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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Judge: Casey Anthony can't skip court hearings

Sarah Lundy

Sentinel Staff Writer
January 29, 2009

Casey Anthony will have to appear in court for Friday's hearing.Orange Circuit Court Judge Stan Strickland just denied Anthony's efforts to not be there. Earlier this week, Anthony's attorney, Jose Baez, filed an objection to Strickland's order that required Anthony to be at all court hearings except for ones dealing with routine scheduling issues.

The attorney ticked off nearly a dozen reasons why she shouldn't be forced to attend, including how the media focuses on her appearance and generates "unsubstantiated rumors" about her physical condition and the constant negative exposure further erodes her right to a fair trial.

Friday's hearing will focus on Baez's request to inspect the area where Caylee's remains were found in December. Prosecutors plan to ask the judge to strike a portion of the defense's witness list that refers to the state's list.
Legal maneuver by Casey's lawyers called 'surreal'
Amy L. Edwards Sentinel Staff Writer
January 29, 2009
Casey Anthony's defense team is asking a judge to grant a legal maneuver rare in Florida: to remove the prosecutors from the case.
Legal experts and area prosecutors couldn't recall any cases in recent history in which such a request by the defense was granted.
But two Florida law professors interviewed by the Orlando Sentinel said they were not surprised that New York lawyer Linda Kenney Baden, who is working with Kissimmee defense attorney Jose Baez, made the request earlier this week. "These sorts of motions are more common in high-stakes cases, like death-penalty cases," said Bob Dekle, a retired prosecutor who teaches legal skills at the University of Florida. "When the stakes get very high, things tend to get surreal, and things happen . . . that don't normally happen in the run-of-the-mill shoplifting and DUI cases."
Charles Rose, a professor at the Stetson University College of Law, agreed with Dekle and said things get blown out of proportion in "lightning-rod" cases such as Anthony's, in which she is accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie.
"The defense thinks in its mind that the state is trying to get them off the case or to call into question the defense attorney's credibility, hoping that somehow that will have an impact at trial," Rose said. "What you really see is a tit-for-tat. You made me look dirty and so now I'm going to do the same for you."
In the motion, Baden addressed a Florida Bar investigation of Baez stemming from news releases by Todd Black of Press Corps Media, who has acted as a spokesman for the defense lawyer. Baden also questioned the State Attorney's Office involvement in the matter.
A Florida Bar official told the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday that it initiated the investigation after the State Attorney's Office faxed the news releases in question to the Bar in October.
Two of those releases criticized State Attorney Lawson Lamar.
The Bar closed its file Jan. 22, finding that no disciplinary proceedings against Baez were appropriate. Timothy Chinaris, an attorney representing Baez in the inquiry, wrote a lengthy letter to the Bar in November explaining Baez's relationship with Black.
Spokesman or not?
In the Nov. 21 letter, Chinaris stated Baez did not retain and does not pay Press Corps Media. None of the news releases in question were prepared "at the direction, or with the assistance, of Mr. Baez. None of the documents were seen by Mr. Baez before their release."
Chinaris stated that Press Corps Media was retained by a Connecticut family "who is sympathetic to the plight of Ms. Anthony and her family."He stated that after Baez began representing Anthony, the lawyer was bombarded with media calls and "consented" to let Press Corps Media help field calls and other contacts with the media. "His relationship with PCM has been limited to these areas," the letter stated.
The Sentinel contacted Baez on Wednesday to inquire about the letter, which seems to contradict earlier statements from both Baez and Black. In a Sept. 4 news release, Black wrote that Press Corps Media "has been retained by The Baez Law Firm to coordinate any and all media inquiries." An Oct. 17 release stated Black is the "spokesperson for The Baez Law Firm."
A Nov. 3 release from Press Corps Media introducing a new media contact for the case said, "Todd will remain closest to Jose A. Baez and continues as Lead Media PMK for The Baez Law Firm." Baez himself, in an October news conference he held to address statements Black made about the case on CNN Headline News, said, "He [Black] does not have any legal opinions whatsoever. He's simply a spokesman for our firm." On Wednesday, Baez said Chinaris' letter to the Bar is 100 percent accurate.
"What Mr. Chinaris said in his letter is the full extent of the service they provide for us," Baez said. He would not comment further. The letter stated that Baez has asked Press Corps Media to let him "review and approve all future media releases."
Prosecutors: No comment
In her motion requesting the prosecutors be removed from the case, Baden stated that by reporting the news releases to The Florida Bar, the State Attorney's Office engaged in "egregious behavior."
The State Attorney's Office would not comment Wednesday on the motion. A spokeswoman said the office would address the matter in court. Baden said the Bar's complaint process should not be used by prosecutors "to attempt to have the attorney for the defendant tainted by an investigation, be under press criticism for alleged misconduct which inures to the detriment of the defendant . . ."
Rose and Dekle, however, said they see no wrongdoing on the State Attorney's part based on what they know of the matter. That's because attorneys have an ethical duty, according to lawyer rules, to report any suspected wrongdoing involving other lawyers.
"In a case like this . . . you do it, and you do it in a restrained fashion so it does not appear that you're being vindictive," Rose said. It was not known Wednesday when the motion will be heard. A hearing for the case is scheduled for Friday morning to address unrelated issues.
Spokespeople for Casey Anthony's defense attorney: We don't use our real names
Amy L. Edwards Sentinel Staff Writer
January 29, 2009
The spokesman for Casey Anthony's defense attorney -- a man whose news releases triggered a recent Florida Bar investigation -- just told the Orlando Sentinel that Todd Black is not his real name. Black said in a telephone interview this morning that it is an "abbreviated" last name he's used professionally. Black did not say what his legal name is.
Black has acted as a spokesman for lawyer Jose Baez through a company called Press Corps Media. He will not participate in in-person media interviews and has faxed most of his news releases, which appear to be written on a typewriter.
After the initial interview with Black this morning, a Sentinel reporter left the spokesman a voicemail asking that he again clarify what his legal name is. Another Press Corps Media contact, Sabrina Cane, responded by sending an e-mail stating that Black was in the middle of a "Do Not Disturb" case conference.
"In general we can tell you that it's been standard procedure for many years to have our company's story reps utilize abbreviated names for security purposes, most especially now with the Casey Anthony Case that is overrun with hostile attitudes and serious threats that have been generated by negative media coverage," the e-mail stated.
Multiple attempts to reach Black or Cane through that e-mail addresses have been unsuccessful -- an "undeliverable" return e-mail states that address is not accepting any mail.
The Florida Bar initiated an investigation into Baez in October after the State Attorney's Office faxed several releases from Black to the Bar. Two of the releases criticized State Attorney Lawson Lamar. The Bar found that no disciplinary proceedings against Baez were appropriate, and closed the file Jan. 22. One letter submitted to the Bar was from Press Corps Media and its president, Peter Tillman.
The Sentinel attempted to contact Tillman by leaving a voicemail at the telephone number provided on the letterhead, but Black returned the phone call. "He's not interested in discussing anything with you," Black said of Tillman.

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