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February 22, 2011

19

the meaning of contempt

by Andrea O'Connell

Speaking tonight to a Florida Criminal Defense attorney, I learned much more about Contempt of Court charges.  It is a very serious matter. Jose Baez could be faced with fines and/or jail, if Judge Perry finds cause for contempt.

Now that the State has filed its motion of contempt, the next step in this process will occur via a ruling motion from the Judge to Mr. Baez that shows cause.  Or, Judge Perry may want to hear from Mr. Baez before filing a ruling.

However, Jose Baez should answer the State’s motion with his own motion to strike before the Judge moves on the State’s request.

When an attorney is held in contempt, they have a right to an attorney and a trial.  Contempt of Court is a criminal proceeding.

The attorney I spoke with told me that Mr. Baez’s’ claim as to not understanding the Court’s directions is in fact, a viable defense against contempt charges. (This surprised me – I asked this question three times, just to be sure I heard it correctly!)

There are two kinds of contempt charges: Indirect and Direct.

Jose Baez is charged with indirect contempt, which means the conduct occurred outside of the courtroom.

Direct contempt means the lawyer insulted the Court, argued with the Judge, or disrupted the proceedings.

With regards to confusion, or a lawyer not understanding.  It was explained to me that confusion can happen on either side of the aisle, but generally lawyers do not wait to clarify issues.  When a case is confusing with so many witnesses, things get overlooked, or deadlines are missed. As pointed out earlier, Mr. Baez’s’ claim of confusion will be his defense if he’s charged.

I asked what kind of punishments generally happen with contempt charges.  He said, “Suspension of the license, jail time, fines, requiring the lawyer to take remedial law classes, or the Bar can intervene and apply sanctions.  It really depends on all the factors at play in the contempt case”, he said.  Indirect contempt is usually filed by the opposing attorney, as in this case, and usually occurs when rules that would benefit the opposing party, are broken – such as in this case, deadlines being missed are a burden on the State of Florida.

Another question I asked,  could Judge Perry remove Baez from the case?  “It is possible, but I’ve never heard of it being done”, he said.   He told me that he has heard of a Judge appointing a supervising attorney – that would be a helpful option in the Casey Anthony case, I told him.  He agreed!

What generally happens when the Court has issue with a lawyer, the Court holds a Nelson Inquiry (Judge Strickland did this), which means the Judge asks the defendant if they would like to continue with his or her attorney and are they satisfied with their representation.  If the client wants to continue with their counsel, the Judge will respect that right.

Nelson Inquiries are usually a result of a client saying they want a new lawyer – the judge will question the lawyer as to what work they have done on the case (motions, depos, discovery, etc.) if the Judge finds that the Defense lawyer is doing his job for the client, he will deny the request for new council.

It was a very interesting discussion!  I’m even more anxious to know what the outcome will be.

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19 Comments Post a comment
  1. mystymiss
    Feb 22 2011

    Great information! Thanks for asking those questions.

    Reply
    • Feb 23 2011

      Thanks, Mystymiss. Thank you for visiting!

      Reply
  2. Feb 22 2011

    GOOD FOR BOZO MARIE L HOPE HE GOES TO JAIL HE DESERVES IT.BECAUSE YOU SEE IN HIS COUNTRY THE LAW IS DIFFERANT SO HE WILL GO BY HIS RULES REGARDLESS WHAT THE JUDGE SAYS WHO CARES?BOO HOO BOZO YOU ARE AN ARSE.

    Reply
  3. offthecuff
    Feb 22 2011

    So … it sounds like Baez knows how to phrase “confusion” so that he won’t be held in contempt. But he will have to define how or why he’s confused over such an issue…and just so confused as to not comply.

    Hopefully all will be crystal clear at the hearing.

    Reply
    • Feb 23 2011

      I hope so too, offthecuff. Given the fact that Judge Perry is so intent upon seeing this trial start in May (thank goodness!) I wonder if he’ll initiate a contempt trial now or after the Anthony trial? Judges have been known to do that…. to wait until after case in chief has concluded, and then begin the contempt piece to the forefront. It’s anyone’s guess at this point….

      Reply
  4. Linda
    Feb 23 2011

    I’m with you offthecuff, Baez knows exactly what he’s doing..In his world he will give the prosecution WHAT he wants WHEN he wants , and he got the other useless ballbag teaching him the tricks of the trade. I put a lot of blame on Judge Perry..He should have never overturned Stricklands ruling on the TES searchers..All that did was waste a lot of time and money…not to mention exposing his PI as a thug and a liar. As far as Mason, I think he has a personal ax to grind with judge Perry…… He shows no respect for him in court..I remember watching one hearing where he almost refused to stand for the judge and when the clerk told him to stand all he did was lift his ass off the chair elbows still on the table….Maybe his statement “this will be fun” was aimed at the judge.. I don’t believe Baez and Mason are as dumb as they want us to think……and I don’t believe Mason has a hearing problem, he just wants us to think he does……I would of loved to see Baez at the conferense this past weekend, I bet he brought his color coded copies of all the prosecution expert witness reports just pleading for someone there to challenge them, telling them this is the trial of the century…… and I have to wonder if anyone dared to take a bite of the poison apple…….I hope not.

    Reply
    • Feb 23 2011

      Hi Linda! I hear what you’re saying about how difficult it is to fathom if the defense can really be so incompetent, or if it’s part of their strategy for not having a defense to speak of. Now that I think about it, the Criminal Defense Attorney I spoke to last night said that they are stalling and goofing up because they have no defense. He also said their antics are embarrassing.
      I also wonder what “expert” in their right mind would subject themselves to helping someone who is clearly guilty of murdering a child!!! That’s what I cannot understand…well, sometimes publicity is worth it to some people – I’d not sell my soul like that… none of us would either, that I know.

      Reply
  5. Twiglet
    Feb 23 2011

    I like the idea of a supervising Lawyer ! I would love it to be Bill Shaeffer lol . Regardless I do hope Judge Perry appoints one to oversee Baez and Mason !

    Reply
    • Feb 23 2011

      Hey Twiglet (love your name!) Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Bill Shaeffer got handled that job! Oh boy, talk about fireworks! I think it would be a perfect solution to appoint someone, too.

      Reply
  6. nan11
    Feb 23 2011

    Great post, Andrea. Mr. Ashton must have given him a ‘hint’ of his motion, so he had time to get a headstart on his defense.

    I think he is lucky to only be charged with ‘indirect’ contempt; ‘direct’ contempt rather fits, also, imho.

    Great comments, too.

    Reply
    • Feb 23 2011

      Hi Nan!! Thank you so much for visiting! I tend to agree with you – he’s been pretty dismissive in the courtroom at times. But even though I’m a great fan of Ashton’s work and his writing in motions, he sure has had his moments, too! He’s full of fire and it’s going to be so great to see him at work for the sake of justice for Caylee. Thank God for he and Linda Drane-Burdick.

      Reply
  7. Mike
    Feb 23 2011

    Judge Perry is reaping what he sowed.
    He has continually overlooked the misdeeds of the defense by allowing them to play this silly game (fun, huh Chaney?) of not being prepared for the case at hand. Extension upon extension. Excuse after excuse. And like the poster Linda said, overturning Stricklands ruling on TES.
    Give an idiot an inch and he will take a mile. And Baez is going for 2 miles.

    Reply
    • Feb 23 2011

      Hi Mike, I almost feel as if Judge Perry was giving them a break by allowing them the opportunity to look at those TES records. I think that Judge Perry knows full well they haven’t got a case, maybe he was erring on the side of caution, and also avoiding an appellate issue, too.
      I hope Judge Perry gets tough with him. I do think he will. Remember how mad he was at the last trial? He has every right now to bring the gavel down on Baez, in my opinion.

      Reply
  8. Laurali
    Feb 23 2011

    Would Jose be less confused if the State of Florida were the one playing these games? How would he feel if the State kept missing deadlines? Not that they would ever stoop to this kind of stupidity (confused as they call it).

    Reply
    • Feb 23 2011

      Hi Laurali – You have an excellent point! Baez, not afraid to whine, would not let them live it down and would have a field day. Remember when he tried to have the prosecutors taken off the case?! That was a joke, and just another attempt to stall.

      Reply
  9. Feb 23 2011

    bozo is history he does not seem to want to stay on this case i.its eithier a mstrial coming or big head bozo marie has to step down.he should look at what he is doing.him and his unique case .bozo there is no such unique case your client is a killer period and you helped her. get off if you care of what happens to your sweetie step down so a pd.can take over.you are making this case a circus.we hate you you are not a good lawyer to begin with let alone doing a death penalty one

    Reply
    • Feb 23 2011

      Annie… you are very passionate!

      Reply
  10. Feb 23 2011

    andrea l was just at your post but l have to say that you are a great writer .l did not know until today who you were but through others they have told me.so oyu do live in florida?we are in toronto and its cold here.at times l wish l was some where where its warm.l have been in florida about 10 years ago but drove there because l am afraid of planes and boats.l was not born here but have been here for 52 years now.l came here when l was 2 years of age.l am italian we come from a family of 6 kids and we lost 2 brothers and 1 sister to cancer.my sister died before l was born. and my 2 brothers that were born here died here after they lived about 20 years now the second one died at about 30 as well so that leaves 3 left.my mom passed away 5 years ago and my father is at the old age home at 90 years.l went to school here but did not finish my grades because we had to help our mom with all the expenses of owning a home and to keep us under a roof.l do speak my language and the english that l know which l heard from a blogger just today saying that l have bad grammer so what.he did not have to insult me.this does not mean l dont know nothing.l take this with a grain of salt and just move on like as if l did not read this .so do you write for a living?do you think casey will be charged which l mean do you think she will be found guilty?do you really think she killed caylee?why do the anthonys act the way they do if they are not involved?later okay.if you have time you can write me back okay?good night for now.annie

    Reply
    • Feb 24 2011

      Hi Annie, Yeap, I live in Florida – about four hours south of Orlando. I hope to visit Orlando at some point when the trial is up and running… You said you’re Italian! I love to hear Italian spoken, but haven’t any idea what any of it means, I just love the sound and the rhythm of the language.
      No one should insult you, and I’m sorry if someone has. You must take it with a grain of salt, as you say – the person who insulted you could be just having a bad day…. It’s awful to criticize someone in writing, and it doesn’t do anyone any good… it’s just mean.
      Yes, I write for a living….I write curriculum for the classroom – for adults in the workplace. I also teach what I write. It’s a good balance – writing and teaching, but I prefer writing to teaching….
      I absolutely think Casey will be found guilty. Don’t you, too? The evidence against her is too great for any defense attorney to overcome – doubly difficult for Baez since he’s so wet behind the ears…. I absolutely expect a guilty verdict, but I don’t want the death penalty. I am totally opposed to the death penalty – even for Casey.

      Reply

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