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.
Thanks to you, this blog has reached unimaginable successes over the last year. Over 180,000 readers- – which sets a WordPress record. It was mentioned on WCBS radio as “smart, edgy, and witty.” The feedback has been great – – even when I totally disagreed. So, thanks for that. Please take a moment now, go to the home page, and enter your email address to subscribe to the blog. You will ONLY get an email when I post a new entry. That’s it. And, if you like what you read, please take a minute and send this link to your friends, neighbors, and enemies. Thanks again.