Today, Casey Anthony was found not Guilty of first degree murder in the trial involving her young child. The verdict has been met with considerable outrage and shock today. A lot of that is understandable, some of it is not. Because I want to talk about the law and media on this blog, I wanted to take some time to talk about reaction to this verdict.
First, let me state immediately that I have not followed the evidence to a degree that would be necessary to give a definitive answer as to whether I believe the verdict was correct. I mainly want to talk a bit about the reaction. A reaction I’ve seen compared to OJ Simpson on a couple news channels.
The outrage and surprise to the verdict has been overwhelming if you’ve had the tv tuned to CNN Headline News at any point today. Let me say this, there have been lawyers that have handled the matter well in tv pieces today. Nancy Grace is most definitely not one of them. I understand the shock in the eye of the public. I am not saying this as any disrespect to the public, but trials are viewed differently between lawyers and the public. To the public, the trial is about finding out the truth. That simply isn’t the case with lawyers as they need to fight for their side of the case as strongly as they possibly can.
So, it annoys me a bit to see such outrage from attorneys. Because lawyers should know better. To see lawyers-turned-media personalities screaming about this verdict is simply a cry for attention. The shame of it is that pundits like Nancy Grace abuse the memory of the 2-year old who lost her life by exploiting Caylee Anthony for their personal gain.
Grace wasn’t even the worst offender on her network. The 5-7pm hours were filled with some commentator who was a former prosecutor and was overcome with outrage. At points, the network (HLN) had analysts giving credibility to the idea that the jurors were in a bad situation to judge Anthony because they were in the courtroom. Hey, I guess maybe HLN thinks we should update jury rules to include jurors being able to check Twitter and Facebook messages during the trial so they can get some REAL evidence. Better still, why don’t we just play soundbites from the trial that the media uses, mix in some one-sided analysis because to get ratings someone has to be guilty, and then poll the viewers to reach a verdict!
Also, I have to say, for a guy I disagree with consistently, Sean Hannity had some good remarks about this verdict from what I briefly saw of his program.
Another point to make here is that a lot of pundits have been quick to blame the so called “CSI effect” where jurors demand forensics evidence to a high degree. The jurors haven’t spoken to this point, so I think it is way too early to speak about that impact on this case. It’s a point that I think is overblown a lot to begin with (not to mention it cuts both ways), but, that discussion is for another day. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that the lack of motive was also a huge factor in this trial, and that is about as old fashioned as trial strategy comes.
And that is also a point that should not be easily dismissed. One pundit described the witnesses as labeling Anthony a good mother and all of a sudden we are meant to believe she wanted to kill her kid so she could keep partying based on some Google searches?
But, that probably delves into the facts of the trial, which I’ve already stated I’m out of touch with. I simply use it to illustrate that we shouldn’t rush towards judgment based on what we see in the media. The media handle cases from a different perspective and that perspective is also not about the truth.
Which leads me to another point…we shouldn’t bash the jurors on this case. They are the ones who sat and listened to the evidence and cases presented. Already, I’ve seen some juror bashing (to be fair, some defending of those jurors as well) based on this verdict. We put jurors in a difficult, but crucial position, and they deserve our respect. Second guessing is fine, but should also be measured and from the vantage point of knowing that those jurors are better served to rule on the case than people who have followed the trial through the media.
My final point, we should remember the outrage at Casey Anthony’s innocence and compare to the reaction we hear when someone on death row has been exonerated of their crimes. I’m not naive enough to tell you most convictions are false, but, as we do see, those instances are very real. And, when we hear about these instances, we don’t react with nearly the same outrage as has been seen today.
Thoughts on the media coverage of the Anthony Verdict? Feel free to comment. Also, what’s up with the “Tot-Mom” nickname Grace has given to Anthony? Grace leads me to believe she hates this woman and she can’t come up with a better nickname than a nickname you could give to any mother taking her kid to pre-school?