[As is usually the case with these things, I was more interested in the reaction to the Casey Anthony verdict than in the actual case itself. I really didn’t want to write on it. But it involved criminal law (cuz I’m a lawyer!) and my opinions seemed to be outside the mainstream. And that’s all it takes to become blog-worthy. So these will be the first and last words I will ever write on this subject. In numbered, random thought format (12 of them! One for each juror!)].
A shot of my Facebook news feed moments after the verdict was read
1) The difference in opinion between men and woman – and lawyers and non-lawyers – was incredible. The lawyers I know basically said, “I saw this coming.” The women picked up the proverbial pitchforks. Proving, once again, that women hate women.
2) On that note, I’d like to welcome all my female friends back to reality. How were you all able to take all that time off work to spend a month and a half down in Orlando watching the trial?
3) Please stop with the “Casey Anthony is going to spend less time in jail than [somebody who was convicted of a crime].” We know this. This is because she was not convicted of a crime. Also, it might not even be true – she’s spent 3 years in jail. That’s longer than Kwame.
4) Lawyers: How long would it have taken you to strike every woman from that jury pool during voir dire? Five seconds? Three seconds? This case was won during jury selection. (Yes, I know the jury was gender-balanced).
5) More substantively, I'm not sure how is a "perversion" of the justice system. The standard is "beyond a reasonable doubt." That standard has been around for a couple hundred years. It was deliberately chosen because we decided, as a nation, that in the inevitable clash between guilt and innocence, we would err on the side of caution. The standard is not, "probably," or "I don’t like her face," or "is a terrible mother," and as much as you would like it to be one of those right now, you would not want to live in a country where the standard was that flexible. This is not Project Runway. If anything, this was a validation of our justice system.
6) Speaking of perversions of the justice system, the flood of angry tweets and statuses in the minutes after the verdict was read reminded me of that one time we experienced a real miscarriage of justice. Or, you know, the last couple hundred. Or not.
7) Seriously though, the ease with which people screamed for this woman’s head – literally, as she probably would have received the death penalty if convicted – without being privy to any substantial amount of evidence makes my head hurt. You are literally calling for somebody to die based on stuff you heard from Nancy Grace. That is sick. The Ancient Romans think you’re barbaric.
8) Speaking of Nancy Grace, I’m not touching that. But Brian Dickerson of the Detroit Free Press already smoked her.
9) Despite all that, I do understand some of the venom – at least if you spent more than 10 minutes following the case. But for the people who paid as much attention as anybody else, this case wasn’t even close. The jury deliberated for 11 hours...but only found Anthony guilty on four counts of lying to a police officer. This wasn’t exactly a “12 Angry Men” situation. I don’t necessarily trust anybody else on this planet, but I will put a little more stock in the opinions of people who watched every day of this trial in person than those of people who caught bits and pieces between episodes of Pawn Stars (to paraphrase a friend). That, more than anything else, makes me pause before calling for blood.
10) Speaking of, how on earth is it a crime to lie to a cop? That would be like a hooker prosecuting you for paying for sex.
11) I guess, in the end, I get the emotional reaction. I get the “she’s a terrible mom” and “she probably killed her kid,” and the anger over the fact that she’s not going to prison. But man…we’re really trying to stay away from the mob justice system around here. And when we start pretending that we want one, bad things happen. When twelve people who watched every minute of this trial decide without much hesitation that the state had not proved its case, and we sit around and say, “You don’t know squat. She should die” based on snippets we picked up on the evening news, that’s not good. We designed this system with the explicit knowledge that something like this could happen. There’s no sense in blowing a gasket when it functions exactly as planned, no matter how unsettling that result may be.
12) If I even have a point here (not sure I do), it’s this: It’s a little irresponsible (and a bit crazy) to be calling for somebody’s death based on so little knowledge of a case, especially when the people present seem to have no doubt that the burden of proof was not met. The trial lasted over a month with I don’t know how many witnesses. But, given the time these examinations usually last, every time you read something like, “Witness X said Y,” you are literally missing about 99% of what that witness actually said. And condemning somebody to death based on an incomplete understanding of the case and your personal burden of proof is not a justice system. It’s a recipe for disaster.
And that’s all I have to say about that. At least until somebody calls me a baby killer in the comments.