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How Much Will Casey Anthony Trial Cost Fla. Taxpayers?

Death penalty cases rack up millions

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By R. Leigh Coleman, Christian Post Reporter
July 7, 2011|9:53 pm

Trials are expensive, but death penalty cases costs the state millions.

As the emotional smoke clears, some have started to question why Casey Anthony's defense was publicly financed through the Justice Administrative Commission in Florida.

Anthony’s defense team filed a motion early in the case asking that the judge confirm her indigent status, essentially ordering the State of Florida to pay her legal defense fees and expenses.

Her legal team maintains they must provide a comprehensive and competent defense “against the open checkbook enjoyed by the prosecution in this murder case,” according to lead attorney Jose Baez in an interview.

Once it was decided by the Orange County Clerk's office that Casey Anthony was indigent then all those involved in the case have right to counsel – not just any counsel – but effective counsel.

Though the Anthony trial is over, the costs are still coming in, including protection and security for the Anthony family provided by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

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Analysts say a total figure on the cost to the state and to the taxpayers has not been totaled, but the figure could be topping out at some $4.5 million.

One reason behind this astronomical amount is because once the State of Florida put the death penalty into the case, the financial cost of defending Casey Anthony got more expensive.

Many 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 so they cover themselves by declaring them indigent so the state will bear the costs, legal analysts said.

“Somebody has to pay the defense,” said Eric Lofton, a retired criminal attorney in New Orleans, La.

“Many lawyers are talking about the costs to the state of Florida in this case and it is teaching us all some lessons about the system. I would think that Casey Anthony’s defense team signed on to get a portion of whatever she will make in a book deal. But that is just my opinion."

To put it into perspective, consider that the high profile O.J. Simpson murder trial cost Los Angeles County an estimated $9 million in court trial and prosecution costs, according to a USA Today analysis.

In that case, jurors were sequestered for 265 days, which is nearly five times longer than the jurors in the Anthony case were expected to be sequestered.

But it has been about 20 years since Orange County has sequestered a jury for the duration of a trial since most trials last about a week, according to county clerk’s office.

We do know that the jurors for the Casey Anthony case cost the state an estimated $360,000, which includes hotel lodging, meals, laundry, overtime pay for clerks, transportation and security, according to a cost breakdown provided by Ninth Judicial Circuit Court administrators.

The costs breakdown to about $112 per day. The expense breakdown also includes an estimated $3,962.32 for jury selection.

Records show the Orange County Clerk of Courts Office will pay most costs associated with the trial, as mandated by state statute. The Orange County Sheriff's Office will pick up the bill for most of the security.

On Saturdays, Wackenhut Corp., a private security company, will provide security at Orange County's expense, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The DA's office filed a motion recently notifying Anthony that the state of Florida will seek reimbursement for "special costs" due to the investigation and trial. That amount has not yet been determined.

Evidence shows that so far Anthony has received $200,000 from ABC News, $70,000 from former defense counsel Californian Todd Macaluso, and $5,000 from an anonymous donor. People from all over the country have sent in money for Anthony's jail commissary account.

This money has already been spent since Casey was first charged back in 2008, according to media reports.

"Money has been no object in the prosecution of this case," Baez said.

“We are just leveling the playing field.”

Here's a partial breakdown of the public financing recorded as of June for the case according to state records and the Palm Beach Post: (Note: Not all funds and receipts have been recorded and/or submitted for payment).

$38,672.38 This is the total amount the defense team has billed the state since a judge declared her indigent in March. It includes the $18,405.40 that's been paid so far, payments still pending and invoices returned due to insufficient documentation or duplicate filings.

$8,118.92 Expert witness Dr. Henry Lee – made famous by the O.J. Simpson murder case - in September billed JAC for travel and services. He said that fee included a 50 percent discount.

$11,123 Jeremiah Lyons Investigations has billed at least this much for interviewing witnesses, picking up law enforcement records, making public records requests and consulting with attorneys.

$6,413.88 The defense has billed at least this much for court reporting and transcription services

Here's the approximate cost of incarcerating Casey Anthony for more than two years at the Orange County Jail:

$68,629.40 as of Thursday. Anthony has been held continuously since Oct. 14, 2008. The per diem rate for inmates is $92.12. Jail officials say Anthony's actual cost of incarceration is likely higher because she is in protective custody and has special travel needs. Jail records show Casey Anthony is the 40th longest serving inmate at the facility.

Prosecution costs:
$42,200.16 The prosecution would not itemize the expenses because it would reveal work product. This total does not include salaries of the prosecutors working on the Casey Anthony case. Two of those salaries exceed $100,000 per year.

Before being declared indigent, Anthony's private sources totaled:
$275,000, including $200,000 paid by ABC News
Of that, $121,954.83 went to attorneys and a media consultant.

 

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