Sunday, October 12, 2008

Casey Anthony’s Attorney Jose Baez - Then and Now

Guest Entry By Ritanita

~Jose Baez

I watched the hearing on Friday. While many out there feel that the defense scored a huge win by getting so many positive decisions from Judge Stan Strickland, I feel that Jose Baez got very little. He got information that has been gathered and the ability to take air samples from the car. He got nowhere in his quest to stop forensic testing and he still is not in a position to have his own experts test the evidence.

In addition, he opened himself up to advice from the learned judge to "do his own fishing" and "tough sledding" to get the information he needs. Apparently, Mr. Baez doesn’t know what he has to do for himself versus what information the prosecution is required to provide to him.

What interested me most was the motion in which Baez requested that Casey be able to accompany him to various points of interest in the disappearance of Caylee. He wanted these "field trips" to be done in secret and away from the control of her Home Confinement Officer. He called bail bondsman Robert Haney to the stand to testify that he would accompany the two on their excursions to these key points of interest to be sure Casey didn’t attempt to flee. He also promised the judge, whom he hoped wasn’t a skeptic, he wouldn’t allow his client Casey to tamper with evidence in the case.

I've just done some time travel and reviewed this article from July 25, way back at the beginning of this case. This was published just before the bond reduction hearing when Casey was still in jail.

Casey's Attorney Wants To Be Able To Retrace Her Steps With Her... Casey Anthony, the mother of missing 2-year-old Caylee Anthony, remained jailed Friday as her attorney continued trying to get her bond lowered. Casey's attorney says, instead of her sitting jail or even under court order to stay home, he wants to be able to retrace her steps with her by his side.

"Is it safe to say you believe the babysitter story?" WFTV reporter Steve Barrett asked attorney Jose Baez.

"Absolutely," he said.

At that point in time, Baez did not indicate what he expected to learn. Was he expecting the babysitter to be firmly ensconced in that apartment at the Sawgrass apartments? Was he hoping there would be proof of Casey’s innocence at the Amscot parking lot, Tony Lazzaro’s apartment, every Target in the area? Would they find the elusive Nanny Zanny under a table at Fusian? Was he expecting a tour of a swamp?

Even now, with so much proof that Nanny Zanny is a hoax, a phantom, Jose is sending out people to find a guy who took a picture of Casey, Caylee, and Zanny in a park. I wonder how long it will be until the photo sees light of day. Actually, I'm not holding my breath.

For this scenario to take place, somebody had to have been in Orlando and casually taken a picture of the three somewhere in a park. Then, this person would have had to gone home, to another state, and looked at the photo and said, "I wonder why I took this picture?"

Somewhere down the line, and Mr. Baez doesn't indicate when the picture might have been taken, the person who took the picture or someone else who saw the picture would have had to say, "Gee, that looks like that Casey and her little girl that is missing and there's another lady in the picture. Could it be the Nanny?"

Somehow, just recently, Jose Baez, or one of his legion of investigators had to have heard that such a picture had been taken. Trouble is, they don't know who took the picture or where he lives! Therefore, Jose, or one of his army of investigators has to track this person down and interview him and look at the picture.

Now, I ask you, does that scenario make sense? NO! There is an ellipsis here. For this to have happened, someone would have had to notify Baez or one of his multitude of investigators that such a picture existed. But that person would NOT have told Baez or his hoard of investigators who took it or where the person lived. There are major gaps in that story.

Baez is undaunted by the lies of his client or the claims by her mother of the smell of death in a 911 call.

"I think that's somebody's spin. I really do. I think the point is it stinks in that car. Okay. She's(Cindy) not a cadaver dog," Baez said.

Good point, Jose! She's not AKC registered, but she is an RN and has smelled human decomposition. She said so on TV at one point leading to the famous misstatement by her that I'm a, I know decomposition nurse.

In fact, investigators said a real cadaver dog did identify the scent of human decay in the car Casey was driving.

Baez really stumbled here. In the hearing on October 10th, he petitioned the court to order the prosecution to turn over information about the cadaver dogs and their training. Judge Strickland informed him that he certainly had the right to depose the dog handlers. Seems Baez never thought about that option.

In recent days, Baez has stumbled, seeming confused about his own case, often talking in circles.

At the hearing, he still seemed to be in the same position. At one point, after trying to summarize his motion to the judge, Judge Strickland spared him more misery and did it for him.

"It was pizza. They looked in there and it smelled bad because of the pizza," he told Barrett.

And here, Baez was drinking Cindy Anthony's Kool-Aid.

But at Casey's bond hearing, he admitted there is something to the dead body stench.

Here, Baez was clearly in a battle between Cindy Anthony and the truth.

"There is circumstantial evidence of a possible homicide. I will give them that. But circumstantial evidence apparently has not led them, confident enough to charge her with any specific homicide, or kidnapping, or any capital offense," he said.

It should be noted that Mr. Baez, made this statement only nine days into the investigation. One has to be aware that from the get-go, he was considering this to be a likely homicide, kidnapping, or capital offense. As of the hearing Friday and the special session of the Grand Jury on Tuesday, two of the three are certainly in play. They have only come into play after months of intense investigation.

Still, Baez wants an appeals court to intervene and allow a lower bond so the novice attorney with just three years experience can set out himself to solve the case.

Lately, his publicist has been portraying him in the press as a "veteran attorney."

"I would like the opportunity to have my client take me to where she says she took the police. I would like to have my client take me to everywhere she has been over the last several weeks," Baez said.

If you listen to this being argued in the hearing on Friday, Baez has changed his statement to, "where the police allegedly took her”, as if the police are lying about the locations that Casey told them to go. In addition, Baez kept saying that, on October 10th, he was referring to where she had been during the last month. Seems he got caught up in the statement he made back in July and conveniently forgot that during the last month Ms. Casey hadn't gone much further than his own office.

Baez said he expects a ruling on whether the appeal will be heard in the next several days and, even if she is released she'd likely be confined to her parent's house, making it unlikely Baez will get the grand tour he's hoping for.

Baez was correct in his conviction that Casey would be on home confinement. Let's remember though, that her Home Confinement Officer granted her liberal travel privileges. He could have asked for visits to places of interest of the case.

Judge Strickland wisely withheld judgment on this at the hearing. Once he’s had a chance to review the State’s Attorney’s response, I doubt he’ll allow this. If there’s an indictment on Tuesday, the matter will be moot anyway.

My question is, if Jose Baez felt he needed to travel to places of importance in the case when Casey was first jailed in July, why didn’t he request these "field trips" through the Home Confinement Officer in August and September? Perhaps he forgot he had that option? He’s been spending most of his days with Casey hanging around his office and he’s been in charge of her for untold hours. Would it have hurt to ask?

To end this all, I’d like to say that this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as Mr. Baez is concerned. I have so many questions. Here are just two.

Why didn’t you mention in the hearing that you wanted to have Casey out and about to find Caylee? It was in the motion. Guess you forgot! In your stumbling and bumbling statements, you forgot your main point. You wanted Casey out there to find her living child! Well, I'd guess that's not in Casey's best interest to say that!

Why didn’t you avail yourself of your ability to depose people? Cadaver dog handlers, Zenaida Gonzalez, witnesses? You have the right to ask, you know! Perhaps you were too busy being your own Nanny to Ms. Casey???

Do any of you have some to add to the list?

CNN Find Caylee Blog


CNN Find Caylee Blog


Anonymous said...

Well I did not get to see it, but I would like to add it's a little sweet justice to see Casey end up with an attorney that is clueless about how to help her. He is in over his head and he will only help sink her. Hope we get to see this one when it goes to trial.

Sprocket said...

Great entry ritanita!

shari said...

WOW Ritanita, that was great work. You really analyzed everything down to the nitty gritty. Baez is one of those lawyers that jail inmates pass his name around. He is probably used to petty felonies and misdemeanors. I think he is way over his head on his case. It's going to be tough to dispute FBI lab results along with the eminent "body farm" results. They had Caylee's DNA from the paternity test done by Jesse Grund to help in identifying the hair and/or any other DNA in the trunk. I sure hope that all the circumstantial evidence is slam dunk without a body. If a body IS found, Dr. G is our medical examiner and that will be hard to challenge also. Maybe Equusearch will find something. This is a hard area to try to search and find a body though. I still would like to know who is paying Mr. Baez,and who paid the $50,000 towards her bond. The Anthonys home is heavily mortgaged and I can't see they had any cash or they would have bonded her out very early on. I would love to follow the money!! I don't think Baez practice can afford this case pro bono as the investigative costs have got to be high, along with paying Ms. Caseys bodyguards. He has not petitioned the court to be a public defender in this case either. Anyone have any thoughts on this??

Anonymous said...

I think it would be very informative to know who is funding the Anthony defense and bail. I am surprised it is not public record. I know that George and Cindy are named but for sure they are just the front men. Why is this backer so ashamed? Follow the money

Anonymous said...

Maybe Baez is asking the state to perform his investigation to save money. the judge nipped that one quick.

Anonymous said...

Great article, Rita!

Am I the only one who keeps thinking "My Cousin Vinny" every time they think of Jose Baez?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Baez may seem inexperienced because HE IS INEXPERIENCED! Keep in mind this self-proclaimed "High Profile" attorney has only been practicing law for THREE YEARS! (And he is already in a little bit of trouble with the Florida State Bar for not having completed his Continuing Legal Education requirement. ) Mr. Baez' law partner has only been admitted for TWO YEARS so no guiding hand of experience there.

The judge granted Mr. Baez' motions for discovery that Mr. Baez was entitled to as a matter of right, that he couldn't actually get on his own by working hard (unlike the cadaver dog records that were equally available to him if he used his "subpoena" powers.) Good for the judge and good for Mr. Baez. We should want all judges to grant proper motions and deny improper motions regardless how charming or despicable the defendant is.

I doubt Mr. Baez has an army of investigators out there - brand new attorneys seldom have such resources available for their use. However, I can understand his desire to go from scene to scene to see for himself. It is always desirable for the attorney to visit the "scene" in issue. Defending a case without knowing who could have seen what, or if someone's story is impossible because of topography, or any number of variables, would be foolish. For example, I have gone to auto accident scenes and discovered that an overgrown bush (not depicted in the police report drawing) or a change in the road grading or a curve in the road or the angle of the sun on a particular date may have obscured the other driver's (and/or adverse witnesses') view of the light signal or stop sign, tending to support my clients' versions about having had the green light or having already stopped and begun continuing forward when the accident occurred. This kind of personal knowledge is very useful to have before taking the depositions of adverse witnesses, who sometimes change their story when confronted with what they could or could not have seen.

In one memorable case, the adverse witness turned out to be an after-the-fact accomplice friend of the plaintiff who had been promised some of the plaintiff's settlement in exchange for testifying on the plaintiff's behalf; however, he did not know important details of the accident scene because he had never been there and only knew the story the plaintiff had told him. I was able to trip him up until he finally broke down and made his Perry Mason-like confession because I had actually been to the accident scene and knew what was what.

Always only my own opinions

shari said...

Katprint.....spoken like a true attorney. haha Mr. Baez does NOT have an "army" of investigators, but he does have investigators. And, Sedonia, great observation...only problem is....remember who won that case in "MY COUSIN VINNY" lol Hopefully when Equusearch starts again, something will turn up. Here in Orlando there is always lots of rain and swampy conditions though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great comments, Katprint!

I do have to say that I sometimes sneak in a bit of irony into my articles.

I'm well aware that Baez is probably sorely understaffed for the task he has at hand.

Likewise, as far a checking out all those tips is concerned, not even the OCSO or the FBI could possibly have the manpower and finances to go out and run them all down.

There is the telephone and there is the internet. I'm sure the authorities made ample use of both to send off requests to law enforcement all over the country to check out the plausable leads.

With Casey spending all those hours online, I'm surprised she wasn't tracking some of them down herself with her mother's help. She was also able to sit in her attorney's office six hours most days to assist in her defense.

What better way than to hunt down some of these leads?

Anonymous said...

Ritania, another irony is that some law offices really do have the ability to summon that kind of manpower. Most large law firms have ongoing retainer contracts with various private investigators who will travel anywhere, including foreign countries, tracking down witnesses/information. When I was working in the SIUs (Special Investigative Units which focus on uncovering insurance fraud) for Coregis Insurance and Liberty Mutual Insurance, some of our investigators obtained fantastic results.

I recall one case where the plaintiff was the husband of a woman who had died in an automobile accident, so he was seeking all the money that his OB/GYN wife would have earned in her lifetime. However, his mistress (whom he did not marry as promised) sold our investigator the love letters the plaintiff had written to her explaining that he was planning to leave his wife for her, that he was hiding money so that he would have enough to live on after their divorce, that he hoped his wife would die and save him all this trouble, etc. In another case, the brother of a teenage plaintiff who had sued a school district alleging sexual molestation by a teacher, sold us her diaries. In her diaries, she detailed her scheme to make up the bogus allegations and get a pile of money from settling the bogus lawsuit. You would be surprised by what a hardworking private investigator can turn up.

Bounty hunters are also awfully good at locating people. The Anthonys' failure to take advantage of Leonard Padilla's expertise in this regard is completely inexplicable.