Late Night: What is the “Legal Issue” that Shut Down Saturday Testimony in the Casey Anthony Trial?

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Chief Judge Belvin Perry and the attorneys met outside the courtroom and discussed matters that are “under seal” and not part of the public record, according to a court-system spokeswoman.

Perry emerged from the conference and announced aloud in court that a “legal matter” had come up, requiring court to be recessed.

His announcement came about 9:40 a.m. on a day he had expected to hear testimony until about 3:30 p.m. Instead, Perry announced that Anthony’s trial in the 2008 death of her daughter, Caylee, will resume Monday morning.

In the absence of an explanation, speculation soared that a plea deal might be in the making or that another call for mistrial had emerged or that there might be legal issues involving testimony by Lee and Cindy Anthony — the defendant’s brother and mother.

Those are the possibilities that first occurred to me too. But I really don’t think Casey would take a plea, and the prosecution has said they wouldn’t accept one after the trial began. Since it was Cheney Mason who asked to discuss something, I also wondered if the defense wanted to claim that Lee Anthony had perjured himself, but that would normally wait till the end of the trial wouldn’t it? If it were a mistrial, wouldn’t Jose Baez have just brought it up in open court?

Of course I have no idea what the “legal issue” is, but I thought I’d share some speculations I’ve seen from “experts” and court followers around the ‘net.

Vinnie Politan of True TV and HLN tweeted yesterday that he received confirmation from Cheney Mason that it definitely isn’t a plea deal.

NO PLEA DEAL… My pal Jean Casarez spoke with Cheney Mason to confirm! RT to end the speculation!

Hal Boedeker, the TV Guy at the Orlando Sentinel has more detail from Jean Casarez:

Here’s what Casarez reported last night: “Cheney Mason, attorney for Casey Anthony, confirms with me that ALL of the media speculation surrounding Judge Belvin Perry’s dismissal of court this morning is false. This speculation would include plea deal, mistrial, Roy Kronk’s telephone records and issues with Dr. Bill Rodriguez testifying for the defense.

Boedeker also reported that Geraldo {gag} Rivera, who is friends with defense attorney Jose Baez,

…called the delay shocking. But he also cited ”an unimpeachable source” who said the legal issue “is expected to have no long-term impact on the trial, and further, it is still possible this contentious case could be wrapped up before July 4.” And Rivera added that the trial is “expected to resume Monday as if nothing happened, legally speaking. There is no harm, no foul.”

No foul except for Baez maybe leaking sealed info to his pal Geraldo….

The Christian Science Monitor brought up a possibility I hadn’t thought of. They cited an issue relating to testimony on Friday by lead detective Yuri Melich:

During testimony on Friday, Detective Melich revealed that investigators had obtained the cell phone records of Roy Kronk, the man who called police after discovering a small child’s skeletal remains in a wooded area not far from the Anthony’s home.

Melich said police obtained Mr. Kronk’s phone records from June to December 2008….That six-month date range is important for two reasons. It suggests that, at least initially, investigators suspected Kronk might be more than an innocent bystander who merely stumbled upon the gruesome scene.

Second, that date range suggested to Baez that state prosecutors had failed to turn those phone records over to him as court rules require.

Kronk is a big part of the defense case, and if the prosecution deliberately failed to turn the records over it would be a serious problem and could possibly lead to a mistrial. However, Baez has accused the prosecution of this kind of thing before and it has always turned out that he was mistaken. Still, it’s an interesting possibility.

The most intriguing speculation I found was at the blog The Hinky Meter in a comment by one of the bloggers, Valhall. He or she thinks that Cheney Mason wants out, because this trial is is “swan song,” and he’s embarrassed by all of Jose Baez’s grandstanding and underhanded tactics. Mason is the only attorney on the defense team with experience in death penalty cases. That would surely throw a wrench into the defense’s plans. Read the whole comment to get a sense of Valhall’s reasons for thinking this.

What do you other Trial followers think?

23 Comments on “Late Night: What is the “Legal Issue” that Shut Down Saturday Testimony in the Casey Anthony Trial?”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    Hey, I think that the cops got Kronk’s phone records to cover their own asses.

    He had reported a large trash bag in August, but they never checked it out. Actually, I think he tried twice to get them to look in that wooded area. One time they talked to him at the location, but it was flooded because of the rain from the tropical storm. When he called in Dec. when her skull was found, I think he used his work as an intermediary of sorts, cause they would not listen to him.

    The bit about Mason wanting out is really interesting.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Yes, I know. But if they didn’t give those records to the defense it would be a serious problem since they are basing part of their case on Kronk. I’ll bet Baez has the records though. He probably didn’t bother to look.

      I think the Mason quitting theory makes the most sense, but would he be allowed to do that? I think Casey would have to fire him.

  2. PJ says:

    I think Valhall makes a good case. I was watching HLN with Jane Valez Mitchell on a panel, and I’m not sure who it was, but someone on the panel said that Mason and Baez were supposed to examine witnesses in a 50/50 fashion, and yet, it was more 90/10 in favor of Baez. Then they (the panel) started talking about how limited Baez’s experience was and whether or not he was really qualified to defend Casey and why wasn’t Mason taking a bigger role. Well, it turns out, Jose was watching the show and called Jane to tell her just how qualified he was. Weird. Jose seems like just another controlling narcissist in this whole ugly web.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Yes, Baez doesn’t let the other lawyers do much of anything. The woman attorney was supposed to cross examine the expert witnesses, but she has ended up just being a babysitter for Casey.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      I was wondering if he was watching the coverage on HLN. I thought so because when they talk about things during recess or breaks(like Casey looking down and coloring in a notebook during testimony) , you can see the behavior is corrected when court starts up again.

      Him calling into the show to “tell how qualified” he is reminds me of Trump calling into various shows to say he has shocking news about Obama’s birth cert.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    No big deal about the Kronk phone records because when Baez brought it up the judge admonished him that he too had the right to subpoena them as well. And since this case has dragged on for 3 years, and adding to the fact that he is making Kronk the centerpiece of this defense, one can only ask out loud why he is just bringing this to the court’s attention. You would think that they had investigated Kronk from every angle trying to prove his “involvement” without relying on the prosecution. And they had to know when given only a few pages of records as they claim they would have questioned the dates delivered to them at that time.

    As for Cheney Mason, it has been reported that he has become a “surrogate grandfather” to Casey and it would be doubtful that even if he were fed up with Baez he would leave now out of consideration for her.

    Whatever occurred it was serious enough that the judge closed down the court when there were other witnesses ready in the hallway to come forward and the judge is quite mindful of the jury and their sequestration. It had to be something of major import for him to slow it down for another day.

    It could be possible sanctions being levied against Baez who has repeatedly introduced witnesses who have either failed to submit a full report, have not been properly deposed, or has violated the judge’s rulings more than once.

    The prosecution has been “crisp” in its presentation, wholly prepared and professional. It is painful to watch Baez as he stumbles through questions and is overruled time and again by objections raised.

    The fact that he is working with a defendant who is quite guilty, plus using an opening in his defense presentation that is truly suspect, there is no doubt he is in over his head.

    But I do agree that Casey is not about to take a plea. Having gone this far she is determined to see it through IMHO.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I don’t think it’s sanctions against Baez. The judge doesn’t want to be reversed and he has already allowed in things that make Baez look bad (conversations of Casey with family members telling her to get rid of Baez, plus the fact that she got his name from another inmate). Besides, Cheney Mason is the one who asked to talk to the judge, and at first only the defense was in his chambers. Then they called in the prosecution.

      One weird thing was that Cheney Mason came out afterwards and put some papers on the defense table in front of Casey. I don’t know if they were important or not.

      • PJ says:

        Maybe it was an ultimatum? You need to choose me or Baez… hard to say.

        I’m guessing that Baez is an ass, as a human being, and no one can stand to be around him. He has clearly frustrated the hell out of the judge.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Except Casey. She seems to like Baez, who knows why. Maybe it’s because Cindy hates him.

      • PJ says:

        That Cindy hates him would be enough. But I think Baez knows how to tell Casey sweet lies. Or maybe snakes just have a natural affinity for each other?

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Interesting video here showing Casey getting really angry yesterday after the meeting in chambers.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    The death penalty expert for the defense is in court this morning. I wonder if the legal issue has to do with the recent Florida Supreme Court decision that the state’s death penalty law is unconstitutional?

  6. bostonboomer says:

    On WFTV Orlando, they are speculating that it may be a jury issue. Perhaps they are claiming prejudice against the defense because Jeff Ashton has been permitted to patronize Baez and the judge has gone along with it. Or perhaps there is a problem with the jury being tainted somehow–perhaps one or more jurors need to be replace by alternates.

  7. bostonboomer says:

    The defense group is reading some document, and Casey keeps saying “wow.” She seems to think it’s something in her favor.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    The court appointed three psychologists to evaluate Casey to see if she is qualified to continue. I guess she passed.

  9. bostonboomer says:

    Now the experts are saying this could be about whether Casey can testify. She may be pushing to testify and her lawyers think it’s a bad idea. But it’s her decision.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Yes, I think she does want to testify. And they are covering their (defense) butts by having her checked for competency.

      I think they also filed a big motion regarding the changes in the Death Penalty law, since a fed judge ruled it unconstitutional.

      Man, those on the jury must be getting tired of all this. Imagine 6 weeks of it.

      Is the person next to Casey the attorney that is married to the serial killer on death row? (Is it a woman?)

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yes, that is why the older woman is at the defense table today. She is a death penalty expert. I’m glad they are doing that. I don’t approve of the the death penalty in the first place, but in a case where the cause and manner of death cannot be proved, I think it’s inappropriate. I don’t the the jury would do it anyway though.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I’ll look it up, but I heard they got rid of the woman who married the serial killer. To be honest, I find Jeff Ashton even more annoying than Baez or Cheney. If I feel that way, I’m sure some of the jurors do too, because I’m convinced she’s guilty and I still can’t stand Ashton’s arrogant attitude and the way he shows his anger when he doesn’t get the answer he wants.