Is Cheney Mason a Responsible Attorney?

8 Dec

On December 1, 2010, Orlando defense attorney Cheney Mason filed a motion in the case of Casey Anthony requesting payment above the JAC approved rates for transcription services.

In September 2010, Mr. Mason conducted depositions in Nashville, TN, for which he contracted for transcription services with a local vendor.  Since his client is indigent and her court costs are being paid by the state of Florida through the JAC, Mr. Mason had a duty to ensure his vendor of choice would accept the JAC approved rates.

Mr. Mason claims in his motion he did ensure the vendor would accept the JAC rates, but the vendor now refuses to honor the agreement.

We will investigate if Mr. Mason did ensure his vendor of choice would accept the JAC rates by looking at the affidavit of K. Diana Marky, Mr. Mason’s legal assistant, submitted to the court with the motion.  Ms. Marky’s words may be found at the following link.

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/65329373/20101203-Defense-Motion-to-Authorize-and-Compel-Preparation-of-Transcripts

“2. I have been employed by J. Cheney Mason for approximately four years.”

This statement is too sad to comment upon.

“3. I had initial contact with Stogsdill Court Reporting Services in June of 2010, wherein I spoke with Sara McElfresh and her boss, Tyke Stogsdill.”

Ms. Marky spoke with two different people at Stogsdill, one who could make decisions and one who could not.

“4. I first spoke with Sara and explained to her the fact that this case was “indigent for costs”.  She said that she would have to “okay” that with her boss and call me back.  Tyke then called me, at which time I explained to him that this case was indigent for costs and that payment to him would be through the Justice Administrative Commission.  He stated that this would not be a problem.”

The statements about speaking to Ms. McElfresh are irrelevant as she was unable to make any decision regarding the reduction of rates.

“Tyke then called me” – Mr. Stogsdill initiated the communication.

“at which time I explained to him” – Ms. Marky “explained”.  Mr. Stogsdill did not understand and Ms. Marky was forced to explain.  Ms. Marky did not tell or inform, she “explained”.  There was confusion between the parties involved in this communication.

“that this case was indigent for costs” – “That” distances Ms. Marky from this statement.  How did she explain “indigent for costs” to Mr. Stogsdill?  Did he understand from the explanation the rates paid would be lower than his standard fees?  Ms. Marky did not state she explained the lower rates, just the fact Ms. Anthony would not personally be paying the fees.

“and that payment to him would be through the Justice Administrative Commission” – “That” distances Ms. Marky from this statement.  How did she explain the payment would come?  Did she state the check would be directly from the JAC?  Did she explain the rates would be lower than his usual because the payment would come from the JAC?  Did Mr. Stogsdill expect the difference between his rates and the JAC payment to be made up by the privately retained attorneys representing Ms. Anthony?  As has been explained in court to Mr. Baez, privately retained attorneys normally pay their own bills directly, then seek reimbursement from the JAC.  If Mr. Stogsdill, who probably deals with privately retained attorneys on a daily basis, believed Mr. Mason would pay him directly, he was most likely not interested in the JAC angle as it would be Mr. Mason’s problem to collect reimbursement.

Order is important.  Ms. Marky felt it was more important to inform the court she “explained” Ms. Anthony was indigent than her explanation of the payment coming directly from the JAC.  The point of Mr. Mason’s motion is to secure funding for the payment to the transcriber, but Ms. Marky prioritizes her communication of indingency before the payment source.  This brings into question exactly what she said to Mr. Stogsdill about payment.

“He stated that this would not be a problem” – What is “this”?  Did Mr. Stogsdill state Ms. Anthony’s indingency would not be a problem as he anticipated payment from her attorneys, or did he state receiving payment from the JAC “would not be a problem”?  We do not know.  “That” again distances Ms. Marky from her statement.  She is not comfortable with many things she has written.

“8. The Justice Administrative Commission packet for court reporter payment was e-mailed to Stogsdill Court Reporting Services on September 16, 2010 by defense counsel, Jose Baez’ office.”

Ms. Marky did not e-mail the JAC packet to Mr. Stogsdill.  We do not know to whom Mr. Baez’s office e-mailed the packet.  Was it to Mr. Stogsdill?  How is Ms. Marky able to verify what was done at Mr. Baez’s office?  Did she see the e-mail?  Did she receive verification it went through to the intended party?  If Ms. Marky and Mr. Mason are making these arrangements and agreements, why is Mr. Baez’s office e-mailing the most important and pertinent information?

“10. On September 27, 2010, after the depositions were taken, Jose Baez’ office contacted me to advise that Tyke had contacted them explaining that he was not informed that payment was going through the Justice Administrative Commission.”

“Jose Baez’ office contacted me to advise that Tyke had contacted them” – Ms. Marky makes a statement about a conversation she did not have with Mr. Stogsdill.  Although her statement about receiving a communication from the office of Mr. Baez may be true, anything she states about the conversation between Mr. Baez’s office and Mr. Stogsdill is hearsay.  “That” distances Ms. Marky from this statement.  Why did Mr. Baez’s office “advise” Ms. Marky rather than “tell” or “inform”?

“explaining that he was not informed that payment was going through the Justice Administrative Commission” – It was now Mr. Stogsdill’s turn at “explaining”.  There was confusion from previous communications and Mr. Stogsdill explained he “was not informed”.  Ms. Marky does not state he lied.  How was he able to explain he “was not informed” if she informed him as she claimed?

“12.  On October 8, 2010, I received a response e-mail from Tyke.  He went over the course of events, as he recalled them from his perspective, and advised, “There is absolutely no way that I am willing to reduce our rates to those reflected in the JAC packet”.”

“as he recalled them from his perspective” – Again, Ms. Marky does not state Mr. Stogsdill lied about being informed.  Mr. Stogsdill had “his perspective”, indicating “his perspective” was valid.

We have learned although Mr. Mason accepted the responsibility of representing an indigent client, he refuses to comply with the JAC regulations regarding vendors and payments.

We have learned Mr. Mason abdicated responsibility for ensuring he contracted with a JAC approved vendor by shifting the responsibility to his legal assistant.

We have learned Ms. Marky did not clearly communicate either the method or rate of payment to Mr. Stogsdill.

We have learned Mr. Stogsdill never agreed to reduce his rates.

We have learned Mr. Mason is irresponsible.

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17 Responses to “Is Cheney Mason a Responsible Attorney?”

  1. nums24 December 8, 2010 at 2:39 pm #

    I’m not sure I can name a single person on the defense who is “responsible”.

    This is the same defense that deposed only 24 of 348 people prior to the indigency hearing.

    Here’s an older article:

    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/entertainment_tv_tvblog/2010/03/casey-anthony-how-did-cheney-mason-do-in-joining-casey-anthonys-defense-team.html

    • bullstopper December 8, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

      “She’s unemployed, obviously, she’s in jail,” Mason said in that interview. ”I can see the taxpayers picking up $1 million without a lot of trouble.”

      LOL – and here he is having trouble getting less than $900 approved.

  2. feddup December 8, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

    Hi Bull.. to answer your question. Is Cheney Mason a responsible attorney? NO

  3. Venice December 8, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    Is he having fun yet?? He really showed his true colors with that statement!

    • bullstopper December 8, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

      Yeah, he did. He doesn’t seem to be having fun yet.

  4. Katprint December 8, 2010 at 5:12 pm #

    I wonder if Cheney Mason has ever represented an indigent criminal defendant before? I’m thinking he hasn’t, because he doesn’t seem to understand the rules.

    Most attorneys do some pro bono work because 1) the various State Bars either require or strongly recommend that attorneys donate 40-80 hours of their time per year and 2) if an attorney ever gets in trouble with the State Bar then the attorney can point to their pro bono work as evidence of their “good character” in support of a reduced punishment. However, because the Public Defender’s office exists to handle the defense of criminal defendants who cannot afford to hire an attorney, very few attorneys do pro bono representation of indigent defendants.

    A small number of criminal attorneys apply to be placed on a list of attorneys who can be appointed to represent indigent defendants who cannot be represent by the Public Defender’s office (for example, when an indigent co-defendant is being represented by the Public Defender.) Those attorneys agree in advance to a specified rate which is usually about half of their regular fees and they quickly gain experience and expertise in navigating the indigent for costs system.

    I think Mason simply made certain assumptions, and of course to assume makes an ass out of u and me as they say.

    • bullstopper December 8, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

      You have guessed my next article. As far as I can tell, he has zero experience with indigent clients.

      However, I don’t think his lack of experience is the key component in his multiple failures to abide by JAC policies. His ego is to blame. He feels he is above the usual protocols. He does not feel he needs to review and familiarize himself with the JAC procedures. His refusal to do so is his protest, but he is too dumb to realize only he, his client, and his co-counsels are hurt by his ignorance.

  5. Nevada December 8, 2010 at 5:31 pm #

    We’ve also learned someone actually named their kid Tyke Stogsdill.

    Wow.

    • bullstopper December 8, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

      Maybe Tyke is a nickname…

      …or maybe not…

      Personally, I liked Sara’s last name, “McElfresh”. Sounds like a new Christmas burger at McDonald’s made with 100% fresh ground Elf.

      • Nevada December 8, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

        🙂

        It’s gotta be better than the McRib.

  6. offthecuff December 8, 2010 at 6:39 pm #

    Perhaps we’re looking at this thing all wrong.

    We are expecting too much from the lawyer front.

    Is Mason responsible? Depends on who he’s compared to.

    If Casey had responsible lawyers, would this case contain the entertainment value it now has? Bloggers have come down hard on those of us who are “entertained” under such a serious situation.

    I suppose they’re right. However, what a mockery the defense is making of our court system. If Casey had someone more responsible, I don’t know if she would be in any better situation.

    • bullstopper December 8, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

      Are they really making a mockery of the court system? I have had this same thought many times.

      But maybe this is the way the system really works. We would like to think attorneys are responsible and worth the money they charge, but maybe most are like Jose and Mason, out for a quick buck and some fame.

      There must be a reason there are so many lawyer jokes…

  7. Michelle December 8, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    Too funny….glad you guys mentioned their funny names. Sara McElfresh and Tyke Stogsdill. They sound not only ridiculous, but sort of fake, in a “backwards kind of way” as KC says it! But they live in Tennessee, right? Explains some of the weirdness of names. No offense—guess I shouldn’t say that, not wanting to say all from TN have funny names!

  8. getreal December 8, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    Hey Bull. I don’t believe that Mason feels the need to be responsible. After all is said and done, when the trial is over and Casey is convicted, he can just shrug his shoulders and blame it all on Baez anyway. Maybe, he could say he didn’t get in on the case in time or something. At any rate, he will be retiring anyway, so it’s no loss to him. You can see now that he has very little to say at the hearings. Since he doesn’t hold the same sway over Judge Perry that he seemed to over Judge Strickland. And, if by chance there is no trial, whether he is responsible or not is a moot point anyway.

    • offthecuff December 8, 2010 at 9:25 pm #

      At first, I had such high hopes for Mason helping Baez out a little. Not to get Casey off, but to help Baez look more professional and getting business taken care of.

      Oh, well, I’m sure they both have written Santa by now pleading that he make this nightmare go away, and in exchange get a nice, tame case.

  9. cecelia December 8, 2010 at 8:40 pm #

    Great article thank you Bull! Not only is Chehuh?ney irresponsible he’s also very arrogant.
    pride goeth before a fall, i think fumbles and mumbles are going to fall very hard JMO

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