Casey Anthony Verdict

Marcia Clark of OJ fame weighs in on the Casey Anthony verdict. Not surprisingly, she thinks it’s worse than OJ’s.

My oldest son came into the world right around the time that OJ Simpson was arrested. He was a collicky baby and I spent many a late-night hour pacing wearily in front of the TV, trying to calm him while pundits droned on about the OJ-related developments of the day. We were taking him to look at colleges as the Casey Anthony trial reached its stunning conclusion and, stuck as we were in motels, we logged more time watching Nancy Grace, Geraldo, and Greta van Susteren than we had since Marcia Clark’s heyday.

I didn’t follow the Casey Anthony trial very closely at all, but I did happen to catch Baez’s closing argument one night on Court TV or Fox or whoever it was that broadcast it uninterrupted. Having listened to it all the way through, I wasn’t particularly suprised by the verdict. Not that I think she isn’t guilty–or that I doubt for a moment that she’s a sociopath. But the jury was told to work with the forensic evidence they’d been presented with in the courtroom, and most of it was pretty underwhelming. If Casey Anthony had been put on trial for her character, I can’t imagine they wouldn’t have found her guilty. But the prosecution asked them to convict her of first degree murder when they couldn’t even provide a definitive cause of death.

Along with the presumption of innocence comes the standard that it’s better to let a guilty person go free than an innocent go to jail or worse. Nevertheless the public at large–who are permitted to take all the circumstantial, emotional, anecdotal, and otherwise inadmissible evidence into account that they want to–are outraged when an unrepentant perpetrator goes unpunished. And why wouldn’t they be?

Pundits of the Nancy Grace persuasion go on TV and question the sanity or the intelligence of the jurors; Marcia Clark says it’s because they confuse “reasonable doubt with a reason to doubt.” There are angry protests and calls for reform; politicians propose legislation to criminalize the outrageous and damning behavior that the circumstantial case rested on (not reporting your baby missing, never mind getting La Bella Vida tattoos). What surprises and depresses me is that hardly anyone draws the complementary conclusion: that if our criminal justice system allows the guilty to go free now and then, it must also punish the innocent at least as much–probably more so, considering how much better prosecutors’ resources are than most defendants’.

During the weeks leading up to the Casey Anthony acquital, NPR ran a story about parents in Canada whose convictions for killing their babies were based on junk medical evidence. One mother was sentenced to life in prison and had her two surviving sons put up for adoption before she was exonerated after eighteen years. I’m not putting Casey Anthony in that category, but I think it’s worth remembering that when you vest your faith in an imperfect system, you’re going to get imperfect results. And then think of all the trials–the vast majority of them–that don’t get on TV.

I think it’s awful that Casey Anthony will be free to cash in on her notoriety. But I’m not sure who we’re supposed to blame for it. It’s not so much a miscarriage of justice as a peep into a sausage factory.

6 thoughts on “Casey Anthony Verdict

  1. Negative statements against CMA should warrant the death penalty. Anyone making any negative statements against Casey or Caylee Anthony should receive the death penalty, according to some blogs. Some say to have the authorities round up everyone connected to any IP-address, phone number, ect making any threats or any derogatory negative comments about Casey Anthony and charge them all with first-degree murder and they should call it CAYLEE’s LAW. Also, everyone charged will be automatically looking at the death penalty no matter what state they reside currently. The jury and the Judge have spoken loud and clear, Casey is not guilty of murder. Turn in your saved-site links to any NCIC so they can pursue prosecution against any business or personal blogger. Baez Law firm also has teams dealing with this issue and you can send them the links also for the upcoming lawsuits against the medias, bloggers, blog-sites and pages, radio, and others.

  2. I was speaking with a young man who was preparing for the NY Bar exam. He is dating my niece and I am concerned for her welfare. This man was a philosophy major in his undergrad, which I took to mean that he was interested in the truth. I asked him if an idealist who believed in the truth could practice law in this country at either table fronting the bench. He acknowledge the dilemma, but offered no solution.
    The truth is not found in a verdict, by a judge or jury. The truth is what it is. Interestingly in Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he says that we should not seek vengeance, but to leave that up to the Lord. Perhaps the reason is because we see the truth so dimly, while God sees it so perfectly.

    1. The standard of proof that the law subscribes to is an ostensibly objective one–someone saw it happen; a physical artifact (a fingerprint, a bloodstain) proves it happened just as the prosecutor says it did. The legal definition of truth is different than the religious one, for precisely the reason you state–because Absolute Truth can only be known to the Absolute. Isn’t it better to acknowledge that and act accordingly than to lay claim to a divine Infallibility that one manifestly doesn’t have?

      Maybe your niece’s boyfriend couldn’t answer the question, but I can (and I’m not a lawyer). Lawyers aren’t supposed to lie. They’re supposed to provide the strongest, most aggressive prosecution or defense possible WITHOUT knowingly lying. If it comes to the point that they believe they are lying, they’re supposed to recuse themselves from the case. Lawyers do have canons of ethics–and just as in any other profession, some of them (many of them) routinely violate them. The law is a highly complicated game, bound by an internally consistent set of rules–a trial is a contest rather than a philosophical inquiry or a foreshadowing of God’s justice. It’s human and hence intrinsically imperfect.

      1. The concern is not the liar, for his depravity is of little consequence to him. It is the periodic uncertainty of the place the honorable lawyer stands, followed by a tragic result of the innocent in jail or the guilty committing another offense. How do the lawyers not become in part culpable for such tragedies? Suggesting that there are different definitions for truth does not assuage the sense of guilt for playing a role in the travesty. The honorable lawyer is greatly needed, but even the most honorable will experience their own Dickinesque role in the tragedy. And knowing so, and knowing that it may occur time and again, why would the most honorable ever enter into the practice of law on either side? True it is a noble profession, but it comes with tragic result regardless of the best intents. We want idealists as lawyers, but the practice of law is the destruction of the idealist. Hence my implied suggestion that this young man might want to find another profession.

  3. Fly with the angels Caylee Marie Anthony

    (¯`v´¯)
    `*.¸.*´
    ¸.•´ ¸.•*¨)¸.•*¨)
    (¸.•´(¸.• (¸.•´¸¸.•¨¯`•.¸¸.♥ Keep this balloon going in memory of Caylee Marie ♥ forever in our hearts♥ Remember, Caylee, in your next life, don’t go into a pool by yourself, just like your mother and grandparents told you in your last life. TO HONOR CAYLEE’S MEMORY….PLEASE PASS THIS ON R.I.P. Baby girl Fly with Angels, but wear a lifevest!!

  4. Coleman–policemen make mistakes too. So do civil engineers, high school guidance counselors, journalists, pediatricians, and auto mechanics. Not to mention fashion designers, nutritionists, copyeditors, and clergymen. Some of them are blatantly dishonest; some of them just screw up.

    The New York Times had a bunch of articles today about the Casey Anthony verdict. One noted that “not proven” and “innocent” are two different things; another (Frank Bruni’s op ed piece) suggested that Casey Anthony “will be tripped up anew by her narcissism, dishonesty and icy heart. They’ll doom her. They just don’t happen to be grounds for a murder conviction.”

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