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Justice and the Casey Anthony Verdict

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If you are unhappy about the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial, you are obviously not alone. TV personality (I use this word kindly) Nancy Grace and probably millions of others are angry that Anthony was found “not guilty” of the most serious charges involving the death of her daughter Caylee. While Grace and all the rest are entitled to their opinions (and I too feel that the woman was guilty), the idea of “injustice” that seems to permeate the media in regards to this case seems out of hand.

What we have here is a public that is unhappy with the system: in this case a trial by jury. Part of our inalienable rights is trial with a jury of our peers, and in this case that means Florida residents. As with the O.J. Simpson case, the jury found a person that the public and media found guilty from the start not guilty. How dare they?

I believe we cannot like the system only when it works in our favor – the Scott Peterson trial for instance. The truth is that no one knows what is going on in the minds of jurors during a trial. Something as insidious as “if it doesn’t fit you must acquit” may just sway them, and celebrity can play a part as well – just don’t tell that to Phil Spector.

If the public is unhappy with a jury system that could explain why “terrorist combatants” are pushed into military tribunals. Can you imagine a 9-11 conspirator standing trial in New York City and being acquitted by a jury? Well, I am sure everyone in the government realizes what that would do and the pandemonium that would ensue in the streets of New York.

I don’t think we want to reach a point in this country when trial by jury is dissolved because of unpopular verdicts. Yes, we can all moan about Casey Anthony going free, but that is always a possibility and our system allows that. O.J. Simpson now rots in jail (on an unrelated charge), but that is also how the system works. Maybe justice takes time and maybe the system is not perfect, but as far as I know there are no Jury 101 classes in schools, and perhaps that would endanger the system further depending on the intent of instructors and the curriculum.

My fear is we could reach a point where there are no more juries, where tribunals or judges would rule on their own, where maybe even a trial itself was eliminated and the “swift justice” of the past becomes an angry lynch mob dragging people off for their appointments with a tree limb (think Atticus Finch standing in the way of the mob in To Kill a Mockingbird).

So, we may feel the Casey Anthony verdict was wrong, but that doesn’t mean the system is. Trial by jury still is an important freedom in this country, and we should cherish it because many other places wish they had it in place. Let’s hope we always have the right to a jury of our peers because even if it is a flawed system it is better than having the alternative.

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana has published numerous stories, articles, and poems in literary magazines and online. His books In a Dark Time (1994), A Death in Prague (2002), Move (2003), The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories (2005) and Like a Passing Shadow (2009) are available online and as e-books. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated mostly on fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with Blogcritics since July 2005, has edited many articles, was co-head sports editor with Charley Doherty, and now is a Culture and Society editor. He views Blogcritics as one of most exciting, fresh, and meaningful opportunities in his writing life.
  • http://www.davescorner.org Dave Carpenter

    As far as I am concerned, Casey Anthony got what she deserved. I am not going to retype here what I typed on my blog, you can read it there.

  • John Lake

    Mr. Lana:
    At the onset, on the presentation by the jury of the verdict, there was outcry from the Public that wrong had been perpetrated, a faulty finding had been concluded. That was to be expected; the media had proclaimed Casey guilty from the beginning and at every break in the trial, the public had the task (CNN watchers in specific) of listening to hand wringing and screeches from ‘experts’ who would burn the girl now, and examine the case at some more convenient time. In more recent hours, the public has begun to accept the finding of the jury of peers.

    The case differs from the O.J.Simpson case; Simpson was a wealthy brute, with training in the art of acting. When he showed the mis-fitting gloves (over plastic wrap) to the camera, some doubt was produced in the public who watched, and the judge was absolved from wrongdoing.
    Interesting that you mention the tribunal issue for terrorists, since that is another situation in which the media has behaved in a way that defies explanation. Maybe someday these questions will be answered.

    In a trial for murder, there must be at the end, no question, no conjecture. We didn’t find that outcome in this trial. The prosecution (and the media) chose to focus on details of Casey Anthony’s personality. She lies. She works in a tavern. She is a friend to the tavern patrons. She must be a murderer too. In a murder case, we know, all accused persons must enter a plea of ‘innocent’. Then, in order to be consistent, they are permitted not to incriminate themselves. It is the prosecution must prove the case. In the Anthony case, they simply didn’t. The media feels it has been made to look foolish, and is inflaming the public; they are like ‘tea party’ extremists who would take guns to the white house to evict the president. That and this just isn’t right, and doesn’t speak well for the direction in which modern society is moving.

    The jury had access to evidence the public didn’t see. They were spared exposure to media maniacs. They were not confused, they simply had unanswered questions. Time may reveal some third parties, had more involvement than we know. New charges may be brought, but there is no proof, no irrefutable evidence that Casey did anything wrong but to mislead the police.

  • http://viclana.blogspot.com/ Victor Lana

    Thanks for the comments. John Lake, you elucidate so well many aspects of this case. I wonder about many things and, though I thought she was guilty, I also think others are involved – her father being a prime suspect. If he abused her as a child (and later on abused Caylee and then tried to cover it up with murder) I do hope it will come out.

  • John Lake

    My feeling leans more toward the thought that he might have considered abusing, or threatened to abuse, Caylee. Very sad case. Maybe more is coming.

  • Sherry

    I too thought she was guilty, but I dislike the mob mentality that has taken over. I dislike some women proclaiming her guilty because they “are a mom.” What does that have to do with Casey’s guilt or innocence – they have no more insight than anyone else just because they gave birth or adopted a child.

    While I find Casey’s actions after her daughter’s death reprehensible and disgusting I have to admit they don’t prove she killed her daughter in cold blood. I keep thinking so many think she is guilty because of the photos of her in a sexy dress, and the idea that she participated in a “hot body contest” is too much for a lot of people. We don’t know why she hid the death of her daughter for so long.

    I really hate that someone that would toss her daughter in a garbage bag and leave her on the side of the road proclaims that she loves and misses her daughter, but still her actions do not prove first degree murder. And that unfortunately is what the jury had to go on.

  • Jaim

    I really doubt George or Lee abused Casey or Caylee. This was just another one of Casey’s lies used to push suspicion onto someone else and also gain sympathy. She never accepts responsibility for her own actions and tries to push blame on others. It didn’t matter to her if her lies would permanently smear her father and brother. When she realized she had no way to explain her deplorable behavior, for those thirty-one days, she constructed a tale of sexual abuse. The thing that really bothers me about this is that people would actually believe, that someone who is abused, should be given a pass for possible murder. It’s just like the Polanski argument. Yes, he lost Sharon Tate and his unborn child in an awful murder, and much of his family died in the holocaust, but that doesn’t excuse the alleged rape of a fourteen year-old girl in the seventies. He shouldn’t be allowed to get away with harming a child just because he’s suffered a lot in his life. There are many people who are survivors of tragedy and sexual violence who do not go out and repeat those actions on other people. One thing is not the other, and I feel sick that Casey’s little ruse seemed to have worked on some of the public.

    Justice will prevail eventually. I feel that the miscarriage of justice carried out in this case by the jury will somehow be corrected by the universe. Karma is not about revenge but it is about balance. Balance will be restored.

    “To sin is a human business, to justify sins is a devilish business.”

    Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

  • heloise

    Victor,
    my daughter and I were talking about this on yesterday. She was called for jury duty, she is a PT with a clinical doctorate, and once I was called for jury duty for a murder trial. I have a master’s degree.

    It turns out that I knew the twins who were on trial for capital one murder. They had been my students and were classified as SPEDs. The lawyers had me sworn in and asked me questions for at least two hours. And as a lawyer in my last life I love to talk and talked away. They hung on my every word and then did not pick me nor my daughter (recently) for jury duty.

    She said her defendant was a doctor and thought that it would be in his best interest if people like her were selected for his jury. She was a peer. I told her that she didn’t get it. The defense picks the jury and some jurors are swatted down or jettisoned after some talk. I was one of them.

    The defense “DUMBS down” the jury. There I said it. That’s your headline: the jury is not one of peers but ones that suit the defense and the outcome they want “not guilty!”

    Sure lots of circumstantial cases get the death penalty, esp. if they are black, illegals, brown Mexicans, or white men who kill their white wife and unborn child (Scott Peterson). There you have it. A jury of your dumbest peers is what our legal system is all about. It is not about a fair trial by a jury but about who gets picked to sit on one.

    Perhaps we should abolish juries as they have served their purpose because, drumroll they can be FIXED. Juries are as shady as the people who sit for trials. In the Casey case they were dumb as dull knives in a drawer full of sharp scissors (liars).

    If I had been on this jury I would have pointed out that since the prosecution or the laws were at fault and there was no crime on the books for what that lying broad did to her dead three year old…would have gone for the lowest of the major defenses at least one felony on her record would be nice, regardless to whether it fit. Then everybody would have been happy because she would have gotten another ten years and there would have been no need for appeal or by appeal time she would be released for time served, another seven to ten years.

    Damn that’s funny.