Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Until Proven

Like everyone else in the world it seems, I feel compelled to discuss the Casey Anthony verdict.  Though she was found guilty of providing false information to authorities, she was acquitted of the murder charges.

In case you've been under a rock, she was accused of killing her two year old little girl, Caylee.

Information about the case can be found here.

I did not watch the trial.  I did not sit in the courtroom.  I was not on the jury. 

Consequently, I cannot say what I would have voted had I been there, given only the evidence deemed admissible by the court. 

The thing that many people seem to forget about our justice system is that the jury has to make their decision solely on the evidence allowed.  Not on speculation, not on rumors, not on television coverage or interviews from experts looking in from the outside.  There may be evidence, completely relevant to the case at hand, that is not admitted in the case for one reason or another. 

Actual guilt or innocence often means nothing.  It's what can be proven that counts.

Like it or not, this is the system we have.  As frustrating as it may be to see defendants who are probably guilty of the crimes they are accused of freed, the system exists for a reason.  And in the event that any one of us were ever accused of a crime of which we were innocent, we would be grateful for that system.

In a case like this, the jury has to agree that the accused is guilty beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt. 

It's a high threshold to cross, particularly in a case like this, constructed almost entirely of circumstantial evidence.  Yes, the evidence was made circumstantial deliberately through the lying of the accused here.  I'm not ignoring that truth.

Still, knowing that this is the system I was trained to understand, and for a time was a part of on the prosecution side, sometimes it just sits wrong in your gut.

Sometimes someone walks. 

Sometimes everyone knows that the person is guilty, but that doesn't matter.

Sometimes an injustice is created in the name of protecting it.

My knee jerk reaction to the verdict was the same as everyone else it seems.  Disbelief.  Shock.  Disappointment.  Particularly given that the verdict was returned so quickly.  

I was even more disappointed that they acquitted.   A hung jury would have been infinitely better, because it would have left the opportunity for another trial. 

Now, she walks. 

As a mother, there are so many pieces of this case that speak to me.  The primary one being the time that elapsed between the supposed disappearance of the girl and the reporting of it.  I know that any time I've not known where my kids were for a few moments caused panic.  Fear.  Uneasiness. 

The last thing I would have been doing in that time period is partying.  Drinking.  Dancing.

How could a mother who claims to love her child do that?  I just can't wrap my head around it. 

Of course, she explained that all eventually by saying that the baby girl didn't really disappear.  That she drowned.  That Casey and her father hid the body. 

Then she turned around and accused her father, her supposed co-conspirator, of abuse. 

Again, I don't really know what happened in the household where Casey was raised.  I don't know if she was abused.  I'd venture a guess that she wasn't, and it was just creative lawyering, since it was never mentioned before trial. 

That creative lawyering worked.

It got her off.

The best way I can think of to move forward here is to ensure that neither she nor her attorneys are permitted to profit from this case.  I do not fault her lawyers for what they have done here.  I don't.  And it's not just a professional courtesy I'm extending.  They did exactly what the system asks of them, what the system permits.  They forcefully advocated for their client.  Period.

And yet, their ethics will be questioned.  For the accusations made against the father.  For the inconsistencies in the stories.  For the plain fact that I don't know how you can defend someone like her and sleep at night.  I don't know how they can live with themselves, knowing that a little girl is dead and they helped her killer go free. 

Cases like this are a big reason why I have no desire to ever practice criminal law.  It's dirty.  And it's a filth that you can't wash off. 

What you can do, what we all can do, is refuse to allow them to profit from this case.   Refuse to let Casey or her lawyers to make a cent from the death of this little girl.   Refuse to listen to their speaking engagements.  Refuse to buy the books that they inevitably write. 

One of the most disturbing things I heard today was that ABC news paid Casey $200,000 for the use of family photos.  They paid for journalistic access, which is a silent violation of the trust and ethics in that industry all on it's own.  And in doing so, they allowed her to profit from the murder of her baby.

Turning on your porch lights is a nice gesture and all, but it's not bringing Caylee back.  Speak your mind with your pocketbook.

Remember the little girl here. 

Money talks, make sure it says what it should.


  1. Boy, what you said here really struck a chord in me. I'm glad you spoke up and said what we all need to remember: there is a system here, based on being able to accuse someone with hard evidence. You're right, we would want these same standards for ourselves if we were ever caught in a terrible situation where everyone "just knew" we were guilty. Of course I agree with you that this woman was a piece of work and behaved completely inappropriately regarding her child. For an infertile woman like me, it's particularly galling. And I'll take your advice and refuse to pay for anything to do with this trial and the people involved in it. I hope their consciences strike them all at some point.

  2. Food for thought....Ultimately, I agree with you. We didn't sit in that court room. We didn't listen to evidence. We weren't in the house where this mother and child grew up. We don't know! All we can do is speculate and guess and think of what we personally would do or would have done. In the end, it doesn't matter. We are not the jury. In the end, she will speak to her higher power for what she has or hasn't done. Lastly, I agree completely in that we should NOT be helping her financially in any way and reminding your readers to make sure that their money sends the message they want it to is superb!


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