Casey Anthony Attorney Fees - Will the State of Florida Pay Casey Anthony Lawyer Fees?

Casey Anthony is back in the middle of a media controversy - this time, because the current defense team has filed a motion asking that the judge confirm her indigent status, essentially ordering the State of Florida to pay her legal defense fees and expenses

First things first, this shouldn't be a big surprise to capital defense lawyers.  Once the State of Florida put the death penalty back into the case, the financial cost of defending Casey Anthony skyrocketed. Lots of death penalty lawyers know how fast the money goes, and what it means to have a young, single woman with no visible source of income as the client. 

Casey Anthony is providing the nation with a prime example of what it costs to try a Florida indigent defense death penalty case.  That's good.  

This is not because Casey Anthony's case is something unusual (although there are many ways to characterize the trial for the murder of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony as not the norm).  Anytime that the prosecutor decides to pursue capital punishment when trying a defendant, then the state's attorney has defined how big the defense work will be.  Not the defense attorney. 

Here's why: in each case where the death penalty is at issue, the defense must prepare not only all the issues regarding (1) guilt vs. innocence, but also (2) life vs. death. The life vs. death phase of the trial is called the "sentencing phase," or "penalty phase," and it is here where the prosecution advances its arguments regarding aggravating circumstances, and the defense pursues its arguments regarding mitigating factors.

First issue: is the defendant Casey Anthony indigent?  Yes, according to the Orange County Clerk.

It has already been decided by the Orange County Clerk's office that Casey Anthony is indigent. Judge Strickland will approve this determination upon the defense's motion.  The Clerk's office makes it decision based upon affidavits and supporting documentation filed with the Clerk.  The Judge is having a evidentiary hearing on the matter of his approval of the decision.

Once an individual is found to be indigent under the law, then all those 'right to counsel' laws and court opinions -- all pursuant to the U.S. Constitution -- come into play.  Just like any other defendant facing a possible death sentence, Casey Anthony has an indigent's right to effective legal counsel. 

Second issue: will additional information on her financial status cause the Judge to rule differently than the Orange County Clerk on Casey Anthony's Indigent Status? 

In a hearing that is being televised by various media, including HLN (the same channel that brings us Nancy Grace and Jane Velez Mitchell), the judge is hearing argument and evidence on how much the State of Florida should pay for Casey Anthony's legal fees and expenses. 

You can watch the indigent defense cost hearing online at video provided by the Houston Examiner (  Judge Strickland is expected to rule tomorrow (Friday). 

Evidence is being provided about what money has been placed into the Casey Anthony defense coffers, and how much is left to defend the death penalty case (trial phase as well as any penalty phase).  The Judicial Administrative Commission (JAC) is recommending to the Court that Judge Strickland consider the defense's financial information in detail before making his decision. Others are calling into question why she's asking for indigent status now, when most defendants ask for this at the outset. 

How much is left in Casey Anthony's defense budget? That answer is clear: zero

How much has Anthony collected towards legal fees and expenses? Evidence shows that Anthony has received $200,000 from ABCNews; $70,000 from former defense counsel Californian Todd Macaluso, and $5000 from an anonymous donor.  This money has already been spent since Casey was first charged back in 2008. 

How was this spent? According to the evidence provided at the hearing, some of the lawyers are working for free (Kinney-Baden; newcomer Cheney Mason) and some have received some legal fees (Baez) and some have had their expenses covered (Lyon). 

What does the defense argue that the indigent defense money will cover?  Details on what the defense projects have been (and presumably will be) necessary to properly try this case through both phases will be provided to the Judge; however, it's clear that the usual suspects will be there: costs of experts, investigators, transcripts, subpoenas, travel costs, etc. 

Costs through the end of trial will continue to grow.  Experts at the guilt phase and at the penalty phase will be very different, because different issues are in focus depending upon the issue being addressed.  All these experts will be costly, billing by the hour as well as incurring travel time, etc.  Mitigating factors need a different kind of expertise than forensic fact-facting during a guilt phase.  Practitioners understand this already, without knowing the details of the case. 

Casey Anthony is providing a very much needed perspective into the current crisis in indigent defense, both in the State of Florida and across the country.  It is very, very expensive to try a death penalty case, no matter who the defendant may be.  And when that defendant is indigent, then every single dime of that cost comes out of the taxpayer's pockets. 

For more information on the crises facing indigent defense attorneys in death penalty cases ....

We've got a continuing series of articles dealing with the explosive growth of the legal right to counsel and the correlated expense that is entailed over at our JD Supra site.  If you're interested in this issue, then please check back there periodically as more articles on this topic are posted.

For even more information, please visit the new website of the Florida Capital Resource Center as it continually adds additional information to support defense attorneys representing defendants in Florida death penalty cases.


Casey Anthony Case: The Defense Requests that the Death Penalty be Taken Off the Table and Here's My Response to Your Questions, as Casey Anthony's Prior Death Penalty Attorney.

Today, the news media is reporting that defense counsel for Casey Anthony (Prof. Andrea Lyon, Jose Baez) have filed a motion with the court challenging the State of Florida's decision to seek the death penalty. 

I am proactiving providing my response to the questions that I have received already and assumedly will continue to receive regarding this issue. 

First, I am not acting as counsel for Ms. Anthony any longer and I'm not privy to the decision-making process of her defense team

Second, the legal focus of the motion is upon "aggravating circumstances" as they are defined here in Florida.  For the legal details on aggravating circumstances as well as mitigating factors under Florida law, please read my earlier articles here on the blog:

1.  Discussion of Aggravating Circumstances

2.  Discussion of Mitigating Factors

3.  Series entitled "Filicide is Different"

For my prior posts on this blog regarding the Casey Anthony case, please review:

1.  When I was on Nancy Grace last week....

2.  Another lesson from the Casey Anthony case....

3.  Five questions to ask yourself about the Casey Anthony case....

4.  Please check out my op-ed piece in the Orlando Sentinel...

In Depth Look: Filicide is Different - 2

Subsequent studies agree with Resnick's Classification of Motives in Maternal Filicide Cases

Subsequent studies have agreed on a commonality of motives in cases of maternal filicide.[8] These motives are: (1) the mother's mental illness, often seen as "pathological," "acutely psychotic," or "mentally ill" killings, (2) lack of bonding with the child, manifested as "neonaticide," "unwanted child," or "ignored pregnancy" deaths, and (3) inadequate parenting, resulting in "accidental," "discipline-related," or "neglect" deaths.

Recent Studies Look Not Only at Motive, but at the Nature of the Mother-Child Relationship

Recent studies focus on more than just the motive, but on the nature of the mother-child relationship. Forensic psychiatric evaluations of women criminally charged with the deaths of their children found the following characterizations of the mother-child relationship: abusive / neglectful mothers, psychotic / depressed mothers, retaliatory mothers, psychopathic mothers, and detached mothers.

Abusive, Psychopathic, or Retaliatory mothers

Abusive / neglectful mothers are unable to set normal behavioral bounds with their child, vacillating from excessive discipline to no discipline. Retaliatory mothers are similar to Resnick's spousal revenge category. The psychopathic mother has an insensitive relationship with their children, using the child to fulfill their own needs.

The detached mother

The detached mother category reflects mothers that have not developed a bond with their child during pregnancy. Researchers talk about the "massive denial" of these women who kill their child. Typically, these mothers deny their pregnancy, often to the point where physical symptoms do not manifest until the actual "surprise" birth. The detached mother may deny the pregnancy out of resentment of the child, a lack of communication within her social network, or a fear of rejection by her family or friends. Interestingly, the families and support systems of these women do not notice the changes in the young woman.

The mother may actually have a dissociative event during childbirth, not remembering the birth or even killing the child at birth. [9] Neonaticide, the killing of a child in the first day of life, may occur if these women give birth in an isolated area or alone. These women were later horrified to find out what they had done.

The psychotic / depressed mother

The psychotic / depressed mother perceives her child through the lens of her particular illness. The illness may be a previously diagnosed clinical disorder, such as schizophrenia, depression, substance abuse, or bipolar disorder. The mother may be suffering from a personality disorder, defined as "an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of an individual's culture, is pervasive and inflexible, has an onset in adolescence or early adulthood, is stable over time, and lead to distress or impairment." [10] Three personality disorders relevant to filicidal mothers are dependent, antisocial, and borderline personality disorder. Impulsive actions, poor judgment, and instability in personal relationships and self-image characterized borderline personality disorder.

Just as the families did not notice the pregnancy of denial mothers, the families of young women suffering from clinical or personality disorders often ignore "the elephant in the living room" and deny the problem. [11] The result is that these young women are often at risk because they do not get the diagnosis, treatment, and help that they need due to unacknowledged or unrecognized mental disorders.

Mothers with Bipolar Disorder

One such clinical disorder that may go undiagnosed is bipolar disorder.[12] Bipolar disorder usually begins between ages 15 and 30, and some forms are more common in women. [13] Symptoms of bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, are extreme mood swings ranging from manic highs to intense lows. [14] Because these mood swings are on a continuum, and may even not appear at times, some people may go undiagnosed because they don't seek treatment, their condition is mistaken for depression, or because their symptoms don't meet current diagnostic criteria. [15] Complicating the picture, bipolar disorder frequently is accompanied by other disorders. [16]

The mood swings may last for weeks, months, or even years. [17] In the manic phase of bipolar disorder, the signs and symptoms include: extreme optimism, inflated self-esteem, poor judgment, agitation, risky behavior, spending sprees, increased sexual drive, decreased need for sleep, and a tendency to be easily distracted. [18] During the depressive phase, it is easy to see how signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder may masquerade as depression: sadness, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts or behavior, anxiety, guilt, sleep problems, appetite problems, fatigue, loss of interest in daily activities, problems concentrating, irritability, and chronic pain without a known cause. [19]

Continued, in part 3 ....

This four-part series of posts "Filicide is Different" continues next Friday, as part of Friday's In Depth Look / Friday's Legal Memo. The third part of the series discusses progressive postpartum depression and the Andrea Yates case.

[8] Geoffrey R. McKee, Why Mothers Kill, A Forensic Psychologist's Casebook 28 (2006).
[9] Oberman, supra, at 53.
[10] Oberman, supra, at 71.
[11] Arlene M. Huysman, A Mother's Tears 52 (1998).
[12] Mayo Clinic, Bipolar Disorder, at 4, available at disorder/DS00356/DSECTION=symptoms.
[13] Id.
[14] Id., at 1
[15] Id., at 4.
[16] K. Cauldwell, Living With Bipolar Disorder: One Woman's Journey Through Diagnosis, Understanding, and Acceptance, at 2
[17] Id.
[18] Mayo Clinic, supra, at 2.
[19] Mayo Clinic, supra, at 2-3.

Please Check Out My Op-Ed Piece in Today's Orlando Sentinel

I have written an article concerning the impact of media coverage on our constitutional rights to a fair trial - and the presumption of innocence, which appears today in both the print and web versions of the Orlando Sentinel.

It is entitled "Media zap right to fair trial: To wit, Casey Anthony et al. " and you can read it here.

I welcome your thoughts and opinions.

Five Questions to Ask Yourself about the Casey Anthony Case

1. In your jurisdiction, if you are charged with a state crime, will the state's discovery in your case be accessible as a public record, like the "document dumps" made famous in the Casey Anthony case?

2. In your jurisdiction, if you or a family member is charged with a state crime, what are your protections against people going through your trash and demonstrating in front of your home 24/7, as occurred at the Anthony family home after Casey Anthony was arrested on charges of filicide?

3. If you are interviewed by the local authorities, are you being videotaped? Is that videotape available to the media? In the Anthony case, interviews were videotaped and those videotapes have been provided to the media.

4. If you visit a loved one in jail, is everything you say to them being recorded? Do visitors to jails in your locality have any expectation of privacy? In the Anthony case, everything that has been said between any family member and the prisoner has been recorded.

5. If you are charged with a crime, do you presume that everyone will respect that you are to be treated as innocent - until the government meets its burden of proof to demonstrate to a fact finder that you are guilty as charged? Is it okay with you for the public to assume you - or a loved one -- are guilty when you're charged with a crime? Many members of the public have already judged Casey Anthony, even though there has been no trial.

Another lesson from the Casey Anthony case ....

Last week, I wrote about mercy as being a lesson in the Casey Anthony case coverage. Here's another one that I'm pondering. Filicide. It's been around for centuries, it happens with alarming frequency in the United States today, and yet it is still one of those elephants in the room that no one wants to talk about.

Filicide? What's that?

Filicide is Susan Smith and Andrea Yates and Ellen Feinberg and Diane Downs. Filicide - maternal filicide -- is the name given to the particular kind of homicide where mothers kill their children. (Paternal filicide happens too, and more on that, later.)

You know about maternal filicide.

1. Meryl Streep won an Oscar for Sophie's Choice. What was that choice? Filicide.
2. Oprah Winfrey produced and starred in Beloved, based upon the novel by Toni Morrison, where the character Sethe killed her daughter Beloved to keep her from being a slave.
3. Medea (remember, Euripides?) killed her children all because Jason left her.
4. Lois (with Peter) killed son Stevie on an episode of TV's Family Guy.

In this country today, it's much more common that we like to recognize. Every community has had its newborn baby found dead in the dumpster or trash can, left there shortly after birth - and lots of those stories reveal a teen mom who tells authorities she didn't even know she was pregnant. Sure, you've read one of those.

What you need to know about maternal filicide is WHY.

Perhaps we'd all be better served if the reality that filicide exists weren't such a taboo subject. Because then maybe it would be easier for post partum depression sufferers to ask for help. Maybe teen moms might give their newborns to someone rather than dump them.

And, maybe the fixation and for some, obsession, about the Casey Anthony case in the media wouldn't outweigh every other news story in this country for the past year (except for hurricanes, according to Yahoo!).

For more on filicide, look for an upcoming series of posts (Friday's Legal Memo) studying the topic in detail and titled "Filicide is Different."

When I was on Nancy Grace last week, talking about the Casey Anthony case....

First of all, let me just take this opportunity to say that I'm always honored to be invited to appear on the Nancy Grace show. Nancy Grace is a true star of the airwaves today, and a heroine to many. It's very humbling to be appearing before millions in one of those little rectangular talking-head cameo boxes on screen, along with Sue Moss and the rest of the lawyers. I was proud to have been invited once and I'm always thrilled to be asked back again.

And, no - Nancy and I don't agree on many things. Respecting your colleagues doesn't mean you necessarily see eye to eye with them. This is especially true among attorneys, and exceedingly true among the criminal bar. Prosecutors and defense attorneys may fight viciously in the courtroom, but we'll shake hands in the hallway. You know a good lawyer when you see one, even if they're on the other side.

Now, back to the Casey Anthony case ....
Last week, I was on the Nancy Grace show for a couple of nights, because Nancy was talking about the death penalty as it applies in the Casey Anthony matter. Specifically, the fact that the prosecution had taken the death penalty off the table in the Casey Anthony case and Nancy Grace's arguments that the "tot mom" should have a jury decide whether or not the death penalty should apply to her.
Now, before this goes any further let me reiterate: I will not discuss the Casey Anthony case, itself, in any detail or particular. As the attorney who represented Casey Anthony in the death penalty discussions with the Florida state attorney's office, I cannot do that - it violates my work product privilege, attorney-client privilege ... well, you get the idea.
That doesn't mean that I can't discuss generalities, and the law regarding the death penalty today. And with that caveat, there are lots of lessons popping up in the Casey Anthony matter.

The Casey Anthony case - it's revealing many things. Here's one.
One lesson that I'm learning from all this media coverage of the Casey Anthony case is this: the need to know WHY -- why did a beautiful baby, Caylee Anthony, die? Why ... why...why? A hundred questions come to mind.
Well, in all this questioning and need to understand, there's a great many people that are looking at judgment. And that's good. Our society, as with all successful societies, must have rules and judgments that are assessed against those who break those rules. Without this basic structure, we'd live in chaos.
But along with judgment, there must come mercy. At least, in America, we believe in the consideration of mercy before the imposition of judgment.
That is why we have things like probation and parole and personal recognizance. Mercy.
Mercy is my job.
That's my focus, it's the raison d'être of my practice. Death penalty considerations come in the sentencing phase of a defendant's case. Whether or not to impose the death penalty is a decision made only after the defendant has been found guilty of the specific charges that bring with them the possibility of capital punishment.
Judgment and Mercy

In the Casey Anthony case, there's a tremendous amount of airtime and forum group time (think Websleuths) with energies being placed upon judgment.
I'm not seeing much on mercy. Are there considerations that may explain and mitigate this woman IF (and that's right: IF) she did the crime of which she has been accused?
Journalists are taught that to get the whole story, you must ask "who, what, where, when, why, and how."

In the Casey Anthony case, I'm not hearing many people asking that question WHY.
And, to me, that's the most important question. Why. Why did this death happen? Because that's the real answer we all want to know, I think, in any crime. And, because that's where mercy is found.

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