Saturday, October 30, 2010

Casey Anthony's Lawyers: Uncomfortable Day In Court

Casey Anthony made her first appearance in court yesterday for the first time in months. As I watched the hearing, I noticed that she was very subdued and did not seem in the least pleased with the proceedings. While there is no way to accurately tell what has caused her to stop primping and never sport any expression other than one of unhappiness, I'm sure she wasn't pleased at all by the motions hearing or the verbal gymnastics of her attorneys.

Casey's parents were also in court and presented a somewhat united front, if only in their increasingly haggard appearances. Again, we can only take a guess as to what information about the case they may have to cause such obvious emotional devastation.

The hearing opened with Judge Perry addressing the defense Motion for Reconsideration. Jose Baez was up first to speak in support of his motion. He also asked Judge Belvin Perry to include the letters Casey received in the jail in the motion. He explained that he had earlier spoken to Tamara Gappen, the lawyer for the Orange County Jail and had mentioned the letters to her. There is no need to go into all of Baez' arguments, we've heard them all before in his other attempts to have various and sundry records sealed from public view.

He mentioned that nobody needs to know how many packages of Skittles Casey orders (at least he didn't mention bras this time) and her personal business in general. Her Constitutional rights as a person being detained in the jail awaiting her murder trial outweigh the public's Constitutional right to know about it all. He brought up all the pre-trial publicity the case had garnered and how the light of media scrutiny wasn't fair to her case.

Judge Perry then brought up the numerous press conferences that had been held by members of the defense team (too bad he didn't mention all of their appearances in the national media to opine on the case and bad-mouth LE and the State). Baez replied that his press conferences dealt with the case, never with Casey's private business. What Baez forgot to consider in his reply was the amount of publicity and media attention he and the ever-changing defense team brought upon itself. (I won't even start to talk about the media attention drawn to the case by the Anthony family!)

Orange County Corrections attorney,Tammy Gappen was next to speak to the motion. She pointed out that the jail was not a part of the case against Casey Anthony, but that they had been invited to speak to the motion. She quoted Ch. 119 and other laws as she has done before. She also indicated that the County needs Court to tell them what to do in light of the Bent decision since the Court had previously denied all previous requests to seal jail visitation logs and Bent did not mention logs. She also objected to the issue of mail as it had not been not presented prior to this hearing. Aside from previous denials by Judge Perry, Gappen stated that the Bent decision holds that recordings of inmate calls are not public record because they are not part of the jail business as are call logs, visitor logs, and commissary logs. She said it was VERY NARROW DECISION which only applies only to visitor calls. (The one thing not mentioned in Baez' motion.)

Attorney Gregg Thomas spoke on behalf of the Sentinel. He gave the same arguments he gave in his original motion which I discussed in depth here. The two key items he brought up were that the Bent decision was not yet final and there were appeals pending in the case and that the decision only addressed private family calls. The only calls that could be made public under this ruling, were it final, would be those which contained inculpatory information such as a confession or security issues. (Gee, Casey could chit-chat with her family and friends, should the ruling ever become final!)

I had to go back and listen to the hearing twice more to figure out what Jose Baez was saying in his reply. The only note I had about it was, "I'm NOT getting what he's saying!". He started by saying that he was "shocked" that Ms. Gappen had made her reply considering "she had no dog in this fight." Upon re-listening, I realized that Ms. Gappen had said that she was here NOT because of this particular case, but because the jail needed clarification concerning the Bent issue. It may not be for Casey, but her dog in the fight is the Orange County Jail's responsibilities.

I also noticed that Baez, in his verbally twisted way, somehow made the link between phone calls and phone logs, as if they were the same thing. Once phone logs was made part of his issue, he then included ALL logs. He wanted the judge to take the one narrow position expressed and spread it widely across all sorts of records.

In the end, Judge Perry denied the motion in very strong terms, by saying, "In balancing the interests..., courts generally take a narrow construction and does not extend beyond that opinion concerning personal phone conversations." He again cited decisions concerning the Constitution of the State of Florida and Florida Statute 119. (We've heard those words before!)
There was a bit of commotion at the defense table and I notice Ann Finnell clearly mouthing the words "phone calls" to Baez. Baez then addressed the judge, asking for clarification as to whether the decision applied to "phone logs, phone calls, visitation logs.... The Judge affirmed that he had denied the motion and the previous ruling still applied. His decision was also based on the premise that the Bent decision were in effect. End of story.

Next, Judge Perry called for motions concerning the JAC. First up was Casey's new death penalty lawyer, Ann Finnell. The first words out of her mouth told me that what I had thought concerning her motion were true.

Ms. Finnell had been sandbagged by the other members of the defense team, including her long-time friend, Cheney Mason. She had apparently been told that the budget for the guilt portion of the trial had been previously worked out and that she was here to obtain funds to do her job in the penalty phase.

WRONG! At the May 6 hearing, there was no distinction made as to what portion of the trial for which the hours were allocated, with the exception of the hours granted to Jeanene Barrett, the mitigation specialist from out of state who joined the team along with Andrea Lyon, the preceding death penalty attorney.

Judge Perry said that he thought they had already done this.

Finnell, who practices in the Jacksonville area said that she'd been asked to prepare penalty phase budgets in other trials. As we learned in the previous JAC hearing, Judge Perry has the practice of giving out hours and asking the attorneys to return with detailed records as to how the money was spent prior to granting more funds. He tends to give money for the development of the case and deals with trial expenses when they arise.

Judge Perry said that he'd already granted the funds in his previous order dealing with trial preparation. Jose Baez had already argued the motion and was given the mitigation expert of their choice and 384 hours for her work were approved. The judge asked if they had used them all up. Finnell said that they hadn't, that Ms. Barrett had 1/3 - 1/2 of her hours left. The judge had also assumed that the mitigation expert would be doing the investigation portion as well.

Finnell stated that she was estimating the maximum hours she might need to complete the job. She mentioned that there was quite a bit of work still left to do. There were a large number of potential mitigation witnesses that needed to be talked to. As usual, Judge Perry wanted to know how many witnesses had been talked to and how many people needed to be talked to. When the hours are used up, and she comes back and gives a detailed explanation of how they were used, he could give them more.

Ms. Finnell agreed with the judge and mentioned that she would have to get more detailed information from Ms. Barrett. She then brought up the hours she needed for an in-state investigator. Judge mentioned the 300 hours of in-state investigators already given to the defense.


I'm putting little stars here because at this point, Baez, promptly hijacked Ms. Finnell's motion and started discussing the amount of PI time that he had already used up. Remember, he was also asking for 300 more hours for an in-state PI.!

This was quite a large digression which totally interrupted Finnell's motion! If you only listen to one portion of the hearing, this is the one to listen to at about 10:00.

Judge Perry indicated that the in-state PI was given 300 hours. Baez told the judge that those hours were completely exhausted and in his motion, he is asking for 300 additional hours.

Judge Perry then went into his now familiar explanation that to spend taxpayers funds, Mr. Baez will have to do a lot of explaining how he spent the, even if under seal so as to not to make public or let the State know his defense strategy.

At this point, Baez gave an extremely generalized idea of what types of work has been done. (All I could think at this point was that Mr. Baez needs a person to keep track of all the hours and expenses and what they were used for. This judge will not except vagueness when it comes to TAXPAYER Money!)

Baez brought up the dreaded Texas Equusearch documents and said that they were just scratching the surface of that, a lot of "them" don't want to get involved. (Can anyone wonder why?)

Then, the words I have been waiting for so long to hear from Judge Belvin Perry came out "TAXPAYERS DO NOT FUND FISHING EXPEDITIONS!"

Baez then made the usual complaint about access to records. I'll spare you the ugly details.

Judge Perry stopped the whining by asking, "what problems have you had when THIS COURT, several weeks ago... I supplied a special master... there are some forms on my desk now, submitted under seal..." (Paraphrased)

Baez replied by saying that the defense was trying to conduct a task with handcuffs on, TES had the worst kept records on the face of this earth, being closely monitored, and so on and so on...

The Judge took some umbrage and that, telling Baez that he gave them every opportunity and he had no complaints. He had made himself available by phone and NEVER got a call asking him to resolve and disputes. (I again recommend you listen to this.)

(Had I been there, I might have said it a little differently! "Mr. Baez, I gave you everything you asked for and you're still whining to me? Do you think Texas Equusearch's main function is to keep perfect records so you can call every searcher and look up their history and send out investigators to hassle them and make them say things they don't believe to be true? Those people gave their time and hearts to finding that little girl. Her name is Caylee and that was what they were there for!)

To make a long story a bit shorter, Perry indicated that he had understood the reason the defense wanted the records was that they didn't trust TES to tell them who had searched Suburban Drive and wanted to see which records showed a person had searched there. He then said that Baez is now telling him that he wanted a laundry list of names to make phone calls to them all and conduct his own investigation! Judge Perry then repeated, "If that's what you want to do, then that's a fishing expedition." Perry also told Baez that if he wanted to do it on his own, it was fine, but it wasn't something he could do with taxpayers money.

At this point, Cheney Mason got up and spoke to the issue. Referring to himself as a "significant taxpayer" he said he had "a dollar in this fight". Then, he misspoke when he said that TES had only identified 32 people who had searched Suburban. That is absolutely NOT true. When making the original order, Judge Stan Strickland allowed only those searchers who searched withing 200 yards of the site to be given to the defense. They would be the only ones to have any information about the ground conditions at the time.

He then goes on to say that they are only looking for people who searched the relevant site, about 17'5'' wide and smaller than the judge's bench. He said that people who searched "over here" weren't relevant at all! He says they are calling all these people so that they can eliminate those who searched Suburban on their own and didn't search that area! He also claimed that they were sending out investigators to talk to these people to eliminate them so they don't have to depose them. (I'm sorry, that STILL sounds like a fishing expedition.) Then, he makes the claim that they have found people who weren't on TES documents who searched that exact area and claim there were no remains there and that the area was dry! (I'm sorry, I do have a tendency to believe people like Tim Miller and the searchers who have already been deposed and haven't been Jeremy Lyonized.) In addition, Mason said that some of the people they have called don't want to cooperate with them or have been instructed not to speak to them. (Probably by friends who don't want to see them dragged into the case. I recall Tim Miller telling the searchers to simply tell the truth.) Mason also added that this is going to be a Federal issue quickly. And that's why we need the investigators.

Judge Perry said that what he explained was different from saying somebody is hiding records and that's what Mr. Baez was saying about TES. The Judge tells Mason that all he has to do is say that that is why he needs them (the PI hours) particularly.


At this point in the hearing, Ann Finnell takes the reins back and points out what SHE is asking for is different. Finnell goes through all the kinds of records, investigations, she needs and that she is going by the ABA rules. The judge tells her that he has to go by the rules of the Constitution and Laws of Florida.

The judge stated he wants to split investigative hours for guilt/innocence/possible penalty phase and also mentions that he had thought Mr. Mason had been brought in for penalty phase. Mason pretty much brushed that idea aside by saying that he didn't think there would be a penalty phase!

Finnell indicated it was her understanding that no investigative time has been used in the penalty phase. Judge Perry said he was LED to believe the mitigation person was going to do all the investigation. Finnell said that Barrett was from Chicago. Finnell stated that she want's someone local (Orlando, Ft. Meyers) for no more than 100 hours. The judge asked if she knows that she was asked for and that it would save money?

Judge Perry told her that he is not going to give her more money for Barrett and a local investigator. He told her to consult with the others and make a decision between someone local or Ms. Barrett.

Ms. Barrett wants to leave Barrett's hours the same and get 100 hours more for someone local to help her out with the bits and pieces.

Finnell then asked for a max of $7500 for the total cost of a mitigation psychologist. She mentioned that this would cover all expenses through trial. The judge then told her not to consider the expenses for the trial itself. At that point, Finnell asked for $2500. If she needs more, she will approach the judge about it. (She's on a rapid learning curve today.)

When asked for the $1000 for copying expenses, Judge Perry wanted to know if Ms. Barrett had already obtained copies of information. Finnell responds that she has, but has some ideas of her own. She said it would probably be substantially less than $1000, more likely $500.

Finnell skipped the next item as it deals with the actual penalty phase and moved on to the reimbursement for travel expenses. She explained her position after Judge Perry asked her opinion about the JAC rules concerning privately retained attorneys. She also said she would remain with the case even if she weren't reimbursed.

She then brought up expenses to travel to Warren, Ohio. When asked by the judge, she indicated that Casey lived there until about the age of 3. She stated she needs to interview potential witnesses about the family dynamics, for birth records, medical record, any childhood trauma. (I thought Jeneane Barrett had already been to Ohio.)

When asked by Judge Perry why she couldn't do this over the phone, Finnell replied that the had tried but had met with resistance. The judge then asked why she thought they will talk to her in person? Finnell stated that, based on her experience, it works better in person. She also said that she feels she is required to TRY based on ABA guidelines.

The Judge again reminded her that he is not bound by ABA guidelines and went on to mention all the laws and the Constitution he is bound by. He did say that if she were are able to demonstrate to him that these people will talk to you in person, he might approve it. Finnell then asked to ex-parte the court on that... (I guess we'll never get to know which Anthony friends, family, or work associates are unwilling to cooperate.)

JAC attorney Brad Bischoff then got a chance to speak. He stated that penalty phase funds may be premature at this time. He also asked for some clarification concerning the 100 hours of out-of-state PI time that is left. At that point, Judge Perry then told Finnell she has 100 hours for investigation in Ohio, and they do have investigators there.

Bischoff also stated the JAC had already disallowed attorney travel expenses before and hold the same position in this case.

He felt that the $2500 may be premature at this time. Judge Perry pointed out that "in capital cases you have to put the cart before the horse" and granted the $2500.

Copy costs... Judge asks Baez if he has any money left in copying costs? Baez said he didn't believe the judge gave him copying costs. Baez says he gave money for public records and rambles on a bit, he doesn't have an answer.

The judge, as patient as a second-grade teacher leads Jose Baez through a word problem. He gave him money to obtain public records and when we get public records we have them ____. (The correct answer is COPIED). Baez continues acting dazed and confused until the judge tells him he is playing WORD GAMES. (Clearly, the judge isn't pleased with that at all.)
Judge: Playing word gymnastics!

In the end Baez didn't know how much he had left and indicated he wants Finnell to have her own copying money.

Judge broke down and gave Finnell a starting amount of $500.

Judge Perry did put his foot down when it came to the issue of in-state investigator hours. He said that he has to have defense give accounting of hours already used. When asked, Baez told him all the hours were used up. Baez tried to save face a bit by saying that it wasn't just a TES issue and mentions all the State witnesses.

At that point, Perry insisted he get an accounting, he'll be around all next week, before he gives the defense more.

Perry, perhaps feeling a bit sorry for her predicament, gave Finnell 100 hours of her own, just what she asked for.

Oh! Baez just came up with his records! Surprise! Surprise! After a short trip up to the bench,
Baez gets another 60 hours! One thing is clear here. If Baez wants more time for PI services, he'd better show the judge some extremely detailed records. The judge also told Baez that if ne needs more PI time he can do a telephonic hearing

Perry doesn't award expense money for Finnell due to the privately retained attorney. (And I'm supposing trying to get expense money from the retained attorney would run into just as many difficulties as getting some money to make copies.)

Judge Perry then heard the Motion for Clarification. I never understood that one, but it seems that none of the issues were being disputed. The judge said that expenses for experts would be straightened out and paid at 9th Judicial Circuit rates.

Linda Kenney's Motion to withdraw was dealt with next. When asked if there were any objections, the only voice heard was that of Mr. Ashton who said he liked working with her. The motion was granted. I only wonder here if Casey Anthony understands just what losing this lawyer could mean to her case.

State: Extend time for depositions. The defense has no objections. (How could they?)

Linda Drane Burdick spoke to the motion and repeated a lot of what is in motion and discussed here in my previous article.

The judge asked a few questions about one of the witnesses who can't be located. Believe it was Travis Sanders, whose address was given as Northern California. When Drane Burdick asks if the defense knows what he is going to testify about, Baez pointed out that he's in a video!

Judge Perry grants her motion for a 30 day extension.

Perry then asks Ms. Finnell if she is aware that November 30 is the deadline for mitigation witnesses. Finnell stated that she is working on it and will do her best to meet the deadline. Perry informed her that she may be able to get an extention for mental mitigation, but Bennett has been on the case for a long time. It's obvious that Finnell and Barrett need to become very well acquainted very fast and Ms. Finnell will need to be brought up to speed on everything that has been done.

As the status portion of the hearing continues, Jeff Ashton is asked about expert witness depositions. He says the defense has 2 to go by extended deadline and that all people from the
Body Farm are done

The judge asked the defense if they are anticipation filing any Frye motions. Cheney Mason mumbled something about waiting on transcripts. Jeff Ashton pointed out to the judge that Jose
Baez had personally recorded them!

Judge Perry then told Mr. Baez that Mr. Mason said that he couldn't make Frye motions until he got transcripts (which need to be paid for) why couldn't he use audio?

Ashton, pointed out that the burden is on defense to prove scientific method is new and that some is new, some isn't.

Ms. Finnell made some suggestion about the transcription and then Judge Perry said he can get it done cheaper than "that" if Baez gives him the tape. He told Baez to give the audio to his clerk and the transcripts would be done.

Ashton helpfully told the Court that he doesn't have witnesses for Frye hearing to depose. (I'm wondering if the defense has any at this point.)

What I may not have reported earlier was that there was a brief discussion concerning the TES documents collected in Texas. Judge Perry brought up the topic again at this point in the hearing:

I'm going to summarize it here for the sake of brevity in an already to long entry!

Back in February, Mark NeJame filed a document with the court which explained how additional TES documents had been located in a search of Tim Miller's garage. (Hey TES is an all volunteer organization with one volunteer clerk in the office. It burns me up whenever I hear the defense and the Anthony family knock their efforts and record keeping. They sure aren't in this for the money, media exposure, and fame... and that includes the searchers as well.)

Jose Baez accused the prosecution of playing 3-card Monte with them and had denied the defense access to them. Linda Drane Burdick, for the first time in the 2+ years, lost it a little for the first time. She got up and carefully explained to the judge that these documents had been brought by Yuri Melich back to Orlando and booked in as evidence. The documents were copied and the copies returned to TES. She spent a day (of her summer vacation as I recall) going over the evidence lists with the defense team and it had been their choice NOT to ask for them.

After a little bit of discussion, Perry gave the defense two weeks to go take a look at them. Actually, I thing the defense should have checked out what NeJame had to say last February!

12. The above mentioned additional documents that were recently located are now placed with the other approximately 4,000 documents located at the undersigned counsel's office. The previously mentioned documents along with the recently located documents are available for review by the counsel for the Defendant and the State.

At this point in the hearing, Cheney Mason mumbled something about needing some "psychological" tests. The judge asked if he needed the results.

Linda Drane Burdick came to the rescue (again) and explained that FBI Special Agent Nick Savage had been depositioned yesterday. He did NOT administer the "tests". Rather, two other FBI agents utilized background sheets (which we can all observe in George and Cindy's videotaped interviews with the FBI). However, there had been discussion about the forms and Baez probably realized they existed.

Drane Burdick said that Baez and Mason DIDN'T find out about the forms yesterday. Yesterday, Baez asked if she had them. She said "no" the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit uses them (to profile people) and doesn't provide copies.

Judge Perry simply told the defense to file a motion to compel, soon.

Drane Burdick then informed the judge that Mr. Mason wants to conduct depositions with 18 law enforcment in November. Three had previously been extended to Nov 18. She said that Mason told her that the court's order was uninforceable and they would do depos when they pleased (sanitized version).

As to the excess "searchers" ON Suburban as witnesses, Drane Burdick said that Mason said that there are 6 to 10 who MAY apply and it's been past 5 days and don't have the names.

Judge Perry, on hearing about the law enforcement depositions said, "Then I don't think they'll do any more depositions.".

For those folks who don't comply with deadlines, and if we have to take a deposition, we will have to take a deposition at the convenience of the court, not either side.

He said that he would be present in court to hear these depositions which would NOT occur during normal working hours.

"I will choose the time, place, and method"

Judge Perry close the long, drawn out, contentious session with some stern words to both parties about "disagreeing without being disagreeable".

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Convictions in the Anna Nicole Smith Case

This is press release by LA County DA Steve Cooley's office:

Psychiatrist, lawyer convicted in Anna Nicole Smith case

LOS ANGELES – Anna Nicole Smith’s psychiatrist and her companion, an attorney, were convicted today of conspiracy in connection with obtaining drugs for the reality star and Playboy model before her death in 2007. A third defendant, also a doctor, was acquitted.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury was in its 13th day of deliberations when it announced it had reached verdicts on most of the charges in the case. It failed to reached verdicts on two counts against the psychiatrist and some of the charges in two of the conspiracy counts. Trial Judge Robert J. Perry declared mistrials on those counts.

“I am pleased that the jury reached guilty verdicts in this case,” said District Attorney Steve Cooley in a written statement.

“This case illustrates the problem of the overuse of prescription medicine in today’s society,” he added. “Medical professionals have a responsibility to ensure that the strict ethical guidelines of their profession are followed in prescribing medicine as part of the care of their patients.”

The jury convicted Khristine Eroshevich, 62, the psychiatrist, and Howard K. Stern, 41, Smith’s companion, of two counts of conspiracy to commit the crimes of obtaining a controlled substance by false name or address, and issuing a prescription that is false or fictitious. The time period covered by the counts was from June 2004 until February 2007 when Smith died in Florida of a drug overdose. The jury failed to reach a consensus on the other allegations in the conspiracy counts, including prescribing, administering and dispensing controlled substances to an addict; unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance; issuing a prescription that is false or fictitious; and violating the state Business and Professions Code.

Eroshevich also was convicted of one count each of obtaining a prescription of opiates by fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, and obtaining a prescription for opiates by giving a false name or address. The jury was evenly split between guilty and not guilty on two additional counts against Eroshevich – unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance and prescribing, administering or dispensing controlled substances to “Anna Nicole Smith, an addict.”

Stern was found not guilty of a third conspiracy count that also named the acquitted doctor, Sandeep Kapoor, 42. In addition, Stern was found not guilty of six additional counts involving obtaining and furnishing drugs for Smith. Besides the conspiracy count, Kapoor was found not guilty of another conspiracy charge and four additional counts involving furnishing the drugs.

Perry scheduled Jan. 6 for a hearing on defense motions for a new trial and sentencing, should those motions not be successful. Prosecutors Renee Rose and David Barkhurst of the Major Narcotics Division are expected to announce whether to seek a new trial on the unresolved charges.

Eroshevich and Stern each face possible maximum terms of at least three years in state prison. They remain free on bond. Kapoor’s bond was exonerated after his acquittal.

Casey Anthony Pre-Trial Hearing Tomorrow: The Motions

When I watch a hearing where motions are being heard, I like to have read the motions beforehand. Unfortunately, the media has not been providing us with copies of all the motions lately. I woke up this morning to the good news that my friend, Muzikman, had made the trip to the courthouse to get copies of the missing documents. Right now, he's my hero!

Today, I will cover the new documents. Previous motions were discussed in the previous article, just scroll down to read it.

One motion, the defense Motion for Reconsideration has attracted motions in opposition.

Orange County filed a motion on behalf of the jail which essentially tells the Court that nothing in the Bent decision relates to what the defense is asking for.

Key points in the Orange County pleading include:

The recent decision in Bent, entered on September 29, 2010, holds that audio recordings of personal inmate phone calls are not public record as audio recordings of personal inmate calls do not constitute "official business" of the jail. Therefore, the narrow holding in Bent is that such calls are not subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act, unless the content involves a crime or security issues...

The Bent decision distinguishes personal calls of inmates from "mail logs or logs of phone numbers called" which are records created by the jail...

The Bent decision actually supports deeming the logs public records subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act by stating, "The recordings at issue are personal phone calls, as opposed to records generated by BSO (here it would be the jail, such as mail logs or logs of phone numbers call." ID. This distinction shows that Court in Bent was issuing a very narrow ruling and did not intend to include jail logs in its exemption from disclosure, but intended to specifically exclude them

The Orlando Sun Sentinel also filed a response to the motion. Their motion agrees with what I wrote in my previous article, the motion is premature because it is subject to appeal. Indeed, the Sun Sentinel motion states that:

6. The Bent decision, however, is not yet final. The Sun-Sentinel has filed a motion for rehearing that remains pending... Until the Bend decision is final, Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration is, at best, premature. More importantly, the Bent decision is inapplicable to the facts underlying this motion and does not alter the public records analysis for records the Defendant seeks to seal.

It is worth reading this motion just for the footnote which in essence states that even if the Bent decision were final, it would still not apply in this case. From what I understand, the motion was turned in with about 50 pages of legal references.

I have a strong feeling this defense motion will go nowhere tomorrow. My only question is if Judge Perry will postpone hearing it until the Bent appeal is final, or if he will toss it on the other grounds stated in both the motions filed against it.

While the amended docket for the hearing does not include this filing, I'm pretty sure that the judge will hear it. It's a motion by Assistant State's Attorney Linda Drane Burdick. On October 26, she filed the
State Of Florida's Motion To Extend Deposition Deadline For Specified Non-Expert Defense Witnesses Listed After May 2010. We already know that Judge Perry extended the deadline for witnesses listed by the State after May 24, 2010. We all remember Mr. Baez whining about them as he fumbled with the color-coded charts. The judge gave the defense until the end of December for these.

Ms. Drane Burdick is only asking for an extension of 30 (thirty) days. Snippets from the following paragraphs will clue you in to the problems the State is having. Read it and think what the defense would say if the State did the same to them!

7. ... In the Order Memorializing Status Hearing, the court ordered the submission of a list of these witnesses by October 18, 2010 at noon. The defense has not submitted to the undersigned a list of ordinary witnesses disclosed after May 24, 2010 for which they wish to extend the deposition deadline as per the Court's order.

Remember, October 31 is "Pumpkin Time"!

8. (The State lists names of those interviewed/deposed already) ...Guillermo Medino lives in Mexico and has not been in Florida since 2008...

The only information provided for Travis Sanders was that he lives in Northern California along with his e-mail address. Efforts to contact him via email have been unsuccessful.

An incorrect address was provided for Gail St. John and Tamra St. John in Ohio. Efforts to contact Ms. St. John through her web site have been ignored and the undersigned is in the process of obtaining service of process on the St. Johns in Ohio.

The attorney for Brandon Sparks has stopped responding to requests to set his deposition and the undersigned has had contact with prosecutors in King County, Washington in an effort to secure his presence at deposition.

9. The deposition of Laura Buchanan began on August 16, 2010 via Skype from New Jersey. At the time of the deposition, Mrs. Buchanan was represented by Raymond M. Brown of Iselin, New Jersey. By agreement of the parties, the deposition was suspended and was scheduled for completion on October 13, 2010 via Cisco Webex. On October 11, the undersigned was advised via email that Mrs. Buchanan was ill and would not be able to attend the October 13 deposition. On October 21, 2010, Mr. Brown advised that Mrs. Buchanan had retained new counsel in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and the deposition would not be able to be rescheduled before October 31, 2010. New counsel, Bernard Cassidy, is in the process of familiarizing himself with his client's involvement in the case and has agreed to discuss rescheduling the remainder of the deposition in the near future.

I'm going out on a big limb and this is purely speculation on my part; I'm seriously wondering if these "witnesses" have all been "Lyonized" and are now regretting what they told the defense PI, or what the defense PI got them to say. In paragraph 11 of the document, Ms. Drane Burdick very elegantly outlines the State's frustrations.

The office of the undersigned has worked diligently to identify those witnesses who would require depositions despite having no statement detailing the subject matter of their testimony, no telephone contact information, and in some cases, no contact information at all. All local witnesses have been deposed via telephone conference, Skype or Webex. Efforts have been made to coordinate and secure the attendance of the remaining witnesses, but due to their location and, for some, lack of cooperation, additional time is needed to complete the process.

As Ms. Drane Burdick pointed out in the September status hearing, she is sorely lacking in defense discovery. All she has is a list of names and no idea why they are on the defense list. I can't believe Judge Perry will be happy with this. The defense still isn't playing by the rules!

Finally, we now have a copy of the defense Motion for Clarification. It's a recap of that the judge ruled at the original JAC hearing and lists the amounts payable to expert witnesses. I'm still trying to figure out what it is they need clarified! I guess we'll find out tomorrow at 1:30 PM.


This is just in from WFTV:

Former meter reader Roy Kronk's son was to be deposed Thursday as well, but court records show Brandon Sparks is not cooperating. Sparks claims Kronk, who found Caylee's remains, appeared to have inside information.

Here's another example of a DEFENSE witness who doesn't seem to want to talk to the State. This is all very strange, indeed! I don't know about you, but if I volunteered information to the defense team, I would want the State to know exactly what I said.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Looking Forward To Another Hearing: Casey Anthony To Attend

October is one of my favorite months. Gone is the heat of summer and the clear, crisp days let me work in my garden for hours on end. Those chilly, drizzly days are perfect for naps on the sofa wrapped in my favorite Betsy Ross panne/fleece blanket. The past weeks have been pure bliss. Oh, I surf the computer early in the morning and late at night to keep up with the latest in the Casey Anthony murder trial. Fortunately, there was a bit of a slow time and I've been able to indulge myself. However, it's almost "Pumpkin Time" and I've had to abandon them for now.

The Motions

We have a hearing on Friday, October 29 at 1:30 PM. Originally slated to be a status hearing, which is always quite an experience, we will also be hearing two motions. Ms. Anthony will be in attendance for that reason.

One motion to be discussed is one filed by Ann Finnell, Casey's newest death penalty attorney. In her Motion To determine Reasonable Budget For Due Process Costs In A Capital Case And Motion To Incur Certain Specified Costs , Finnell sets out her budget for the mitigation phase should Casey be found guilty of murder. On October 12, Bradley Bischoff, attorney for the JAC filed his reply.

For a complete analysis of the documents, I highly recommend the analysis published in the Orlando Sentinel.

After reading the motion and the JAC reply, I went back and read my entry for the original JAC hearing on May 6, 2010. It will be interesting to see how much of what Judge Perry said at that hearing will be repeated or acted upon in this hearing.

One of the most interesting items in Finnell's motion concerns mitigation specialist, Jeanene Barrett. In her motion, Finnell asks for 100 additional hours for the specialist.

At the hearing, Judge Perry asked Jose Baez for some information about Ms. Barrett's work.

The judge then asked how many hours she had already put in, how close to completion she was and how much she was compensated in past, He wants to know the number of times she met with Ms. Anthony.

Baez answered in a rather rambling manner, which is what he does whenever he doesn't have those pesky little details available.

Baez responded that she had traveled to Orlando twice a month for a year. She had traveled to Ohio and Ft. Myers to meet with relatives. She also met with Cindy, George, and Lee Anthony .

As for the additional 100 hours for the mitigation specialist, the JAC response notes that the court had previously approved a "cap" of 384 hours for mitigation specialist Jeanene Barrett.

"It is unclear whether that cap has been reached at this time," states the response from JAC Assistant General Counsel Bradley Bischoff.

The rate for such work is $40 per hour and the response states the court "must determine that the additional hours sought are reasonable and necessary for the defense of the case."

For the sake of brevity, I'll be quoting my entry here. In the July 6 hearing, Judge Perry asked Jose Baez to indicate a few details about Ms. Barrett's work to date.

The judge then asked how many hours she had already put in, how close to completion she was and how much she was compensated in past, He wants to know the number of times she met with Ms. Anthony.

This is highlighted because in her motion, Finnell stated that there would need to be visits to the same locations. Would this be unnecessary duplication of labor? On each visit to Orlando, Barrett had spent “multiple hours” (3 as an average) with Casey and the two had grown extremely close. He estimated that it would take about 384 hours to complete the work.

Judge Perry said, “Stop! How many hours has she put in?”.

Baez said he didn’t know, probably the same amount. He pointed out that it is an ongoing relationship. If the case were to end up in penalty phase, she'd have to have discussions with Casey that no one else can. He went on to say that Jeannene Barrett was the closest person to Ms. Anthony, that she knows Casey better than he does.. She is the most important person on the defense team. She has a relationship with the family members who have opened up to her and has gained their trust. She had even spoken to Casey’s elementary teachers.

At the hearing, Judge Perry made it abundantly clear that he wanted FACTUAL information concerning Ms. Barrett's activities in the case.

She must keep detailed records, and he wants records of people she has already spoken to. He will go over her billing with a a fine tooth comb as will JAC. It may get cut, but at this stage, she will continue

He will scrutinize hotels (mentions types at cheapest possible rate. She will have the same per diem rates as outlined in FL Statute. Car rentals (compact cars).

Judge Perry made it very clear at this hearing that to get more money from the JAC, he would have to justify every past expense and would also have to be very specific if he came back for more money. This is no surprise, the Judge is very involved with the JAC and is very money conscious. Jose Baez, on the other hand, has a problem with finances and record keeping. That's a "whole 'nother story! I'm hoping Finnell will be better at accounting for all of this.

One only has to go back to the beginning of the JAC hearing to note that. At the hearing, Perry pointed out that the defense originally had $275,000 at their disposal. Andrea Lyon was paid $22,500 for expenses. $89,454.33 was paid to Jose Baez for his representation in both the criminal and civil cases totaling $111,954.83.

As the judge figured, there was still $163,045.70 left and he stated that it looked like it went to pay for investigators, experts, and travel. He wanted to know any number of details such as whether they would be testifying and the number of hours for which they were compensated.

This huge amount of money not well accounted for would lead any fiscally responsible person to wonder "where did it all go"? Wouldn't we all like to know!

Whatever happens with Ms. Finnell's motion on Friday, I'm sure the judge and Mr. Bischoff will hold the defense's feet to the fire to justify any more money. It will be interesting to watch, especially because it will be Ms. Finnell;s first court appearance.

In an especially ironic response from the JAC, Brad Bischoff, in arguing against the payment to Finell of travel and lodging in the pursuit of her mission. Since Jose Baez brought her on board, her expenses are part of his overhead and should come out of the money he had accepted for representing Casey as a private attorney.

Personally, I can't believe the sticky wicket Baez has gotten himself into. Since Casey is now indigent, he can't get money from her through any other source than the JAC, which has its own severe budgetary situation. If Casey were to miraculously broker a deal for herself from the jail (oh, those pesky jail logs) to sell more of Caylee's memory, she would no longer be indigent!

The second motion, filed by Jose Baez on October 15, the Motion For Reconsideration opens up the topic of sealing Casey's visitor logs. Based on a recent Court of Appeal decision, Bent vs Florida, his previous motion to seal jail visiting log records be sealed. He also states that "jail commissary records, telephone and visitation logs are also not subject to public record disclosure under Chapter 119..."

As I read the motion, I notice two things. First, the court decision deals with the phone calls of minors. Second, the last page of the decision has the following statement at the bottom.

Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

Since the decision came down on September 29, 2010, I have no idea if this decision is being appealed. If it is, it is more than likely that this ruling may not yet be final.

For more information concerning this motion, I recommend you read Richard Hornsby's excellent blog on this decision.

The Commotion

Is Jeremy Lyons?

Last Wednesday, accusations that defense PI Jeremy Lyons had been accused of witness tampering. According to WFTV,

Defense private investigator Jeremy Lyons is being accused by two EquuSearch volunteers of trying to change their testimony about searching the scene where Caylee's remains were later found. One has already been deposed by the defense and the other has given a statement to investigators.

The two complainants are Brett Reilly and Brett Churchill, both of whom had searched with TES. According to Churchill,

"He basically was asking me if what I said in my deposition was the exact story because he had others who fared differently, one of them being Brett Reilly,"

Reilly said that:

...he warned Lyons not to twist his words after seeing what the defense has done to others. He says Lyons promised not to, but then found out he did exactly that.

These accusations follow a situation with another searcher, Joseph Jordan who claimed that the defense PI, Mort Smith had tried to do much the same thing, prompting him to clandestinely record the session. The end result of that dust-up was that the illegal recording was sealed by Judge Stan Strickland and his decision was upheld by Judge Belvin Perry. Jordan is now on the State's witness list.

If these accusations are true, then it is a sad situation when the defense will go to any lengths to get someone to say that the area where Caylee's remains were found was dry and had been thoroughly searched.

Linda Kenney-Baden Leaves the Team

The latest "bombshell" occurred on Friday, when Casey Anthony's forensic specialist attorney Linda Kenney-Baden filed a Motion To Withdraw. She cited the burden of travel and expenses in making her decision. If there are any other reasons, it's purely speculation on our parts. Good luck to Dorothy Sims, who can now deal with ALL the science (with perhaps a bit of help from Casey's former lawyer.)

For more on this latest commotion, and for a good laugh, do read donchais' take on the situation at Calls For Justice.

See you all in court Friday!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Latest Phil Spector News

Many of you have written me asking if there's any Spector news. (For those of you who've been living in a cave the last couple of years, at the end of a retrial, Phil Spector was convicted of second degree murder in the death of Lana Clarkson on April 13th, 2009. His attorneys have since filed an appeal.) I've been very busy sewing nonstop for the past two months, getting ready for my busiest season, so I haven't been inside a courtroom in ages nor have I been able to keep up with Spector news. I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has taken the time to send me news articles over the past several months when anything hits the press regarding Phil Spector. Y'all know who you are, and I so appreciate your time in sending me the links.

There is a bit of big news that happened today. The State of California Attorney Generals Office filed their "Respondent's Brief" to Spector's Appeal, Case No. B216325, Second Appellate District, Division Three. You can read all 160 pages of the document here. The index alone is five pages but the "table of authorities" (listing the cases ruled on to support arguments) goes another 12 pages. Spector's reply brief deadline is November 2nd, 2010.

Over the summer, Spector's trial bride, Rachelle Short Spector was promoting her album, Out of My Chelle and posting music videos of herself on her web site singing and learning choreographed dance steps. (In the background of one of the videos, you can see the infamous "fountain" in the motor court behind Spector's mansion.)

Rachelle gave quite a few news outlet interviews as well as made the rounds on any radio show that would have her. Here's one that gets a bit wacky with KLSG's John Matthews. The Telegraph's Mick Brown did an excellent review of the album.

Although sources tell me someone named "Graham" was seen in studio with Rachelle producing, in interview after interview Mrs. Spector insists that her husband produced the album in his off time during the second trial. (Remember during the first trial, Spector was involved with award winning documentary film maker Virkam Jayanti about his life, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector.) If that was really the case, I wonder why it took so long after the trial ended in a conviction for Mrs. Spector to find someone to make a video of her singing. You would think her husband would have wanted to be involved in that, too.

Recently, HBO released a statement that Al Pacino would be starring in a still unnamed project about the life of Phil Spector. Pacino is a wonderful actor and I can't wait to see how he will transform himself into the legendary producer. Especially that receding chin. I wonder if Pacino ever met Spector and if not, maybe Spector will let Pacino visit him in jail for a little one-on-one preparation for the role. I also can't wait to see who will portray Spector's various wives.

Months ago, the MSM indicated that Donna Clarkson's civil case against Spector for the death of her daughter, Lana was in "mediation." I've not heard any news that the status of that case has changed. That may not change until the Second Appellate District Court rules on Spector's appeal.

Last but not least, on December 13th, 2010 a hearing has been scheduled where Robert Shapiro will present a motion to Judge Malcolm Mackey, (Department 55, Stanley Mosk Courthouse) in an effort to get Phil Spector's lawsuit against him dismissed. The case is set for trial March 7th of next year. In the mean time, I'll try to find out if Spector will be let out for the hearing or the possible trial. What are the chances that Spector will be allowed out of prison to take the stand, if he pays for the cost of keeping him in custody, like he was allowed to do to see his personal dentist a while back? Anyone have a guess?