During a court hearing on March 24, 2011, while questioning a police officer who worked with a cadaver locating canine in the search for Caylee Anthony in 2008, Mr. Baez attempted to declare the witness as adverse. Ms. Burdick, the prosecutor, kindly interpreted Mr. Baez’s incorrect terminology to assume he was trying to establish the officer as a hostile witness, an declaration to which she objected.
A verbal exchange between Mr. Baez and the court, who requested Mr. Baez to explain the legal reasoning behind his request, may be heard and seen at the following link.
Jose Baez: “I think the requirement would be that this witness may be called by the opposing party and is a witness of the opposing party, he’s on the opposing party’s witness list and should be considered an adverse slash hostile witness.”
The word “witness” appears four times in this short statement. Mr. Baez is sensitive about this officer being a “witness”. Although Mr. Baez is in the middle of a hearing in which the defense is trying to suppress the findings of the canine, a ruling which would result in this “witness” most likely not being called at trial, Mr. Baez states, “this witness may be called by the opposing party”. Mr. Baez is stating he believes this “witness” will testify at trial, indicating Mr. Baez does not believe his bid to suppress will be successful. Mr. Baez is contemplating a future, even as he continues to question the “witness”, in which this officer will deliver testimony devastating to the defense in trial.
The phrase “adverse slash hostile witness” indicates Mr. Baez is unwilling to accept the kindness of the prosecutor who attempted to assist him in his use of flawed legal terminology, much as Mr. Baez refuses the kindness of Bullstopper in regards to advice concerning the proper use of the English language. According to Wikipedia, “A hostile witness is sometimes known as an adverse witness or an unfavorable witness.” So, while it seems it may be acceptable to “sometimes” refer to a hostile witness as an “adverse witness”, it seems clear from Ms. Burdick’s attempt to preclude any confusion, the term “hostile” is more appropriate. An attorney should understand the use and importance of specific words, especially those involved in his profession, as an attorney’s job revolves around the meaning behind each word.
Judge Perry: “Well, you haven’t established anything that shows he’s hostile.”
Again referencing Wikipedia, “A witness called by the opposing party is presumed hostile. A witness called by the direct examiner can be declared hostile by a judge, at the request of the examiner, when the witness’ testimony is openly antagonistic or clearly prejudiced to the opposing party.”
In this instance, Mr. Baez is the direct examiner. Mr. Baez called the witness. Therefore, the witness is not “presumed hostile.” Mr. Baez must show the officer’s testimony is “openly antagonistic or clearly prejudiced”. Instead, Mr. Baez attempted to declare the witness hostile because he appears on the prosecution’s witness list. Mr. Baez may not understand the legal ramifications of the defense calling a witness, no matter whose trial witness list on which they may appear, during a hearing.
Why would Mr. Baez wish to declare the witness hostile?
Again from Wikipedia, “A party examining a hostile witness may question the witness as if in cross-examination, thus permitting the use of leading questions.”
Mr. Baez does not possess the skill as a direct examiner to obtain the answers he wishes to be stated for the court record through the phrasing of his questions. Mr. Baez feels he must lead the witness in order to accomplish his goals.
Jose Baez: “Oooookaaaaay… uhhh… now…”
Mr. Baez’s long, slow “Oooookaaaaay”, as well as his smirk and nervous laugh, indicates he does not understand why the judge is stating Mr. Baez did not establish “anything that shows he’s hostile”. This points to a fundamental lack of knowledge on the part of Mr. Baez concerning the difference between direct and cross-examination.
Judge Perry: “So, objection will be sustained.”
Another loss for the defense due to the inexperience of lead counsel.
Jose Baez: “Can you read the last question back for me, please?”
Mr. Baez is so flustered by his loss, he has lost track of line of questioning, another sign of inexperience and poor planning.
We have learned Mr. Baez may not understand the legal subtleties involved when acting as the direct examiner as opposed to cross-examination, a lack of understanding which may cost Ms. Anthony her life.
We have learned Mr. Baez is terrified of the alerts of the canine to various evidence and locations throughout this investigation and believes they will be extremely damaging to his bid to win the freedom of Ms. Anthony, but does not believe he will be able to suppress the officer’s reports from trial.
We have learned anyone can learn what Mr. Baez doesn’t know from a one-minute trip to Wikipedia.