Yesterday, a little after two in the afternoon, eastern time, millions of people tuned in to see what they expected. They got a surprise. Instead of seeing a woman convicted of murdering her child, they saw the Constitution working.
Why isn’t this shocking?
It is shocking that someone is found not guilty of murder. Acquittals on First Degree Murder charges are pretty rare. It is even more rare when the state is seeking the death penalty.
Many were outraged that the jury acquitted Casey Anthony. There is nothing to be outraged about. It was a great example of the Constitution at work.
Thanks to the 6th Amendment of the Constitution, Casey Anthony had the right to a fast, speedy and public trial by a jury of her peers. It did take the case three years to get to trial, but that was as much the fault of the defense as the State.
Casey Anthony was given the right to confront her accusers. She was present in court at every occasion and during every minute of her trial. She was given the right to subpoena witnesses.
Thanks to the 5th Amendment, Casey Anthony was indicted by a grand jury. She had the right not to testify and exercised that right. The prosecutor in the case was not allowed to comment on the fact she did not testify
Thanks to the 5th Amendment, she will not be tried for this case again. The government may not retry a case over and over again until it gets the verdict it wanted.
The Casey Anthony trial was problematic to begin with. The State had some huge problems to overcome. In order to secure a murder conviction, the State must not only prove that someone was murdered, but they were murdered by the accused. This was the huge problem this case had. No one saw the death of the child. By the time the child’s body was discovered, it was almost impossible to determine the cause of death.
Casey Anthony never confessed to killing her child. She did lie to the police and that is suspicious in itself, but without a witness to the murder or a confession, securing a conviction is all but impossible.
Trying a murder case is tough. I know. I have tried them. I spent 23 years practicing law, including ten years as a prosecutor. I just tried what is likely my last jury trial two weeks ago.
Most of the time, the jury gets it right.
Trial by jury may be an imperfect system, but it is better than all of the alternatives. The trial by jury was specifically added to our constitution in criminal cases as a check against the overwhelming power of the state.
Bad facts make bad cases and the Anthony case had a lot of bad facts. Casey Anthony may well have killed her child and may well have gotten away with murder. But the Constitution that protected her and allowed this verdict protects each and every one of us against political prosecutions.
What we saw with the verdict yesterday was the Constitution working, just like it is supposed to.
As horrifying as this case was, I can live with that verdict.
Reading these a day late, but your comment is so good, just had to let you know....