The net and tv are abuzz with debate about the Casey Anthony verdict, most people expressing passionate opinions either for or against conviction. We’ve all heard that quote “better ten guilty men go free than one innocent man be convicted.” That belief is one of the fundamental cornerstones of the American justice system, but when that person that we believe to the core of our being is guilty does go free, it’s a bitter pill to swallow.
In the Anthony case, on one side we have gut instinct and emotion. How could a mother not report her child missing and be out partying while her precious little one was gone? Why did Casey Anthony show no remorse? Why did she lie to the police?
On the other hand, we have the facts or lack thereof. No cause of death, no direct evidence of who put duct tape on the little one’s mouth or wrapped her in the blanket. Who really made those searches about chloroform? Was chloroform even used? Was the odor in the car a decomposing body? One expert said it was, one said it was not.
I admit that I haven’t followed the trial that closely, so I’m sure I’ve missed some details. But even if I had been watching, I cannot supplant my judgment for that of the jury. It’s easy to say that the jurors must be stupid or not have been paying attention, but my experience as a defense attorney has been that most jurors are very conscientious and they want to make the right decision. I’ve interviewed jurors after my own trials and what they discussed in the jury room and what issues they thought were important were not always the same issues I thought were important, but they, not me, were the ones watching and listening to every witness.
So what’s the takeaway from this case? Our justice system is not perfect, no system can be because people will never be perfect. Every juror takes an oath that they will be unbiased and listen to the facts, but every human being has biases whether he or she wants to admit it or not. We don’t know what those jurors were thinking or discussing, but we should accept that 12 strangers came together and collectively agreed that the State didn’t meet its burden. That is what we MUST remember – convictions, no matter how badly we want justice, should not be based on gut instinct, emotion, guesses or feelings, but facts. If you have any doubt about that, ask the 200+ men who have been freed from death row.
While our system is a system of imperfect people, I still believe its the best there is. Casey Anthony is just one defendant in one case and should not be used as an indictment against the entire system. Justice is quietly meted out in thousands of cases every day in court rooms across the country more often fairly, than not. So while we may be collectively outraged, are we moved enough to fix the broken parts? As with too many things in this country, our outrage will fade and Casey Anthony will be forgotten by most when the next big story comes along. However, I do believe that people reap what they sow, and that there will someday be justice for little Caylee Anthony.
Justice … limps along, but it gets there all the same.
GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ, In Evil Hour