Eyes were fixed on the Orange County courthouse again today as Judge Belvin Perry announced to attorneys that the issue involving Casey Anthony’s probation status was a “mess” and “not a clear issue.”
The emergency hearing was scheduled to hear Casey Anthony's defense team debate an emergency motion to "quash, vacate and set aside" Judge Stan Strickland's amended order regarding the Anthony’s probation status stemming from an old check fraud conviction.
Anthony, acquitted of murdering her daughter Caylee, did not have to attend the emergency hearing. Her whereabouts are still unknown.
"If anything could go wrong, it went wrong here," Perry said in court Friday.
“I am not sure this court even has jurisdiction on the matter. It's not a clear black and white issue and I can't answer the question if someone is erroneously placed on probation can they be made to redo it. I just don't know the answer at this time."
Perry made no excuses about the case announcing in court that he was uncertain about his ability to remedy the dispute, calling it a "legal maze."
The morning court hearing lasted about two hours with attorneys and the judge examining Florida law in an effort to find the answers.
Lead defense attorney Jose Baez started off the hearing by questioning one of the Department of Correction’s probation officers.
Baez and Judge Perry questioned Senior Probation Officer Susan Finigan via phone. She was the officer assigned to the Casey Anthony case as a probation officer.
Finigan confirmed that Anthony served probation while in jail and received a termination letter in January of 2011 saying she had completed her probation term imposed after the check fraud conviction in 2008.
She also talked about the difficulties that her probation officers might encounter if Anthony is sentenced to probation again.
"All the public attention on the case would be a unique challenge," she said.
Perry did make it clear that he felt Anthony should not have been allowed to serve a probation while she was in jail.
The debate about the probation status goes back to Strickland’s verbal order and the written order.
Judge Perry said it was obvious in the verbal order that Strickland wanted Anthony to serve probation after her release.
Court records filed by the defense team show that in Strickland’s oral sentencing, he ordered Anthony to serve 412 days in jail and probation when she was released from jail.
An administrative error was made on the written sentencing, which allowed Anthony to serve her probation while in jail awaiting her murder trial.
Legal analysts say nobody caught the error until this week. But the state argued today that the function of probation is to help convicted criminals reenter their communities, something that could be hard to do while sitting in confinement in a jail cell.
Anthony’s legal team said it was double jeopardy “no matter if the decision was right or wrong.”
"The judge's oral pronouncement was not followed," Perry said.
He commented about the probation arrangement, saying "if you can call it probation in jail."
Legal analysts are saying that the probation issue is being brought up at this late date because nobody thought Anthony would be acquitted from the murder charges and “probation was a mute point.”
Judge Perry did say that administrative probation could be a possibility, which would allow Anthony to serve her probation out of state.
Strickland, who has been recused from the case and publicly questioned Anthony's murder acquittal, filed an order on Monday saying that his sentencing instructions were not properly implemented.
Defense attorney Lisabeth Fryer argued Anthony already served probation. As for Anthony's serving another probation term, Fryer said, "It's much too late for that. She has already completed and served that sentence. It is done."
A court spokeswoman said Perry is expected to rule later next week.