Judge Perry Relevancy Follies

There was a judge I knew in whose courtroom we used to joke that the “rules of evidence” were very simple:  evidence tending to show the defendant was guilty was admissible; evidence tending to dispute that evidence, or show that the defendant was not guilty was inadmissible.

And, lo, it works the same in Judge Perry’s courtroom.  The prosecution presents a mini university course on the particulars of duct tape, complete with photos and heavily dramatized (fictionalized?) home movies of how the duct tape was positioned on the victim’s body, complete with faces of the dead superimposed.  Judge Perry characterized all this as “highly relevant” for the jury to see.

Not just relevant.  No.  “Highly” relevant.

Then the defense tries to offer some evidence – from FBI agents no less – that seems to indicate that the prosecution’s drive for multi-media dramatic effect came at the expense of accuracy and truth.

According to Judge Perry, however, this evidence, even though specifically addressing other evidence the judge had already admitted and therefore relevant by definition, was nevertheless “irrelevant”.

Ipse dixit.  That’s a judge’s way around the reductio ad absurdum he brings upon himself and the rest of us.

See, the problem was that Baez was unprepared again.  If he wanted to get his evidence admitted past Judge Perry the gatekeeper, he should have had a video producer superimpose the visage of Jeff Ashton, or maybe Judge Perry, over some duct tape found in the woods, showing the “exact positioning” of the duct tape and how it would cover the eyes, mouth and ears – see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – the exact positioning, that is, in the vivid imagination of Baez and the video producer.

After all, what’s a little poetic license between friends in a capital murder trial?

But then I don’t think that would have worked either, because the prosecution might have objected – “Takes one to know one, your honor, but video presentations are for the prosecution, not the defense, so I object.” “Sustained.  Do you have any other witnesses or evidence you’d like me to exclude, Mr. Baez?”

Those prosecution objections are very tough to overcome, because Jeff Ashton is an accomplished and brilliant lawyer-prosecutor and Jose Baez is inexperienced and unprepared.  Sagaciously recognizing this extreme disparity in gravitas between the attorneys, and determined to control his court proceedings with the towering wisdom and firm but fair hand for which he is so well known to prosecutors, police, legal scholars and media people alike, Judge Perry is virtually forced to sustain every prosecution objection and exclude all the meaningful defense evidence, lest the jury become confused about the “issues” in the case.

The “issues” in the case are:  did Casey Anthony giggle with glee when she placed the duct tape over the mouth and nose of her daughter, suffocating her and murdering her?  Or was she more sober and reflective when she did it?

In order to “maintain control” of the courtroom in this high profile case which has attracted the attention of the world and which is for that reason in constant danger of “spiraling out of control”, the horrifying results of which could even include “not guilty” verdicts like the OJ Simpson case, Judge Perry will struggle to keep all the evidence focused strictly on only these relevant issues.  With the brilliant assistance of the brilliant Jeff Asthon, it is hoped that he will overcome Jose Baez’s inexperience and incompetence to give the defendant the fair trial she deserves before she is convicted.

Because after all, Judge Perry cares about convictions, and doesn’t like to do them twice.

18 Comments

Filed under Judicial lying/cheating, wrongful convictions

18 responses to “Judge Perry Relevancy Follies

  1. bluebird

    If it comes out that the prosecution is withholding exculpatory evidence, what is the result? Just a mis-trial with no application of double jeopardy? I wonder how the State of Florida will proceed if this happens in front of the nation.

  2. Debbie

    Does Judge Perry realize how he is seen favoring the Prosecution over the Defense by members of the tv viewing audience…the Judge looks as though he is playing a game in this trial…and he looks like he is enjoying it…

    I wish someone would get an online petition going to try and get the Judge disbarred for this obvious behavior…it seems so unethical of someone in a Judge’s capacity…

    • I’ve often wondered whether judges like Perry realize what they’re doing. It’s hard to believe they don’t, but could institutional momentum overcome the awareness of what you are doing over time?

      What Perry is doing, by the way, is very common in my experience. In fact, most of the time the judge in a criminal case is trying to make sure the defendant is convicted. Maybe it’s the political dynamic involved in becoming a judge. In most places it’s impossible to be elected or appointed if the police unions oppose you. They oppose you if you are not “reliable”, meaning that you don’t rule in their favor enough. What is “enough”? That’s a moving target. The more power the police get in the system, the more favoritism you have to show in order to curry their favor.

      The distressing thing is that there is no counterbalance to this trend. There are no forces on the other side pushing prospective or sitting judges to rule against the police. So the trend continues unchecked. If some lawyer’s sole focus is career advancement it is a very simple calculus to make: be friends with the police. You can be friends with the police even if you do criminal defense. But you have to do it the right way.

      So maybe this whole trend takes on a life of its own and you wind up with Judge Perry without anyone being really cognizant of it. And there’s a dim realization that it’s wrong, but the wrong is so pervasive that personal responsibility for it is very diffused. Everyone participates, but each individual’s responsibility is very attenuated. The system is “imperfect”, but so what? We’re human. We don’t do “perfect”.

      But then you get something like this trial. To say that what you are watching is “imperfect” is so obviously to minimize the problem. You’re evading it, really. Yet what is to be done? Will Judge Perry ever turn his back on the behaviors that have secured him his position, behaviors ingrained through many years of practice and which, however wrong they have been, have never cost him anything? Indeed, he has been rewarded for them.

      The perverse incentives have to change. But how? This is a power driven phenomenon – the power of the police and their unions. They will not relinquish power voluntarily. No one is powerful enough to take it from them. At least not yet.

      Sooner or later the system will collapse in disgrace. To have been a judge will be seen not as “honorable”, like the title says, but as shameful.

      Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities comes to mind. Or Judgment at Nuremberg.

    • ANGIE

      I AGREE WITH YOU

    • lilyford

      Judge Perry is up for re-election in 2012. Speaks volumes.

  3. Tess

    I think I am going to be sick all over the flag, and I feel like mailing that to Judge Bias. I can’t wait to hear Baez’ motion regarding the prosecutions tactics with Rodriguez. But I am not looking forward to seeing the motion be denied, and Ashton sitting their grinning. This guy has a record with the bar, yet he still never fails to prove himself pond scum every single day!

    • Any ideas about why the trial is in recess today? I find it very interesting that it happened on a Saturday where a lot of people would have watched the trial live and on a day where an expert would have testify that there was no decomp trace in the car. And, after hearing hat bozo “Dick Tracy Orlando” testimony yesterday, saying he didn’t smell anything while he was at the Anthony’s house on July 16th and made aware by George about the smell in the car.
      BTW, anyone ever questioned why Cindy Anthony went back to work that day they picked up the car and she noticed that “it smells like there was a dead body in the car” overwhelming odor? It was her boss that had to tell her 1h30 later that she should go back home!
      Another interesting fact, during one jail visit Casey casually mentions that she has always been skinny. Hmm.. so all that bloating Cindy testified about.. that Casey had such bloating issues that she didn’t notice she was pregnant before 7 1/2 months!

      This trial is all about lies and supporting lies! Judge “Biais” Perry should be disbarred at once!

  4. Marion

    WOW, just wow. Yesterday Judge Perry let’s in “evidence” of like 6 photos of Calyee in 2007 climbing a ladder with her being helped by her grandmother wearng a life jacket and this supposed to be evidence of her drowning or that she “could have climbed and drowned”???!!! Why is no one talking about that being prejudicial? It CLEARLY proves NO FACT IN EVIDENCE. It should have been considered COMPLETELY irrelavent. And if you say it goes to proving the defense theory doesn’t there have to be SOME FACT for there to be evidence let to support it??? I don’t get that.

    If Casey would have said that Caylee’s micky mouse doll came alive and killed her and threw her body in the woods wtith duct tape would the judge allow photos or videos of her with her doll in the past to “prove” the doll was there with her and “could” have done this”?? I don’t understand why the swimming photos were allowed in. Also the 2 minute video having Caylee and Casey laughing and playing under the guise to show the jury the shorts Caylee was wearing??? Completely prejudicial yet none of you talk about that because most of you are DEFENSE HOMERS!!

    Perry seems to let in stuff when he feels it’s 50/50 whether he should and that is FAIR. Like I’ve said before there was ALOT of motive stuff for the state that he didn;t let in that I think should have been. The FBI e-mails should under no circumstances have been let in IT’S COMPLETELY IRRELAVENT. Mason wanted to get in “evidence” of cops wanting to bug a girl to “possibly” get George and Cindy to say something incriminating. What a JOKE…In what court would a judge possibly allow that in with the said charges against Casey…..makes absoluetly NO SENSE. Another thing that amuses me about that is how the defence wants it’s both ways with the cops and FBI concerning their invistagation of George and Cindy. They want to show that they ONLY focused on Casey AND how they were suspicious of other people too. Talk about reaching.

    Look I came into this trial with an open mind but the defense (not the judge) has slammed it closed it for me. If there is one person out there who actually believes that George (who wanted to keep his daughter from going to jail “for the rest her freakin life for child neglect”) decides to do that by bagging her and throwing her “somewhere” then Roy Kronk who doesn’t even know for SURE that this is Caylee decides to “hide” her body for 4 months for absolutely no reason then “cash in on his “lotto ticket” and put George’s duct tape on the skull to according to Dr. Spitz ” hold the jaw in place”??? for once again absoluely no reason plus all of the cops and FBI not doing their jobs right plus even THE MEDICAL EXAMINARS OFFFICE STAGING PHOTOS FOR NO REASON, not to mention dogs and/or coyotees burying bones….well if you REALLY TRULY believe all that then I envy you because of the incredible, abstract world you must live in.
    I did just think of a reason for the defence to say Kronk decides to sit on his lotto ticket for 4 months though. He took the body to his garage to perform his own autopsy to make SURE it was Caylee before cashing in. That might explain the duct tape as well…he needed the jaw in place to not perform a “shoddy” autopsy. And since he’s a meter reader and not a medical examinar it took him 4 months to complete his extremely thorough exam. He wanted to be sure his lotto ticket wouldn’t come back null and void.

    • If Casey would have said that Caylee’s micky mouse doll came alive and killed her and threw her body in the woods wtith duct tape would the judge allow photos or videos of her with her doll in the past to “prove” the doll was there with her and “could” have done this”?? I don’t understand why the swimming photos were allowed in.

      Your protestations of “open-mindedness” notwithstanding, you can’t understand because you are too biased. You cannot distinguish, even though in other circumstances you would be able to, between an inherently fanciful scenario (a doll becoming animated); and an inherently plausible one (a toddler left unattended who drowns in a pool). And this may be a deeper problem: you are not distinguishing between “facts”, and conclusions that may be drawn based upon them. The video of the toddler climbing into the pool and swimming in it shows a fact. Not just a fact that is testified to from someone’s memory, but a fact which is documented through the video. An extremely reliable fact, in other words.

      It may be concluded, based upon this fact, that an accidental drowning is a plausible explanation for the child’s death. You might regard this as a “reach” based upon other evidence, such as the infamous 31 days. But that is weighing relevant evidence, not determining that any evidence is “irrelevant.

      See the difference?

      • Marion

        No, there is NOTHING plausible about a child ACCIDENTLY drowing then ending up in the woods, in bags with duct tape around her head. It is more plausible for “Zanny the Nanny” or “The killer Doll” to have done it than that.

        Also it wasn’t a video of her climbing and swimming it was 6 photos or so of her climbing with her grandmother with a life vest. I don’t understand how these photos “prove or go towards proving a fact” Isn’t that what relevent evidence is supposed to do?

        • Well, as I said, you may regard the drowning scenario as a “reach” for other reasons, such as the ones you mention here. But your reasoning is very sloppy. And again, the fact is that the toddler was capable of climbing the ladder. That fact would obviously be relevant to a claim that the toddler climbed into the pool and drowned. It does not conclusively prove that by any means; but that doesn’t make it “irrelevant”. See the difference?

          • Marion

            Ok, I guess I see that. It was let in to “prove” she was capable of climbing a ladder and swimming yet there is no evidence AT ALL (except opening statements) that a drowning occured. If that’s the way it works, so be it.

            Could a judge have ruled these photos irrelevant and be RIGHT for the reasons I’ve given?

            • Short answer is no, the judge could not rule them irrelevant and be right.

              Opening statements and closing statements are not “evidence”. They are arguments about how evidence is to be interpreted, what inferences or conclusions can or should be drawn from evidence.

              The photos of the toddler climbing into the pool or swimming in the pool are evidence. The defense then argues that the drowning idea is supported by this evidence, and the prosecution argues, if they are smart, that while that’s possible the evidence of murder outweighs it, and then they argue some of the things that you have argued, such as that drowning victims are reported and their bodies don’t wind up being concealed. And the evidence must outweigh it beyond a reasonable doubt.

              Then, if there’s some plausible explanation other than a homicide for why the body might be concealed, in theory, the jury would have to acquit on the homicide charges. But a jury can also reject a scenario that is plausible and find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt if they are of a mind to. They should not do that, but they often do, and no one will second guess them if they do that, which is one reason they should never do it. Because if there is a plausible scenario where the defendant is not guilty of a homicide and they find the defendant guilty of a homicide anyway that’s going to stick to the bitter end even if the defendant is not guilty, which by definition under those circumstances is possible.

              • Marion

                Thanks for the detailed answer. Very interesting.

              • Best and brightest argument I have ever read about what criminal law is all about. It is a sad profession to be in, as few laymen get it.

              • Debbie

                I studied this case also for the past 3 years…and taking into consideration if it turns out to be true that George sexually abused Casey then statistically speaking it could be possible that he sexually abused Caylee also…it is not unusual for a sexual offender to sexually abuse more than one female in the same family…then the only two possible reasons that I could think of that 911 was not called would be:
                1. George being a former homicide detective would have known that the Medical Examiner would have found the sexual evidence on Caylee’s body and he had to make a decision as to what to do with the body until it could be discovered at a later date when all evidence couldn’t be found (decomposed body)
                2. The second reason would be that Caylee actually might have drowned in the bathtub while Casey was on the phone talking with her current boyfriend…According to George’s document dumps earlier on he said that Casey gave Caylee two tub baths a day…once in the morning and once at night and a wash down inbetween…he said that Cindy did the same with Casey and Lee when they were little…Cell phone records show Casey at the Anthony home all night on June 15th-the afternoon on June 16th…She was on the phone talking or texting the majority of the time…and she was upset with Cindy from the argument that they had on Sunday night…Cindy basically had told her that she needed to move out and to be more responsible…I believe that Casey being still upset over her mom and her argument put Caylee in the bath tub for her routine morning bath and forgot about her while she was on the phone…then something happened and she drowned in the tub…then the same scenario as number 1….911 would not have been called for the same reason…

                An abused person usually will do whatever the abuser tells them to do regardless if it is right or wrong…that just do it…assuming that he is guilty of sexuall abusing Casey…he might have told told her to just leave the house and do what she normally would do and that he would take care of everything…Cell phone records show that he called Casey’s phone after 3pm that day….

                George said earlier on that Cindy went to work at 7 am…and he had some time with Caylee while Casey got herself and Caylee ready to go out to work or wherever…then George left the home after 1pm to go to work himself…So George, Casey, and Caylee were there that morning…

    • hcannon

      just today there is a report in Sarasota a nearby central Florida county of big problems with…CYOTES…attacking people and animals. Yes there are Cyotes here my friend.

      • I come from Colorado and Baja Mexico – muchos coyotes aqui. But Ashton’s comments were funny – “we are not blessed with coyotes here” but [paraphrasing] we have lots of other varmints. Having lived if Ft. Lauderdale for a year, I’d say a possum could have dunnit.

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