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March 8, 2011

16

amazing case law from 3/7 closing arguments

by Andrea O'Connell

After yesterday’s closing arguments on two important Defense motions in the case against Casey Anthony, I got to thinking that I’d sure like to read the cases that were cited by the Judge, the Prosecutor, and the Defense.  But then I realized that I have a life and a job and need to give  this case a rest!

And so….being that I am a tad fickle, I said to my self, “well, what the heck – I’ll see if I can find these cases!”  Well, I found all the cases cited in yesterday’s hearing, and now I want to try to figure out how Judge Perry will rule based on the case law cited.

Now, you know that I am not a lawyer, right?  I love the law, however, and love to write about it…..

So, here goes my analysis of how these cases inform on the two motions argued yesterday:

1) State of Florida v. Parks

Judge Perry mentioned the State of Florida v. Parks case to Mr. Cheney Mason during his closing argument and said he would like Mr. Mason to look at that case and advise how it might support the Defense argument.

In this Appellate court decision, the suppression of statements to police was raised in appeal, and is one of the case items at issue. The court found that although the admission of statements (by the defendant and a co-defendant/witness) were a mistake, this mistake by the trial court was found to be harmless to the case itself and therefore not an issue at appeal.

This tells me that Judge Perry may see Casey’s Universal Studios interview to be harmless since a great deal of the information in her interview can be argued and proved elsewhere in the case, but more importantly, perhaps Judge Perry is saying if he allows the interview, it will not be questioned at appeal. Remember, this was a case that Judge Perry told Mr. Mason to review.

2) Rollings v. State

Rollins v. State is the horrible case of Danny Rollings.  Rollings was sentenced to the death penalty for each of the five murders he committed.  Of course, one can only die once, the jury sentenced him to death for each of the five murders.  There were a few appeal issues, one of which involved Rollings statements to police.  What is interesting here is there is also a charge of a jail inmate, Bobby Lewis, acting as “Agents of the State” in the information gathered by that inmate:

On appeal, Rolling challenges the trial court’s findings that (1) his statements to Lewis and law enforcement officers did not violate his right to counsel because Lewis was not acting as a de facto state agent and, (2) that the assistant state attorney’s involvement in the interrogations was not unethical and did not warrant suppression of Rolling’s statements. Specifically, Rolling maintains that law enforcement officers and prison officials knowingly exploited the relationship between himself and fellow inmate Bobby Lewis such that Lewis was acting as a de facto government agent when he elicited inculpatory statements from Rolling.

Bobby Lewis befriended Rollings for the specific purpose of hopefully getting his sentence reduced as a result of offering testimony for the state.  The State of Florida refused to enter into any such agreement with Bobby Lewis.  Regardless, Lewis became Rollings “confessor” and mouthpiece, but not at the behest of any State Official, though the Defense would have liked the court to believe otherwise.

…find that the record and relevant caselaw clearly support the trial court’s conclusion that Rolling’s right to counsel was not violated because Bobby Lewis was not acting as a government agent when he elicited incriminatory statements from Rolling or served as Rolling’s “mouthpiece” during the January 31 and February 4 interviews…

The appeals court did not find flaw with the trial court on this issue.

3) Ross v. State

Ross v. State has to do with a person who was fifteen days shy of his 16th birthday.  He was found guilty of the murder of a 64 year old woman who was stomped to death.  Ross was sentenced to death by the trial court.  The issue on appeal had to do with the question of whether his confession was freely given or coerced by the police.  The defense claimed that the defendant, although given the Miranda Warning numerous times, didn’t understand his rights due to his low IQ.  Ross stated each time that he understood his rights and didn’t want a lawyer.

The appellate court found that low IQ or “mental weakness” did not mean a confession was not voluntary, therefore the appellate court found no issue with the trial courts decision to admit the confession.  What ultimately occurred in this case on appeal was the death penalty was questioned and the case was sent back to the trial court.  The appellate court stated:

The appellant was sixteen years of age and mentally retarded at the time of the crime. His prior criminal activity consists of petty offenses. Under the standards of our capital felony sentencing law, the mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating factors. Death is not an appropriate penalty. The sentence of death should be vacated and a sentence of life imprisonment without eligibility for parole for twenty-five years should be imposed.

4) Ramirez v. State

Ramirez v. State, a death penalty case for a 17 year old who killed a woman, Midred Boroski.  The issue on appeal had to do with the defendant’s confession and the defense claim that Ramirez was not properly Mirandized.

Ramirez argues that the requirements of Miranda were violated because the warnings were not administered before the interrogation began, rendering his confession to the crime inadmissible. “Interrogation takes place … when a person is subjected to express questions, or other words or actions, by a state agent, that a reasonable person would conclude are designed to lead to an incriminating response.”

Linda D. Burdick argued that the situation in the Casey Anthony interview was unlike what occurred in Ramirez.  In Ramirez, the defendant was at the police station, where a reasonable person would conclude that they were in custody.  However, the Casey Anthony case, she was at Universal Studios, and free to go.  In Ramirez, they found that a reasonable person would think they were in custody.

There is no question in this case that Ramirez was subjected to interrogation and was not initially informed of his Miranda rights. However, the State argues that Miranda warnings were not required because Ramirez was not in custody at the time that he was interrogated at the police station. We disagree. Custody for purposes of Miranda encompasses not only formal arrest, but any restraint on freedom of movement of the degree associated with formal arrest.

Ultimately, the appellate court found that to strike the confession would not be in the best interest of justice.  They wrote:

Ramirez, for whatever undisclosed reason he had in his own mind, told the detective the truth of what occurred in the criminal episode. Excluding the instant confession is not in the interests of society or justice. On the other hand, the majority places the interest of society in having this abhorrent crime punished in substantial and unnecessary peril.

In the interest of justice, the appeals court did not reverse this case.

5) Henry v. State

Henry v. State, another death penalty case in which the defendant killed by binding, gagging and cutting the throat of his victim.  A motion to suppress the confession of the defendant was denied and questioned at appeal.  The appeals court upheld the verdict and agreed with the trial court that allowing the confession into the trial was not at issue.

6) Malone v. State

Malone v. State, related to an “Agents of the State” accusation,  This citation, I believe, was raised by Mr. Mason.   The circumstances of this case were the defendant, with a partner, viciously killed two people during the commission of a robbery.  This is an “Agents of the State” issue is encapsulated as follows:

Malone argues that his convictions should be reversed and the cause remanded for a new trial because the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress certain incriminating statements made by him to one of his cellmates who, unknown to Malone, was an informer for the State. He concedes that these statements were not coerced and were voluntary, but argues that they may not be used against him because they were deliberately elicited by a State agent in the absence of his counsel and without his being informed of his Miranda rights by the informant.

The appeals court found that the trial court should have suppressed these statements since Malone’s 6th Amendment Rights (Right to Counsel present), were violated.  Therefore, the case was sent back and retried.

In regards to the Casey Anthony case, it was NOT found that anyone was acting as an Agent of the State (although the defense would like to argue Robyn Adams was an Agent, she was not).

Conclusion

There is sufficient case law, in my humble opinion, that supports denying the Defense motions.  Casey Anthony was not “in custody” while riding in the police cars!  Casey Anthony was directing where the police cars would travel as they drove to check out places where “Zanny” may have lived.

The Anthony’s were not Agents, and the fact that the Detectives ordered the taping of the videos of the jail visits, is perfectly legal – there are signs placed around the jail that video taping is taking place!

I didn’t read the entire cases in the above links, I read the objections and the outcomes – the details were gruesome.  I think I may have some bad dreams tonight!

Oh well, thank goodness, I’ll be Only Dreamin’!

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16 Comments Post a comment
  1. offthecuff
    Mar 8 2011

    Interesting cases here. I think they would support denying defense motions, but I’m not sure that Mason or Baez understand this.

    Reply
    • Mar 9 2011

      Hi offthecuff… It’s true, Mason and Baez are really stretching to make an argument in these two motions…. I give them credit for trying – but I do think Mason was all over the map in his approach…

      Reply
  2. artgal16
    Mar 8 2011

    I think your post was excellent! Good research and very logical conclusion- I hope that Judge Perry agrees with you!

    Reply
    • Mar 9 2011

      Hi artgal! thank you for your comments & feedback! I sure hope Judge Perry will see it my way too! I really hope he decides quickly, I don’t know if we can take the anticipation! LOL,,,

      Reply
  3. Molly
    Mar 9 2011

    Andrea, I appreciate you giving up your peaceful, cloud jumping sleep for the info on those case arguments. After the closing arguments i’m more confident that they will both be denied. JP is sharp, he knows that mason was leaving out key pieces in the sequence of events & exagerating others, he even called him on the handcuffs being removed! mason was just going to leave that part out!
    Sweet dreams to you!

    Reply
    • Mar 9 2011

      Hey Miss Molly! Thanks so much…I did have bad dreams and had a restless night, darn it! As a result it was a loooonnnng day. Of course, I have a second wind now!
      And along those same lines as you mention about how much Mason was leaving out, I think Judge Perry will also recognize that the Anthony’s have a motivation to conveniently forget things. Both Cindy and George were definitely not on the same page! I think if the Judge has to decide who is more credible and consistent, he will go with the Police’s version of events…..

      Reply
  4. cecelia
    Mar 9 2011

    Love the article Andrea.
    “Like a seesaw, my feelings for the family of Casey Anthony run high and low. Never would I want to be in their shoes, and surely they wish they did not have to wear the shoes they’re in.”
    though i do feel for them at times, THEY chose to cram their “feet” into the tight constricting cast of lies instead of putting on more comfortable “boots” of truth. I think they KNEW before LE was called i also think georges LE training helped them throw the right amount of confusion into the mix at the outset to cause LE to “mishandle” the investigation. (in their opinion)
    poor little Caylee as sindy stated “was a mistake, but she was CASEYS mistake”
    so that makes it alright for them to forsake her, they justify in their minds that Caylee must be minimized to save their daughter who, IMOO would love a second chance to murder again. She has no respect for the parents (and they gave her EVERYthing) how can anyone think she’d respect her little daughter who was “robbing” her of her Bella Vita? She still acts as though Caylee is just a major thorn in her side, it’s all HER fault case is where she’s at, it’s all HER fault this is being done to her…

    Reply
    • Weezie
      Mar 9 2011

      Cecilia; Right on girl. That’s exactly what Casey is thinking IMO. She is so transparent when it comes to watching her every move in court. She is a manipulator to her parents, Lee, Baez, Mumbles and all the rest of the Defence Team. She’s too clever to even make the case that she didn’t know she didn’t have to answer any questions to LE during the ride to Sawgrass and Universal. She was goosechasing them, trying to confuse where Caylee was taken. God forbid this motion gets turned down!

      Reply
    • Mar 9 2011

      Hi Cecelia! Thank you so much. You said it right! the parents, George and Cindy did not understand how important boundaries are… If only they would have had the wherewithal to recognize Casey’s troubles when she was growing up. And, if there was incest, and if Casey is telling the truth that her mother did nothing about it, the repercussions on Casey’s psyche would be devastating, especially if it’s true that her Father was also involved.
      I am on the fence about George, but tend to believe the accusations about Lee because she told a few people about it even before Caylee was born.
      If there is truth to this, I would not be surprised if they use it in the penalty phase of the case.
      It’s sad from all angles.

      Reply
  5. MoneyLiesAndDeception
    Mar 9 2011

    I agree with you. The Prosecution need not call either Maya or Robin. I do not feel it will enhance their case at all. What we see here is the Defense grabbing a sinking straws because they have no Defense. I think all these statements and the trip to Universal and the trip to the empty apartment will come into to the trial. A reasonable person would think they were tricking the officers into help find a child to go along with the story line that was told to them by the mother of the missing child. Another suspect was already named and Casey was trying to fill in the blanks oh I meant lies on her story line willingly and without coersion. I also believe all her statements and actions on Universal and Sawgrass Apartments are going to come into trial.

    Of note, when she WAS handcuffed in the tiny room with the detective who put the table up awaiting her attorney because when she felt in custody she immediately involked, the detective said to her you know even if you told me something now I could say I heard it but couldn’t use it. Very telling. Casey was more concerned with is there audio and video in EVERY room and related that Cindy was pissed she was taped without her knowing it Wonder if that was the shorts interview where she sat like an Indian instead of a professional lady or even a lady. This whole family is a casestudy. Good blog.

    Reply
  6. Weezie
    Mar 9 2011

    MoneyLiesAndDeception; Well you just supported my theory about the car ride. Soon as she was handcuffed at the station she asked for a Lawyer and her Miranda rights were given. That’s when CASEY became the SUSPECT of the missing child, and of stealing money from her mother. She was NOW IN CUSTODY. Not before. However, I still think that the tapes from the jailhouse between George, Cindy, Lee her girlfriend, on the phone, will not be allowed. It will be argued at a higher court that it was highly prejudicial to her state of mind.

    Reply
    • katydid
      Mar 9 2011

      I disagree with you here. Take the case of Nick Belleo, his coversations between his family were recorded and used against him. His phone conversations when he was in prison are all over the internet.

      Reply
      • Weezie
        Mar 9 2011

        Even if there were signs all over the jailhouse stating that conversations are being recorded, I doubt the Sunshine Law meant that those could be heard in a court of Law, on a Death Penalty case, after they had been touted in the news. I guess there are a lot of us anxious to hear what JP has decided.

  7. grownyoungmom
    Mar 9 2011

    Andrea-
    I read your blog often but seldom comment. I just wanted to send you a big THANK YOU for providing this information. I, like you love law, but am no lawyer. I am impressed with Judge Perry and his knowledge, and think/hope he makes the right decision. I do think all should come in, Casey’s attorneys are really grasping at straws, but I suppose they have to considering they don’t have a defense. Casey should have pleaded when she could. I think the reason she didn’t is b/c Cindy has enabled her all her life and she was never held accountable for anything, and really thought she could get away with this. I hope the reality of the situation is sinking into her evil self by now.

    Reply
    • Mar 9 2011

      Hi grownyoungmom…. So nice to hear from you again! I’m really impressed with the Judge, too…. He’s such a character – I just bet he has a great sense of humor, too.
      It’s true, there is really no defense here, and it’s sad really. A good and honest lawyer would have walked away from defending someone who is clearly guilty and let a Public Defender handle it. Casey has every right fight for her innocence, that’s not in question, but ethical lawyers would not want to represent someone so clearly culpable.

      Reply
  8. Silke
    Mar 10 2011

    Nice contribution, sweet blog style, continue the good work

    Reply

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