Standing In The Gap Of The Real And Perceived
A lot of us are upset about the verdict in the Casey Anthony case. One young lady I know commented that a society that could convict Michael Vick of dog fighting should be able to convict Casey Anthony of murder. A twentysomething rocker posits that the dissatisfaction of some with the Casey verdict hinges on notion that the criminal justice system convicts some defendants on questionable evidence, while others are absolved of their charges when they are obviously guilty. I would contend that in many cases, it is not the system, so to speak, but an understanding of justice on the part of the public, that is in question.
In the United States we have a system that assumes the innocence of the accused until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of their peers, and a media culture that makes us believe we can judge the accused better hundreds of miles away as passersby through the filters of talking heads, than a jury can absent of all of that media static, but having heard all of the evidence and testimony of both sides from start to finish.
With Michael Vick, 12 persons, on average just as intelligent, compassionate, and interested in justice as the rest of us, decided that the evidence proved Vick’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In Anthony’s case, the same decided that the burden of proof required to convict Casey Anthony premeditated murder, possibly sentencing her to death, was not beyond a reasonable doubt. Should the burden of proof for murder trials be less than for animal abuse trials? Or do we believe that we have a better grasp on the Anthony case than the 12 who ate, slept, and breathed nothing else, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for 6 weeks straight?
Certainly Casey Anthony is guilty of a lot of things. Apparently, first degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt was not one of them. Had the jury been asked to determine her guilt as a fool, floozy, bitch, or brat, she very well might have been convicted on all counts. In fact, the jury did convict her of lying to investigators.
Every member of the jury may suspect or that Casey murdered her daughter, or at least had a hand in it. But they couldn’t find her hand anywhere. Nor could they find her heart, I might add.
The jurors weren’t looking for suspicion, though. They probably had that walking in the door on the first day. Suspicion wouldn’t have required a trial. Suspicion is easy to come by. What they needed was proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and it wasn’t there.
There certainly are travesties of justice in our criminal justice system. Even the best system is subject to abuse and neglect. But these two particular cases, Vick and Anthony, just don’t happen to stand out as two of them right now. Maybe in a few years, we’ll find out that every member of the jury in Vick’s case was a diehard, lifelong fan of the New York Giants. Maybe someday, a retired trash collector will finally sell CNN the purchase receipt given to Casey Anthony in exchange for her child to that internationally sought Florida hitman known only to the organized crime world as “Zanny.” But until then, we have to go with what we’ve got. In little Caylee Anthony’s case, justice has not been served yet. In Casey’s case, however unsavory a character she might be, it may have been.
But little Caylee will not go unavenged. Whoever killed her will find out soon enough: in the world or the next, one way or another, the Light will reveal what now hides in darkness, and every wrong will be justified.