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Posts tagged ‘Linda Drane-Burdick’

3
Jan

will 2013 bring a new State Attorney to Orlando? you betcha!

On the steps of Orlando’s Ninth Circuit Courthouse, retired Assistant State Attorney and all around great guy, Jeff Ashton, announced his candidacy for State Attorney!

It’s a good move by Jeff.  You can’t help but like him, right?  He surely has the visibility and name recognition to get votes.  His visibility in the public as a result of the Casey Anthony trial, where he’s known for putting on a really good fight with colleague Linda Drane-Burdick and Frank George, was effectively expansive.  His book is doing well, and his history with the State Attorney’s Office is memorable considering his ground-breaking work with introducing DNA, and other scientific methods, into the justice system for the first time.

As far as his track-record as a prosecutor, I don’t have specifics, though I have only heard glowing things about his record.  The big question:  Is he fair?  I believe he is.

Regarding the loss of the Casey Anthony trial, I cannot imagine anyone would blame Jeff and the other prosecutors for losing that case.  If the State Attorney’s office deserves any blame (and I’m not convinced it does), it could be argued that Jeff’s boss. and now rival for State Attorney, Lawson Lamar, could take some of the blame for over-charging Casey Anthony with the death penalty.

Jeff Ashton campaign image via http://www.electjeffashton.com

But, this story is not about Casey Anthony.  This is about Jeff Ashton and his announcement to run, as a Democrat (yet another reason Jeff is my guy!), for the State Attorney’s Office.

I have never met the man, but have grown to respect and admire him.  I would vote for him!  Well, if I lived in the Orlando area, I would.  I’d definitely want to work on his campaign, too.  That would be great fun.

To access Jeff Ashton’s new campaign website, the URL is http://www.electjeffashton.com.

Here’s his logo (below).  Click on the logo to go to his website.  You can sign up for email alerts, volunteer to help, make contributions and endorse Jeff at the website, if you’d care to.

Jeff Ashton logo via http://www.electjeffashton.com

More Big News…

On a separate note, with regards to the Casey Anthony trial, I have a BIG surprise for my readers!

I have had the great fortune to interview one of the major players in the Casey Anthony trial.   I am really excited and will post the interview tomorrow.

Stay tuned!  I think you’ll like it.  🙂

16
Nov

dig deeper, whack # 5

 

I have so many things I want to talk about, but I don’t have much time because I’ve had my nose in the Nook reading Jeff Ashton’s book, which I am enjoying so much.  

I love his attitude toward the sickening defense and their inane theories, especially the George Anthony lie, which the State called the Nuclear Lie.

I am enjoying reading about the back story regarding the defense’s obnoxious Discovery violations, and all the excuses Baez made.  I love how Mr. Ashton describes the situation in which Baez stipulated about the Dr. Vass testimony, and then like a petulant child, said he was coerced into signing it  except it was Dorothy Sims who wrote it for Baez to sign!

And there are many other interesting stories and thoughts that are fascinating in retrospect.

Anyway, I have another Creative Whack to share!  This one is titled, Dig Deeper, and it’s one of my favorites, and absolutely true in every sense:

Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it’s the only one you have.  ~ Emile’ Chartier

I would like to make a button with those words and wear it on my lapel every day at work…. but that would be rude.

Better to tape it to my forehead!

13
Nov

Jeff Ashton’s book release is around the corner

Retired Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton, who famously prosecuted the Casey Anthony murder trial, has a book coming out on November 15, 2011.

Mr. Asthon’s book, Imperfect Justice:  Prosecuting Casey Anthony, promises to discuss never-revealed details about the case, including information related to the psychological examinations  performed on then defendant Casey Anthony.

Cover image of Jeff Ashton's soon to be released book

He will also be discussing the book on the Dr. Phil Show, Wednesday, November 16, 2001.   No doubt the book will generate a lot of interest.

I’ve per-ordered a copy on my Nook.

If the Barnes & Noble Nook website is any indication, the book should do well.   On the Barnes & Noble Nook page for the book, already nearly 60 “customer reviews” have been written!  This is despite the fact it’s not even released yet!  People are adding their thoughts about what they “think” the book will disclose…and of course they are arguing.

Cheney Mason reportedly is writing a book also.   I have absolutely no interest in reading it because, frankly, I wouldn’t know what to believe.   By the way, Mr. Mason is in a Daytona hospital after feeling ill during a conference in which he to speak.  I certainly hope it’s not a serious issue keeping him in the hospital.  I bet he’s cranky as hell in that hospital!  I bet he’s shooting the bird at just about everyone, too!  I hope so, that would mean he’s on the mend.

Anyway, back to Jeff Ashton’s book.  I really am looking forward to reading some inside stories about the case and sure hope the book is long on character details!  There were some colorful characters involved in the Anthony case, and it would be interesting to read about them.

Coincidentally, I was perusing Facebook this evening and stumbled upon “The Official Jeff Ashton Page.”  Oh, it’s wonderful – lot’s of very nice photos, too!

Seeing some of the great photos of Mr. Ashton and his wife, Rita, his colleagues at the State Attorney’s Office, including Linda Drane-Burdick, and pictures of his Koi pond that he and his wife built – affirmed for me that he is not only a phenomenal attorney, he is also a down-to-earth, very nice guy. Someone you can’t help but like because he oozes charm.

There were many folks on the State side of the case who I really admired: ASA Linda Drane-Burdick, of course, was incredible.   I admired the folks at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, too.  Yuri Melich – loved him!  Eric Edwards –  loved him!   John Allen – loved him!   Who else?   Just too many good people to name.   Oh! I almost forgot ASA Frank George!  Loved him!

Anyway, my Nook is ready for the Imperfect Justice download!

Thanks in advance, Jeff Ashton!

11
Oct

will it be belly up to the bar for Jose Baez?

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 in court. Photo credit: Red Huber, the Orlando Sentinel June 21, 2011

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?

1
Oct

jail video release – the First Amendment wins

The jail video within a jail video released yesterday?   It is much ado about nothing, as far as I’m concerned.

The video of a jail video is much ado about nothing

It’s hardly even distinguishable anyway.

The jail was unable to extricate the original file from their video player, so a video of that video was shot, hence the grainy appearance.

This is the video that had originally been ordered under seal by Judge Stan Strickland, he believed it may have been prejudicial to potential jurors in the case.  The prejudice would lie in how it would be interpreted and debriefed in the public and in the media prior to trial.   That was certainly a valid concern for Judge Strickland.

The fact is, on its face, the video could be translated as a picture of a grieving mom just learning that her daughter’s remains have been found. Or, it could be positioned as a consciousness of guilt.  If a jury had information about how the reaction to the Blanchard Park discovery of bones elicited no reaction, this juxtaposed non-reaction may have been harmful  to the defense, maybe.

The State of Florida chose not to use this video tape.   I tend to think there was too much baggage with it since they’d have to put Robyn Adams (convicted felon and Casey jail friend), on the stand to discuss Casey’s reaction to Blanchard Park.  Putting Robyn on the stand may have been a risk the State didn’t want to take.   I believe the State was confident in the case they laid out.   Were they a bit too confident?  I don’t know.  I do know I admired the work they did.

The video had to be released.  Judge Belvin Perry had no choice, really.  Jose Baez’ argument about the HIPPA violation was a long-shot, and I’m sorry it didn’t work for him.  But, Judge Perry did what he needed to do – uphold the Bill of Rights – the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The video is just sad, in my opinion.  Its release does nothing more than pick at an old scab – opening it up and pouring salt on it.

Why do that to ourselves?

27
Sep

random vacation stuff

Vacation feels like what heaven must be made of.

I enjoy doing nothing so much as spreading out on the couch with my dog under one arm, and my Nook cradled in the other. That’s what I plan to do most of the day tomorrow, too.

I’m not one to spend much time in shopping malls, though some of them are fun to visit, malls are not my thing.  But, I do love to find bargains.  I have a friend who knows every thrift and consignment shop in Broward County, Florida, and I love tagging along with her to find treasures.

We have a Talbot’s clearance store nearby that has amazing bargains.  My Mom and I went there today, after I took her to the eye doctor and to Sears to get a new battery for her watch, we tackled Talbots.

And what bargains we got!  I purchased a lovely salmon colored light sweater that was originally $55.00, marked down twice, and then the cashier took 60 percent off, and the final price was $7.98!  I purchased two lovely sweaters and a blouse for less than forty dollars!

Mom did even better than me.  She got six items for less than fifty dollars!

Shopping is exhausting…. The best part of shopping is when it’s over.

I’m thinking of taking a little trip to Naples, which is on the other coast, or I may just enjoy my vacation at home!

Jeff Ashton and Linda Drane-Burdick Photo credit: WESH.com

I finally caught up with the Casey Anthony case this evening.  I was curious to see what the news of late happened to be, and I saw some interesting tidbits that I will write about tomorrow, but there is one quick story to tell you…  Assistant State Attorney Jeff Ashton, it is rumored, is running for Orlando State Attorney!  Well, it’s still a rumor, but I kinda think it’s true.  And, what a great idea!  I hope he makes Linda Drane-Burdick his right hand person, what ever that role would be…. What a pair they’d be!

I would surely vote for him!

I found this picture on the WESH website – click on the picture above to read the accompanying story.

4
Sep

Sour grapes, huh?

After the recent hearing to decide the amount of money Casey Anthony will have to pay back to the State of Florida for the pointless search for her “missing”  daughter Caylee Anthony, attorney Cheney Mason claimed it was sour grapes resulting from the State losing the case.

Sour grapes, huh?

Casey Anthony, just like any other citizen, will have to pay the State of Florida back its investigative costs. (Note:  The costs are not related to the trial/prosecution of Casey Anthony.)

Sure, the State of Florida wants to recoup the nearly $517,000 they spent to investigate a “missing” child they later learned had “drowned”.

Yes, these are absolute costs that Casey Anthony rightfully owes for the hours and hours and weeks and weeks of law enforcement investigation that, of course, was all a ruse.  The costs cover the dates of the deception, which were July 15, 2008 until December 11, 2008, when Caylee Marie Anthony’s remains were found.

Lady Justice: Don't fool with me!

You defraud the public, you pay the public back.

Period.

End of story.

We will find out the amount that Casey Anthony will have to pay in about three weeks when Judge Perry submits an order with the amount due.

Now, about that sour taste in your mouth, Mr. Mason?   Just go ahead and gargle with strong mouthwash because I do believe your client may have to put up and shut up.  Only my opinion, of course.

Perhaps Mr. Jose  Baez neglected to consider the impacts his bold opening statement during the trial would have in the long run?

When Baez said, “Caylee was never missing, but drowned” and when his client was found  guilty of lying, cha-chings started adding up.  And well they should have.

Despite the jury finding Casey Anthony not guilty, she was found guilty of lying to law enforcement and will have to pay a hefty sum for those lies.

That will satisfy Lady Justice just fine.

To Mr. Cheney Mason

So your client was found not-guilty of Murder.  It is  no matter here.  Of significance now?  Her lying bilked thousands of dollars out of the Florida coffers.  Had she told investigators that Caylee “drowned” at the outset, the investigation costs would have totaled about six hours, according to witness Lt. Paul Zamboris.

Mr. Mason, as you well know, when people defraud the public and get caught, pay-back is a bitch.  Well, this is nothing new.  And, no one is singling our your “indigent” client! 

Are you living in the past?   You must still believe that your Southern Gentleman-like charm, and that  Old-Florida drawl you put on as thick as Aunt Jemima syrup on hot pancakes, will work in this case.   Ain’t gonna work.   But, heck, you can resort to name-calling and obscene hand gestures all you want, it ain’t gonna amount to a hill of full of beans.  Throwing sophomoric hissy-fits will not persuade the Honorable Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., either.

But, I do have advice, Mr. Mason.  Don’t continue with that mean and cantankerous Ole Florida Coot act.   It only makes you look like you’re eating the sour grapes.  And it’s unbecoming.   You won the war, and jolly good for you.   You may not win the battle, so prepare yourself.

Remember the Runaway Bride story and how that ended?

The Runaway Bride, Jennifer Wilbanks, was running away from her fiancée, John Mason, (whose name, coincidentally is Mason, though I know of no connection), and also had to pay a sum of money as restitution.

Runaway Bride, Jennifer Wilbanks / BBC photo

As a result of her fraud, the Runaway Bride plead guilty to, a felony.  She got two years of probation, and a bill for nearly $43,000.

That story was a media circus, too.  Jennifer Wilbanks, like Casey Anthony, defrauded the public and had to pay.

According to the BBC, Jennifer Wilbanks sold the media rights to her story to a New York City company for $500,000.  Wilbanks did not offer to repay the whole cost of the search for her, which totaled almost $43,000.  BBC, June 5, 200

I think the penniless Casey Anthony should start counting those pennies.

I don’t believe a plea of “sour grapes” will convince the court to let Casey Anthony off scot-free.

Um, I’m sure you know that, Mr. Mason.

 

References:

Read Hal Boedeker story here.

BBC article:  Read here.

19
Jul

84 searches for chloroform – NOT! Give OCSO its CacheBack, please

It was much ado about nothing.

The brouhaha today regarding the initial dramatic testimony given by State witness John Dennis Bradley, the designer of the software “CacheBack,” that there were 84 searches for Chloroform, was a big story today.

But, this is a non-story.   It is neither an admission or a State error; nor was it an attempt to hang on to exculpatory evidence, as many reporters and bloggers have recently said.

Granted, this WAS dramatic testimony originally – it would have been damning evidence – had it been true.

The State of Florida corrected this in its rebuttal case.  Additionally, you may remember, it was never referred to in their closing arguments.  Why?  Because in its rebuttal case, the correct number of searches for the word Chloroform, using the UPDATED CacheBack software, was only ONCE.

One time. One search. Not 84 searches.  And this was made, although not abundantly clear by Linda Drane-Burdick, it was clarified when another expert computer witness testified during the State’s rebuttal case.

Casey Anthony, searched for chloroform ONE time – perhaps once is not enough to establish premeditation.  And that is the sticking point, too.  If the jury had considered 84 searches in their deliberations, it would have been a serious problem.  (The jury never considered any evidence, so we know this is a moot point, anyway.)

Oh, and although the chloroform search was singular, she also searched for:

  • Internal bleeding,
  • Ruptured spleen,
  • Death,
  • Self-defense,
  • Chest trauma,
  • Household weapons,
  • Hand to hand combat,
  • Neck Breaking, and
  • Internal Bleeding.

Might she have had murder on her mind?

Regardless, the State of Florida protected the record, I believe, by the testimony of the witness who said that when CacheBack had upgraded its software and analyzed the same data with the new and improved software, there were NOT 84 search instances.  There was only one.

It is in Mr. Bradley’s best interest to make hay out of this story to market his company and software. Perhaps he was getting unfavorable press as a result of the error that was exposed?

In deference to Mr. Bradley, he makes a good point when he stated that  although it was the Orange County Sherrif’s Office (OCSO) that had used his software to find the 84 Google searches, he points out that the OCSO should have validated those findings another way, but they did not do so.

Aha!  Now, he owns up.  Blame it on the OCSO.  How conveeeenient!

Uh, well, the OCSO was convinced this software was reliable!  They did not realize it would give back FALSE data.

When the software was updated, the test was rerun, and it was then discovered that his software, the earlier version, was not correct.

Isn’t it convenient for Mr. Bradley to blame the OCSO now?

I am not a lawyer, but it appears that had Casey Anthony been found guilty (of something) and convicted, this would NOT be reversible error because the truth of the matter is on the record in the rebuttal case.

And, if this was really an issue, Jose Baez would have made some comment about it, but I believe he has been largely quiet on this non issue.

Granted, Cheney Mason was quoted in the NY Times article as being appalled at this.   “Outrageous!” said the nimble-fingered Mr. Mason.  (I don’t think Mr. Mason caught all the testimony in this case, frankly.)

Mr. Bradley, the computer expert, believed that the State and the police were negligent in its work by not correcting the record.

The record was corrected.  It truly was much ado about nothing.  Kind of like Mr. Todd Macoluso having fun with the media by dressing a woman up in the same clothes that Casey Anthony wore in her release from jail, and running this “decoy” with a coat over her face, until she was out of sight on Orlando’s Executive airport.

It drove the news outlets into a tizzy!  All of a sudden the headlines began to sing:  “Casey Sighting in Orlando!”

Todd will have a good laugh over this for days to come!

12
Jul

an honorable OCSO; an honorable Judge Strickland

It was another interesting day in Orlando as the Law Enforcement and Judicial community resolve to accept the Not Guilty decision in the State V. Casey Anthony trial.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), today held their first and only press conference to discuss the work they did over the three years the case progressed.  (The men and women of the OCSO are the best of the best – literally.)

The well-spoken Sheriff Jerry Demings attended and discussed the devotion and the hard work the men and women of the OCSO put into this case.  He also mentioned that the Caylee Anthony case, as a father and grandfather himself, personally affected him.

At the press conference it was confirmed that George Anthony was never a suspect in the disappearance of Caylee Anthony.  There is an open investigation into witness tampering with regards to Laura Buchanan and it is on going.  Detective Eric Edwards is leading that effort.

You may remember that it was Laura Buchanan who the defense team wanted to use to prove that Caylee’s remains could only have been placed at her final destination only AFTER Casey went to jail.  The problem, as it turned out, Laura Buchanan (or some one else), attempted to fabricate a Texas EquuSearch document so it appeared that she had searched in the area where Caylee was found, when in fact she had not been in that area.

The defense wanted Joe Jordan to provide a similar story, but as we heard in the trial, Jordan was mistaken about where he searched and admitted he had not been in the area where Caylee was found.

This mystery will continue to unfold.  The question on the table is whether Laura Buchanan created the paperwork herself, or if the document, and the story, was manufactured by someone from Jose Baez’s office.  The OCSO is not talking about it at this point since it is an open case.

There was a very large picture of Caylee on display at the press conference.  When asked about the picture, the replies given were heart-felt.  “It was always only about Caylee,” was the unanimous response.

If you missed the OCSO press conference, the WFTV website has included the video in two parts.  Click here: Part One.  Part Two.

The Honorable Judge Stan Strickland

Judge Stan Strickland, snipped: WESH.com

Reporter Bob Kealing of WESH, did an excellent interview Judge Stan Strickland, who was the original Judge assigned to the case prior to Judge Belvin Perry.

Those of us who were following the case closely during the early days were thrown for a loop when Judge Strickland recused himself.  Like Judge Perry, Judge Strickland proved to be an extremely fair and balanced jurist – thoughtful and kind, but no-nonsense.  It was a great loss, we all felt.

Judge Strickland’s style was somewhat more restrained than Judge Perry’s.

I especially liked him because he is not one to sentence death, unless the law demands it. In fact, he told Bob Kealing that the thought of Casey Anthony facing the death penalty kept him up a few nights.  In contrast, Judge Perry, as a former prosecutor, did have a history of leaning toward Capital Punishment.

It was the defense’s doing to get Judge Strickland recused from the case – and the reason for it was nonsensical – so it was ironic for the defense when they were handed Judge Perry who is pro-death penalty.  Judge Strickland, in his recusal from the case, wrote with regards to media attention, “The irony is rich indeed.”

Linda Drane-Burdick used the line, “The irony is rich indeed,” in her closing argument, too.  I’m certain she was expressing a respectful homage to a very fine Judge.

Here is the full interview with Judge Strickland. It’s excellent! Click here to watch on WESH.

In other news

Cindy Anthony will not face perjury charges; and Tim Miller of Texas EquuSearch, filed a lawsuit asking for $112,000  in damages against Casey Anthony.  There is a bill pending from the State of Florida, too, which will recover costs from Casey Anthony for the investigation into Caylee’s disappearance.

Justice

That’s about all the news I have for you tonight!  In the meantime, I will leave you with this thought, from Dr. Martin Luther King:

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

Even though a final decision was made by unsuspecting men and women regarding the guilt in the death of Caylee Anthony, we have to accept it.  This is our system – and, here on earth, there is none better.

But, there is a balance in the universe; and I believe that someday Casey will be forced to see her crime and she will be punished according to the laws of Karma, and the Universe.

That’s what I believe, anyway!

9
Jul

coming out of the nightmare

I don’t know about you, but I am slowly coming out of the Casey Anthony trial nightmare and into the land of the living.  I’m beginning to let the anger and the sadness go.

I also feel better after watching an interview of Jeff Ashton, that Kathi Belich, of WFTV, recently conducted.  I encourage you to watch it.

Not only is Jeff Ashton a terrific lawyer, he’s a very, very nice person.  He’s modest, kind and very respectful of the jury’s recent decision.

Jeff Ashton on WFTV

I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment of the interview, so I won’t reveal all of the gems he shares, though there is one item especially worth repeating here.

Toward the end of the video, Kathi asks Jeff Ashton, “What advise do you have for those of us who are so upset and sick over the outcome of this trial?”    He tells Kathi that the best thing we can do is to turn our anger into some kind of positive action.  Work for/support new laws, be an advocate for children, be a Big Brother or Big Sister, etc.  Turn the anger energy into positive action.

Then he says, the best thing we can do going forward is to ignore Casey Anthony.

The best thing, he says, when Casey Antony gets out of jail, we should turn our collective backs on her and walk the other way.

This, says Jeff Ashton, will be the harshest punishment for Casey Anthony!   Ignoring her will hurt her more than anything in the world.

I need to do the same – to stop writing and thinking of this case so much.  Well, there are a couple more stories I want to write about it, but I don’t want to give Casey Anthony the satisfaction of this blog’s attention, so I’ll try to phase this case off this blog….

Of course, there will be things about the case that will pull me back…. I can’t help it!!!!   But I’m going to try to turn to more positive and encouraging topics; focus on other news-worthy things that I enjoy writing about. (Can’t go cold-turkey off this case!)

Here is the wonderful video of the wonderful Jeff Ashton:  http://www.wftv.com/video/28498264/index.html

6
Jul

not innocent

To say the verdict in the State v. Casey Anthony is shocking is an understatement.

I am dazed, overwhelmed at this jury decision.  Are we in an alternate reality where wrong is right and right is wrong?  It seems so to me.

But, I have to accept it.

Even though Casey Anthony was found not guilty yesterday, it does not mean she is innocent of the death of her daughter.

Apparently, the jury did not have an abiding and sure belief of guilt.  And I have to accept and appreciate their decision.

But, it’s difficult to do this because I see this as a miscarriage of justice.  Then again, a worse miscarriage would be finding an defendant guilty when they are innocent.

That would be far worse, and so I’m taking that to the bank.

What went wrong?

Some Legal Eagles and Talking Heads are saying, “Well this verdict is an example that the system worked.”   I can’t quite agree with that, but I do understand that I have to accept the verdict because this is our system, and it’s the best in the world.

I think the heart of this decision boils down to the jury not wanting to have the burden of sending Casey to jail for the rest of her life.  Maybe they thought if their decision was wrong, it’s better to be wrong via an acquittal then to be wrong via finding guilt.

My belief in Casey’s guilt is abiding, and I think the jury made a decision that speaks to their fear of getting it wrong, so they erred on the side of caution.

We all believed that because the jury took only eleven hours to come to their verdict, they must have found her guilty.  I was so sure that was the case.  I can’t help wondering that this jury did not delve into the evidence because they wanted or needed to get home.

My head tells me, this jury, who are supposedly people without vendettas, without prejudice, without agendas, have made the best decision because we have trusted them to do so, and twelve of them have sacrificed two months of their individual lives to fulfill their promise.

And so, I should accept the jury’s verdict, just as Assistant State Attorney, Jeff Ashton so gracefully accepts it.  I’m struggling with this.  Really struggling.

Jeff Ashton was on the Today Show this morning.  He has accepted with grace and understanding this verdict.  Watch Jeff Ashton on the Today Show:   http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/43651905#43651905

So, what went wrong?  I never, never expected things to go this wrong.  How did it happen to go so wrong?  Were Casey Anthony’s parents partly to blame because of all the lies they told?  Did the family muddy the water just enough that the jury did not know who to believe?  Did the jurors think that the garbage in Casey’s car explained the smell of decomposition?  Did they believe Jose Baez’s claim that Caylee’s death was a tragic accident?  Did the jury sympathize with Casey and did not want her to pay with the rest of her life?  If that is the case, what about Caylee?  Were they only thinking about Casey and nothing about Caylee?

The charge must fit the crime.

Did the State of Florida overcharge Casey Anthony?

The charges, though fitting of the crime in my view, must fit the jury’s ability to grasp all of the elements of the crime.  Was the case so convoluted and muddied to such an extent by the defense, they took reasonable doubt to an even higher standard?  No cause of death. No eye witness. No CSI moments.  Just a lot of circumstantial evidence.

The death penalty and circumstantial evidence may be a hard sell for a sentence of death, or life in jail.

Did publicity hurt this case?

Scott Peterson was convicted of Capital Murder with much less evidence. That trial was not televised.  Did the TV play too big of a part in this case?  Did the transparent and liberal public records law in Florida damage the case?

I read so much of the discovery in this case, there was no doubt in my mind of who was responsible for this crime.

If the State of Florida had to do it again, would the charges start with 2nd degree murder?  I believe, though in hindsight, this would have been just since the cause of death, tragically, was ruled unknown.

Had Caylee been found the first time Roy Kronk relieve himself in those woods, it would have been a very different case, obviously.

There are many more questions than there are answers.

Theory of the Defense

I believe that Jose Baez and team floated theories that were deceiving and not at all a search for the truth.  I felt this defense team was unethical.  Do they teach trickery in law schools?

Why couldn’t the jurors see the tricks and the deception of the defense team?

I truly thought that a reasonable person should see through the smoke and mirrors and see what the defendant did to her very own child.

Why didn’t this jury at least ask themselves, “What is reasonable about not reporting a child’s absence for 31 days?”   Answer?   It is NOT reasonable!  It would never be reasonable!

Didn’t the State of Florida make it clear that this mother NEVER, for 31 days, cared one bit for her child and lied about her whereabouts?

Did the jury buy the drowning accident?  I think they must have. Didn’t they want evidence of drowning?

Was this jury just so anxious to get home?  Is that why they did not review the evidence?

What’s reasonable?

When reasonable doubt is the standard, shouldn’t the penalty be reasonable, too?

Reasonable doubt is a high standard, as it should be.  If this standard did not exist, the possibility of a Police State could easily become our governing system of justice.

To me, reason and justice are entwined.  Maybe the problem is that reason means different things to different people.   Is it as simple as knowing right from wrong?  Not exactly.

I think reasonable doubt is sometimes an unreasonable concept for people to understand.  This is the “reasonable doubt” the jurors were told to apply, as written in their jury instructions:

Whenever the words “reasonable doubt” are used you must consider the following:

A reasonable doubt is not a mere possible doubt, a speculative, imaginary or forced doubt.

Such a doubt must not influence you to return a verdict of not guilty if you have an abiding conviction of guilt. On the other hand, if, after carefully considering, comparing and weighing all the evidence, there is not an abiding conviction of guilt, or, if, having a conviction, it is one which is not stable but one which wavers and vacillates, then the charge is not proved beyond every reasonable doubt and you must find the defendant not guilty because the doubt is reasonable.

It is to the evidence introduced in this trial, and to it alone, that you are to look for that proof.

A reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendant may arise from the evidence, conflict in the evidence or the lack of evidence.

If you have a reasonable doubt, you should find the defendant not guilty. If you have no reasonable doubt, you should find the defendant guilty.

Because the definition both of “reasonable” and “doubt” are subjective, it stands to reason why the court attempts to define it in such as way as “reasonable” people can apply their own ethical thermometer to the amount (or level) of reasonable doubt they apply to the question of guilt or non-guilt.

Reasonable: 

adj.1 having sound judgment. 2 not absurd. 3a not excessive; inexpensive. b tolerable; fair.

Doubt:

n.1 uncertainty; undecided state of mind. 2 inclination to disbelieve. 3 uncertain state of things. 4 lack of full proof.  v.1 tr. feel uncertain or undecided about. 2tr. hesitate to believe or trust. 3intr. feel uncertain or undecided.  4 tr.  call in question.

My reason tells me:

  • A child in the woods whose face is covered in duct tape is wrong.
  • An accident made to look like a murder is wrong.
  • A mother not reporting her child missing is wrong.
  • A car with the smell of human decomposition means something is wrong, just as Cindy Anthony said, “There’s something wrong…”
  • A mother thinking her life is beautiful now her child is gone, is that mother’s right, but it is wrong by every ethical standard.
  • A Father molesting a daughter is wrong.  Did it happen?  There is no proof either way except a liar says it is so.

I also think that how a person’s individual definition of right and wrong plays into their understanding of reasonable doubt. What I think is wrong and what you think is wrong, may be different.

Maybe this is problematic with juries.  Maybe we need a better way to define what reasonable doubt means.  It would be good to give examples to jurors.

Or, maybe we could give potential jurors a test – if they fail this test, they cannot be jurors!

That may be prejudicial though.

How about we change laws about lawyer credentials – insist they take a test to prove that integrity and ethics are values they hold dear.

If only.

5
Jul

Verdict Watch day 2 – We Got a Verdict!!!!!

Day two of jury deliberations in the State of Florida v. Casey Anthony trial.

All the attorneys, sans Jose Baez, assembled into courtroom 23 at 8:30 a.m., to receive the jury.  (Other reports say Baez was present in the courthouse, but in the hallway.)

Judge Belvin Perry gave the jury his usual admonitions and sent them on their way to deliberate.  It took about 60 seconds!

Casey Anthony was there.  She will wait in the holding cell at the courthouse. What a long wait it must be for her.  I wonder if the reality of what she’s facing has hit her?   Is she in total denial, or has she accepted what ever fate deals her?

Has she come to terms with living in jail for the rest of her life?  The jail employees say she’s a model prisoner.  She’s easy to deal with and pleasant.  Jose Baez wanted these jail employees to testify, the judge would not allow it for obvious reasons.  What has the opinion of jail guards have to do with the death of Caylee Marie Anthony?

This morning, Kathi Belich, of WFTV, tweeted that Juror #3 was in a suit today.  WESH reported that many of the jurors are dressed up today.   Hmmm.  Are jurors thinking a verdict would be delivered today and they’d be appearing before the cameras tonight?

It’s all speculation …. One never knows when it comes to deliberations.

So…. we wait.

4
Jul

whose life was better…?

Today proved that Caylee Marie Anthony has indeed been sitting with Linda Drane Burdick, Jeff Ashton, and Frank George all these many months and years leading up to the trial.

Caylee's Team. Photo credit:"lil toad."

Prior to the rebuttal argument today, in the State of Florida v. Casey Anthony, Jose Baez argued an issue to Judge Belvin Perry.  I can’t really remember what his  argument was about, I believe it had to do with restricting the State’s closing argument.  When the Judge turned to the State to ask for their response to this defense argument, Linda Drane-Burdick said, “Mr. Baez has already made his closing argument, Your Honor.”

In other words, she stuck a pin into Jose, deflating him so perfectly!  It’s over, Jose, she seemed to say!

Yes, Jose Baez has had his time – his show.  His show of shows.  It’s time to sit down now.  It’s time to let common sense and truth  prevail as justice for Caylee Marie Anthony.

You have to give it to Jose Baez – he battled right until the very end – even though the defense presented probably the most nonsensical defense theory anyone has ever witnessed.

Jeff Ashton and Linda Drane Burdick effectively explained to the jurors how fantastical and bizarre the defense arguments were.  The State skillfully explained how absurd the defense theory is; how their version of events could not possibly be true.

The State’s use of audio and video to support their argument was powerful, too!  They used John Allen’s questioning of Casey at Universal Studios, where he’s explaining how he’s had to deal with many mother’s who’ve lost their children by tragic accidents, etc.

The state played the jail video of Casey saying “Surprise, surprise,” to the idea that Caylee may have drowned.  The call that Casey made to her family that first night she was jailed, was played.  The jurors heard again Casey’s single-minded need to get her boyfriend, Tony’s, telephone number and completely ignored any mention of her daughter. If anything provides a look into the real Casey, it’s that phone call.

I was very pleased that the Anthony’s, George and Cindy, were discussed as the loving and doting, grandparents they are.  The way Jose Baez characterized George Anthony was nothing short of vile.  No doubt this will not be lost on the jurors.

The idea of Caylee’s death being portrayed by the defense as a drowning accident was put to rest once and for all today.  If Caylee’s death had been an accident, why would anyone try to make it look like a murder?

Why would anyone make it look like murder?

That is the singular question with regards to the absurdity of the defense’s case.  That, and the powerful question asked today by Linda Drane Burdick:

All you really have to do is ask yourself a simple question.  Whose life was better without Caylee?  That’s the only question you need to answer in considering why Caylee Marie Anthony was left on the side of the road, dead.

Following this powerful question, we saw, side by side, pictures of a dancing Casey in a “Hot Body” contest, and a picture of the “Bella Vita” tattoo emblazoned on Casey. A few seconds passed, giving the jurors time to allow the images to sink in.  Then, Linda Drane Burdick spoke these final words, “There’s your answer.”

And that was it.

It was powerful, incredible and final.  I’m going to watch it again and again; it was the perfect ending to the heartbreaking story that has lived with me – with us – for so long.

We have no way of knowing how long the jury will deliberate.  I personally believe this jury will not need a lot of time to decide.

Although I have vacillated about what the verdict  might be, I do think they will find Casey Anthony guilty of Felony Murder One.  That is if the jurors doubt the Chloroform searches during the Month of March, 2008.  If they are convinced that Casey Anthony searched the Internet for how to make  Chloroform, I think the verdict could be Premeditated Murder One.

Of course, the defense will appeal and appeal and appeal.  They will write one motion on top of more motions.   It doesn’t matter. Casey will still be found guilty.

It’s nearly over, that’s true.  But, not really; I will always mourn the loss of little Caylee Marie.

Happy 4th of July.

 

3
Jul

can you blame him?

Drama was in full swing today when Jose Baez, during his over-the-top argument to the jury, suddenly screams, pointing to Assistant State Attorney, Jeff Ashton, and says “…that laughing guy!”

And, well, Ashton was smirking, there’s no doubt about it.  Regardless, it completely infuriated Judge Perry when he heard Baez shout, “that laughing guy.”

SUSTAINED,” Judge Perry screamed at the same time Jeff Ashton bellowed, “OBJECTION!”

Judge Perry immediately sent the jurors out, while the attorneys went into chambers.  Then, the next thing we knew, the Judge, in his shirt and tie, is seen stomping in the courtroom hallway flanked by three uniformed police officers.  Everyone thought contempt charges were imminent.  The thought of Jeff Ashton being charged with contempt was horrifying; a nail-biting time.  Thankfully, Judge Perry softened, giving the attorney’s another chance to maintain decorum as the Judge had previously ordered they do.

It is unclear to me whether Mr. Baez was going to face contempt as well.   It seemed obvious that the real infraction had to do with Jeff Ashton’s facial expressions – he’d tried to hide a smile by putting his hand over his mouth, making Baez livid.  Frankly, I can’t blame him.  Jose’s antics were maddening and laughable at the same time.  Nonetheless, Ashton was wrong to react as he did.

I was shocked not only that this serious situation was playing out in the courtroom, but also at what Jose Baez did to help the situation.  Mr. Baez, magnanimously, asked Judge Perry to not hold Mr. Ashton in contempt.  He then apologized for getting caught up in the moment.   After both attorneys apologized the proceedings continued as usual.

Assistant State Attorney, Jeff Ashton - video snip of InSession video stream

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dramatic day began with a brilliant and cohesive closing argument by Jeff Ashton.  The State’s opening lasted only 77 minutes.  Baez and Cheney Mason (who literally put me to sleep), used the full four hours given to them to argue their case.

Jeff Ashton methodically laid out the lies Casey told.  Ashton noted Casey Anthony’s ability to keep her lies together was a result of her intelligence.  She’s a smart girl, he told the jurors, she seamlessly moves from lie to lie to lie.  “Her lies are impressive,” Mr. Ashton, added, with a good dose of cynicism.

I began to take notes as I listened to Ashton, but abandoned them because his argument became incredibly compelling and I didn’t want to miss a word!

Mr. Ashton pointed out that Casey needed to do away with Caylee because she was beginning to talk and could inadvertently blow Casey’s cover.  If George or Cindy had asked Caylee about Zanny, it would be all over for Casey.  Therefore, argued Mr. Ashton, Casey needed to “get rid” of this problem.

Ashton described how the three pieces of Henkel duct tape were applied to Caylee, and were proof of premeditation.  The first piece of tape covered her mouth, the next piece covered her nose, and the third piece placed over the two previous pieces to ensure the air was blocked.

And, like so many of us hope and pray, Ashton said, “One can only hope that that chloroform was used beforehand (before the tape was applied).”

In a very poignant moment Mr. Ashton pointed out the terrible irony that the tape used to kill Caylee, was also used by George Anthony to implore people to find her – to hang the missing Caylee posters.

The Baez Closing

Jose Baez began his argument rather weakly, then built up steam, only to climax in the middle of his argument into a screaming meme!  Baez kept this loud, angry, screaming tone that had to get old fast for the jurors. How would you feel if someone is less than three feet in front of you and screaming their head off for three and a half hours?

Baez’s arguments were sustained in excess of ten times during his argument.   Though many talking heads were praising Jose’s work.  Even my favorite attorney, Bill Shaeffer, gave Baez a B-plus.

Granted, Baez made some good points, but he never got any “ah-ha” moments, in my estimation.  I felt his arguments fell flat with a loud bang.  And, Baez was really sarcastic and used the word “slut” in relation to Casey Anthony three or four times.  He called her a liar, too.  Childish, in my view.

In his argument, Baez heaped much of the blame on George Anthony, of course.  Roy Kronk was a target, still, too.  Baez called the State’s evidence “a fantasy.”

It was painful to listen to Jose Baez today as he twisted facts and massaged testimony to benefit the defense.  It’s very aggravating to write about Baez’s closing – it was so annoying I nearly turned it off.  And then, Cheney Mason got up to speak and he lulled me right to sleep so I missed the majority of his closing.

Baez had quite a number of visual aids.  The visuals were nicely done and expensive looking.  Baez had the pictures of the witnesses on magnets and then shifted them into groups on a poster board, aligning and moving the photos according to the story he wanted to spin as he trashed the State’s case.

The jurors were tired; Judge Perry, sensitive to their needs, saw that they were and the day concluded for them at 6:30 pm.

The lawyers and Judge Perry had not agreed on the Jury Instructions, they worked through lunch and into the evening to finalize both the jury instructions and the charging document for the jury to use.  They recessed at approximately 8:00 tonight.

Tomorrow, the State of Florida will finish their closing arguments beginning at 8:30 am. Linda Drane-Burdick will begin for the State.  I hope Jeff Ashton has an opportunity to argue again, too.  I hope that Frank George is given an opportunity to argue as well.

Today was pretty amazing, and tomorrow will seal the deal for the State.

They will state their case beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt for this jury.

No doubt here!

2
Jul

counting down…

I don’t know about you, but the fact that the State of Florida v. Casey Anthony is nearing its conclusion, hasn’t really hit me yet.  It’s so amazing that we are so close to the end now!

Pretty soon we’ll realize that  justice for Caylee has happened.  Of course, justice for Caylee will never be enough, some kind of closure will be good for our souls and sanity.

I have no doubt there will be justice for Caylee. The State has delivered a strong case, and the defense, uh well, it was the worst defense case known to man. Their case was a total debacle replete with histrionics and peppered with untruths the likes of which we will probably never again see in a court of law.

Like so many of you, I began to follow this case from day one.  When the documents and the discovery began to be released, the story became uglier and uglier and absolutely confounding.  The more I read, the more I needed to understand Casey Anthony, and the more I began to fall in love with little Caylee.

I got so hooked.  I am still hooked – will continue to be – there will be fall-out after the fact, as we know.

The Case That Wouldn’t Let Go

In July 2008, my niece was the same age as Caylee – born just two months earlier than Caylee.

My niece has just turned six; ready for first grade.  Caylee would be six, heading for first grade, too.  She’d be like my niece, Elizabeth, absolutely over the moon to be able to say, “I’m six, I’m going to first grade, and my front teeth are loose!”

My niece, Elizabeth with April (favorite doll), and my dog, Jazz

That was her big news today!  “I went to the dentist and he said I have four loose teeth,” she said jumping in place!

Elizabeth is beyond excited that her teeth will be falling out, but more excited that the Tooth Fairy will visit her for the first time.  And, of course, she already has a plan in place about meeting the Tooth Fairy.

Here’s the plan: First, she will keep her eyes open all night and she’ll set up her Mom’s camera by her bed to get a picture of the lovely fairy for me to see, too.  Elizabeth is sure the Tooth Fairy wouldn’t mind just one picture.

Elizabeth is quite sure she’ll be able to lay in bed and not fall asleep the night the Tooth Fairy is going to come.

I spent a lovely day and evening with Elizabeth.  We worked on puzzles, we even played lawyer and judge (her dad is a lawyer), we drew and created beautiful artwork, we played with dolls and read “I Spy” and I’m worn out.

I’m just now sitting down to write my daily post and wanted to be sure to remind everyone that tomorrow, at 9:00 a.m., closing arguments begin!

I wish Caylee were safe and sound in her little pink room, excited about loose teeth, wondering about Tooth Fairy’s, loving her dolls, growing, and filled with the wonder of being a first grader.

Tomorrow & Decisions

I’m as excited about tomorrow morning getting here as my niece is to meet the Tooth Fairy…

If the rumors are correct, both Jeff Ashton and Linda Drane-Burdick will share the closing statements for the State of Florida.

I have heard that Cheney Mason could be handling the majority of the defense closing.

I believe this will be a short deliberation for the jurors.  I would not be surprised if they return a verdict on Monday.

What will happen after the verdict?  That’s up in the air.  But, chances are, if the verdict is Murder in the First Degree, the Penalty Phase to determine if Life or Death is the appropriate sentence, should happen shortly thereafter.

Then, Judge Perry will sentence Casey Anthony.  The sentencing usually occurs at least two weeks after the Jury’s decision.

In short, there will be many tasks to handle after the jurors reach their verdict in the guilt phase.

Still, it’s going to be over before we know it – I’m glad it’s coming to an end, really.

Once justice is delivered, it will be a great relief to let go, don’t you think?  We’ll never forget, of course, but letting go is good.

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