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article imageCasey Anthony defense questions client's competency to proceed

By Arthur Weinreb     Jun 27, 2011 in Crime
Orlando - On June 27, the Casey Anthony trial resumed with Judge Belvin Perry Jr. explaining what the issue was that caused an abrupt adjournment of proceedings the previous Saturday.
Although there was no legal requirement to advise the public what "legal issue" caused an abrupt stopping of the trial on Saturday morning, Judge Perry advised when court resumed Monday that the defense had brought a motion to decide whether Anthony, on trial for first degree murder in the 2008 death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee, was mentally competent to continue her trial.
Perry stated as a result of the motion, the court appointed three experts to examine Casey. She was seen by the three during the weekend and each expert provided reports to the court. After both the defense and prosecution agreed that the judge can use the reports as a basis for deciding the motion, Perry ruled that Casey was competent and the trial continued.
The reports of the three experts has been sealed by the court.
The abrupt adjournment of the trial on Saturday shocked court watchers. The jury has been sequestered since the trial began six weeks ago and court normally sat on Saturday mornings. But last week, Perry, concerned about how long the trial was taking, announced that beginning last Saturday, court would sit for the entire day on Saturdays.
When court began on Saturday June 25, an issue arose about the testimony of Kenneth Furton, the next witness the defense intended to call. Prosecutor Jeff Ashton raised the issue that the expert witness in the field of chemistry was about to give opinions in matters that were not contained in written reports that were disclosed to the other side. The judge had previously been critical of both sides, especially the defense team, of not complying with the order of the court that any opinion of an expert can only be elicited if that opinion was contained in the expert's written report.
After this matter was argued in court, the lawyers went into the judge's chambers, accompanied by the court reporter. After about an hour Perry again took his place on the bench and said the trial would be in recess until 8:30 a.m. the following Monday. Perry said that a "legal issue" had arisen but gave no indication what that matter was other than to say it had nothing to do with the testimony of Furton that was discussed earlier.
In light of Perry's insistence that court sit for the entire day on Saturdays until the trial is completed, the sudden recess last Saturday became the subject of much media speculation. This speculation was especially rampant on HLN. with Jane Velez-Mitchell and Nancy Grace. The entire weekend was pretty much all Casey Anthony all the time. For the entire weekend, hosts, lawyers and other experts in the judicial system speculated about what this serious legal issue was.
Some of the pundits felt that either defense lawyer Jose Baez or Cheney Mason were going to leave the case. This was based upon the observations that from time to time, Casey shot dirty looks at her lawyers. Another ground of speculation was that the prosecution was going to be sanctioned because they failed to disclose full cell phone records of Roy Kronk, the man who found little Caylee's remains and, according to a theory of the defense, he moved the remains.
The most likely scenario expressed was that Baez was in deep trouble again for attempting to introduce evidence contrary to the court's previous order. This didn't make sense because these matters had always been dealt with in open court, including just prior to the unexpected recess.
Another theory being floated around was that an agreement was made between the prosecution and the defense that would have seen Casey plead guilty and avoid the death penalty. This was probably the most bizarre scenario of them all. A plea agreement could not have possibly been reached between the time of the argument over Furton's evidence and the time the court recessed. If a deal was made before court on Saturday, why would the parties argue about what the next witness's evidence would be?
While the pundits were speculating about breaches of court orders, possible guilty pleas and fired lawyers, Casey was being examined by three mental health experts.
No one seemed to guess that the young woman who is alleged to have killed her young daughter and then went out to party while telling everyone her daughter was with Zanny the Nanny, may have a competency issue.
As Perry found Anthony to be competent, the trial is continuing. Many media websites, including CNN are streaming the proceedings.
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