Sunday, July 17, 2011

And justice for ...

I'm one of those moms people have been talking about.

Kind of. ...

I'm surely the kind who can picture themselves faced with the horror of dealing with a missing child. Or, more likely, not dealing with it. Picturing themselves, instead, crumpled up on a couch somewhere in a darkened room, not coping at all.

Truly, I don’t know how I’d react to such a tragedy, and I hope I never have to find out.

But I’m not the kind of mom who could bear to watch the media coverage of the Casey Anthony trial. And not because I couldn't fathom how a woman could kill her own child. Or how a child could die and a mother move on with her life, seemingly unaffected by the loss.

I can fathom that, and it is soul crushing. No one will ever have satisfying answers. I know this, too.

What I really couldn't stand was to see all the law-abiding citizens lining up for a chance to gawk at a woman they believe murdered her daughter and then covered it up, rationalizing their own behavior as anything other than morbid fascination combined with mob mentality.

I couldn't stand the presumption of guilt.

And then Casey Anthony was acquitted, stunning pretty much everyone except, it seems, folks who believe evidence should weigh more heavily than the circumstances surrounding that evidence. More heavily than emotion. Especially when first-degree murder is charged.

I can understand the shock. I can understand the anger being raw and natural. But I had to admit I was proud of that jury. Proud that they came to such an impartial judgment based on law for an otherwise unlikable woman, especially in light of the vocal, pitch-fork carrying masses.

Most people it would seem, at least the ones who stepped up to the microphone in the immediate aftermath, see the decision as proof of a fatally flawed American justice system. And already states around the country are trying to remedy it with more hastily constructed reactionary laws that will will more likely erode it than strengthen it.

Laws proposed that seek to revoke double jeopardy and the fifth amendment among them.

I hope they come to their senses, though. Because what happened in Florida is how the system is supposed to work. It is supposed to err on the side of the accused, especially in cases where the death penalty will be imposed.

The prosecution has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. And it didn't.

They can't just trust their guts. Proof and evidence are not just technicalities. Crimes that call for the death penalty can't be judged on basic instinct. Ever.

Of the many things I heard people say about what they really thought of Casey Anthony in the wake of the verdict, the most interesting to me was how many believed the jury failed because of a technicality. “Her daughter probably did drowned, but Casey Anthony was still responsible because she tried to hide it. ”

That statement alone shows me this jury didn’t fail. The prosecutor did. The crime they describe does not fit the charge of first-degree murder, it is more in line with manslaughter.

And somehow, I think the more we craft laws that are steeped in the emotion of high profile cases, the consequences won't be justice for all. It will be vengeance for the mob.

That's not justice for anyone.

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