All Fired Up
Something very disruptive took place in court on Saturday morning – something that caused Judge Perry to cancel the rest of the day's testimony. That, in and of itself, is quite a feat, considering this judge's reputation.
“Do both sides concur that a legal issue has arisen… that would necessitate us to recess court for the day?” he said after nearly 45 minutes of private discussion in chambers with defense attorneys. No, this had nothing to do with a plea arrangement, as many in the media subsequently pondered. Nor was it over defense expert witnesses or Jose Baez's continued failure to comply with court orders mandating that he provide prosecutors with complete and timely discovery information. “One would think this would have grown old by now, but some things never change,” Perry lamented.
Something big is about to change the complexion of the trial, and after careful analysis, I have come to the conclusion that Casey wants to rid herself of one of her attorneys – either Baez or Cheney Mason, and I am basing my opinion on more than mere speculation.
One can gather plenty of information from how people respond to others. Certainly, body language can say a lot. There's also the issue over Casey's perception of her defense team. On one hand, you have a highly experienced attorney in Mason, yet he cowered like a frightened mouse as he questioned Dr. G on the stand. He hand-delivered a critical victory to the State by walking blindly into her cross-examination. Later, on direct-examination of another witness, he brought up July 15, 2008 and what precipitated Casey's being put in handcuffs temporarily and placed in the cage of a patrol car. That, of course, was the day her mother made her now famous 911 calls. To what end did Mason's line of questioning serve? Nothing, as far as I'm concerned, and instead it opened up a can of worms that may come back to haunt Team Casey. For such a distinguished career, Mason's ineptitude threatened to derail Casey's defense.
On the other hand, we have Jose Baez, who I've described as an attorney that seems to be taking one step forward and three steps back. While he has his shining moments, he's been less than stellar in virtually every area he's addressed. That's bad enough, but it's not my main issue with him. When I watched the interaction between Casey and Baez early on, they seemed fascinated with each other. It was enough to give rise to the rumor that the two of them were secretly having an affair. No, I never believed it for an instant, but they were clearly in tune with each other. Over time, their relationship began to fade, and today, it could only be described as fractured; like a relationship that's nothing more than an ill-conceived pipedream. Time to move on, perhaps. Gone are the glory days that exuded confidence and victory, now replaced by an element of disdain for each other. Casey seems to have lost her confidence in him. In court on Saturday, Baez stood and leaned toward Casey. She leaned back in her chair and began talking to Mason. Baez went on to continue his conversation with Dorothy Sims, sitting to Casey's immediate left. That interaction, or lack thereof, was very revealing, certainly not the first time, and it only served to fuel my apprehension. There was absolutely no interaction between the defendant and her lead counsel.
What really transpired behind closed doors, in chambers? It could be some sort of trap Mason has set for the judge – a legal technicality he hopes will derail the trial, but I don't think so. There's discord in this defense team. They are in disarray, and I sense that they are turning on each other.
Which one would get the boot if push comes to shove? As far as I'm concerned, it would have to be Jose Baez, and that might be a good deal for him in the overall scheme of things. Why? Because Judge Perry could let him walk away from this mess with one important incentive – leave and there will be no contempt of court charges filed at the end of this trial. I'd call that a victory for both of them.
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