The shock of the not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony trial is still washing over America, one vitriolic Nancy Grace rant and Facebook status ripping the jury at a time. But there's one glaring error in their targeted attacks on the 12 men and women who spent 10 hours deliberating a verdict. They didn't have to prove Anthony's guilt in the death of little Caylee. It wasn't their job.
Sure, it's the jury that delivered the verdict that left us sputtering, "What, not even a charge of child abuse? She didn't report her toddler missing for a month!" But that's what juries do. They take the evidence presented to them, mull it over, and come back with a verdict that reflects not the innocence or guilt of the defendant, but whether they were convinced that the accused did the deed.
The Casey Anthony verdict doesn't mean she's not guilty at all.
It means the prosecutors in Orange County, Florida failed. Just take a look at the instructions from Judge Belvin Perry to the jury before they left the courtroom:
If you find that no offense has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then, of course, your verdict must be not guilty.
Reasonable doubt is easy enough to understand. If you have doubt, as a juror, you're legally obligated to return a "not guilty" verdict. It's up to prosecutors to present a rock solid case, a case so well-built that there is no doubt in the jurors' mind as to what happened. In the case of Casey Anthony, the jurors had doubt. But they didn't put that there. The defense did, and the prosecution didn't knock it away.
I'm angry on behalf of that sweet little girl, but not at the jury. In truth, when I look at the jurors, I confess I'm relieved. Relieved that juries still listen to the judge's instructions rather than taking matters into their own hands, relieved that in America the media can't convict someone, that prosecutors still have to. That jury COULD have decided to ignore what happened in the courtroom and go with their guts, but that wouldn't be the American justice system, would it? That would be a courtroom where personal bias snuck in, where someone could be convicted because that juror has a thing against black people or get off scot-free because that juror has a soft spot for Jewish folks.
Personal bias has no place in a jury box. The opinions of the Nancy Graces and other media types have no place in a jury box. And overzealous prosecutors need to be kept in check -- lest we have a repeat of the many lives ruined by them over the years, folks like Richard Jewell, supposed bomber of the Atlanta Olympics who never did it, and the members of the Duke lacrosse team who never raped a woman.
Like most of America, I still think Casey Anthony is guilty, but I'm directing my anger at the prosecution. They failed that little girl.
Have you been ranting against the jury? Do you think they had any choice?
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