Verdict shows importance of jury duty
Ever since Casey Anthony was acquitted on Tuesday for the murder of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee, the trial and verdict have been the source of several conversations I’ve had this week, and what I’ve come to conclude is that I’m really just shocked and saddened by the lack of common sense that seems to be prevalent in American today.
Let’s look at the facts of this case as presented during the trial.
Casey Anthony lied to law enforcement about the whereabouts of her daughter. For 31 days she lied and claimed a woman, who ended up not even knowing Casey or Caylee Anthony, had kidnapped her daughter. And as if the lying wasn’t bad enough, during those 31 days, Casey partied, went out with friends and showed no sign of being concerned that her baby girl was “missing.”
Soon the lies fell apart and Caylee’s body was found wrapped up in a plastic bag with duct tape on her mouth and nose. Forensic evidence showed someone in the Anthony home had searched on the computer for how to make chloroform and traces of the substance were found in the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car that witnesses said smelled like a decomposing body.
I understand this case was built mainly on circumstantial evidence, which can make it harder to prove a person’s guilt, but this is some of the strongest circumstantial evidence I’ve ever heard of. Circumstantial evidence may make a conviction harder, but it doesn’t make it impossible. Plenty of people have been convicted on circumstantial evidence, and Casey Anthony should have been one of them.
Many people want to blame the prosecution for the not guilty verdict; many want to blame the jurors.
In my opinion, blame can be laid in both courts, but the message here that concerns me is how 12 people are responsible in this country to decide the fate of a person charged with a crime. Their interpretation, or lack thereof, is what determines a person’s guilt or innocence, no matter what the court of public opinion (or evidence in some cases) may say.
In some ways, this fact can be good: 12 different people with 12 different ways of thinking must come together and unanimously decide how to look at the facts of a case. Some look at it one way and some look at it another, so there are 12 perspectives and as a whole, they should be able to look at all the aspects of the case to make an informed decision.
On the other hand, this fact can be bad: 12 different people with no sense of duty or a lack of common sense can spawn verdicts that make everyone outraged at the lack of justice and the sheer stupidity of not putting two and two together.
As you can imagine, I feel like we got the latter of the two scenarios in this particular case.
The prosecution had the burden of proof and had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Casey Anthony was responsible for killing her daughter. While there were flaws with the prosecution’s case, I believe anyone with common sense could have taken the circumstantial evidence presented to them and see that Casey Anthony was guilty.
One of the jurors, Jennifer Ford, came forward after the trial to do an interview with Nightline. (I’m guessing the 15 seconds of fame in the courtroom wasn’t a long enough amount of time for her.) During this interview, she said she didn’t think it was the jury’s place to “connect the dots” of the case. That it was the prosecution’s job. But in reality, “all the dots” are hardly ever completely connected in a case. That IS the jury’s responsibility – to take the evidence and facts given to them and come to a rational conclusion.
So what have we learned from all this rambling?
Being a juror is important! Good, sensible, intelligent people are desperately needed to serve on juries in this country (and state and county) and this case is just a big, over-publicized example of that.
How many of you who were outraged by the verdict have gotten out of jury duty because it was inconvenient for you? How many of you decided to make up an excuse because you thought you had better things to do?
Lawyers grandstand all the time and tell those who do serve on juries how important their service is and while it may sound like a bunch of flowery words at the time, it really is the truth. Being a juror is an important service to not only your country but to your fellow man.
The jails are full of people who didn’t do it and the streets are full of people who did, so let’s channel that anger most of us feel towards this ridiculous verdict and remember the next time that summons comes in the mail that it’s up to us to make sure things like this don’t happen here at home.