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Bankruptcy judge mulling issues in Casey Anthony defamation cases

May 30, 2013 at 10:19 PM   |   Comments

TAMPA, Fla., May 30 (UPI) -- A hearing in federal bankruptcy court in Florida Thursday failed to immediately resolve the future of two defamation lawsuits against Casey Anthony.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge K. Rodney May said he anticipates ruling within about three weeks on whether Zenaida Gonzalez and Roy Kronk can pursue their lawsuits in state circuit court, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Both civil cases have been in limbo since Anthony, who fell into financial straits while successfully defending herself against murder charges in the 2008 death of her young daughter, Caylee, filed for bankruptcy protection in January. Anthony has been in hiding and did not attend Thursday's hearing in Tampa, the newspaper said.

Scott Shuker, one of Gonzalez's attorneys, lobbied the judge to allow his client's case to proceed.

"The only place to liquidate this is a jury trial," he said during the hearing, noting the defamation claim is "purely an issue of state law, nobody disputes that."

Debra Ferwerda, Anthony's lawyer, said the case isn't close to trial because Anthony's Fifth Amendment right not to testify has yet to be decided and said it is "going to take lengthy litigation."

Anthony's attorneys, who claim the lawsuits are frivolous, want the federal judge to rule whether the Kronk and Gonzalez suits can be eliminated by her bankruptcy before the claims' merits are determined at trial.

But May said that could be difficult if Anthony insists on not testifying.

"I'm at a loss, really," May said.

Gonzalez alleges she was defamed by Anthony's statements prior to her murder trial that a similarly named nanny, who turned out not to exist, had kidnapped Caylee.

Kronk is the meter reader who found Caylee's body in woods near the Anthony home. He claims Anthony's attorneys wrongly implicated him in the girl's death.

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