June 20, 2011 -- Casey 77 Anthony trial Judge Belvin Perry scolded both defense attorney Jose Baez and prosecutor Jeff Ashton today for their "gamesmanship" and repeated violations of court rules of evidence.
Perry even hinted at the possibility of a mistrial, saying that he will exclude key witnesses for the defense if they continue to present surprise opinions that neither the judge nor the prosecution is aware of beforehand. Those exclusions could result in a mistrial on grounds that the defendant, Casey Anthony, did not receive due process of law.
"Enough is enough and both sides need to be forewarned that exclusion even at the price of having to do it all over again, which I don't think I will have to do it all over again, because of repeated violations, exclusion might be the proper remedy if it continues," Perry said.
Before the trial began, Perry issued rules that require each expert witness to submit a report with their opinions to both the prosecution and defense. This gives each side the key points of every witnesses' testimony so that there are no surprises and each side can effectively prepare their cases.
On Saturday, Perry threatened Baez with contempt of court and halted testimony by defense witness William Rodriguez when it became apparent that Rodriguez was offering testimony which wasn't in a report submitted to the prosecution. The omission of his opinion regarding duct tape on 2-year-old Caylee's remains violated procedural rules implemented by Perry at the outset of the trial.
Baez is representing Casey Anthony, the Florida woman accused of murdering her daughter, Caylee. She faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.
When the trial resumed today, Ashton asked that Rodriguez not be allowed to return to the stand until Tuesday to give prosecutors time to study his deposition. Ashton also said that he would request sanctions against another witness whose report contained no opinions and thus gave the prosecution little information about his testimony. Ashton said he needed time to depose that witness whose testimony will focus on DNA evidence. If the judge approves sanctions, they could have ramifications on Baez's legal career.
"It's not bad enough that he wants to omit these responsibilities in the efforts of taking a human life, he wants to go after her lawyer too. I think it's repulsive, I think it's not under the law," Baez said.
Baez lashed out at Ashton, saying that he had ample time to depose expert witnesses and that he was taking advantage of Perry's procedural rules to help the state's case.
Baez also said that sanctions should be taken against the state for previous witnesses they called who testified to opinions that the defense claims weren't in their reports.
Casey Anthony Judge Warns of Mistrial
An annoyed judge then asked both men to look at the clock at the same time and tell him the time. Ashton said it was 9:25 a.m. Baez said 9:26.
Perry replied that it was clear "the two of you will never agree on anything." He threatened both of them with ramifications at the end of the trial.
"Yes, there have been gamesmanship in this particular case and it is quite evident there is a friction between attorneys. That is something I guess the Florida bar will deal with. And at the conclusion of this trial this court will deal with violations which may or may not have occurred," he warned.
Throughout the trial, Baez and Ashton have had a contentious relationship, offering digs at one another in front of jurors and drawing the ire of the judge.
Clearly fed up, Perry said that attorneys must now be present at 8:30 a.m. each day so that any issues can be taken care of before jurors arrive at 9 a.m. He also said that attorneys and jurors will work a full day on Saturday instead of a half day.
Baez was expected to call more forensic experts today, but after a more than hour long recess, Judge Perry recessed the jury until 9 a.m. Tuesday. No explanation was given for the recess.
The prosecution contends that Casey Anthony killed Caylee with chloroform and placed duct tape over her nose and mouth to suffocate her.
Caylee wasn't reported missing until July 15, 2008, 31 days after she was last seen alive. Her remains were found in a wooded area near the Anthony family home in December 2008.
The defense contends that Caylee accidentally drowned in the Anthony family pool.