Not guilty! This was the jury decision that took most people by surprise in the Casey Anthony murder trial. Although, in my opinion, the evidence seemed to point to Ms. Anthony as the perpetrator of the hideous murder of little Caylee, the jury found her not guilty.
In our justice system, “not guilty” does not mean that a person is innocent. It just means that the prosecutor did not convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. I think that in this case, the issue stemmed from the fact that the prosecution could not prove, because of the decomposition of her body, that Caylee Anthony was murdered.
We saw this same type of phenomenon in the O.J. Simpson trial, where there was a preponderance of evidence that seemed to indicate that Simpson murdered his wife and her friend. However, there was a reasonable doubt in the case, including the fact that the glove found at the crime scene did not fit Simpson. I remember Simpson’s attorney, Johnny Cochran, saying, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
Our justice system may be the best in the world, but it is far from perfect. In criminal cases, a defendant must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt;” whereas in a civil case, all that is needed is a preponderance of evidence. We saw this in the Simpson case when the jury did not convict him because guilt could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. In a civil case, however, he lost because there was a preponderance of evidence against him.
In 2007, Jose Alonso and Ignacio Ramos, two Texas Border Patrol agents, were convicted of shooting a Mexican drug runner while on duty. They were sentenced to jail time because damaging information about the drug smuggler reportedly was withheld in the case. The jurors said afterward that if they had had this information, they would not have convicted the agents.
If there is any information regarding a criminal case known to the attorneys, it should be their decision to introduce it, not the judge’s decision. Let the jury decide if it is relevant.
Is our jury system really the best that we can have? Most citizens dread having to serve on a jury. Many try to find excuses to get out of it. Jury duty upsets a person’s life and family, not to mention that a juror has a huge responsibility when deciding whether a defendant’s liberty or life should be taken away.
Maybe we should institute a system in which the jurors are professional jurors. These jurors would not be influenced by “CSI,” “Bones,” “Law & Order” or other television shows that solve crimes using outlandish forensics. Inexperienced jurors expect too much from the prosecution. Professional jurors would use common sense and not emotions when deliberating a case. Although emotion is not supposed to influence a juror’s decision-making process, we all know that it does.
I also believe that the death penalty played a part in the jurors’ decision in the Casey Anthony case. The jurors might not have wanted to execute Anthony on circumstantial evidence. Sixteen states do not have the death penalty. In the states with capital punishment, the death sentence should never be requested when the evidence is circumstantial.
Laws regarding how our justice system operates have been put together in bits and pieces over the years. Maybe it is time for our lawmakers to review our justice system and make serious changes, which truly would make our justice system the best.
Calderone is a conservative who lives in Midway. He is a professional salesperson and for 30 years has written articles for trade publications in various fields.