Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Justice for Caylee Marie Anthony and the American Jury System

by Ben Shapiro

On Tuesday, a Florida jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie.
As so often happens in high profile cases, the jury was wrong.

Casey clearly murdered her daughter. Her mom, Cindy, reported that Caylee was missing on July 15, 2008. Casey's cover story was unbelievably ridiculous. When Casey's mom, Cindy, confronted Casey at Casey's boyfriend's apartment, Casey actually claimed that a random baby sitter nobody had ever met had taken Caylee away over a month beforehand.

Cindy called the cops, informing them, "I found my daughter's car today. And it smells like there's been a dead body in the damn car." Sure enough, cadaver dogs identified the trunk of Casey's car as a dead body location, and scientists confirmed that a body had decomposed back there. A few months after a jury indicted Casey, police found Caylee's corpse in the woods near Casey's home, duct tape on her head.

The defense did a Johnny Cochrane routine -- they blamed everybody within a 10 mile radius of the murder for the murder. Defense attorney Jose Baez suggested that Casey's dad, George, had sexually abused her during her childhood, without any evidence whatsoever. Baez also claimed that Caylee had drowned in the pool while George was at home, and that George had been involved in dumping the body.

There was no evidence to any of this. It was pure conjecture, a sociopathic response to being caught red-handed. And Casey Anthony is a sociopath: outwardly charming, pathologically lying, indecently self-centered, lacking in shame or guilt, promiscuous, exploitative and irresponsible, and willing to hurt anyone and everyone in order to get her way.

So, why did the jury acquit her? Because the jury system, as currently run, is stupid.

Yes, jury trial is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution (although only with regard to federal cases). It was originally considered a hallmark of civilized criminal justice because citizens did not want to be subjected to government inquisitions, with the court stacked against them. Juries were supposed to be a bulwark against governmental encroachment.

Nowadays, juries have become a hallmark of our heavily bureaucratized system. Those who have day jobs are eager to avoid serving on juries, mainly because the convoluted rules of procedure and evidence have turned summary trials into week-long events. By and large, only the least offensive -- and not coincidentally, the dumbest -- tend to be selected for juries. As the aphorism goes, the problem with juries is that they are generally composed of the 12 people too stupid to get out of jury duty.

The phrase "show trial" now means something different -- it means a trial that is a show. That's precisely what O.J. and Casey Anthony were about. Every juror expects to see Sam Waterston get up and deliver opening remarks, and damned if the court system won't do its best to provide that entertainment. The provision of the Constitution that requires a public trial is now used to ensure that trials become media circuses.

Should we embrace the European inquisitorial system, in which judges ask the questions and come up with the decisions? Should we hire professional jurors?

The answer doesn't lie in abolishing the jury system utterly, but in revamping it completely.

The rationale behind juries is still important, particularly with regard to politically-oriented trials: We don't want judges paid by government to have full authority to condemn those of different political persuasions. And the rationale behind a public trial is also still relevant -- we don't want Star Chambers or clandestine hearings. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

By the same token, however, our current jury system is broken beyond repair. If we are truly to restore justice to our system of justice, we must pursue the best and brightest for service, make it easier for them to serve, make the rules of evidence and procedure more efficient, and allow justice to run more smoothly.

Most Americans would be willing to serve on a jury for a day. Few would be willing to do so for a week and even fewer for a month. We need more day-long trials and less month-long trials. We need more justice and less showmanship.

Caylee Anthony, sadly, wasn't just the victim of her mother here. She was the victim of a system that did not mete out justice to her murderer. There will be many more cases like Caylee Anthony until we do something to solve this mess.

Ben Shapiro is a regular guest on dozens of radio shows around the United States and Canada and author of Project President: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House.

©Creators Syndicate

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24 Comments:

At July 6, 2011 at 5:15 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100% something is wrong with a system when a mother can murder her child and walk away free and clear. How do we fix this?

 
At July 6, 2011 at 6:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I did not immerse myself in either the media circus which followed the original breaking story, nor the trial itself, I admit that this has again shown me how faulty our system is. Your article certainly does an excellent job of pointing out the pros and cons of various justice systems.
I did want to comment on a common thread I think this case, as well as many others we have all seen tried "in public", have with our governing system. Both are based on the assumption we, as citizens, will educate oursleves, have common values and discard personal bias when performing our duties, whether in a voting booth or a jury box. I fear we are indeed slouching towards a lowered common ground.
Bakeb

 
At July 6, 2011 at 8:06 AM , Blogger ramcclain said...

This is an excellent article, particularly regarding our jury system today. It dances around the real culprits, the bureaucrats and LAWYERS!! I consider it my duty to serve, and have done so, although, as stated, many don't; only the ones too stupid not to get off serving! That, to begin with, is the real problem, and it is because, as noted above, trials, particularly like OJ and this one, are spectacles, and all about the lawyers. The time used for such trials also shows the selfish motives of many lawyers, as it is totally inconsiderate of jurors who do have to earn a living.

I did not really follow this trial. I got irritated at all of the attention it received in every part of the media. I do not know if the woman was guilty, and from the LITTLE I did hear/read, evidence was pretty circumstantial. It did appear to me, in my limited contact with the trial, that the media was determined that she was guilty.

Again, excellent article, and it is way past time to reform our jury system, and our judiciary itself.

 
At July 6, 2011 at 11:09 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fir the record, a list of the jurors, their ages, ethnicity, occupations and life experiences are listed here: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20502089,00.html

I am leery of someone who attacks a jury, or the intelligence of a jury, simply because they disagree with the verdict.

 
At July 10, 2011 at 3:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think this is about condemed jury's, I think it is about a small child who's murder went unsolved, Even though it would take an idiot not to be able to know who did it[Common sense this is called] and a court game with high priced attorneys left a little child an unsolved murder. If this would of happened in the society of the poor the murderer would be sitting in prison! As far as casey she knows she did it, you know she did it, Where's justice? Her attorney doesn't care if she did it, He only cares about getting the reputation for getting her out of a murder conviction. Money money thats what its all about, Not justice! Three things make me sick,1- Casey, That loving little mother 2- The attorneys that took those large sums of money to free her. 3- The mother that brought such a monster into this world. Stick with it america and don't let this little girls murder go unpunished. We the people elect these people that are playing games with our children! As one of John Lennon's songs go.....Power to the people and come on people let's use it! Don't let this little childs murderer go unpunished!

 
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