Friday, July 8, 2011

Water Cooler Verdicts

I've been listening to the water cooler talk the past few days concerning whether our judicial system works or is broken beyond repair as a result of the recent "not guilty" verdict handed down in the Casey Anthony trial.

Now, I am in favor of people having an opinion. But, for the most part, our opinions on this case are uninformed. The best decisions on guilt or innocence come from those persons who sit in the courtroom, hear and weigh all of the evidence, see the demeanor of the witnesses, and apply the facts to the law as instructed to them by the judge. Our opinions are formed from television comentary, pieces of facts we have heard and from personal prejudices we may have based upon the limited information received.

For the past 3 years this case has been tried in the media.  TV lawyers were quick to proclaim the guilt of Casey Anthony and rediculed her defense for his incompetent representation of Anthony, saying that Anthony would go to the death chair because of his ineptitude.  But now these same news pundits are scrambling to praise the defense attorney for his creativity and ingenuity in the defense of the case.  

While many of us are guided by emotions, strong feelings and sympathy should not determine the outcome of a criminal case.  I don't know why a mother would not report her child missing for 31 days. That fact alone makes me sick, but I have to admit that this fact does not prove her guilt or innocence of intentionally killing her child.

The prosecution had a difficult circumstantial case.  There was no admission or murder weapon.  No cause of death was determined and no motive ever surfaced.

A finding of not guilty is not a conclusion that Anthony is innocent.  The jury simply did not find sufficient evidence to convict for the charges brought.

I served as a juror on a case that involved the death of a 7 year old little girl.  As a juror we took the responsibility of "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" very seriously.  There were 12 people who knew that the person on trial was "probably" responsible for the death of this child but the state had not proven it beyond a reasonable doubt.  We reluctantly had to come back with a not guilty verdict.  I personally felt sick for the family but I knew that I had followed what the law dictated me to do.

Most of us would rather be tried by a jury of 12 than one judge or heaven forbid, public opinion.

It was very hard not to be caught up in the emotion of this trial.  A beautiful little girl is dead and no one is taking responsibility for her death. 

If you have never served as a juror or been in a courtroom stop by and watch a criminal trial.  I believe you will be enlightened and  though our system is not without its imperfections I am proud to be an American where all of our citizens are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of our peers.


marciamayo said...

I agree, Dani. For quite a few people, the Anthony trial was like having the circus in town. They miss the circus so they are keeping it going on Facebook, etc.
The system is intact. It's just that people need something other than reality TV to keep them occupied.

kenju said...

You are right, of course. I do happen to think she's guilty and I am sorry that it wasn't proven.

oklhdan said...

Oh, I believe she is guilty too, at the very least she knows what happened to her child.

Betty said...

There are so many possibilities, reasons for this child's death. She may actually have drowned. She may have been left alone in the pool, which would have spelled neglect, etc. One of the jurors said, "I didn't say she was innocent, just that the prosecution didn't prove its case. The media has promoted this, "the defendant was found not guilty, but not found innocent" to the point where we have forgotten that "innocent" has never been a part of any plea. The media has a lot to answer for in many areas these days, political and judicial. Nancy Grace is an absolute DIS-grace, and should not be on television, along with several others, but she is the worst.

Arkansas Patti said...

You are so right. I was on a jury once--not a homicide. We all felt the man was guilty but could only find him guilty of a minor crime because it was all circumstantial except for the side charge. The prosecution did not give us the tools to convict. We took the job very seriously.