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As a lawyer, I can’t help but be a little amused, and irritated, at some of the reactions to the Casey Anthony verdict. After the jury foreman in The State of Florida v. Casey Anthony let loose with a resounding “not guilty,” people everywhere crapped and fell back in it, exclaiming “miscarriage of justice,” “our legal system is broken,” and “how could this happen?”
Young lawyers learn quick that justice is not a well-oiled machine that is beyond reproach, infallible. It has its hiccups, foibles, and misfires, like everything else. Why?
Manning the stern, sails, mast and tiller of The Good Ship Justice are human beings. People screw things up. Alexander Pope put it a little more eloquently when he wrote, “to err is human.”
The Casey trial proves that our system of criminal justice DOES work. Law enforcement investigated the crime. Law enforcement made its recommendation to the district attorney’s office. The district attorney’s office reviewed the potential evidence and concluded that it would swing for the fences and charge Casey Anthony with capital murder. A judge presided over the trial court. Twelve jurors and alternates were picked, given instructions on the presumption of innocence and that the government’s burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The defense team did what a defense team is supposed to do–get an acquittal.
It has been said by many a legal scholar and practitioner over the centuries, our system of justice is not perfect, but it’s the best we got. It is the alternative to mob mentality and the presumption of guilt. It is the alternative to the backwater, low-brow, spiteful ignorance of medieval times.
Be pissed, be outraged, be flummoxed and forlorn. It’s your right to feel how you want to feel, and to say what you want to say. But, if you are outraged about the Casey case, I don’t want to hear it, unless you are equally disgusted by the hundreds that have been wrongfully sent to their deaths by overly zealous prosecutors more concerned with winning than doing what’s right.
Innocent inmates that have, and do, call death row home have been, and are, more numerous than acquitted murderers walking the streets. That is a graver injustice than Casey Anthony going free.
Our system errs on the side of innocence. If you disagree with that essential premise, you might prefer living somewhere like North Korea.