Before discussing the news of the day, I want to tell you about my new blog look! It’s the newest WordPress blog theme – just released today.
The theme is called iTheme2; created in appreciation for Steve Jobs, and Apple.
What do you think? Do you like it?
I’d love to hear your constructive feedback. Is it easy to read and navigate in? My favorite thing about this blog is the sliding post feature at the top of the Home page!
Now for the news of the day
The Orlando Sentinel’s Anthony Colarossi, is reporting that the Florida Bar has disclosed the nature of the two (2) complaints against attorney Jose Baez.
Complaint One: As expected, one of the Florida Bar complaints against Jose Baez is regarding his failure to produce expert witness discovery. This took place in January of 2011, when Judge Belvin Perry ordered the defense to produce expert witness discovery by a certain deadline date. When the defense failed to comply, Judge Perry concluded that the defense willfully violated its court order and ordered sanctions.
Prosecutor, Jeff Ashton, frustrated by the refusal of Jose Baez to follow the rules of discovery and the court, advised the court that the defense had a history of deliberately skirting deadlines, and contempt or sanctions should be imposed.
Jose Baez was sanctioned by the court – ordered to pay $583 as penalty.
This is the very issue now up for review by the Florida Bar.
I wonder if the Bar is also looking at a similar violation that occurred in June 2011, during the trial, over defense witness Dr. William Rodriquez.
This was another typical scenario in which Baez attempted to hide certain aspects of Dr. Rodriquez’ testimony, clearly to ambush Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton. Baez must think that “Perry Mason Moments” are a make it or break it strategy in the courtroom. The truth is, defense lawyers want to win, and some of them will do whatever it takes to get a leg up – rules be damned.
If the Florida Bar fails to act, it will set a bad precedent, perhaps encouraging other lawyers to bend the laws, too. We can’t have that!
Complaint Two: This complaint surrounds the felony check fraud charges that Casey Anthony was found guilty of prior to the murder trial.
The Honorable Judge Stan Strickland found Anthony guilty on 6 of the 13 charges of check fraud.
Judge Strickland sentenced Anthony to time-served, and one year probation to be served after the murder case is concluded. Judge Strickland, who, by the way, is retiring at the end of this year, was very clear in his ruling, but a court clerks written report erred in its description of how the probation was to be served. The error only came to light at the conclusion of the murder trial. Judge Strickland realized his court order was not followed and resubmitted the probation order.
The defense fought hard to throw out the probation. They were desperate to prove that applying probation would be akin to double jeopardy, since Anthony served probation while in jail.
That argument, so weak, went no where and Judge Perry ordered Anthony to serve her probation as Judge Strickland originally ordered.
During the hearing concerning this issue, it came to light that Baez knew she was serving probation in jail, but didn’t correct the situation.
It’s against the law for you and I to violate a court order. When a lawyer willfully disobeys a court order, there should be consequences. If a lawyer cannot follow the basic rules of procedure required for an officer of the court, the system is in trouble. Let’s hope the Florida Bar agrees.
Early retirement for my favorite Judge
I just read this evening that the Honorable Stan Strickland is retiring from the Bench beginning December 31, 2011.
Judge Strickland has served Central Florida in the 9th Circuit Court for 21 years. He spoke briefly to Anthony Colarossi, reporter for the Orlando Sentinel today, and said:
Once it becomes tedium, it’s hard to continue on. It’s hard to explain: You just know when it’s time, and it’s time. ~Judge Stan Strickland
Reporter Colarossi asked Judge Strickland if the Casey Anthony case had anything to do with his decision to resign, the Judge said:
Did that have a part in the wearing process? Sure. But not a part in the ultimate decision.
I am happy for the Judge, but sorry for the people of Central Florida who are losing one of its finest.
So many of us – everyone visiting this blog – have shared their thoughts regarding Judge Strickland’s nonpareil service to the Casey Anthony case; he is held in hight regard here.
I have the highest regard for Judge Strickland. Not only is he an excellent Jurist, he’s a very nice man.
Socrates, writing in approximately 470 B.C., wrote the following, which I think sums up perfectly who Judge Strickland is:
Four things belong to a judge:
to hear courteously,
to answer wisely,
to consider soberly, and
to decide impartially. ~ Socrates
It’s as if Socrates had Judge Strickland in mind here, don’t you think?!
It has come to pass that Jose Baez, Lead Defense Attorney for the acquitted Casey Anthony, is in the cross-hairs of the Florida Bar. The Orlando Sentinel reported just today that there are two separate Florida Bar complaints against Mr. Baez.
Two complaints! We don’t know the seriousness or the purpose of the complaints. We don’t know who filed them.
What Led Up to the Current Bar Complaints?
Jose Baez has been the subject of a lot of criticism. His personal and professional life has been extensively reported on by the media.
Mr. Baez’ past is marked by behaviors that delayed his acceptance into the Florida Bar as a lawyer for a few years. The Florida Bar took its time before it granting Mr. Baez his license to practice. It was only in 2006 that he was admitted by the Bar. He became involved in the Casey Anthony case in July of 2008. Hardly time for the water to dry behind his ears, though that didn’t stop him.
It didn’t matter to Jose Baez that his experience was minimal at best in criminal cases, and he had NO experience with Capital Murder cases. And, boy did it show. He was like the court jester; but no one was laughing with him, they were laughing at him.
To be (somewhat) fair, Mr. Baez did improve as the months and the years wore on. Oh, but his rogue-dog attitude never left him.
In my opinion, having closely watched his performance, I thought he was completely lacking ethics. He was, in my opinion, a total sell-out to the truth. Granted, Defense Attorneys have to be zealous advocates for their clients and ensure the government can prove the charges beyond any reasonable doubt, the goal should be to seek the truth, or am I being naive?
Both sides of the attorney aisle are adversarial by design. They have tricks under their sleeves, but they usually don’t sell their soul to the devil to win a case. Right?
Jose Baez put his entire career on the line with this case; but he won it. He won the case of a lifetime.
Was it a fair win? I don’t think so, personally, but I accept the verdict because it is final and it is binding. No one will be able to investigate Casey Anthony’s involvement into Caylee’s murder again. It’s over and Casey Anthony should be left alone to live out the rest of her life.
If, like OJ Simpson’s foray into crime after his acquittal, she should engage in another criminal act, and get caught, she may see those grimy jail bars again, just like OJ did. Time will tell if she can be rehabilitated.
Perhaps someday Casey Anthony will have an anonymous and happy life. It’s debatable – the deck is stacked against her.
Who Filed the Complaints, and What is the Cause?
Of course, I am only guessing about this, but I have an idea of a couple of individuals who may have filed the complaints.
Judge Belvin Perry?
At the end of the trial, Judge Belvin Perry planned on having a hearing with regards to what sanctions to bring against Jose Baez. However, when the defense won the case, nothing further was publicly addressed about this issue. It was left on the table. I thought at the time that it would seem like sour grapes, or prejudicial, to bring the sanctions up so soon after the verdict was announced.
I tend to think that Judge Perry took up the issue with the Bar in the form of a complaint rather than address it publicly in the Orlando Court.
I wrote an article about the violations that plagued the trial; it’s titled, Yet Again, Judge Perry says Legal Violation by Baez.
The fact is, Judge Perry and the State of Florida, particularly Jeff Ashton, had constant run-ins and legal battles regarding Discovery rule violations by Mr. Baez, who pretended he was unaware of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure which details EXACTLY how lawyers are to obey the rules of Discovery.
Was it Jeff Ashton?
Did one of the complaints come from Jeff Ashton? Mr. Ashton was constantly thrown under the bus by Mr. Baez’ deliberate refusals to turn over evidence or expert reports. (Perhaps it was another attorney in the State Attorney’s Office, though I can’t see Linda Drane-Burdick filing a complaint, it’s certainly possible.)
There was a big issue about expert reports that were not filed. Mr. Ashton wrote a motion that requested the Court hold Jose Baez in contempt. I wrote an article about this, titled: Show Cause or Else Be In Contempt. This motion required Mr. Baez to argue why he should not be held in contempt. As it turned out, he was not held in contempt, he was sanctioned – I believe the total was approximately $500.00.
Was it Stogskill Court Reporting?
Then there was the Court Reporting Fiasco in which a firm outside the state of Florida was used by the defense. The issue here was the defense wanted to pay Stogskill Court Reporting Services, (after the work had been done) a rate that was lower than what the firm charges. The owner of the firm wrote a letter of complaint to Judge Perry, stating he was lied to. It is possible this firm could have written to the Bar. The story is titled, More Defense Woes?
Could it Be Brad Conway?
Maybe Brad Conway filed a complaint? Was Mr. Baez aware that Laura Buchanan was going to falsify Texas EquuSearch (TES) documents? Brad Conway was inadvertently put in the middle of the TES fiasco. Here’s a story about that issue, titled: Big Trouble for Baez?
How a Bar Complaint Works
According to the Anthony Colarossi, Orlando Sentinel Reporter, the two Bar complaints are concerning professional conduct during the Casey Anthony trial. There are different levels a Bar complaint has to wind its way through. The first level is a staff review. Apparently, if the complaint ends at the Staff Review, it will go no further. The other complaint against Mr. Baez stopped at this level. In this instance, however, both complaints are headed to a grievance committee. Below is how Anthony Colarossi explains it:
The Florida Bar confirmed Tuesday that two complaints over professional conduct filed against Casey Anthony attorney Jose Baez have progressed to a grievance committee. This means the complaints have not closed without discipline and moved from staff level to the next point in the process. The volunteer grievance committee is the rough equivalent of a grand jury. The nine-member panel will ultimately help determine whether to bring charges against Baez under Florida Bar rules of conduct. It is not exactly clear what the two complaints involve, but they do cover Baez’s representation of Casey Anthony, according to Francine Walker with the Bar.
I’m told that Bar complaints take a while to process through the review phase. It will continue to be a waiting game for Mr. Baez. Something tells me he’s not worried; he’s beat these complaints once already….
I wonder if his Teflon will hold up?
Did you know that we, as citizens, can file a complaint against a lawyer?
I didn’t realize this until yesterday. The Orlando Sentinel has reported that someone in Coral Gables, Florida, has filed a Florida Bar complaint against Mr. Cheney Mason for this reprehensible posturing and lewd gesture.
John B. Thompson, who says he is a lawyer, bases his complaint on the fact that Mr. Mason is not representing the integrity of the profession.
The story, however also states that the complaint is made by an attorney, John B. Thompson, who is listed as a disbarred attorney. Read Story.
The Orland Sentinel contacted the Florida Bar who said a complaint has not been lodged against Mr. Mason at this time.
As individuals, we can make a complaint to the Bar. Here is the form to complete: Bar Complaint
The above complaint form is under the “Consumer” link on the Florida Bar Website: http://www.floridabar.org/