A Florida judge on Wednesday stayed an earlier order that would have required Ms. Anthony’s presence at the probation department by 10 a.m. Thursday.
Instead, Chief Judge Belvin Perry will conduct a hearing on Friday morning to determine whether Ms. Anthony will be required to serve an additional one year of probation now that she had been released from the Orange County Jail.
Anthony is not required to attend the Friday hearing either.
The dispute arose last week when the judge who handled Anthony’s 2010 guilty plea for writing fraudulent checks discovered that the probation department had conducted her one-year supervised probation at the jail while she was still being detained pretrial for her upcoming murder trial.
Anthony was sentenced in January 2010 by Judge Stan Strickland to serve 412 days in the county jail in the fraudulent check case. She was given credit for time served since she was already being detained on the murder charge. But Judge Strickland also ordered that Anthony complete one year of supervised probation “once released.”
Somehow, those two words “once released” were never recorded on Anthony’s sentencing order. Probation officials began conducting their supervision of Anthony while she was still in the jail.
Probation department records document that all the required checks and verifications were performed. A year later, on Jan. 25, 2011, the department sent a letter to Anthony confirming that she had satisfied the probation requirement of her sentence.
“You are hereby notified that you completed your term of supervision on 1-24-2011 … and are no longer under the supervision of the Department of Corrections,” the letter says in part.
It adds: “I would like to extend to you best wishes for a very successful future.”
The letter arrived as Anthony and her defense team were making final preparations earlier this year for her approaching trial on charges that she murdered her daughter, Caylee. Florida prosecutors were seeking the death penalty.
After her acquittal on the murder charges, Anthony was released from jail on July 17 after being given credit for time served. She was whisked out of Orlando amid multiple threats and has since been living in an undisclosed location.
The probation issue arose last week when Judge Strickland discovered that his probation order had not been carried out. Last Friday, he issued an order correcting his previous written order, which required Anthony to serve a year of supervised probation now that she is out of jail.
Anthony’s lawyers complain that the action was taken without notice to them or their client, and that any attempt to return her to Orlando might place her in danger given continuing threats issued against her.
They also argue that Strickland, who had already been disqualified from presiding over the murder trial, was biased against Anthony.
They cite as proof, Stickland’s appearance on the Nancy Grace television program shortly after the not guilty verdict. The judge said in part: “I guess I’m just shocked. We opened a big can of justice, didn’t we?”
He also appeared on a local television station and was critical of the jury’s verdict, suggesting they lacked understanding of circumstantial evidence and the concept of reasonable doubt.
“Such unbridled prejudice by a sitting judge calls into question the validity of any rulings made after recusal,” wrote Anthony lawyer Cheney Mason in an emergency motion.
On Wednesday, Strickland recused himself from the case. The matter is now before Chief Judge Perry, who presided over the murder trial.
In the Friday hearing, Perry must decide whether the one-year probation Anthony served in jail satisfies Strickland’s sentence or whether she must serve a term of probation now that she is released from jail.
“Ms. Anthony actually did serve her probation,” Mr. Mason writes in his motion. “Any second sentence for probation imposed will be in violation of Ms. Anthony’s rights of protection against double jeopardy under both the Florida state and United States Constitution.”