Saturday, May 1, 2010

Casey Anthony Murder Trial: Who passed Judge Perry's test?

Yesterday's hearing conducted by Judge Belvin Perry proved to be as quick-moving and decisive as all the legal experts had been predicting. It was also a test. Being tested were the attorneys, the defendant, the Anthony family and all the onlookers. We can be sure that Perry was listening carefully and taking mental notes.

Cindy and George Anthony passed the test. They weren't chomping on gum or swigging on water bottles. However, Cindy seemed nervous at times without her crutches.

Casey Anthony passed the test. She sat as still as a stone statue throughout the proceedings. She stopped fixing her clothing and fiddling with her hair from the moment Judge Perry entered the courtroom.

Cheney Mason didn't say a word to the court other than his name and seemed to be sitting off a bit by himself observing and thinking throughout.

Jose Baez passed, but not with flying colors. Baez stated that he would "attempt" to contact the JAS people with a propose budget when Perry cut him off by asking if he would be available next week for the hearing as opposed to June or July as originally scheduled with Judge Strickland. Once a hearing date was set for May 6, lacking his agenda, he couldn't schedule a time for a hearing with the JAC. Judge Perry then stated that that would give Baez an opportunity to call the JAC today! I do hope that the defense has its budget ready prior to that hearing "yesterday"!

When Judge perry asked Baez how many defense motions aside from those concerning the death penalty were not yet resolved, he responded "a handful" and that he had a comprehensive list he could send "his honor". (Hello! Why didn't you bring it to the status hearing?) He then went on to say that to give a "comprehensive answer" he would say there were 3-5, excluding the death penalty motions. He did mention the motion regarding spoliation which still needs depositions.

Judge Perry then reworded his question to Baez. "How many motions that are ripe are pending to be heard?". At this point, Baez digressed to mention that Judge Strickland had not made the prosecution respond to all the motions as the defense had asked. Baez said they wanted the case law that the prosecution would use to defend their position.

Jeff Ashton (who will be handling the death penalty motions) stated that most of the motions to which Baez was referring were death penalty motions which Andrea Lyon had stated she would still want to argue before the court and not have them ruled on pleadings. He felt it was not a wise use of his time to respond to motions which would still be argued in court but that, if ordered to do so, he would do so. He also indicated that he had responded to some of the motions so they would not require a hearing in open court.

At this point in the hearing, Judge Perry set about setting a schedule for the hearings. He was looking at May 10, 11, 12, 13, and the morning of the 14th for the non-death penalty motions.
During the hearing, Baez also slipped and addressed His Honor simply as "JUDGE" a couple of times.

Perhaps his biggest faux pas was in addressing Judge Perry at the very end to inform him of the proper way to pronounce Lyon ("roar like a lion"). That is an issue which should have been addressed in a more diplomatic manner, considering that both Ashton and Drane used Lyons as well!

Linda Drane (I'll leave off the Burdick since that is what the judge is saying) passed the test with a minor slip on how many witnesses had been deposed. When asked by the judge, Jose Baez had been able to give the answer, 36. However, she scored a perfect "10" when she rose to speak to the number and nature of the pending motions. She started by saying that she had a motions log that Ms. Lyon had been "kind enough to provide". (That's the information Baez left back at the office.) She read from Lyon's log that there are 7 non-death penalty motions outstanding and read them off.

As she was doing so, Baez made the big boo-boo of getting out of his seat and going to the assistant who loudly snapped open his briefcase for him to peruse. He rooted around among the papers and withdrew something and sat down again. This drew a curious look from Cheney Mason and a short, whispered discussion between the two defense lawyers. I wonder what was discussed!

As for Jeff Ashton, he got an a for his efforts in court today. When asked, he got up, succinctly presented his point of view, and sat down.

Andrea Lyon didn't fare very well. She phoned in her appearance and apparently had a hard time hearing. The clerk finally had to repeat the questions directly into the phone so she could hear. I'll hold off grading her until she comes into court to argue the penalty motions.

Having graded all the participants in attendance, I'd like to briefly cover the issues I missed while grading the parties.

The Defense Quest For TES Records

On Friday, April 23, ClickOrlando reported that Mason and Baez had showed up to view the TES records at Mark NeJames' offices. Apparently, when the station's news cameras arrived, they left quickly.

On April 26, WFTV reported that NeJames is planning to file a motion to break a deadlock on the issue.

At the hearing, Jose Baez stated to Judge Perry that the defense had already filed three motions to get copies of all the records and that they planned on filing yet another one. He briefly mentioned that he and Mason had been to NeJames' office and "we will be, again be seeking to modify the order" because "we were unable to accomplish what we wanted to." He also insinuated something (although I do not know exactly what) by stating that he would speak no more of it because "Mr. NeJames is not here to defend himself".

What Baez wants to accomplish here is probably to find personal information of some searchers so they can send their PI's out to dig the ground out from under them! Judge Strickland ruled more than once concerning the privacy of searchers who were no where near the site. Both Brad Conway and Linda Drane were able to find what they were looking for in a matter of hours. I'm looking forward to see the new motions and what Perry will rule.

Oak Ridge Labs and other forensics

It would seem that the defense is having problems with getting proprietary information from the lab. Jeff Ashton stated that the intricacies of inter-state depositions were being worked on and that they were being scheduled for July.

When it came to defense experts examining the evidence, Baez stated that the hold-up in having his experts coming in was that the evidence was in various states including Tennessee (Oak Ridge) and Virginia (Quantico). It has all now been returned and they are ready to inspect it. He stated he would request a Special Master to oversee the process. Jeff Ashton said that the issue had only come up recently and, at this point, it could be discussed at another time. This issue led to the next.

Money, money, money

Judge Perry then asked when Baez would be meeting
with the JAC. This issue had to be dealt with "YESTERDAY"! When Baez indicated that Strickland had it tentatively scheduled for June or July, Perry asked him what day NEXT WEEK would be good for him. They settled on May 6th, at a time of Baez' choosing. I certainly hope the defense has it's budget outlined prior to then.

Change of Venue

Perry indicated that he will hear the motion on change of venue next week. He made it abundantly clear that he would like to choose a location which would be kept secret to the last minute and sequester the jury in Orlando. He indicated that there were acceptable locations both known and unknown that would be appropriate. I'd assume the "known" locations are those which Baez mentioned in his motion. If sequestered in Orlando, Perry indicated he would try the case 5 1/2 days a week!

He cited the cost issues involved with so many witnesses in the area. It would be far less expensive
to bus in 12 jurors plus alternates and put them up in a nice hotel with DVD's and games chosen by both the prosecution and the defense.

Both during the hearing and later on InSession, Baez mentioned some of his problems with a sequestered jury. He cited possible demonstrators outside the Anthony home and the courthouse. He cited the terrible hardship on the jurors in being confined without TV and families. He mentioned that certain demographics would be left out of the jury pool.

What Baez wants is a change of venue to South Florida (Miami, Palm Beach) and have the jurors home and comfy during the trial. Then they will be with their families and their TV's (where coverage of the case will be non-stop).

Somehow, I think the judge will get his way in the end.

Witness Depositions

The judge was no-nonsense when it came to depositions. Linda Drane mentioned that the defense and prosecution had set up a schedule to meet once a week to meet for depositions. She believed they were on track with the April 5 order from Judge Strickland.

She also pointed out that there were some defense witnesses whose lawyers were having scheduling difficulties or stone-walling her. When she said that, Perry told her that if a witness did not show up for a deposition, she was to give a courtesy call to reschedule. After that, an order for contempt of court could be issued and that the sheriff would be glad to help bring the witness in.

Length of Trial

In summary, the case should last from 3-4 weeks for the prosecution's case-in-chief. The defense estimated their case could last for 3 weeks. There was no discussion of the possibility of a rebuttal case at this point.

The most dramatic moment came when Perry asked for the length of the penalty phase "should Ms. Anthony be found guilty of 1st Degree Murder. There was silence in the court. Jeff Ashton stated his case would take one day. After a bit of waffling and conferring with Andrea Lyon, the defense estimated a week for their case.

Judge Perry now has his ducks in a row and the process leading up to the trial will be moving on steadily towards May 9, 2010. As he said during the hearing, he will issue an order on the trial date and it will be SET IN STONE.

I'll be watching the Clerk of the Court site for specific hearing dates and times and will keep you updated.

The entire hearing took place in just under an hour. It's well worth watching if you haven't seen it already.
I would also recommend you read Donchais' article about the hearing. She can say in 10 words what I say in 100!

Watch the hearing


FRG said...

Great article!!! Thank you!!
I couldn't believe that in less than one hour the hearing was over.
Judge Perry has his way with words and JB didn't have a lot of time to babble his "hmmm... ummm". JB didn't bring his agenda and the Motions to be heard, how about that??? Shall I say incompetent?
Boy, I just love Judge Perry!!!!
The best part was when JP mentioned about the people that were not cooperating to be deposed, I almost fell off my chair. I hope they got the message.
Ritanita, I have a question for you, why do you think KC needs two DP lawyers? I mean, IIRC, CM is death penalty certified lawyer, isn't he? It would be wise to think that's because AL has joined the defense team in May of 2009 but CM has analyzed this case from the beginning to the Local media, so he has knowledge of the case. What I mean is that now that KC is indigent, we (tax payers) will pay for the costs of the lawyers that comes from another States right? That's what I don't understand.
Once more I congratulate for your organized thoughts and the "List of Motions" not heard. You are the best!!!!

ritanita said...

FRG, I'm not sure if Casey needs two DP qualified attorneys, but she has them for now. Andrea Lyon has put a lot of effort into filing the requisite DP motions and I think she will stay.

It's hard to see Cheney Mason's role yet, he's just come on the team. He may prefer to be the one to cross-examine witnesses, which he is known for. We shall see.

As for costs for out of state attorneys. Lyon is working pro-bono. While the state will pay for travel expenses, they will not cover expenses for those coming from out of state.

Again, we will have to see what happens.