Today, as expected, Judge Belvin Perry held up Judge Stan Strickland’s amendment to his original order of probation in the Casey Anthony Check-Fraud case.
It has always been my opinion that Judge Strickland was right to amend the order for probation when it became apparent that his order of probation was not followed.
We are governed by laws and penalties for breaking laws for a specific reason. When a law is broken, as in the Check-Fraud case in which Casey Anthony plead guilty, there are sentencing guidelines that include probation. Judge Strickland specifically ordered probation, and his order from the bench, in open court, was not applied. What is more, the defense team KNEW Judge Strickland’s order of probation was not applied as ordered.
And, what’s more, Jose Baez ARGUED, back in 2009, that Casey Anthony’s probation NOT be applied while she was in jail. It was Prosecutor Frank George who argued for probation while Casey Anthony was in jail! (The State was so sure they would get a conviction in this case, hence their request for applying the sentence.)
Whereas, Jose Baez was certain that Casey Anthony would be found guilty of a lesser charge and eventually be released from jail. Baez wanted her to serve probation for the Check-Fraud charges, I believe, rather than probation on a more serious felony, like manslaughter.
You cannot pull any wool over the eyes of Judge Perry, Mr. Baez!
Today’s order from Judge Perry is a thing of beauty – it is brutally frank and professorial in its lecture and criticism of Jose Baez. I must quote some of the most telling pieces of Judge Perry’s order for posterity, and also because his narrative comments in the order explicitly tell Jose Baez that Judge Perry questions his judgment, candor, and advocacy as an officer of the court.
First, Judge Perry cited established case law that indicated it was within Judge Strickland’s jurisdiction to amend an order that, because of a clerical error, did not correctly reflect the spoken court order. A defendant should not benefit nor should they be harmed by a human clerical error.
With regards to the defense argument of “double jeopardy,” Judge Perry wrote:
This case does not involve additional punishment proscribed by the double jeopardy clause nor does it involve a punitive effect by requiring the Defendant to serve probation twice. The Defendant was in jail and unable to meet the goals and requirements of the probationary sentence. The Defendant could not comply with the standard thirteen conditions of probation while incarcerated on a[nother] pending charge.
Probation is a rehabilitative tool that facilitates the Defendant’s reentry back into society after being found guilty of a crime. “In society” is the operative word and is the testing ground of the probation period. The defendant is being tested to determine if he or she will be able to maintain themselves in society and not causing harm to others. Being in jail during probation is hardly equal to being in society.
With regards to allowing Casey Anthony to forgo probation, Judge Perry wrote:
To permit the Defendant, whose counsel was well aware that the probation was to begin upon the defendant’s release from jail, to avoid serving probation now, would take a lawfully imposed sentence and make it a mockery of justice. This would allow a defendant to take advantage of a scrivener’s error and be rewarded. This is not the message the courts want to send to the public or the defendants.
One’s duty as an Officer of the Court
Because the next section of the court order is so impeccably written, and so on-point with regards to the defense shenanigans, I want to provide you with these candid, and rather searing, words:
Finally, this Court would like to address the issue of what duty does an attorney, an officer of the court, owe to our system of justice to see that the lawful orders of courts are followed. The defense acknowledged in court that Mr. Baez knew about the error, but contended he did not have any obligation to inform the court.
It was absolutely blistering comment from Judge Perry’s, when, toward the end of the ruling, he cites specific conduct from the Florida Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct. Judge Perry clearly believes that Mr. Baez may find good counsel via studying the standards of conduct set forth by the Florida Bar.
Belly up to the Bar, Baez!
PS…. The order is priceless. Click here to read.