5 years ago
By now, almost everyone is aware of the controversial acquittal of Casey Anthony in Orlando, Florida.
Unlike many people (and despite being a lawyer by trade), I did not follow this case and I have been only casually following its results.
But there are two, critical points that need to be made and understood here.
First, in our system of criminal justice, the State must prove its case. This is such a fundamental concept for the American system that it is almost embarrassing to mention. Nonetheless, it seems that many people in the media and protesters outside of the courthouse have forgotten that all-important concept. But this idea that the State must prove the guilt of the accused, and prove it beyond a “reasonable doubt” to a jury of peers is the key stone that protects us from arbitrary oppression by the State. The Founding Fathers considered this an essential bulwark of liberty. So when the jurors in the Casey Anthony case explain that they could not convict Ms. Anthony because the State had not proven the allegations, that is an extremely serious charge and one that indicates that the system is working.
The fact that the public perceives that “justice” was not carried out illustrates: (A) that the public is never shy about condemning people without all the facts that were available to the jury, and; (B) that the public has lost sight of this key responsibility of the State to prove its case. As Americans, we must accept that there will be cases where, for whatever reason, the State cannot meet its burden to prove guilt and a criminal may escape punishment for a crime committed. That is the serious price of liberty, however, and until someone devises a better method to protect us from the oppressive force of the State, we run a grave risk when we undercut that protection by demanding the condemnation of persons that the State could not prove were guilty.
Which brings me to my second point, as illustrated by this article in The Daily Mail.
A juror in the Casey Anthony trial has told how she received death threats and has been unable to work since she was cleared of murder.
The woman, known only as juror number 12 left her job and went into hiding fearing co-workers would ‘want her head on a platter’.
Her husband said before leaving she told him: ‘I’d rather go to jail than sit on a jury like this again.’
One, Jennifer Ford, 32, said there was not evidence to convict the 25-year-old mother.
She said: ‘I did not say she was innocent, I just said there was not enough evidence.
‘If you cannot prove what the crime was, you cannot determine what the punishment should be.’
The nursing student told ABC news: ”Everyone wonders why we didn’t speak to the media right away.
‘It was because we were sick to our stomach to get that verdict.
Another, Russell Huekler said the jury only saw evidence that Anthony was a good mother.
He said: ‘‘The first number of witnesses were Casey’s friend and every time that they said they saw Casey with Caylee, it was a loving relationship and no one provided evidence to the contrary.’
When we reach the point that jurors cannot serve without fearing for their lives if they dare to hold the State accountable for proving guilt, the jury system collapses. At that point, jurors compelled to serve will become little better than rubber-stamps for the State, voting to convict out of fear of mob violence and the complete disruption of their lives. And when the State can count on guilty verdicts, no matter how sloppy or non-existent the evidence, the door is wide open to tyranny. And, lest anyone think that tyranny cannot happen in these United States, just look at the Fast and Furious/Gunwalker scandal for a sample of government run amok.