Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Land Of Casey Fables - Continuing...The Justice For Caylee Anthony Saga -

The primary interest of katfish...ponders in this case has always been Justice for Caylee. Reporting on the State of Florida's quest for justice for Caylee Marie Anthony has truly turned into a SAGA. In the past month, there has been enough fodder added to this true story ( that is playing out like a fractured fairytale) to fill  dozens of  chapters. It's not surprising this case plays out like a fairytale, given that most of what Casey Anthony says about Caylee sounds like a fable.
 
                              ~The Poor Poor Princess~
 There was an indigency hearing held on Thursday, March 18, 2010 for the court to rule on a
Defendant's Motion For Determination Of Indigency For Costs.
This motion caused a lot of concern for anyone who had been following this case, particularly the citizens of Florida. Many defendants are indigent but the background of this defendant raises special concerns. Many readers are familiar with the background of this case but it never hurts to refresh.

When Casey was first arrested on July 16, 2008 she filed an application for indigency and requested a public defender be appointed.( If you follow the link provided to the application, note Casey stated on the form that she had an income of $1,400 bi-weekly....oopsie... she scratched the income part out....for a second she must have forgot the police had discovered she had been lying about having a job for 2 years.) Casey hired Jose Baez to represent her the next day.( Or was he already waiting in the wings?) It was curious hiring a private attorney one day after being granted indigent status and assigned a public defender, even more so when her parents testified a week later during a bond hearing they had very little net worth. A curious fact but really no one's business since she wouldn't be using state money, so there the speculation about the Anthony's windfall of riches began.

After a grand jury indicted Casey for first-degree murder, in October 2008, Casey's " Knight in Shining Armor", Jose Baez, began to bring in reinforcements to defend the case. By March of 2009, Casey's "round table" included as many as eight attorneys working various aspects of the case and several world renowned experts announced they had been retained to work their "magic" on the forensic evidence that was accumulating in the case. This led the State's Attorney to file a motion dubbed "The Pauper To Princess Motion". The State's Attorneys  feared there might be a conflict of interest if Casey's defense attorney was also handling business deals for her.The state knew Casey had no tangible assets to sell to afford this type of defense and wanted assurance that  there were no book or movie deals for her story that might hinge on the outcome of this case and potentially raise appellate issues if there is a conviction. The issue was resolved in a short hearing and a session " in camera" between the Judge, the defense and the state. Judge Strickland ruled that he found no conflict of interest. The transcript from the in camera session was sealed, so speculations about the riches being bestowed upon the Anthonys continued.

That brings us to where we are now in 2010 and the hearing for the Defendant's Motion For Determination Of Indigency For Costs . There were several surprises during this hearing on March 18. The first surprise was a new attorney, Cheney Mason, had joined Casey's defense. Mason addressed the court through-out most of the hearing so I'll refer to his appearance in the hearing here but I'll discuss him more specifically  in a bit.


 When the hearing started Casey Anthony was surrounded by defense attorneys. Cheney Mason on her left, Jose Baez on her right. Linda Kenney-Baden and Andrea Lyons were bringing up the rear. At the prosecution table were Jeff Ashton, along with Linda Drane Burdick and Frank George. An attorney for the Justice Administrative Commission (JAC) participated in the hearing by telephone. (The Justice Administrative Commission is the state agency that oversees funding. The commission has opposed allocating funding for Anthony's defense, saying in court papers it has "severe concerns" about whether Casey Anthony qualifies for financial assistance, given her own financial affidavit attached to her motion that shows she has already contributed over $ 110,000 for her defense.)


Through out this hearing, Princess Casey seemed down right giddy, much like the cat that swallowed the canary. Those surrounding her at the defense table seemed giddy as well, at a minimum, there seemed to be a new found confidence. (Was this man, Cheney Mason,  their new "Knight in Shining Armor"? ) They were so confident in fact, rather than present an accounting of their costs to the court, Cheney Mason beckoned the court to just "trust him" that Casey was broke. Strickland's responded this wasn't a matter of trust, they were seeking public funds and the affidavit provided the court  is "pretty light in terms of full disclosure." Despite defense efforts to provide the disclosure "in camera" it was decided the defense attorneys would testify as to their clients access to funds and the defense expenditures to date in open court.

Mr. Mason called his "witnesses" one by one. Lead (for all intents and purposes)defense attorney Jose Baez testified Thursday that the defense received and spent about $275,000 over the past year and a half. Of that, $5,000 came from an anonymous donor, $70,000 came from a former defense attorney, Todd Macaluso, and $200,000 came from ABC through a "deal" with Anthony.( The terms of the deal were not released.) That money, he said, was spent on defense costs including travel, depositions and retention of experts."It's been quite an expensive task," he said. Baez also testified that he has spent about 2,500 hours 
on the case (adding he hadn't really kept track??), and has been paid an estimated $89,454.

Attorney Andrea Lyon testified she has received $22,500, but all of that money went back into costs associated with the case.  She also added that she has raised about $70,000 (less the $22,000) through charities and as as the Supervisor of the Death Penalty Legal Clinic has enlisted the help of her students at DePaul University College of Law, in Chicago,  IL . The students assist in legal work in exchange for grades. Lyon concluded her testimony about the funds she has handled saying, "There's not a dime" left.

A third defense attorney, Linda Kenney Baden, testified that she is working pro bono on the case. After some questions she added she had torn up a prior retainer agreement because there was no money to pay her.

Cheney Mason told the court, it wasn't as though he and the other attorneys were seeking (their normal bucket of gold)  fees, they were all doing this pro bono (for free).The defense is only seeking help with costs that include service of subpoenas, investigative costs, travel, fees charged by experts to interpret forensic evidence, expert witness fees and the cost of depositions. Mason added, the renowned expert Dr. Henry Lee has been known to work for a crate of oranges.(So that should save some money, eh?)

 Judge Strickland deferred ruling until he had an itemized accounting of money spent so far by the defense.(That's right, the defense brought no proof of expenses to court for a hearing to rule their client indigent.)  Ninth Circuit Judge Stan Strickland ruled on Friday, March 19 that he would grant the motion to declare Casey indigent. So "Princess Casey" is officially a "Pauper" once again.

There was much more to this hour long hearing. If you would like to view the video click here.
The link will take you to the first 3 clips of the video. These first 3 were taken before court started , so is mainly attorneys arriving, Casey rubbing her hands, fixing her shirt, playing with her hair, etc. that page will link you to the rest of the clips, there should be 9.
CNN 

The other surprise announcement in this hearing was the unsealing of an IN CAMERA SEALED MOTION TO DELAY DISCLOSURE that Judge Strickland has allowed the State to keep under wraps for the last month.The State learned that Casey had been communicating with a couple inmates in jail. After interviewing the inmates it was learned Casey had written over 50 letters to one of the inmates. The judge allowed the defense 15 days go over the letters and decide if they would ask the court to seal the letters. I'll tell you more about these letters and friendships in an entry I'm working on that I'll title  "Cookie and Muffin Plan A Road trip". I have more than a few thoughts about Casey's correspondence and choice of friends.

  ~ Casey's New Knight In Shining Armor Or Court Jester?~

The Casey Anthony defense has a new addition to the team, Veteran Orlando Attorney J.Cheney Mason, P. A.  
He has created quite a stir since entering his appearance at the indigency hearing on March 18.

J. Cheney Mason is considered a distinguished member of the Florida Bar Association. According to his website, Mason has been in private practice in the Orlando since 1971. His areas of practice include Criminal Defense, Marital and Family Law (Divorce Law), Entertainment Law and Trial Practice, with a strong emphasis on Marital and Family Law and Criminal Law. Mason is a Board Certified Criminal Trial lawyer certified by both The Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy.
Mason is also a frequent guest lecturer before various Bar and Legal Associations and has published numerous legal articles and authored books.
He is currently an "AV" rated lawyer (highest possible rating) by Martindale Hubbell and is listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. It seems he has had an esteemed career.

It's reported that Mason’s first love is his criminal defense work.“It’s been a special thing to defend the rights of the accused and fight the government for 36 years,” he says. Criminal defense is probably also the work that generates the most attention for Mason. Cheney has tried several criminal jury trials that were televised by national and local news media. He's been linked to the defense of astronaut Lisa Nowak, and several years ago, he defended businessman Nelson Serrano in a quadruple-murder case in Polk County, FL.

My first impression was that Casey Anthony is very lucky to have an attorney of Mason's stature willing to work her case pro bono. Mason is nearing  retirement as he joins this defense team. I think it is safe to say that admirers and detractors alike look forward to Cheney Mason getting this defense team on track.

This defense team, specifically Jose Baez, has come under fire for his inexperience, less than adequate presentations in court, lack of decorum in the courtroom, and mostly for his professed hate of the media but evident love of the camera. These qualities have garnered Mr. Baez some choice nicknames that I prefer not to use but I do understand those who are inclined to do so. Let's face it, few "love" a defense attorney until they need one. I think to be fair he should be commended for building a defense team made up some very high profile lawyers and experts, a caliper of defense you might see in a case for a rich celebrity not some "Party Princess" from Orlando..

My second impression of Cheney Mason was that he is full of bluster and actually rude. In an effort to create a light-hearted moment during the indigency hearing, Judge Strickland pointed out that SA Jeff Ashton had laughed at something he said (about appointing a special master instead of divulging to the court where Casey's money had gone) Mason turned and looked at the prosecution and said, I don't care what the "ignorants" say. Ashton whispered to the others at the state table, "he's joking". There is a time and a place for everything, and a light hearted moment can go a long way in easing tensions inside the courtroom for everyone. Name calling is another matter, frankly this isn't a school playground.

In an impromptu press conference after the same hearing Mr. Mason was asked why he took on this case. His response to one who asked that question was something like," this (defending a death penalty case) is the greatest honor a defense attorney can achieve". That seems a noble response. But when Mason said he took this case on because he thinks it will be "fun" adding he expects to one day walk out of court with Casey Anthony on his arm I thought WTH?
There has been discussion out in blogosphere that this having "fun"comment shouldn't be offensive because everyone should enjoy their work. I agree that it would be sad for someone to spend almost 40 years doing work that they didn't enjoy, and frankly don't think I would want someone to represent me who didn't enjoy what they do. Beyond that I found the remark offensive and inappropriate. This is about a precious child who is dead and a young woman who has spent the last 2 years in jail and it's possible she will spend the rest of her life in jail, if she doesn't end up with the same fate a another 'high profile" client you represented. Mr. Mason, did you have "fun" representing Nelson Serrano? If so, I'm sure he is very appreciative of that from death row.

J. Cheney Mason is often invited by the news media to provide expert commentary on legal issues involving family law and criminal law. Here are a few quotes from one of those commentaries from Mr. Mason about the Casey Anthony case before Caylee's body had been found or Cheney was a member of this defense team :

Defense attorney Cheney Mason said claims made by Casey Anthony and Baez that Caylee was alive will now work against them at trial

“Then all the talking, all the press interviews and the parents going on this show and that show and the lawyer going on different shows establishes they have no credibility whatsoever,” Mason said.

“You can pretty well predict there’s going to be a life sentence, either a plea and get it over with or have a circus trial and then be convicted and get life,” Mason said

These quotes are excerpts from an  November 2008 article by Local 6 News reporter Tony Pipitone as he continued his investigation into the Casey Anthony murder case, discussing its merits with former prosecutor, Elizabeth Rahter, and  prominent defense attorney J. Cheney Mason.

Casey and the rest of the defense may see Cheney Mason as a "Knight In Shining Armor", but after his remarks and the attitude he displayed in his first appearance in this case, katfish is left to ponder......his performance thus far puts me more in mind of a joker, or more appropriately a "Court Jester".


Check back for the continuing Saga of the Quest for Justice for Caylee......        

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16 comments:

  1. Wonderful post, Katfish. You've summed up the current legal situation in the guise of the fairytale.

    It will be interesting to see if the Princess will be light-hearted at the next hearing! I am looking forward to seeing the changes that occur.

    Let's hope Perry allows it to be televised!

    P.S. I did a little research on the motions. Seems the last batch is the only one not filed with the Clerk of the Court. Your date for counting is March 8!

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  2. Thank you Ritanita. :)
    I have been working on this entry forever....I had thought I would include a few more of the "current events" in this case with this post and realized I probably have too much to say for one post....probably more like 3....yep, it is a saga.
    Thanks for the info on the motion to exclude hearsay. I have to go to the clerks office and pay for copies of motions in the Sheley case so when I saw the motion didn't have a stamp I was puzzled but assumed it was a "FL thing". There has been a lot of talk lately about the defense giving the press copies of motions before they were filed so it made me think of this one again. So the state must have decided not to reply or they are late. Maybe we will hear on the 30th? Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Great post. You know, I live in Texas and we have more 'Cheney Masons' than you could ever want (not that you would). These men/women , who are quite proud to be known as "the person you hire if you're guilty as hell, but want to remain free as a bird". They build their reputations by getting a few 'Not Guilty' verdicts(for guilty people), but if you look at their records, they loose a lot more than they win. Mason counts on his personality getting him by and ironically, Judge Strickland probably would have ignored his asinine behavior to a certain extent; this new Judge is not going to be nearly as inclined.

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  4. Anon 2:57,
    Your comments about the Texas lawyers made me laugh out loud! My all time favorite lawyer is from Texas, but he never has and says he never will be a defense lawyer, Alan Jackson. I hope he doesn't change his mind, he is a great asset to Los Angeles County.
    I was shocked that Judge Strickland didn't admonish him for the name calling in his courtroom....even he probably would have if he hadn't initiated the light hearted moment himself. Team Casey seem to have shot themselves in the foot. I look forward to the decorum in Judge Perry's court. Thanks for commenting!

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  5. hmmm....reading my 4:17 comment back, in the second paragraph, "him" is Cheney Mason and "he" is Judge Strickland. :)

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  6. katfish.. What an amazing post.. I just love your blog... Thanks to Snoopy for directing me to this wonderful post.. Keep up the GREAT articles and writings....

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  7. Hi, Katfish. You do write a good article. In terms of fractured fairy tales, the first one that came to mind when I read that was "Hansel and Gretel," with Casey cast as the witch who ate little children! The second choice is "Alice in Wonderland," where you can take your choice as to who should be cast as the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, and so on.

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  8. Grammaxsix,
    Thanks for stopping by. Did you read my earlier posts on the Anthony case? If you would like to do so, just click on Casey or Caylee Anthony under the Labels heading on the right. :)
    That Snoopy, she's a keeper!
    kat

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  9. birdlover jan,
    The first time I thought in terms of this as a fairytale was the first time I saw Cindy Anthony on Nancy Grace...she said, "There is no way anyone would harm Caylee because she was so special." Lady, you are living in a fairytale that I hope doesn't become a nightmare, there are many special children who have been victims of predators, what saddest is there are many more who become victims at the hands of those entrusted to care for them.
    Of course when I saw Cindy out doing her lawn work with all those protesters there I thought, "Cindy is Queen of her castle and no one is going to take that away." sad!
    In your Alice in Wonderland scenario, I think Jose Baez could be the Cheshire cat, it's been forever since I read the story as far as the personality of each character but he has that "look". LOL Thanks for stopping by.~waving~

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  10. Hi Katfish, Great blog! Loved this article. I'm suz but couldn't post thru wordpress. It said my pw was wrong, I don't know what I did wrong.

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  11. Hi suz! I'm glad you stopped by. I've been writing all day so I haven't been out "visiting" around the web. I'm not sure what happened with your sign in. I'm glad you let me know it was you, I enjoy your comments at MD's. :)

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  12. My Friend as always a pleasure and an education. I love reading your take on the criminal element we are currently captured by.

    The Anthony's in LaLa Land is going to make someone a lot of money. I would buy your version.

    I was intrigued by Cheney Mason - caught up by a verbal - Jack the Ripper, masquerading as a Southern Gentleman. The idea of KC walking out a free person on anyone's arm is an abomination. I suppose the people and possible jury pool for KC is just going to be expected to forget the earlier words of Cheney while he waxes on about how she has been maligned by the press.

    Do you just love... Well they spent over $275G but (wink wink) trust me it was well spent... I'd sooner trust a snake oil salesman!! The pauper-princess - who had robed her family and friends blind - now has a defense attorney who says "Trust me." If I were a tax payer of Florida I would be mighty ticked off that this "team" showed up with no proof of where the money had come from or been spent and asked the Courts for their trust and since one of them spent 8 years after graduating where he was deemed untrust-worthy by the FL Bar to even be an attorney!! No, no, no.....

    "Pro bono publico (usually shortened to pro bono) is a phrase derived from Latin meaning "for the public good". The term is generally used to describe professional work undertaken voluntarily and without paymenent...

    $275,000. later Pro Bono seems like the wrong word to be using. (Did her lead defense have to include the trips or time spent out on GR's little "boat" sun bathing and rubbing elbows with a ummm - well whatever?)

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  13. Hey LCM!
    Have you seen Judge Strickland's order to take himself off the case. He let the defense have a piece of his mind. The defense has now filed an objection with Judge Perry about Strickland's opinions included in his order, I guess he is supposed to just sign the order one way or another. We'll see where this goes.

    I'm looking forward to writing about the letters Casey wrote...except that I'm trying to read them again and that sucks! I did take some notes the first time through but need more.
    I thought this post would be about what is here but also, the jail investigation and the letters
    so I would remember a lot but as you can see....I found I had too much to say about each topic. LOL Thanks for stopping by friend!

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  14. ps. LCM thank you for the info about pro bono publico, I didn't know that....and your last 2 paragraphs are priceless. ok, bye again :)

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  15. Katfish, first time I read your blog, good insight to say the least.
    Hope you can find out Who paid for the new pics of Caylee and who recieved the money.
    If baez brokered another deal, that would definatly be a conflict of interest and should be thrown off the case

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  16. Anon 3/19 11:41
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. My gut instinct is that CBS hasn't purchased any new pictures. I think these are pictures they have held back from the previous deal with G+C. Of course, I have no proof of this and I will keep my feelers out there. In the original deal with 48 hours G+C were paid $20,000 and Brad Conway got , I think $3,000.

    If there has been another deal,I think these latest pics are most likely from G+C's collection vs. Casey's because they don't have Casey's mug hogging the shot and in most of these new pics, Caylee is dressed like a baby or child instead of dressed the way Casey's pics show her...like a mini me or a doll to show off.

    It wouldn't surprise me if ABC still has video and pictures stuck back as well. If Jose Baez has brokered another deal, after Casey claiming she is indigent, he will not just be kicked of the case but most likely disbarred. Many people think there is more to the ABC deal that paid Casey $200,000. Baez swore under oath that's a done deal....we shall see. I noticed that Jeff Ashton questioned Baez and the rest of the "dream team" in every possible way he could to flush out the facts.In "legalese" every word is literal. I have seen lawyers haggle a half hour over the terms "may" and "shall". Tricky!
    Stop by anytime, be sure to say hello ;)

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