Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Casey Anthony Trial...My take

When it comes to big pop culture events like the Casey Anthony trial, I always come to the party late and over-dressed. I only really became aware of the thing and how huge it was while listening to the verdict being read on my car radio coming back from the beach. Basically I knew the outline of the story but none of the details. I never watched one minute of the trial on television. What I knew was that this batty party girl single Mom was accused of killing her adorably doe-eyed daughter. I also knew that pictures of Ms. Anthony had surfaced showing her partying like it was 1999 at the same time that her child was listed as missing. Although these facts prove conclusively that Casey Anthony is a loathsome human being, they do not necessarily add up to a murder conviction.

The reaction to the innocent verdict in this case has been reminiscent of the anger that poured forth out of the nation after the O.J. Simpson trial. It is seemingly unanimously believed that a gross injustice has been done here. The jurors in this case have been subjected to bitter condemnations from all quarters. The talking heads of the media have been apoplectic in their outrage. Cable news legal analysts who were all so outrageously and spectacularly wrong were reduced to sputtering incoherent gibberish and ass-covering. Nobody enjoys watching the media being made fools of more than me, but I did sense that justice had been denied. The overwhelming and sometimes ridiculous reaction of so many to the verdict did spark curiosity on my part to at least investigate the story and see what all the fuss was about. After doing so I have come to the conclusion that A. Casey Anthony was guilty of murder and therefore got away with it, and B. the jury made the right decision to acquit her of the charge. Let me explain.

In our system of justice the scales are and should be tilted towards the accused. We have a presumption of innocence. The state has a harder job than the defense. A defense attorney only has to convince one juror that there is reasonable doubt to free his client. The prosecutor has to convince all 12 jurors. In this case in particular where the case against Anthony was circumstantial the job is even harder. As I researched this case I learned that there was no murder weapon, no forensic evidence, not even an agreed upon cause of death or even time of death. What there was , was a despicable woman and a dysfunctional family and an adorable innocent child. But the jurors were not charged with making moral judgments about the defendants’ character, they were charged with coming to a unanimous conclusion concerning the facts and evidence of the case and they did so. The prosecution could not argue the facts of the case so they portrayed Anthony as a slut and unfit mother. The defense did its job of proving reasonable doubt by pointing out the lack of actual evidence. This case had bushel baskets of reasonable doubt! When the state places the fate of a human being in the hands of a jury of her peers one hopes that that jury listens carefully to the facts, follows the charge given to it by the presiding judge, and makes their decision accordingly.

Did Casey Anthony kill that little girl? I’m 99% sure. But in our system it has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In such a system, sometimes guilty people are set free. When that happens it isn’t pretty. However, I prefer to live under a system of justice that occasionally sets guilty people free than one that routinely convicts the innocent. God bless America.