Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Strange Tale of the Missing Deadlines


Last month, Jose Baez was sanctioned and fined $583.73 for not complying with a court order. The Court had granted the State's request for additional defense discovery on December 3, 2010 nunc pro tunc (retroactive to) November 29, 2010. The order specified what information the defense was to provide regarding expert witnesses they planned to have testify during the trial. What the defense gave the State fell far short of the order and the prosecution filed the motion for sanctions. Ultimately, Judge Perry wrote that, "The Court finds that defense counsel Jose Baez has committed a willful violation of the Order to provide additional discovery...¹"
COMES NOW, a new motion was filed by the State requesting the judge to hold Jose in contempt of court for missing yet another deadline. Titled the MOTION FOR RULE TO SHOW CAUSE, it accuses him of failing to comply with paragraph five of the Court's February 7 order:
Frye Hearings: The motions addressing Frye issues pertaining to scientific evidence shall be held on March 23, 24, and 25, 2011. The court will provide a schedule to counsel as to the order in which each motion will be heard. ByFebruary 17, 2011 at 4:00 p.m., defense counsel shall submit to the Court and State in writing, the specific issues that will be objected to in accordance with Frye, including, but not limited to, those objections previously addressed in the motions.
What happened? While there's no doubt in my mind the defense has been rather flippant about orders and deadlines, why would Jose & Co. ignore this one and plead bewilderment as he did in his e-mail to the judge's judicial assistant? After all, the order is very clear, isn't it?


Saturday, February 19, 2011

From the FRYE pan into the FYRE? Part I

Next month, two motions filed by the defense will be heard by Judge Perry. Because they are very important Frye issues, and of extreme importance to the defense, this post will focus on the motion about chloroform evidence. It will be in two parts.

PART I - The Frye Pan

Casey Anthony's defense recently filed two Frye motions. The date reflects when they were filed with the Clerk of Courts. Both are stamped 12/30/2010. 

MOTION TO EXCLUDE UNRELIABLE EVIDENCE (Plant or root growth evidence)

The state filed motions to strike, but today, I will just focus on the issue over chloroform. The other motions (defense and state) will come later, because in this particular one, there's much to discern, including a few errors. I will get to them, but first of all, what, exactly, is a Frye motion/hearing? Frye motions are generally held in limine, which means they are made before a trial starts. The judge then decides whether certain evidence may or may not be introduced to the jury. The Frye standard is a test to determine the admissibility of scientific evidence in legal proceedings. This standard comes from the case Frye v. United States (293 F. 1013 (DC Cir 1923) District of Columbia Circuit Court in 1923. Frye v. U.S. was a groundbreaking case that argueded the admissibility of polygraph tests as evidence in a trial. Today, it's designed to prevent both sides from unfairly exploiting expert testimony. Its intent is to assure that expert evidence is reliable.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Teflon Judge

During the closing remarks of the final presidential debate between then candidate Ronald Reagan and President Jimmy Carter, the GOP hopeful asked the nation a simple question, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" As simple as it was, the query was powerful and poignant enough to resonate deeply within the minds of the American people, who went on to elect Reagan as our 40th president. The rest, they say, is history.
Today, just over 30 years later, I'd like to ask Casey Anthony's defense team, particularly Jose Baez and Cheney Mason, a similar question. Are you better off now than you were one year ago? Actually, by the time Casey goes to trial, by that I mean sitting in the courtroom facing a jury, precisely 2 years and 11 months will have passed since Caylee was last seen alive. For the first month, Casey was living la bella vita, although it was probably more la vida loco, until she was stopped dead in her tracks by her own flesh and blood; her mother. From there, it quickly plummeted from a lofty peak to the depth of the deepest ocean. I'm only interested in the past year, though. A lot of serious changes have taken place. One year ago today, Judge Stan Strickland sat firmly on the bench. Did the defense do the right thing by filing the motion for his recusal?


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

When people throw lemons your way, make lemonade

A young friend associated with the Casey Anthony case has been out of commission for some time now. That's because she had been "with child" and wanted a lengthy break, which is still ongoing. She lives in Mississippi with her husband and two children. Check that... three children now. The closest I ever got to her was in June of 2009, when my lifelong best friend and I took ascenic road trip through Enterprise, Alabama en route to Natchez, Mississippi. I wrote about our adventure, but to be honest, Natchez is 180 miles from where she lives, and Stew and I were in no mood to hang around screaming children. Besides, I didn't know her then. Heck, I didn't go to my first hearing on the Anthony case until four months later, in October of that year, when the most Honorable Judge Stan Strickland called me up to the bench, six full months before the defense filed that senseless motion against him. What a crying shame.


Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Tale of Laura and the Barbarian Princess

If any of you are familiar with Florence Virginia King, you are aware that she is an American novelist, essayist and columnist from Mississippi. Born in 1936, alas, she put down her pen in 2002. Almost all of her works written under her real name have been non-fiction. You may recall 1975's Southern Ladies and Gentlemen. You may also recognize her from the historical romance novel, Barbarian Princess, written under the pseudonym Laura Buchanan. Ironically, she's not the only writer of fiction with that name. Another Laura Buchanan entered the fray more recently; one who seemingly attempted to parlay her name into the bright lights of stardom, tossing good judgment to the wind. She failed miserably and turned out to be the Clifford Irving of the Casey Anthony saga. Irving, in case you don't know or remember, became famous  - infamous is more like it - for using forged handwritten letters from reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes in order to convince his publisher into accepting a counterfeit "autobiography" in the early 1970s. Hughes came out of the woodwork to prove it was nothing more than an elaborate hoax. Irving spent several years in prison, but later managed to publish some best sellers, including two aptly titled books, Final Argument and Daddy's Girl.