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an interview with the Honorable Stan Strickland

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mencken on my mind

I had Mencken on my mind today.  I read him today until my eyes stung.

Although I have not read very many of Henry Louis Mencken‘s books, essays or articles, I have read enough to appreciate his point of view.

He was a passionate enthusiast of the First Amendment, and rightfully so.  He spent a good part of his life writing for the Baltimore Sun newspaper.

He was and still is known as “a man of ideas,” since he frequently espoused ideas and ideals that could be considered controversial.

I found the following quote from Mencken especially interesting.  At first I looked at these words with the Casey Anthony trial in mind, since the Burden of Proof, liberty, and law is, seemingly, a part of his argument.

But Mencken is not referring to criminality.  What is he referring to here?  Is it prejudice, honesty and truth, or something else?

Writer H.L. Mencken. Photo credit:

I believe in liberty. And when I say liberty, I mean the thing in its widest imaginable sense — liberty up to the extreme limits of the feasible and tolerable.  I am against forbidding anybody to do anything, or say anything, or think anything so long as it is at all possible to imagine a habitable world in which he would be free to do, say, and think it. The burden of proof, as I see it, is always upon the policeman, which is to say, upon the lawmaker, the theologian, the right-thinker. He must prove his case doubly, triply, quadruply, and then he must start all over and prove it again. The eye through which I view him is watery and jaundiced. He is the enemy of everything I admire and respect in this world — of everything that makes it various and amusing and charming. He impedes every honest search for the truth. He stands against every sort of good-will and common decency. I am against him until the last galoot’s ashore.
H.L Mencken, 1923

Do you think Mencken hated law, law enforcement, clergy, or conservatism when you read this quote?  I’d love to hear what you think.

So, that’s it for me tonight.  I will write more about Mencken another day.  As for today, it’s “rest-up” day, which means reading, napping and a lot of thinking.


FloriDUH | Report: Naked sword fight lands lawyer in jail

FloriDUH | Sun Sentinel Blogs | Report: Naked sword fight lands lawyer in jail.

DUH! is right.

If you’re hunting for a Florida defense attorney who uses “out of the box” strategies, look no further, you’ve found your guy.


Judge Perry: The Chaos Theorist?

Quite a while ago I wrote a post about the “Butterfly Effect,” (which is synonymous with the “Chaos Theory”), and it just occurred to me that the recent events in the Casey Anthony saga might be explained using that  model.

About the Butterfly Effect and The Theory of Chaos

The Butterfly Effect is part of the theory of chaos, and asks the question: If a butterfly flaps its wings a long way off, say Brazil, will that very sensitive little ripple of air reverberate elsewhere, causing unknown weather effects in Orlando Florida, or Paw Paw Michigan?

It’s very, very possible, says Norton Lorenz.

The term “butterfly effect” was coined by Edward Norton Lorenz, who was the first to ponder the chaos theorys application to weather patterns as something nonlinear and chaotic.

The Butterfly Effect or Chaos Theory is a very complex mathematical and meteorologic theory of how weather patterns align out of chaotic nonlinear events that may eventually become entwined.

A Chaos Theorist, then, tries to find some kind of order in a series of events that are nonlinear and chaotic.  The Chaos Theorist, may look at human behavior, or natural events, and try to find order.

Judge Perry as Chaos Theorist

In the fallout of the Casey Anthony probation issue, Judge Belvin Perry has been charged as the Chaos Theorist of sorts.

Like the flapping of a butterflies wings, a multitude of events converged to create the situation the Court is now in.

An event may get set off quite simply.  As in this situation, it started when a data entry clerk overlooked typing the words: “Upon release” to a court ordered probation.  Upon which, Judge Strickland, trusting that a court clerk correctly typed his orders, when in fact she hadn’t, overlooks reading the very same document.  And then, a defense lawyer, for whatever reason, doesn’t question that his client is on probation because a Department of Corrections employee, acting alone and out of a sense of duty, applies her own spin to a written order… and on and on.

All these things, and more, led up to Judge Strickland’s realization that his probation orders were not carried out.  With that realization, he is bound by law to correct it.

Though the defense lawyer Lisbeth Fryer claims it is out of vindictiveness that Judge Strickland acted, nothing can be further than the truth.  As is typical, when this defense team has a weak argument, they resort to using verbal diarrhea, and it’s disgusting.

The Legal Morass

Since the Chaos Theory can also be applied to human events or human systems, it could easily explain how a series of different events created what Judge Belvin Perry characterized as, “A legal morass.”

So, the question is this: What happened here?

It began with the underlying conflict of Jose Baez and the State Attorney, Frank George, each believing something different about how future events would unfold, meaning would Casey Anthony be found Guilty or Not Guilty in the murder trial?

At the time, Attorney Frank George argued that probation should happen immediately, while Anthony was awaiting trial for murder.

On the other side of the aisle, Jose Baez argued NO, he did not want probation to occur while Casey Anthony was in jail since she was not in jail for the check-fraud case.

It was clear that probation was warranted here.  After all, the charges were: 13 counts of check fraud, theft and fraudulent use of personal identification (using Amy Huizenga’s I.D. fraudulently).

The outcome was that Judge Strickland withheld adjudication on 7 charges but adjudicated her guilty on six counts.   And, being a very fair and thoughtful Jurist, Judge Strickland, acting Solomon-like, split the baby in half, and said:

We can’t withhold adjudication unless there’s a period of probation attached to it.  So we don’t know what the future holds here. If the State’s correct, there’ll be a conviction and lengthy prison sentence, or worse. If the defense is correct, there will be an acquittal and she will walk free.

I remember that day.  I remember when Judge Strickland said, “…or worse,” referring to the death penalty.

What is warranted?

I think many of us believe that probation is warranted and is only fair in this case.

Judge Belvin Perry, having reviewed the transcript of the hearing, reminded Jose Baez that he wanted probation to wait until the end of the  murder trial because he felt she would be found Not Guilty!

Sounds to me that Jose Baez wanted probation to start AFTER the trial, wouldn’t you agree?

Another question remains, why did the defense allow the probation to happen?  Was the State Attorney’s Office aware of this, too?

I seriously don’t believe the State Attorney’s Office was aware of this error and problem.  But the defense should have known!

I feel that most professionals understand that by allowing a mistake to fly by – keeping it under the radar, is a bad idea.  Mistakes like this one have a funny way of returning and biting you when you’re least expecting it (the universe seeks order, not chaos).

So, why did the defense not complain or bring up the mistake to the court?  Did they just not realize it was happening?  If so, that’s a very lame excuse and very unprofessional.  Of course, they would be loathe to admit this either way because it does not put them in good light.

It was a domino effect of errors.  And, because the original intent of the order was clearly for probation, I believe Judge Perry will find probation in this case is warranted.

After all, the Department of Corrections mistake caused no harm to Casey Anthony – there was no violation of her rights as far as I can tell.  Where is the double jeopardy?  Being visited by a probation officer, in jail, versus serving real probation, can’t equate to double jeopardy, in my opinion.

For a legal treatise on this subject, the popular and likeable Orlando lawyer, Richard Hornsby, wrote a great piece on this issue.

READ Richard Hornsby’s post here: For Judge Perry’s Eyes Only.

Video of Judge Strickland’s orders on Wesh.

The rest of my day….

What to do, what to do!  I am still exhausted from the last two weeks of teaching seven hours a day.  It’s grueling, but great at the same time.  And, I have another class beginning this Monday, also for two weeks.   So, I thought I’d have a long day of rest-up today.  Reading, watching a movie maybe, too.

Tomorrow morning Beau (my cat) has to go to the vet because he’s acting like a mad, mad cat – ravenous for food these past few weeks.

Beau has literally stolen food out of my mom and my hands!  Once he ran away with an entire sandwich in his mouth! And once he had a huge piece of a chicken carcass in his mouth!  My mom caught and held him while I pried the chicken out of his tightened jaw!

He’s never acted like this – it’s a total 360, as he’s normally quiet, inconspicuous, like a rag-doll.

I talked to my vet and she explained that his behavior sounds very much like Hypothyroidism, which, I’m now discovering, cats frequently suffer with.

Needless to say, Beau will be a mad as a wet hen in the morning, should he see the cat carrier before it’s time to go to the vet.  I’ll have to plan for this  covert operation and strategically place the carrier when he’s not looking!

It’s funny how animals scope you out and know exactly what you’re planning for them!  My dog, Jazz hates a bath.  He can tell when a bath is on the horizon.  All he needs to see is me taking a towel to the kitchen – he knows that means it’s time to run.  (He gets his bath in the kitchen sink.)

And then, when I put the towel surreptitiously in the kitchen area and begin to get his shampoo ready, or run the water in the sink, he runs!

Even when he’s in another room, his radar can sniff out trouble like a wizard.

Come to think of it, I don’t enjoy his baths, either.

I get soaked.

But, as much as he hates his bath – REALLY hates it – he LOVES when it’s over so he can race around like a flibbertigibbet on speed.

Okay… I’m off to start his bath…. I bet he can sense it’s coming even as I write this – after all, he’s a gifted mind-reader of a dog!  Aren’t they all?

There’s nothing like a dog!


amazing case law from 3/7 closing arguments

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).


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’!


a little levity….

Great lawyers are sure hard to come by, as we know.  Take a look at these two lawyers, get to know them because they’re the two new additions to the Anthony case, or so I’m told by my very top-secret unnamed sources.


contempt! sanctions!

Oh, I was waiting for this to happen!  As you may recall, in response to the second court order in the case against Casey Anthony, the defense recently released their version of discovery with regards to their expert witnesses.

As I mentioned previously in A Sophomoric Summary post, the defense answered the motion to provide expert witness testimony with a churlish, laughable and utterly contemptuous litany of what amounted to non-answers to the state.

And now, well Christmas has come early for Casey Anthony  –  though she may not realize it – because Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton is calling for sanctions and possible contempt charges against the defense for failing to follow the courts order and provide details of their expert witnesses!

I do not have the copy of the motion for sanctions written by Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton.  My source for  information is the Orlando Sentinel story released last evening.  (I have been so busy with my family, I missed this story last night!)

Click here to read the full Orlando Sentinel story.

The motion boils down to this, from Jeff Ashton:

in deliberate non-compliance with the court’s order as to certain of their listed experts and that sanctions to address the non-compliance are necessary.

Not only does Jeff Ashton call for sanctions, but he also uses a wonderfully harsh and professorial tone.  Here he calls the defense’s response laughable:

The excuse provided is laughable and indicative of the deliberate attempt to flaunt the rules and intent of discovery and this court’s order.

It would do Jose Baez good to be thrown in jail for contempt charges.  For Pete’s sakes, the court throws regular people in jail for refusing to follow court orders, I think it’s time for Baez to spend a night or two in the slammer, maybe then he’ll have some empathy for his damn clients?

I am sick of the blowhard Baez flaunting his cock-sure ego around the court like a rooster on steroids.  He has a client facing the DEATH PENALTY and he plays games!

There should be laws against these kinds of attorneys who do whatever it takes to sleaze their way around the rules of criminal procedure in an effort to hide the fact that they have NO CASE!

Any fool can see what he’s doing. Baez has no case, he has no money, and instead of doing his best to defend his client, he plays with the media and issues innocent proclamations in an attempt to make news and taint any potential jurors that may hear this case.

Oh I am mad. I am fed up with this nonsense. And thank God, Jeff Ashton (who by the way, is my new hero) is fed up too.

So, what do these sanctions mean for the defense?  Well, a hearing will be held on the matter and Judge Perry will decide whether to issue sanctions.  You see, a court case follows strict rules and deadlines and when one side does not comply with the orders from the court, the other side can request they be punished.  The punishment hurts the other side’s ability to present its case – something Baez does not need.  The sanctions are determined by the Judge in the case, but are based on recommendations from the other side.  Jeff Ashton is suggesting the following:

Ashton noted that Florida rules of criminal procedure allow the court to prevent parties from calling witnesses or introducing certain evidence if they fail to follow discovery rules. He also cites rules stating an attorney can be subject to “contempt proceedings” and costs by violating discovery rules. ~ Anthony Colarossi, Orlando Sentinel

As mentioned earlier, contempt proceedings would do a world of good here.

Better yet, how about appointing a Public Defender?  The way Jose Baez has been performing lately in this case, he’s asking to be kicked to the curb.

Wear your pointed boots to this hearing, Judge Perry, please.

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