector's appeal claims several points of judicial error. I've roughly outlined those points below.

1. Judge Fidler made "testimonial" statements at his second trial that violated Spector's right to confrontation.

2. Uncharged brandishing offenses should not have been allowed.

3. The "profane" statements allowed through Officer Tannazzo should not have been allowed.

4. Prosecutorial misconduct – referring to the pay of Spector's experts.

I will not give my personal opinion on the appeal, but I will make a few observations about the appeal. The Appellant (Spector) refers many times to the first trial. I thought that was interesting in light of the fact that anything that happened during the first trial does not matter. The only thing that matters is what happened at the second trial. Dennis Riordan, viewed to be a brilliant appellate attorney among his peers, knows this.

I've received an opinion from an "expert," a licensed attorney not affiliated with the case, a law professor in fact who read all three briefs on the appeal at my request. Below are just a few excerpts from the opinion they sent me on the merits of the appeal.

"Prosecutorial misconduct is extremely, extremely hard to prove. Spector's lawyers would have to show that the comments affected the outcome of the case."

"Even if the judge "testified" about the blood spatter on the hands during the Lintemoot testimony in my mind there is "NO WAY" that violates the Confrontation Clause - under the Crawford analysis. The term "testimonial" has a very special meaning under Crawford, and I do not see that the Judge's comments in any way rise to that level. And, the defense did have an opportunity to question the Judge even if it was testimonial."

My "expert" felt that the other two claims of the appeal are the only issues that have legs. However, they did state they felt that the appellate court would give "deference on appeal" to the trial judge on those issues.

I've been told by my friends in the mainstream media that California law requires a decision to be rendered within 90 days of the oral arguments being heard. They felt that the decision would probably be issued within six to eight weeks.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Stephanie Lazarus Pretrial Hearing 3

My drive into downtown Los Angeles went very quickly. It only took about 30 minutes. There was no line at the first floor security and I thought I'd clear it in seconds. Not so fast this time. Instead of the regular screeners (who wear a white uniform and are probably hired from outside companies) there were LA County Sheriffs assisting.

For the first time ever, they wanted to see some little round "compact like" object in my bag. I pull it out. It's a tiny retracting metal measuring tape I've carried in my bag for a long time. It's about and inch-and-a-half across and the metal tape itself is barely a quarter-of-an-inch wide. It has the emblem of a bank name on it, a remnant of my prior life as a bank auditor. The sheriff pulled the tape out about four inches and showed it to someone else. They wanted to know what I was in court for. I identified myself as covering a Stephanie Lazarus hearing and that I was recognized by the court's public information office as being a member of the media. I told the officer that I had that little tape for over 20 years. He finally hands the tape back to me and I head towards the elevator bay. I'll be leaving that at home in the future.

On the 9th floor, security check point (which is manned by LA County Sheriff's) I thought they would stop me again for the tape but this time it's my bundle of keys. As Mr. Sprocket has added more keys and locks to his White Whale Work Truck, I get a copy to lug around and it must look like a big mass on the scanner video. This is the most detailed attention the security stations have given my handbag in all the years I've been in the various court buildings. It's long over due. I remember one time covering the Robert Blake case at the Van Nuys Courthouse back in 2005, I had forgotten to take out of my bag a large pair of spring-action scissors. They never noticed them. It wasn't until I left the court for lunch and was looking through my bag for my car keys in the parking structure that I realized the size 8 scissors were still in my bag.

When I clear 9th floor security I notice there are new signs posted up all along the hallways of the 9th floor. They are red, black and white signs clearly indicating no photography allowed anywhere inside the court building. Some of the signs show an image of a hand held camera or a large video recording camera with the red circle and a line drawn through them. Other signs have an image of a cell phone with the same red circle and red line with the text below stating, "NO CELL PHONE PHOTOGRAPHY ANYWHERE IN THE COURT!"

I'm betting these copier printed signs are the result of the increased amount of public and media attention to the Conrad Murray case, since most of the signs are at the left wing end of the hallway, the location of Judge Pastor's courtroom, that is hearing the Murray case. Where were these signs when Phil Spector and his wife were taking photographs of me so they could post them on the web?

I take a hallway bench and wait for 8:30 am when court will start. Directly across the hall from me on another bench is Bert Luper, the defense investigator, reading the morning paper. A few people are down at the ends of the hallway. There are only four of us currently in the center. I see attorneys slowly arrive, bringing their case files in on small rolling carts. Women attorneys usually have the better luggage and carts. Guys will often have their huge case files in the standard white cardboard file boxes. Two reporters I've seen before greet each other. I overhear one of them addressed as "Steve" and right afterwords, another reporter appears and greets both of them. The seated reporter doesn't even look up from his iPhone; he's quite engrossed. I don't have a smart phone; I'm still in the dark ages.

I notice Sherri Rae's mother, Loretta clearing security and her husband Nel is right behind her. There are several people with them; an older couple and a younger woman, possibly in her late teens. I'm horrible with guessing people's age. The older gentleman I think was at the last hearing. Their attorney, John Taylor is with them.

It's about 8:25 am and I enter 104 after the family and their friends. Bert Luper took my favorite plastic chair seat, so I take the one left right beside him. Sherri's family and friends sit in the front row. I almost forget to turn my phone to silent and right after I do so, Mr. Luper does the same to his phone.

I see some faces in the short bench row on the right. These are either other prosecutors or possibly DA investigators. There's a large gentleman chatting with them who's identified as "Randy." Randy notices Mr. Luper in the back row and comes over to chat with him. "Bert, I didn't recognize you," he says in greeting. I hear snippets of their conversation. They are discussing a case where the jury reached a guilty verdict in two days. I don't know the name of the defendant they are discussing.

Paul Nunez is here and then Shawn Presby arrives. Presby and Nunez greet the family and shake hands with their supporters in the first row. I believe Nunez asks who the young lady is. The other reporters I noticed in the hall come into the courtroom. One of them shakes "Randy's" hand. I see Presby talk with Mr. Rasmussen. Presby is in a dark navy suit that has (from my view) a hit of stripe in it and a blue and white striped tie. Nunez is wearing a very dark suit, I think it's black with a light, ice blue tie. Judge Perry takes the bench, but Mr. Overland hasn't arrived yet.

Nunez asks "Randy" who's in the well where Mr. Overland is. Another reporter shows up who was at the last pretrial hearing.

Nunez and Presby stand in the well, leaning against the jury box. For a moment Nunez appears full of nervous energy, moving about a bit. He then stands still with his arms across his chest. I wonder where Lazarus's family is. Maybe they did not come today. I try to remember if this is the same court reporter as the last time I was here. Shes attractive, with shoulder length reddish brown hair.

Mark Overland and Courtney Overland arrive. Courtney is wearing a gray pantsuit. I don't see what type of blouse she's wearing with it. Judge Perry greets Overland. "Good morning Mr. Overland," he says. Overland replies, "Were you waiting for me?" Judge Perry smiles and banters back, "I get restless." There's a small amount of laughter from the well after this exchange. I think it's Presby who responds, "I was waiting for you."

I look over at Judge Perry's clerk and take some mental notes to describe her. She's a black woman, maybe about my age and wears glasses, like me. Her hair is currently pulled back into a short ponytail.

Overland and Presby confer. The discussion is friendly. It's such a nice change to see pleasant banter between counsel and the judge verses the animosity that was so apparent in the Spector trial. The reporters in the back row look bored. I'm the only one taking notes but that's because the hearing hasn't started yet.

Another attorney and a woman, I believe she's Sheriff Stacey (sp?) Lee who was at the last hearing enter the well and approach Presby. The other gentleman is probably legal counsel representing the Sheriff's office. It's not Mr. Gross like it was last time.

There is some off the record banter with the Judge about how long the trial might take. I think it's Mr. Overland who says four to six weeks and I think it's Mr. Presby who states, "I agree." Judge Perry talks about hoping to take a vacation in September and he'd like to be done with this trial before that or start the trial after he gets back. Mr. Nunez mentions possibly starting the case in late August but they'd like to wait until Judge Perry firms up his vacation. Perry states he's open in July but Mr. Presby states they have some issues in July so July is out.

Judge Perry says, "Late August wold probably work. (snip) I have a wedding (to go to) on September 5th. (snip) I'm here through the 5th."

There's more banter back and forth about the Judge maybe taking his vacation later and starting the case in late August. Judge Perry thinks that they would probably want to have questionnaires for the jurors to prescreen the jury and they would lose about a week for that. "But if we could start tentatively August 15th, (with questionnaires) and August 21st for (opening statements)....." Presby answers, "That would be fine with us."

Judge Perry asks Mr. Overland, "How's that thing in Orange County?," referring to the Mattel-Bratz litigation. Overland replies that it's all over for his part. They are still all talking off the record, trying to get as much as they can, out of the way. Judge Perry tells both counsel that, "I appreciate that. (It's the) mark of good lawyers."

Lazarus is finally brought out and Overland asks if her cuffs could be removed. Judge Perry asks the bailiff if it's all right with him. The bailiff responds if it's okay with the judge, it's okay with him. Lazarus is uncuffed. She's in the same orange jumpsuit with the white long-sleeved long-john type shirt underneath. They are about to go on the record.

Judge Perry indicates for the record that they are discussing a possible trial date and it's tentative at this time, late August.

The rest of the hearing is taken up with procedures down at the jail regarding Lazarus's visits with her attorneys and their investigators as well as the defendant's access to the computer and whether she's been using it or not. It's long, it's boring, not really relevant to the evidence of the case and I won't write it all out. What the court, the defense and the sheriff's office finally decide is to rescind the current order of reserving a Friday morning time frame for the one attorney room (where they still have to speak to their client via a microphone and a glass partition). They will go back to Judge Perry's original order issued October 8th, 2009 where they will be able to meet with her in one of the booking interrogation rooms at the jail. The defense contends they will take their chances on whether or not a room is available to use. The defense will be able to bring a laptop with them into the face-to-face meeting room to show information on it to Lazarus.

The only thing that was interesting in this whole exchange was towards the end when Judge Perry states, "I've never had an issue like this. In 19 years, I've never had an issue like this." You can tell he's kind of frustrated that he even has to deal with all of this. "We all have more important things to do....trying to resolve this (so as not to take up any more of the court's time)'s important....." The Judge states he will sign a new order today and "...hopefully it will resolve the issue. (snip) If you need to see me (defense, on this issue) let me know. (snip) Anything we have to discuss?"

The new trial date is discussed. The tentative date is to hand out questionnaires to prospective jurors on August 15th, with jury selection or voir dire later that week and the trial starting on August 22nd.

Presby gets up from his seat and goes outside the well to speak to some of the DA's staff in the short bench row. Judge Perry jokingly says, "Was it something I said?," in response to Presby's hasty exit from the well. Presby quickly returns to the well. I think it's Mr. Overland who requests a status conference in 45 days. Presby states they will begin to identify witnesses (to subpoena?) and try to make them available. A date for the next hearing is suggested. May 19th? May 20th? May 20th is chosen.

Judge Perry addresses Lazarus and tells her she has the right to a speedy trial and asks her if she gives up that right and to set the court calendar at 60 days from May 20th. Lazarus responds, "Yes, your honor." Judge Perry asks if there's anything else and the answer is no. Overland mentions something I don't fully catch about medical visits and that's it.

The family exits the courtroom. I wait to speak to John Taylor but he's busy with the family and the prosecutors. I wait in the elevator bay, but a reporter has grabbed him and Taylor is in deep conversation with him. Taylor is passionately talking about another reporter from the same station and the fact that back in 1986 the police did not interview a single friend or family of Sherri Rae Rasmussen. At least, that's the gist of what I'm overhearing. When we reach the ground floor, Taylor goes into a conference room with the prosecution and family members and he tells me he will talk to me later. And that was my day in court this morning.

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