Evidence? We dont need no stinkin’ evidence

I have never been a fan of the jury system.  Don’t get me wrong, every jury I have ever faced has returned a verdict in my favor.  But, if I am intellectually honest, I admit that their decisions had little to do with the evidence.  We live in a society that values jury service as a fundamental right and duty, and yet the smartest, best among us can easily figure out how to avoid serving on a jury.   Often, the jury reaches the right result for the wrong reasons.

Not this time.

The Casey Anthony trial was riveting – – but, as a lawyer, not nearly as riveting as the Casey Anthony trial media coverage.  Why? Because it just proves that expert legal analysts are just as clueless about what goes on in the courtroom as everyone else.

Virtually every commentator blasted the defense as unprepared, inexperienced, and even incompetent.  Analysts at CNN and FOX  were finally able to agree on something – – the prosecution proved its case and conviction was inevitable.

And yet, no one seemed to notice that there was not a shred of evidence against the Defendant. I mean, not a single fact.  Most commentators – even seasoned lawyers and prosecutors – – carefully explained the difference between direct evidence and circumstantial evidence, and, with the noteworthy exception of Fox’s Arthur Aidala (one of the better trial lawyers to moonlight as a commentator), declared the Anthony evidence to be a “strong circumstantial case.”  But, these people confused “circumstantial” evidence with jury nullification.  A video with a guy stabbing someone is direct evidence. A video with a guy running away from a stabbing scene with a bloody knife is circumstantial evidence.  A mom happy that her daughter is dead is neither direct nor circumstantial evidence that she was responsible for the death.   Yes, the prosecution did prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Casey was callous. That she did not care about her daughter.  Even that she was happy to be relieved of the burden.  None of those facts are circumstantial evidence that she killed her. They are evidence of nothing.   And, that is all the prosecution ever had.

So, while the legal commentators (and the prosecutors) focused on  everything except the elements of the crimes charged,  the defense drove a Mack truck through the lack of any real evidence of a crime.  Anyone who has ever tried a case should have been overwhelmed by the weakness of the state’s case.

The Jury got it right and should be commended.  It shows that despite the urge to hate this woman, a group of 12 people was able to comb through the evidence and quickly discover that there was none.

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About aweisbrot

Ari is a partner in the Litigation Department of an historic and renowned law firm located in New York. He has been featured on CBS Radio’s Wall Street Journal Report, quoted in legal and non-legal periodicals, and has been recognized as a “SuperLawyer” in New Jersey and a "Top Ten Lawyer to Watch" in New York. Mr. Weisbrot is a true “client’s lawyer,” representing a diverse range of clients from among the largest retailers in the United States to smaller local businesses to religious and charitable organizations. Ari was appointed by Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey to a three-year term of service on the Committee on Character. The Committee determines the fitness to practice law of each candidate for admission to the Bar of the State. Mr. Weisbrot also continues to serve on the District Ethics Committee (IIB - Bergen County), which operates under the auspices of the New Jersey State Office of Attorney Ethics. Mr. Weisbrot has been awarded an 'AV' rating for his professionalism and the quality of his legal work from Martindale-Hubbell, the premier directory of legal professionals, and has been selected by his peers as a Super Lawyer. In addition, Mr. Weisbrot has written several articles on commercial litigation, which have been published in the New Jersey Law Journal and the Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. A Former New York City prosecutor, Mr. Weisbrot is a graduate of Fordham University School of Law, where he was a member of the Urban Law Journal and a featured columnist in the Law School newspaper
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10 Responses to Evidence? We dont need no stinkin’ evidence

  1. brian jablonski says:

    that’s the truth

  2. Charles Nickolopoulos says:

    Yes, you can’t convict a pig for murder just cause it is a pig. Maybe Casey was a piece of trash, but that don’t prove she murdered her baby.
    When one of Casey’s “lovers” dumps HER body into the bushes somewhere, I doubt there will much sympathy for her, but what goes around, comes around.

  3. tigger821 says:

    Great post. I cant believe how many people can’t or won’t grasp the concept that if they were trying her for being a bad mother or horrible person they had a slam dunk case, but murder – not so much. I believe she probably did it, but the lack of evidence presented by the prosecution to sustain a murder charge was simply astounding. I wonder if they would have more success if they tried to prosecute on negligence or child endangerment. Perhaps then the fact that she made no effort to locate her “missing” daughter for 30 days would have had more probative value.

  4. Molly says:

    I think you’re largely right (regarding why the jury came to their decision), but you seem to be forgetting the internet searches, the diary entry, the mother’s call to report the smell of a dead body in Casey’s trunk, the duct tape, and the decomposition gasses and chloroform residue in the trunk. Taken individually, these factors do not prove guilt, but taken together (along with the overwhelming proof that Casey celebrated after Caylee’s death and lied to the police about it), you have a strong case. There have been many murder convictions resulting from cases with less evidence.

    It is interesting that before and during the trial, there were few (if any) “experts” claiming that the evidence was insufficient. Yes, it was an emotional case, but surely some of these legal experts could have given some indication in advance that the case was not strong enough for a conviction. Yet suddenly after a shocking verdict, bloggers and commentators are crawling out of the woodwork to explain that the prosecution had no evidence, that the verdict was logically obvious, and generally confusing “reasonable doubt” with “reason to doubt”. If the case was so devoid of proof and obviously flawed, how come no one spotted that until after the verdict came in?

    • aweisbrot says:

      Thanks Molly. You make some excellent points. But, in my view, you need to break the “evidence” down. There was no evidence that Casey actually performed the internet searches and there WAS serious (if not false) testimony that she did NOT make the searches. You cannot JUST assume she did and there was no evidence that SHE did the searches. If evidence of searches on my computer (to which many people have access) was circumstantial evidence, we could convict a lot of people of a lot of crimes that they did not commit. The diary entry was abiguous. The mother’s call to report the smell of a dead body in Casey’s trunk just shows the mom is as good a liar as Casey but does not actually show anything. The decomposition gasses and chloroform residue in the trunk – – if you throw away the conflicting testimony and utter lack of science – – would only show that she may have transported a dead body – – not that she killed it. That SHOULD have been charged as disposing of a body but she was never charged with that. The duct tape is a problem. I dont have an answer for it.

  5. LV says:

    Great blog; I’m personally shocked that the jury came back with a “Not guilty” verdict. Having watched quite a fair amount of ID and 48 Hours mysteries (makes me an expert, I know), it seems to me that there are quite a few cases where the jury convicts on personal opinion of the defendant rather than facts (or lack thereof). I just assumed this would be more of the same! It’s refreshing to see a jury actually do its job, but sad that most of the public won’t see it that way.That being said, in my personal opinion, chick is definitely guilty of something!

  6. Pingback: O-Cho No No | A-Blawg

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