Monday, February 7, 2011

Casey Anthony Status Hearing: February 4, 2010 - Part 2

I'm back and refreshed and ready to continue. Last time, I ended with the discussion of the new deadlines for the expert reports which all (with the exception of Dr. Spitz) fall into line to preclude Mr. Baez from having his "unique opportunity" in Chicago. Speculation is rampant as to whether or not he will actually attend the AAFS annual conference. Personally, I don't really care if he goes. It won't help his case in any way, but he has put up "his own money" to attend.

Just as this discussion ended, Jeff Ashton brought up the DNA results from the NMS lab which were due by January 14. He had been informed by counsel that it wasn't completed yet, but wanted to know what Judge Perry had to say in light of the fact that there hadn't been a motion for an extension.

Judge Perry then questioned Jose Baez about this. After a bit of hemming and hawing, he told the judge that the lab would not be "touching" the items until the court had given the order. Once the court order was given, the items were sent to the lab. (The judge had ruled on this at the hearing on November 29, allowing the defense a total of 45 days to have the results. ) He also offered to file a motion for an extension for the deadline if that is what the court wanted.

Judge Perry then asked: "When was the materials transmitted to the DNA laboratory?"

Baez turned around to confer with Michelle Medina to find out the date.

After a fairly substantial pause, Baez addressed Judge Perry and said, "While that's being researched, Judge, can, are there any other points that we can address while that is being researched? We'll get back to it."

According to Baez & Co., this case is different (although I would beg to disagree, since there are so many cases out there of mothers who are accused of murdering their children). Isn't there anyone at the Baez Law Firm assigned to keep an accurate flow chart on the case? It can even be multi-color-coded to indicate outstanding vs. completed actions. It could contain a "to do" list multi-color-coded as to importance? Mr. Baez needs to have someone to help him prepare for these hearings, badly.

Judge Perry moved on the penalty phase witnesses and asked Jeff Ashton how that was coming along.

Ashton said that they had received the list from the defense and that the State planned to get those done in April. Ann Finnell had indicated that she would provide the State with a report from the psychologist they were using. He said this witness would be deposed but that he had no intention of deposing every witness on the list, since he already knows many of them. As to what depositions will be done, Ashton indicated that he and Ms. Finnell were having no problem coordinating and cooperating. (Take that, Mr. Baez!)

Judge Perry then brought up the anticipated Frye Hearings and the length of time they would take.

Ashton replied that there were a "multiple of motions filed on the different pieces of information". The State needs to have an agreement on what material is and isn't subject to Frye Hearing. According to the defense motions, they seem to imply that everything (assuming scientific information) is in need of a hearing.

As to the amount of time, he would defer to the defense because they are the ones who will have to make a showing that the scientific evidence is new and untested. Ashton also stated that he thought that most of the material would simply be a matter of opinion and not in need of a Frye Hearing. He also indicated that the motions were pretty much "boilerplate" and not "terribly specific".

The most significant expert who will be subject to Frye will be Dr. Vass and he will be in Tampa March 21-23. He suggested March 24 and 25 as possible hearing dates for the hearing. In addition, this would save the state money since they would not have the expense of flying him in.

Baez replied that the time frame seemed appropriate to him. He did disagree with Ashton over their agreement. He believed that the defense had fully complied with in that they had told him what they would be challenging. He also insinuated that Mr. Ashton may have "misunderstood it"!

I sometimes wonder if the defense team has ever bothered to Google Jeff Ashton's name. I also sometimes wonder if they fully understand the man they are dealing with on the scientific issues in the case.

On October 08, 2010. an article in the Orlando Sentinel had this to say about Mr. Ashton:
In a case now brimming with legal brainpower, the prosecution may have an interesting advantage here: Jeff Ashton. The veteran assistant state attorney helped successfully get DNA findings introduced in a 1987 Orange County rape case.

It was the first time that evidence was ever presented in a U.S. courtroom.
Introducing the evidence here all those years ago brought national media attention and, ultimately, broad awareness of a science now used to prove guilt and also exonerate those wrongly accused.
(Bold mine)

Baez also indicated that they had not yet responded to their motions. He went on to discuss Judge Strickland's prior ruling; that if they had any case law that they must provide any case law two weeks in advance if they don't file a brief. Baez even said that Ashton wants reports but doesn't want to reply to any of his motions. (Does that make any sense, I'm not seeing it.) Baez then said, "we do the job right, we file responses to briefs, and that they be required to respond to our motions."

Jeff Ashton then pointed out that he will reply to all the defense motions once he has received all the discovery (reports). "I cannot respond to a motion that the discovery is still pending." (Now, THAT makes sense to me.) He again returned to the vagueness of the defense motions as to precisely what the Fry Hearing will challenge and would like to come to an agreement with the defense. He had thought that they had an agreement, however the motions themselves were too vague and "inspecific" for him to know what the defense was challenging. He wanted the defense to put it in writing again and have a stipulation to that.

Judge Perry then took the lead and also schooled Mr. Baez on the sort of information required a Frye hearing:

Mr. Baez, what things you gonna challenge that are not generally accepted in the scientific community or do not come within the ambient of the Florida Supreme Court value case dealing with pure opinion testimony?

Baez responded that "the issue we are really at odds with is that of the Oak Ridge National Laboratories. I told Mr. Ashton, and I will again, that I represented to the Court, that we're not going to question the validity of the gas chromatograph, or of course LIVS, the Laser Induced... (Baez falters here as he tries to recall the rest and I can't make out the multiple voices that finish that part.) Those two instruments as to their ability and to their findings. Now, as to the interpretations of their findings and how they're applied, and how they're being applied, THAT is being challenged. (Pause) You can't get a vacuum cleaner and say that this is a forensic instrument. (Bold mine)

Gee, I didn't know that they used vacuum cleaners at Oak Ridge to do scientific analysis! I could imagine a scientific version of a vacuum cleaner, though. In fact, I've seen such scientific instruments used in various programs on Forensic Files!

Jeff Ashton got up and said to Judge Perry, "As you can understand, from counsel's, from what counsel just said, I'm not completely secure in the knowledge that, that... the difficulty goes... It needs to be in writing, judge.

Baez disagreed with that!

At which point Judge Perry interrupted both of them to tell them 23rd, 24th, and 25th (of March) he was scheduling scheduling the Frye hearings. By that point, the defense has to inform the Court what will be challenged in the hearings. "It will be incumbent on you to reach the legal threshold, then it will shift to the State to come in and do what they're supposed to do."

Perry also made this interesting statement. He is so way ahead of the learning curve on this case. "Memos are nice, folks, but the one thing I think you should know about me by now, is that not only do you, but I read your own case law, I do my own research." He also told them he has people who do the research for him, but he finds cases they don't find!

Perry then brought up the Heart Sticker motion and the Stain Motion and asked if the State had a response for that. Jeff Ashton said he did, but wanted to reply to all the forensic motions at the same time. That seemed just fine with the judge.

The judge then went back to the topic of the DNA testing. He mentioned that in November, he had filed an amended order which clarified the DNA issue. He wanted to know what has happened with this evidence between then and January.

Baez indicated that Ms. Medina had just walked out of the courtroom to check on the issue. (My goodness, a lot of time had passed since he told the court she would look into it!)

Baez said that although it was sorted out in November, he didn't think the Order had come out until much later. He also said he hadn't come to court prepared to discuss the issue.

There was a long pause as the judge gazed at his computer and told Baez that there was an Order on November 18 clarifying the DNA issue.

It's obvious the defense team has their microphone turned off. No matter how much I've listened, it's been almost impossible to clearly hear what Mr. Baez or Mr. Mason say when standing at their table. Baez does say something about discussions or something that held it up.

The judge then read from the order. (The only site where it is posted is not available at this time.) It authorized payment to the lab for the testing and the judge reads a good part of it aloud to the attorneys.

Baez then rose to say that as far as the lab is concerned, he can give the Court no information about the status of the testing. Judge Perry reinforces the situation, "So we have no idea what the status is of the DNA testing."

Baez did indicate he'd spoken to them recently and the testing was still not done and would let him know when it was. He then whined that he doesn't have the FBI at his disposal. (It would be rather inconvenient if he did! He's going to challenge FBI testing at trial.) He can't order priority testing and has to literally stand in line for his turn to have his evidence tested. (Poor Jose Baez, poor defense team)

Judge Perry then ordered Baez to have a written status update to him by February 10th at 12:00 noon. The report must contain the status of the testing, a date by when they will be finished with the , and when they will have a written report done. (That's this Thursday!)
Baez then asked the judge if he could have a report from the State as to when they would have all their reports done. There was the entomological evidence Jeff Ashton had given to Neil Haskell recently after they had sent it to someone else.

Jeff Ashton told the judge that they have traditionally passed along reports to the defense five to seven days after receiving it. He said Haskell's report should be done within a week and then asked the judge wanted to set a date for that, it would be fine with him.

Judge Perry set a date of February 11, at 4:00 PM, exactly one week after this hearing.

Linda Drane Burdick then spoke to the remainder of the issues. She indicated that they have "a continuing obligation to release discovery to the defense as we receive it. As a result of publicity, the case has received e-mails from individuals, we also get some follow-up based on a lot of the Texas Equusearch investigation that was done recently. I am nearly completed with depositions of witnesses that have been provided to me. We will follow up on the information provided by some of those witnesses. If we receive rebuttal information, if we do additional research that leads us to rebuttal information, I will provide that as soon as I have it. If we get another report of any sort, Mr. Baez knows, that of Ms. Anthony's diary was sent to the FBI, that there were recent reports on that. There is some follow-up based on those reports that were completed by the Orange County Sheriff's Office within the past month or so, that we are trying to nail some things down, so, if the question is, are we going to continue to do our job, the answer is yes."

Jose Baez' immediate question after this was if the trial was going to be delayed by some of the recent information revealed. He then whined that the State had the diary from 2008 (not true, Brad Conway was in possession of it for quite a while). Baez categorized the diary as being full of speculation and he will file a motion on it. He complained that with all the new discovery, they would have to investigate it and more yadda, yadda, yadda.

When Judge Perry asked Baez if he had a copy of the diary, Baez answered in the affirmative. Then, the judge suggested he could file a motion Baez agreed with it, telling the judge that he "didn't like it at all". As usual, Judge Perry admonished him that if he didn't like it, file a motion on it.

Baez then approached the podium and went on about the diary. It was from 2003, maybe 2004, it's full of speculation, and even considered that the line "I'm pleased with my decision" might mean that Casey was happy she'd eaten chocolate!

The judge then schooled Baez as to the two ways he could handle the diary: file a motion in limine or object at the time of the trial! Perry even suggested two things Baez could say in his objection... "irrelevant" or "immaterial". When Baez said that the discovery was after the deadline, Judge Perry told him he could file a motion to exclude. (We're all getting Law School 101 under our belts just listening to Judge Perry advise Mr. Baez. Maybe we should get certificates of attendance.)

Next, Judge Perry told the attorneys to look at their schedules for May 4. It is the day by which the judge will hear any objections to his choice of venue for seating the jury. He will more than likely tell them the venue on May 2. He said he would probably give them so little time because he will be giving them the demographic information about the area.

He also said he'd been doing research on cases that were overturned because of change of venue and he hasn't found one yet.

Jose Baez objected to the time period allowed by the judge for the objection. He also, in my most humble opinion, insulted the judge and his ability to pick an appropriate change of venue. I cringed listening to this both times. It was far more cringe-worthy than the slave wages comment. I couldn't stand to transcribe it all, but here's some of what Baez said to the Chief Judge of Orange-Osceola!

When the court chooses another jurisdiction to try the case, I do not believe, it's our position that there's an assumption made that that jurisdiction, we can, in fact, find a fair and impartial jury from that specific jurisdiction. I don't necessarily think that that might be the case, though. In researching these issues, what I have noticed, and this is with all due respect to Your Honor, that judges appear to, there are many judges that take the approach, "I'm going to treat this case like any other case. But in fact it isn't. This case is different and because of the differences, we have to anticipate, of course, what types of problems may lay ahead. The two days that the court has asked, or, or, contemplating on doing, puts us in the position where we really can't, other than stand and say, "I object", we can't give the court any type of empirical data that may allow the court to make a fair decision based on enough research or enough of an opportunity. And bear in mind, I, I know, I know, I know where you're going with this, but nevertheless, I think that that, I think that we want to have the opportunity to determine, when we do this the first time, that it is the last time and that there are no issues with the venue and in order to do that, we just can't come up and say, "well, Judge, um, Okeechobee Florida isn't the place for this case", cause your next question is going to be, "why?" And I can't give you the answer of why.

At this point, Judge Perry mentioned that Okeechobee doesn't have the same demographics. Judge Perry pointedly made the comment that neither the defense nor the State have any say as to change of venue.

Baez continued on, nevertheless, to ask for 30 days notice of the location from which a jury will be selected.

I have to say, Judge Perry took his "education" with a little smile on his face. We all know that he is probably close to chosing a venue which will be similar in demographic nature to Orlando. He's done this more times than Baez has had a trial with a change of venue... which is a grand total of ONE. Baez ignored the question and kept on going.

At this time, Perry started to have some fun with Baez and asks him if he wants to pick a jury from Orange County!

Baez responded with a resounding "NO" and went on to point out that the defense will not have the opportunity to present information so the judge could make an "educated" decision. He wants his 30 days to do research to bring to the judge.

Baez already did research in 2009 when he filed his Motion For Change Of Venue for the fraud case. I can't locate the link, but there were piles and piles of information from a study he had apparently commissioned.

Perry then made the point that The Appellate Court would look at the questions the jurors were asked and the answers they gave. He also indicated that the jurors need not be deaf, dumb, or uninformed to serve on a jury. What matters is that they are able to come to the jury without an opinion as to guilt or innocence. They have to be able to lay aside what they have heard and make their judgments based on the facts presented at trial.

Judge Perry then made Baez aware that he knew of Baez prior research. He told Baez he had narrowed his search down to Miami-Dade and Ft. Lauderdale-Broward County. He continued to list the things about Baez's search. He mentioned pre-trial publicity, press/news coverage, and so on.

The judge asked if there were any places he felt the case should not be tried. Baez merely said that his opinions were laid out in his motion.

After making nicey-nice with the judge for a sentence or two, Baez then pulled the Cheney Mason routine for the second time: that somewhere down the road, the Appellate Court just might overturn the case based on change of venue.

Judge Perry then brought up the case of Danny Rolling, aka "The Gainsville Ripper." Baez said he knew of the case. The judge then asked if he knew that Rolling confessed to his crimes but the penalty phase of the trial was held in Gainsville. From what I've read, there was an appeal based on lack of change of venue, but it failed and Rolling was executed.

At this point, Baez continues to argue his points and how law evolves and yadda, yadda, "unique situation", yadda. (He should have known the judge wasn't buying his arguments, but he went on and on.)

Judge Perry then ended our misery at having to listen to any more of Mr. Baez arguments by stating that the most difficult part of choosing a jury would be the length of the trial itself which could go six to eight weeks. That is a long time for a jury to be sequestered. He also told Baez that he would be surprised at the number of citizens who don't watch the news or read the newspapers and no very little, if anything about the case. He also said that "we" continue to monitor several areas of the state to monitor the coverage.

Finally, we arrived at the end of the hearing. For the third time, the judge asked Mr. Baez if he had the DNA information.

The evidence was submitted by the OCSO on December 3, 2010. The defense had been given a minimum of ten weeks for the testing to be done. That is all the defense knows as of now.

(I counted ten weeks and it comes out to February 11,2010. I have to wonder if Baez ever tried to get his tests expedited due to his January 14, court-imposed deadline?)

Then, Judge Perry did something very unusual. He asked Baez for the phone number of the DNA lab's director. He also wanted the submission number and a copy of the submission letter, so he could call the lab himself!
In the Order Memorializing the Status Hearing, I read that the deadline for the DNA testing is now March 23 by noon.

It has become more obvious than ever that Judge Perry is well aware of the games that the defense is playing. He is aware of the research Baez did, he is aware of the Notice of Unavailability, he knows that Baez is being investigated again by the Florida Bar. He has sanctioned Baez for missing deadlines. He has provided him with a wealth of legal education. Let's hope someone tells this to Mr. Baez!

If you want to watch the hearing:

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3


Darcy said...

Just a quick comment (Great recap, btw) - the reason the Judge brought up Dade and Broward counties is because those are the counties where Baez has stated, I believe in a motion somewhere down the line, he WANTS to try the case. There has been speculation that Baez believes that the heavily Hispanic demographics will weigh in his favor (Vote for Jose! He speaks Spanish!). Great set-up for the Telemundo show he's planning for after the trial.

ritanita said...


There was a great deal of talk about Baez' hand-picked choices back when the motion were filed and you have an excellent memory!

The judge DID point out that there are what? 61 counties in Florida! I'm sure that he has looked into all that could possibly match up with Orlando.

Whatever his choice, Baez has to live with it!

Liz said...

Not only your summaries, but also your choice of pictures well describe what was happening in court. I can't bring myself to watch too much of Mr Baez, but I guess if the Judge can smile as he listens, so can I. Mr Mason appeared to show as much interest in proceedings as the picture indicates.

The comment by Linda Drane Burdick probably contains some information that Mr Baez could well listen to

"If we receive rebuttal information, if we do additional research that leads us to rebuttal information, I will provide that as soon as I have it."

Tis my opinion that the delay in bringing the trial to court (& one has to think this has much to do with the defense) allows the prosecutors to find additional evidence, do additional research and "continue to do their job"

Sometimes what you get was not always as envisaged.

ritanita said...

Liz, thank you for your reply.

The State has an awesome team working their side, and they need it. Jeff Ashton is the go-to guy for introducing new science and Linda Drane Burdick "does her job" the way it needs to be done.

The State has the burden of proving their case and have to continue their investigation wherever it goes, whenever.

The defense has to find exculpatory evidence and/or a cause for reasonable doubt.

Choosing to hunt down TES searchers has taken up a huge portion of the defense's time. The problem is, they tried to find witnesses to prove a flooded area was dry. Where that investigation led, caused a whole circus ring of its own. It has even spawned a whole new criminal investigation.

I just had a chance to both read and listen to Brad Conway's interview and it is very damning. Who the State will eventually blame/charge with tampering is still up for grabs, but it will hit close to the defense team.

To get Casey acuitted, they need reasonable doubt by all twelve jurors. All I have heard Baez mention is causing one juror to have reasonable doubt (which could happen). All that will do is cause a mistrial and Casey will remain in jail awaiting a new trial.

By the time that would happen, Casey would have completed a majority of her sentence if Baez had negotiated in the beginning, before the body was found. She could have pled to manslaughter in return for telling them where the body was.

Ok, I'm off on another rant, so I'll just stop for now!

FRG said...


You are so good! Thank you so very much for your article!

How do you keep your sanity? LOL

I can picture in my mind JB's "unique opportunity"... arriving at the conference, , carrying his rolling briefase, colorful charts, colored-crayons, list of excuses, bumbleebee sunglasses, and a big mirror (to contemplate at himself) hoping for the flash lights, his screaming fans... now, keep dreaming JB!!!

I wonder if JB is really a moron and has no idea what he is doing, or if he uses his excuses to "delay, delay, delay"! He can't answer one straight question with yes or no. Now he has an associate that also has no idea what she is doing. That's beyond pathetic! When will he be finally prepared? One hopes at trial right? *insert rolling eyes*

I can't even imagine how hard is for the Prosecutors to tolerate JB in the hearings, it's been over 2 years and a half.

Talking about "change of venue", if I were HHJP I would ask JB how many times he has been on National media? Why did he have a PR? JB hasn't acted in the best interest of his client and kept his face in front of the cameras instead of doing his job.

Ritanita, do you have any idea who will be questioning the witnesses at trial? Both, CM and JB? I can't decide who is the worst... JB talks in circles and CM has no idea what he is talking about most of the time and I am under the impression e could not care less about this case.

I can't believe we are just 3 months away from the trial.

People speculate JB has some type of deal with Telemondo, not him but GC/TB has. Time will tell.

Have you called HHJP to learn the details about the DNA test/report? Just kidding! I know I wanted to hear his phone call to the lab. *wink wink*

ritanita said...

FRG, you always give me so much to think about!

When Cheney Mason first came on board, he mentioned that he is a great one for cross-examination. He says he takes a very long time.

With all these preliminary hearings, there is little Mason can do to save Baez from himself. His attitude in the courtroom shows that.

I wouldn't be surprised at trial, if he takes a bigger role. If he doesn't, I have no idea why he is there.

LCoastMom said...

I really enjoy reading here - you do a much better job than I could listening to JB drone on and on (educating the judge no less!!) I feel my eyes glazing over every time JB opens his mouth!

I can't wait to find out what the lab tells His Honor when he calls to check the status - especially after a local paper mentioned using the same lab to run a drug test in the last few weeks and had a quote from the same official who has been refusing to answer JB's phone calls! (RIGHT - they probably want their case of oranges first too!)

As always - thank you!

FRG said...


Thank you, you are always so good, you have a wonderful memory!

So CM has a highly regards about himself... oh boy! I am not convinced CM is good at anything, well, not really, he can be really annoying with his out of place jokes. Other than that, he barely knows details of the case, so here is what I will tell CM:

LOL which means "lots of luck" for his cross-examination!

Thank you for all your hard work!

khintx said...

Very nicely done! I just found you and I will be back for all my court recaps. Keep up the great work! kh

ritanita said...


Based on his deadline for the testing (March 23), I'm thinking the testing hasn't been done yet. I can't believe the defense waited so long to do this crucial work.

FRG, I have a feeling a different Cheney Mason will appear when the jury is seated and the trial begins! I think he's fed up with the nonsense Baez is doing in court and is waiting for his motion to shine. When he first spoke against the sanctions, notice that he did nothing to defent Baez. He ran a bunch of othr issues by the judge instead. He was more interested in not being sanctioned himself for being associated with Baez.


Welcome to Trials & Tribulations!

FRG said...

Wise Ritanita,

Thank you! I can always count on you with your analysis. True, CM might shine in trial, in my opinion he has a huge ego. I want KC to have a strong defense, I really do. I just don't think CM can perform miracles though. The evidences are what they are, Prosecutors have a strong case.

I also don't believe jurors will buy the "Chewbacca defense" in this case. People are very aware of how defense attorneys are capable of blowing lot of smoke. But what do I know right?