Indulge me, please, in yet another take on the Casey Anthony case to add to the hundreds you’ve already read and heard in the print and electronic media.
Last week’s verdict, absent of the widespread outrage that Ms. Anthony is indeed responsible for the death of her child, has great value as a lesson in our system of jurisprudence.
The raw emotion brought forth by the real-life tragedy conditioned a large portion of the American public to assume Ms. Anthony’s guilt, and subsequently, the jury’s “obligation” to affirm that guilt.
It didn’t happen that way, and for a reason.
People are confusing their instincts about her culpability with what the state of Florida — and all other 49 states — requires to render a guilty verdict.
The state never connected her directly to Caylee’s body and never firmly established a motive. That leaves the door wide open to “beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt.”The jury walked right through that door.
We’ll hear more sentiment from jurors in coming months how gut-wrenching that distinction was during deliberations. My guess is a majority of the jury felt Ms. Anthony had plenty to do with her child’s death. They simply couldn’t say with certainty what that involvement was.
It might be different if American juries had options like those in Scotland — guilty, not guilty and not proven.
The latter is precisely what we have in the Anthony case. The circumstantial evidence presented by the state was substantive and damning, but it simply wasn’t enough.
The not proven option is tantamount to declaring “We think you’re guilty, but the state wasn’t able to bring us the final few yards across the finish line.”
Methinks the public is having a hard time with the verdict for the same reason we are a bit weak on critical thinking when it comes to other forms of government.
Our schools don’t teach this stuff much anymore and, sadly, our “rule of law” system isn’t discussed much or at all at home. Thus, when many of us are confronted with the Anthony verdict we jump to another rail — the emotional substituting for studied reasoning based on our system of justice.
You’re also seeing the Anthony verdict bundled up with the notorious O.J. Simpson case.
Not so fast. There are glaring dissimilarities, chief among them the fact that the Simpson jury ignored fast and conclusive DNA evidence linking him to the crime. That jury had no intention of finding him guilty and fell victim to shameless exploitation of race-based paranoia that plagues us yet today.
You simply can’t say that about the Anthony jury.
One similarity: Like Mr. Simpson, the acquittal is just the start of what likely will be a miserable rest of her life.
There lies the justice.