Legal Ethics

Accused of Being 'Self-Aggrandizing Media Hound,' Casey Anthony Judge Steps Down


A Florida judge who has overseen the high-profile Casey Anthony murder case for almost two years has agreed to step down in response to a recusal motion filed late Friday that accused him of being too friendly with a blogger with a pro-prosecution bias.

In response, Orange Circuit Judge Stan Strickland said this afternoon that the recusal motion “accuses the undersigned of being a ‘self-aggrandizing media hound.’ Indeed. The irony is rich,” he writes, pointing out that the defense filing appeared to have been positioned to maximize media attention, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

However, rather than face likely repetition of the bias argument at multiple points down the road, the judge said, he thought it best to step aside even though he had done nothing wrong, reports the Associated Press. He spoke with the blogger in open court, Strickland noted, after reviewing the case’s Internet exposure in an effort to address a change-of-venue motion.

Casey Anthony, 24, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of her toddler daughter, Caylee, and pointed the finger at a baby sitter.

Meanwhile, an Ohio judge accused in another high-profile murder case of taking too active a role on the Internet has refused to step aside, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Although it appears from the newspaper’s reporting that the court computer and a personal e-mail account Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold shares with her daughter may have been used to post anonymous Internet comments about defendant Anthony Sowell and his counsel in the serial murder case, Saffold has rejected at least two of three defense motions requesting that she step down as having no basis in fact or law, the Plain Dealer says.

In a court hearing last week, the newspaper reports, Saffold said that Sowell’s attorney, Rufus Sims, was “the only person in this room calling me a liar.”

Sowell’s lawyers said they planned to petition the state supreme court today seeking Saffold’s removal from the case.

Related earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Caylee Anthony is Dead and Was Murdered, Fla. Medical Examiner Says”

ABAJournal.com: “Judge Sues Newspaper for $50M, Claims Breach of Promised Anonymity re Web Comments”

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