Saturday, September 3, 2011

Casey Anthony Aftermath: Two Days, Two Hearings

I managed to watch both the Gonzalez v Anthony status hearing Thursday and yesterday's hearing concerning reimbursement to be made for the costs of investigation which directly relate to Casey Anthony's four misdemeanor charges of lying to the police.

The only video available for the September 1 hearing was on InSession and I was able to see the whole hearing and analysis.

Charles M. Greene, Casey's civil attorney addressed Judge Lisa Munyon concerning and number of issues. First of all, he is planning to as for a judgment of acquittal as he believes Ms. Gonzalez has no basis for her suit. He pointed out that the name is not exactly the same and that this Zenaida Gonzalez is just one of many people with that name.

I seldom follow civil suits, and I don't know the merits of the case on the part of the Morgan&Morgan law firm. Some say Gonzalez has no case, others want to see her repaid for the defamation of character she claims.

Mr. Greene also wanted more discovery from the plaintiff. He said that he wasn't satisfied with the information he has received to date. He specifically mentioned that he wanted to know how much money Zenaida Gonzalez received from the fund set up for her by Morgan&Morgan as it could mitigate any financial settlement should the case actually go to trial.

Greene also told Judge Munyon that he needed more time to prepare for the trial (should it take place at all). The new trial date is April 9, 2012.

In addition, he asked that Casey's October 8 deposition be postponed. Judge Munyon denied that request but will allow Casey to do her deposition from an unknown location. The judge also limited the deposition to two hours. Mr. Greene approved of this and indicated that, due to her appeal on the four misdemeanor conviction for lying to the police, Ms. Anthony would only give her name and take the 5th on all the other questions.

John Dill, representing Ms. Gonzalez had a number of issues as well. He pointed out to the judge that the Morgan&Morgan firm had been on the case since 2008 and was ready for the original trial date in February, 2012. He also indicted that he had received no discovery from the defense.

Dill would have preferred to depose Casey face-to-face, although, if she were to take the 5th, it wouldn't make much of a difference. He indicated that it would be up to Judge Munyon to rule on Casey Anthony's ability to take the 5th after the deposition. She agreed and indicated she would make the ruling either before the deposition or when the issue was brought to her after the deposition.

Finally, the deposition will be sealed immediately, pending a motion by the plaintiff to have it unsealed within 30 days of the deposition.

After the hearing, I watched Beth Karas on InSession discussing the civil case and Casey's appeal of her misdemeanor charges. She apparently spoke with Jose Baez who told her that the basis of the appeal (which has yet to be filed) would deal with the charging and sentencing on the charges. They are going to say that the four charges should have been one charge because all the lies were told the same day. This was also an issue mentioned during the criminal trial. If Baez were to file such a motion, it would not take into account the fact that she lied, but rather the charging and sentencing.

For me, the issue will be very sticky because (surprise, surprise), the motion has yet to be filed. Until it is filed, we won't know the basis for the appeal officially. The defense could claim that whenever it is filed, it will ask for the entire verdict to be overturned. For that, we will have to wait and see what his motion says.

What is the cost of lying?

One true statement that Jose Baez made in the criminal trial was that Casey Anthony was raised in a family where lying was the norm. Of all the member of the family, Casey is the best liar of them all. Even Yuri Melich, John Allen, and Appy Wells couldn't get the truth about what happened to Caylee. Casey never testified at the trial, so officially, her Zanny the Nanny Took My Baby story is still her final word to law enforcement.

Although it wasn't to be considered testimony, Mr. Baez' opening statement to the jury was that Caylee Anthony drowned in the family pool. That could be true, although I am pretty sure that George Anthony and Roy Kronk had no part in that. George Anthony is the worst liar in the family, it shows clearly in his tone of voice and body language, as it did when he testified at trial, in the hearings, and in his deposition to Morgan&Morgan.

However, if indeed Caylee drowned in the pool, why is it still in the Anthony back yard? Why is it the Sunfire that was crushed? Think about it.

Friday's hearing focused directly on Casey's four misdemeanor convictions for lying. As charged in the indictment unsealed October 14, 2008, the four counts focused on four different lies:

  • Count 4: That she was employed at Universal Studios during the year 2008
  • Count 5: That Casey Anthony left Caylee Anthony at the Sawgrass Apartments with Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez
  • Count 6: That Jeffrey Michael Hopkins and Juliette Lewis, former Universal Studios employees, were informed of Caylee's disappearance
  • Count 7: That Casey Anthony received a phone call from Caylee Anthony on July 15, 2008 at approximately 12:00 pm

For these lies, the prosecution, represented by Linda Drane Burdick and Frank George, wants Casey Anthony to reimburse the State of Florida as follows (give or take a few thousand due to errors).

  • FDLE (Florida Department of Law Enforcement): $71,939.56
  • MBI (Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation): $10,645.38
  • OCSO (Orlando County Sheriff's Office): $293,123.77
  • State Attorney's Office: $140,396.6
  • Total: $516,105.31
To bolster her figures, Linda Drane Burdick called seven witnesses who gave a brief summary of where the money was expended. There was one notable error when OCSO employee, Kari Roderick billed the state for 1,106.5 hours between the dates of July 16-21, 2008. Cheney Mason made quite a fuss about this during the morning session. He loudly expounded on the impossibility of a person working so many hours over a period of 16 days. (Mr. Mason, check YOUR math, it was a total of 6 days!) In the afternoon session, Ms. Roderick testified that the date was a typographical error. Mr. Mason pointed out that she had made the error TWICE, once in the typed date and once in a handwritten date at the bottom of the page.

This is an unfortunate error, it should have been caught! Now, Judge Perry will have to over-work his calculator to be sure all the hours make sense.

In her closing argument, Ms. Burdick eloquently explained why Casey Anthony should be responsible for the expenses, which include depositions and expert witness costs. For the investigation, she asked Judge Perry to use the dates of July 15, 2008-December 11, 2008, when Caylee's remains were found. There were also some investigative costs for trial preparation and investigation which occurred somewhat later than that date.

Since the feed was constantly dropping, it was difficult to follow certain details, but (without watching the whole hearing again), FDLE representative Paul Zamboris indicated the direction the State was taking in asking for over half-a-million dollars. He stated that if they had known the truth from the beginning, there would have been no investigation. Earlier, it had been stated that the time consumed by a typical child drowning takes about 6 hours of investigation.

As Ms. Burdick stated in her closing, "Once Ms. Anthony set the machinery in motion with her lies, there was no turning back on this investigation. She has yet to give any other explanation to this day other than that the nanny took the child." and, in her rebuttal argument, "But for Ms. Anthony's lying to LE at the inception of the investigation, there would be no costs for the investigation and the prosecution."

Cheney Mason, of course wants to keep the reimbursement costs to a minimum. Throughout his questioning of the witnesses, he stressed the dates when they learned the truth of the lies Casey Anthony told them, such as when they knew she was lying about working for Universal, when they knew she was lying about Sawgrass, when they learned the truth of the non-existence of outcry "witnesses" Jeffrey Michael Hopkins and Juliette Lewis, and when they knew the phone call from Caylee never took place. He seemed surprised that the people who did the collecting of data for the information did not know these details of the case.

Finally, he wanted John Allen to tell him when the case changed officially from a missing child case to a homicide case. Allen gave him the date of September 30, 2008.

His closing argument started out with Mason charging State's Attorney Lawson Lamar with a case of sour grapes over Casey's acquittal. He stressed that Ms. Anthony was found not guilty of murder and only found guilty of 4 misdemeanors. He excoriated the State for wanting the costs of the expert witnesses, specifically mentioning many of them, including the hydrologist (who never testified), Neil Haskell (the bug man), Dr. Michael Warren (who did his most hated exhibit, the video super-imposition), Arpad Vass, and so on.

He went on to mention that the defense had done 2 million in free legal work and the 3 years Casey Anthony spent in jail. (He left out the fact that she ended up using the time to serve out sentences for check fraud and her misdemeanor counts.)

His major faux pas during his closing was to make a statement to the effect that he was sure Judge Perry's people would go over the expenses line-by-line in making the determination of costs. Perry interrupted him to point out that Mason knew he did all that HIMSELF!

When he was finished, Ms. Burdick rose to his bait (She said it, I didn't.) and responded to Mr. Mason's closing. She spoke as I quoted above and said that there were no "sour grapes" over the acquittal.

You can watch the entire hearing at WFTV (article) or at their links (HEARING 09/02 Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6). Personally, if you only want to devote limited time to the endeavor, start with the closing arguments where the parties both speak eloquently to their points of view on the issue. It was clearly the most interesting part of the hearing!

At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Perry asked both parties to submit briefs on the legislative intent of the law governing the repayment of costs. Clearly, his decision will be based not only on the law itself, which lends itself to interpretation, but also to what the legislature intended the law to encompass.

At this point, Perry's jurisdiction will run out 30 days after August 11th when it will go back to the jurisdiction of the appellate court. Mason said that he wouldn't mind if Perry asked for an extension of the deadline.

So, the issue comes down to, as Cheney Mason said, "It was the intent to lay at a defendant's feet solely those costs which have a reasonable relationship to what they were convicted of versus what they were NOT convicted of." versus the State's position that but for Casey Anthony's lies, the investigation would never have taken place at all.

What will Judge Perry do? I don't think the State will get all they want, but more than the defense wants Casey to pay. What do you think?

Note: All quotes are approximate.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this report. I am so desperately hoping that Judge Perry will do the right thing. There HAS TO BE some accountability for lying. In this case I want a LARGE accountability because her lies were so large and continuous. If we are to believe the story that got her off the murder charge, that her child accidentaly drowned, then what on earth is the reason she continued to lie about it? What is the reason she chose to remain in a jail for three years rather than tell someone in authority that her daughter was not stolen, or missing, or kidnapped, or misplaced, but had been dead since 6/16? It CANNOT BE OK for the State of Florida to say that lying of this magnitude has no repurcussion. In addition, I want to know when Baez and Co learned that it was an accidental drowning. When did they accept this version? What kind of an attorney lets a client remain in jail to await a murder trial when the "truth" is, the child accidentally drowned? It just boggles the mind.
How dare she take advantage of public-good services like the FBI and local LE. How dare she take advantage of the good-hearted people of Equisearch. She must be held accountable.
Wiser C

shari said...

Great report......I really am puzzled as to why these defense lawyers continue to argue for a woman who has no way to ever pay them.....Usually when a case is over and the verdict is as Caseys; the defense team bids adieu and the defendant breathes a big sigh of relief and everyone goes about their business. Someone, somewhere is supporting her financially and must see some reward in this endeavor at some point in time. With people basically done with the sensationalism of this case and their disgust at the verdict...I just don't see the monetary value to the lawyers from hanging onto Casey....???????Any insight????

ritanita said...

Wiser C, I know that Judge Perry will do the right thing. In most states, there are no laws for the type of reimbursement seen in Florida. Based on the hearing, Pennsylvania could possibly be the only other state, so there is little case law on the matter. That's why Judge Perry asked about legislative intent; to better understand the original purpose of the law.

Once he has decided that, he'll have a better idea of what to do.

Shari, I have no idea how Casey is being supported nowadays. I have a suspicion that there is hope that she will be marketable in the future, if not now.

Otherwise, she needs to get an education and some advice on how to take responsibility for her own life. Based on past performance, she has a lot to learn.

As for her attorneys, Baez and Mason, they still have work to do on the criminal case. They have made a huge investment and seem to like her. What the end game is for them remains to be seen.

wesbjack said...

I agreee with Shari and have been saying this for a long time now: Why do Mason, Baez et al continue doing pro-bono for everyone's favorite low-life? What is in it---a book deal of their own? I grant they have made a huge investment in time, but I wish they could find more worthwhile volunteer projects, and I assure you that there are plenty out there.
-Wes J,

Anonymous said...

As for what Baez and Mason will get out of representing Casey Anthony, for a defense attorney there is some value in being on TV. It means more clients, especially if you win an acquittal.

Four of O.J. Simpson's attorneys (Cochran, Shapiro, Dershowitz, and Uelman) came out with books after the criminal trial. Some of Casey Anthony's attorneys will probably have book deals at some point.

Jeff Ashton, one of the prosecutors, has a book coming out in a few months.

David In TN