Friday, August 05, 2011

"It's Not An Easy Issue" Judge Tells Jose Baez

Casey Seeks Full Freedom From Court Jurisdiction - Judge Needs More Time To Study

Jose Baez, attorney for Casey Anthony appeared in an Orlando courtroom before Orange county Chief Judge Belvin Perry this morning to argue to quash an order for Anthony to report for one-year probation after her 2010 conviction for check fraud.

Anthony was not in court and is still in hiding in an unknown location.

Susan Finigan, senior probation supervisor for the Florida Department of Corrections testified by telephone about her case notes on Casey Anthony's case. She said the case notes indicate Anthony was in the Orange county jail during a one-year probation period, and officials from her department were handling it as they would any other probation case. 

Finigan has worked for the department for 28 years, and said she has never had a case where probation was set at sentencing for an unknown future time. Baez tried to dispute an order this week where Anthony's probation was set to begin after her release from jail, being an unknown time during 2010 because of her pending trial for murder. 

She said she believed "restitution" was completed by Anthony because she was in custody, and the probation was completed January 24, 2011, with a standard letter sent to her at completion.  One her conditions of probation was no contact with the victim Amy Huizenga. Anthony fraudulently stole her checks and cashed them.

Assistant State Attorney Frank George cross-examined Finigan about the role of the probation department and if probation would normally be while a defendant was in jail. Anthony was instructed about her "probation" on February 2, 2010, according to Finigan, about a week after her probation was to begin when Anthony was convicted of check fraud.

Just How Complicated Is Florida Law?

Judge Perry followed up questioning Finigan as to whether Judge Stan Stickland, the judge at the time, was ever contacted about "tolling" of the time Anthony had served. Perry cited several cases regarding the legal issue. 

Additional arguments were offered by Baez' defense team attorney Lizabeth Fryer, on how the case is moot since Anthony served her "probation" and Judge Strickland had no authority to amend the original order, since 60 days had expired with no order amendment. Arguments were also made of the "double jeopardy" issue, as Anthony is being ordered to serve probation twice. 

Judge Perry noted the video of the Judge Strickland's oral pronouncement of sentencing Anthony to one year probation after her release and asked what responsibility the defense has to note the commencement of a probation period by their client to the court, and what obligation anyone has to object to the oral sentence of the court at the time, as no objections were made at the time.

Perry also noted from case law, probation is not a sentence, and while the issue is not clear cut, perhaps there is no double jeopardy issue.  He asks if a defendant is erroneously placed on probation and the oral sentence has not been followed, does the defense counsel have an obligation to notify the court. "It is not an easy issue. It is not a black and white issue," said Perry.

Attorney George ended by saying it is not good public policy to allow probation to be served while a defendant is in jail. He provided arguments about the time limit on correcting "scrivener's" or clerical errors, which allegedly happened in this case. The case law shows that the correction may be made at any time as long as the original intent of the court is not being changed.

George said the state learned of the dispute when Judge Strickland made the order this week, and had no prior notice of when a probation had been started or ended by Anthony until that point.

Perry said he needed to research the issue more and is concerned about threats against Anthony and would take measures with the Department of Corrections to address that issue should he decide for probation. He also agreed to a "status hearing" should an order for probation be found to discuss the issues that may extend from Anthony being placed on supervised probation.

1 comment:

  1. Please sign the below petition to stop Casey Anthony from profiting off the death of her little girl.