Anthony case judge accuses lawyers of gamesmanship

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 20, 2011 11:03 AM
Anthony case judge accuses lawyers of gamesmanship

By Jennifer Greenhill-Taylor

ORLANDO, Fla (Reuters) - Accusing the two lead lawyers in the Casey Anthony murder case of continued gamesmanship, Chief Judge Belvin Perry threatened a stepped-up work schedule and "fierce days" as the trial began its fifth week.

Casey, 25, is accused of strangling her daughter 2-year-old daughter Caylee on June 16, 2008 using duct tape, then storing her body in the trunk of a car.

"If you two don't want to be professional, I'll start working you a real, full day, with short lunch hours. I have a sequestered jury to worry about," Perry told the lawyers on Monday.

The first witness had not even been called before prosecutor Jeff Ashton and lead defense counsel Jose Baez were battling, accusing each other of delaying tactics while defending their own actions.

Judge Perry's voice was calm as he asked the two opponents to turn and tell him what time it was. Ashton said: "9:25," and Baaez responded: "9:26."

The judge shook his head, saying "That proves you two will never agree. Plan to work a full day on (next) Saturday." Saturday sessions have been running half days.

Casey Anthony's defense attorneys maintain her daughter Caylee accidentally drowned in the Anthony family's backyard pool, and no one reported her death.

The child's skeletal remains were found in woods near the Anthony family's home in the Orlando area on December 11, 2008, following a nationwide search.

Monday marks the first day of the high-profile trial's fifth week. During the fourth week the prosecutors concluded their presentation and the defense team began making its case.

Last Saturday, Judge Perry had warned attorneys the trial was not moving along quickly enough and threatened to extend each work day by an extra hour.

On Monday he seemed willing to carry out his threats. He also said if the attorneys didn't speed up their work, he would consider the extreme sanction of excluding evidence.

"Enough is enough," the judge continued.

He paused, and then said "Both sides need to be forewarned . I may have to consider exclusion, even at the price of having to do this all over. It may be the proper remedy if this continues"

(Editing by Jerry Norton)