I really don’t know why this has me so riled up…

7 Jul

*I am not an expert on this case, nor am I a lawyer. Feel free to correct me on anything I have wrong*

On Tuesday the jury in the Casey Anthony trial came back with a not guilty verdict. Twitter and Facebook EXPLODED with people who were outraged and crying and pissed off and calling the jurors stupid. My Facebook feed was filled with gems such as a Dexter poster basically saying he was going to kill Casey Anthony (isn’t his character some kind of vigilante serial killer or something??), those stupid posts comprised totally of characters that formed hearts and banners saying “Justice for Caylee”, photo-shopped pictures of Casey Anthony and OJ Simpson with their arms around each other and (this one really pissed me off) a paragraph-long diatribe about the horribly violent way that sweet little girl died that culminated with this- “Symbolically, the American flag has been stomped upon and the Constitution burned.”

I’m sorry – WHA WHAAAAAAT??

Before I really get into this, let me start by saying obviously, the most important thing here is that a darling, innocent girl died a horrible, horrible death. It makes me sad to my bones. No one deserves to die like that, especially not a child. It makes me sick and furious.

Let me also say that yes, Casey Anthony appears VERY guilty. And no doubt did she act, at the very least, oddly, in the weeks her daughter was missing. I think her parents also aren’t being completely truthful and probably know more about what happened than what they’ve offered to the investigation. People will wonder why anyone should give a flip about what happens to someone who is so “obviously” guilty. There are those that will argue that the murdered didn’t care about sweet Caylee’s life when they took it, why should we care about Casey Anthony’s. And I get that. I do.

Let me also (also) say that I am typically a very naive person and a person who is easily convinced. I will think I know where I stand on an issue and one good argument to the contrary later and I’m singing  a different tune. I’ve been known to have knee-jerk reactions to things, especially emotional things. I understand that when things like the Casey Anthony trial take such an unexpected turn, people are going to have an immediate, emotional response. I get that. I do.

BUT. For the love of all things holy people, please stop making such blanket, uneducated and visceral comments about SOMEONE’S LIFE. Yes, justice needs to be done. Someone needs to pay for what happened to Caylee. But here’s the thing- like it or not – justice was done. Maybe not justice in the vigilante or emotional sense of the word, but according to the laws of this nation, justice was done. The State of Florida felt like they found Caylee’s murderer. They completed their investigation, drug it through court, put it on trial and they lost. The burden of proof is on the state. Any not guilty verdict is the State’s failure (not to say the state didn’t try or really FAILED, just that it wasn’t quite enough for whatever reason), not the jury’s. It is, for better or worse, how things work in our country. 

Is it really this simple? Of course not. Police investigators and prosecutors can never be 100% sure they’ve found the right person and juries are (obviously) composed of human beings who are sometimes irrational and emotional. But, in my opinion, there is no system more just than being tried by a jury of your peers. Casey Anthony is, in spite of what’s been said about her, a human being, living in America, entitled to the same rights as the rest of us. She, and the state of Florida, were given their time in court. Casey Anthony won ( I don’t like that word. No one has “won”.)

None of us were there. Maybe we watched on TV, but we weren’t there. We didn’t see the evidence up close. We didn’t hear the jury instructions. We didn’t sit through every single second of that trial, especially that which wasn’t televised. We were not there. And, I think most importantly, the average American person does not truly understand reasonable doubt.

Reasonable doubt, while not technically defined by the law (which is frustrating and stupid) plays a MAJOR role in most criminal defense cases in our country. Reasonable doubt (and I’m no lawyer here, so don’t quote me, but I did work in the legal field for over four years, so I know a little bit) is the doubt cast upon a person’s guilt that a reasonable person would have after being presented with the facts of the case (that is the most awkward sentence in the world but I’m too lazy to change it). It does not mean that the defense has to prove that the defendant unequivocally didn’t do it, or that someone else did. The defense has to cast a doubt on the defendant’s guilt. A reasonable doubt. And juries are instructed that if they have a reasonable doubt, they cannot convict the defendant. In this case, the defense did their job. Whether you think it’s fair or not, or shady, or deceitful, or whatever, in America everyone is entitled to a defense. Casey Anthony had a successful one.

Now, a reasonable person could assume, based on what we’ve heard, that Casey Anthony is guilty. I did. I do. But let’s consider the source. Yes, the trial was televised and there’s been press conferences from the police throughout the course of their investigation, but most of the information we get comes from the media. Has our nation reached such a state that we all assume we’re experts on something because we’ve seen it on TV?? I love Deadliest Catch but you’re not going to find my ass on a boat in the middle of the Bering Sea trying to catch king crab.

We don’t know what happened in that jury deliberation room. But doesn’t it stand to reason, given the fact that 99% of America felt that Casey Anthony was guilty, that those jurors walked into that courtroom assuming her guilt? So it only makes sense that there must have been some compelling evidence on the part of the defense, or a lack thereof from the State, to get a not guilty verdict. SOMETHING changed those jurors’ minds.

I served on a jury in federal court for two weeks in 2009. It was horrible. It was interesting, but horrible. The defendant in the case was obviously guilty and the defense was unable to cast a doubt on the government’s case. The defendant was facing life in prison. We convicted him. On all counts but one. And guess what? He was guilty of the count we didn’t convict him on. But we couldn’t convict because the wording of the charge was not what they proved in court. Sorry if this is confusing, but I’m trying to avoid having to explain the whole thing. Suffice it to say- he was guilty of it. And didn’t get convicted. Now, he is still going to spend the majority of his life in prison based on the other charges. But my point is this- sometimes it all comes down to a technicality. A facet of the law that forces a juries’ hand. Like reasonable doubt.

My plea is this- don’t assume you know. Don’t call the jurors names. Having someone else’s life in your hands (quite literally in a capital murder case) sucks. I know– I still think about that man I sent to jail for the rest of his life. And feel guilty. Even though he was guilty. I find it impossible to believe that those jurors took their duty lightly. They did the best they could with the facts that were presented to them. So I wish people would have some respect for those jurors and what they had to face. I’m sure they will explain themselves. We may or may not agree with their reasons. But there’s no need for the vitriol.

This is America. We are innocent until proven guilty. Casey Anthony was “proven” guilty a long time ago. It’s not fair to the State of Florida, or to her, that there was not a single unbiased person on that jury.  If I was forced to guess, I would say she’s guilty. And if so, it’s horrific that she will walk free. It makes me sick. But, I think we can all assume she will never have a normal life. The verdict did not necessarily convince anyone of her innocence. She is going to have a hard road. So take a stand if you must- refuse to buy her book when it inevitably comes out. Don’t watch her reality show. But I find it abhorrent that people seem to be forgetting about a little girl’s death and creating silly pictures and saying horrific, hateful things about ANY of it. It’s not ours to judge. It was the judicial system’s job to do that, and it’s been done. And eventually it will be God’s turn.

And what if she’s innocent?

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7 Responses to “I really don’t know why this has me so riled up…”

  1. Hillary July 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Dear Kristina,

    The reaction to this case makes Americans sound like they would rather have a tyrant ruling our country, because a tyrant would have convicted Casey Anthony. No one wants to think about what they would rather happen if they were charged with a crime and had to go to trial. Would they want the upper hand? Absolutely. But when it comes to someone else who has been massacred by the media, suddenly the majority of Americans think our judicial system is horrid.

    • Kristina July 8, 2011 at 10:07 am #

      Hillary, I could not agree more. I think people would be willing to see her hang, based on her “trial” in the media. It’s not what our legal system is about and it if it was them, they would certainly want their day in court.

  2. Kat @ Living Like the Kings July 8, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    you know what? I actually agree with you. I don’t know if she’s guilty or innocent, although my guess would be guilty. But I do believe that we have rules and the law in place. And the trial went on and these people made a decision and that’s that for me, whether I agree with it or not. I am not someone who gets to end someone else’s life…that just seems…morally wrong!

  3. Life of a Doctor's Wife July 8, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Well said!

    I have unfollowed people on Twitter and Facebook because of the ignorant vitriol spewing.

  4. CathiC July 10, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    Brilliant post! Very well-written, cogent, and reasonable. I found myself nodding in agreement throughout. Have you considered submitting it as an op-ed piece? I think it would do a lot of people some good.

    • Kristina July 11, 2011 at 9:31 am #

      I hadn’t considered it, I wouldn’t even know where to submit, but thank you so much for the encouragement!!

      • CathiC August 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

        Just realized I’d never gotten back to you about this – I’m so sorry! It’s been crazy around here. I think it would have been an excellent piece for the newspaper or on the newspaper’s website. The ones around here accept posts from guest bloggers, similar to letters to the editor. Might be something to consider for future posts of this nature, or if you want to try writing a post for the paper’s parenting/tech/home ownership sections.

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