Wednesday, July 06, 2011

By request – my thoughts on the Casey Anthony verdict…

Okay, everybody take a deep breath…hold…exhale.

Good job!

Shall we?

A certain Maggie from Orlando sent me an email requesting my thoughts on the Casey Anthony verdict.


Okay…but remember that you asked for it!

#1 The masses have been conditioned to think public opinion is a factor in all manner of shit because public opinion is too often a factor in lots of shit but that doesn’t mean public opinion should be a factor in most shit.

Last night I watched as Nancy Grace disgraced herself…once again…by attacking the jury, reading off their personal biographies with overt disdain for the juror with an “11th grade education” and the one with “a prior conviction for drug possession.”

My sister C-Money responded to Grace’s tirade with a question – how many of the people screaming about this jury have dodged jury duty when they were called?

The answer?

Plenty…and let’s not bullshit about it.

Juries are drawn from the public.  I wish and the system wishes that they were drawn from the general public, but sadly most juries are drawn from the willing to serve public that doesn’t make up a bullshit story to dodge their civic duty. 

There is a difference and sometimes it shows.

That said, trashing juries feeds into the already existing problems with the jury system. Folks either won’t want to be on a jury in a high profile case and face the wrath of Nancy Grace & Co on national television…or folks will neglect their duty as jurors and do the public’s will rather than weigh the evidence.  

I've been guilty of it my damn self...but watching this frenzy has inspired a personal correction on that tip.

I don’t care if you watched this trial from beginning to end…the jury experience is different and acting like they gleefully fucked up without entertaining the notion that this was a circumstantial trial with contradicting evidence and no certain cause of death is intellectually lazitude.

The mob is pissed.

The mob disagrees with the verdict.

But the only thing about this trial that surprised me was that the wishes of the mob were not granted this time.

That speaks more to the prosecution’s case than to the jury’s worthiness, because you can bet your ass those 12 people knew what the public expected.

No matter how many talk radio blowhards chew on this…no matter how outraged Nancy Grace & Co get…I don’t want to live in a country where the mob calls for an accused individual's head and then gets it in a basket.

That ain’t justice.

That’s the Reign of Terror.


#2 But what if her name was Keisha Anthony…?

Having acknowledged all of that, the Race Card was also at play.


Oh, puhlease don’t tell me you bought that bullshit that the Race Card and its get out of jail free benefits only apply to black people just because a few rich as hell black folks got favorable verdicts?

Shake yourself!

Race is usually discussed as a negative in jury trials…people of color often get longer sentences and are convicted on less convincing evidence.

But there is a flip side to every coin…and odds are we saw it on display yesterday with the Anthony verdict.

If “black” is suspect…then white is…?

If “criminal” equals “person of color”…then white woman equals…?

'Tis true that there is also the issue of class...poor people are suspect but people from middle class backgrounds are often assumed to be less likely to commit a crime.

I’ve seen this before…in the Susan Smith trial and others…where juries struggle to reconcile their preconceived notions about background and demographics with the charges brought against an individual.

The prosecution faced a challenge in Casey Anthony as much as they faced challenges in combining the evidence into a convincing case…a white woman from a middle class background who must be believed to be a monster to have done what the state alleged that she did.

If we're going to dissect this trial we should examine how the prosecution handled that challenge too.

#3 A child is dead - there is no justice in that...

His body was found buried in the home where he was abused and tortured for years…left in a cage…denied comfort and food…separated from society for years…missing and yet not missed.

Christian Choate was 13 years old.

Christian’s story joins the thousands of other stories of missing, exploited, and abused children in America.

We have not ordered our society to protect innocents.

That should leave us all cold.

Verdicts in murder trials are not justice.  They are what we are left with after we have failed to protect children and/or people from violence.

Justice dwells in a life free of oppression, neglect, and abuse.

May we seek justice in our communities...for the living...because every single person is deserved of it.

My heart weeps for Caylee Anthony.

May she rest in peace.

And may this case inspire advocacy for this nation’s children - they deserve far better than a jury’s verdict, be it guilty or not guilty.

Those are my thoughts...
...thanks for asking.


Roz B said...

The verdict was not a huge surprise for me. Do I agree with it? Nope. Do I think they will ever find out the real story of Caylee? Nope. I can tell you what I do think: every day little boys and girls of all races go missing, are sexually, emotionally, verbally, and physically abused, and are killed or at the very least put in harm's way by adults who are mean, selfish, psychotic, ignorant, or evil. But most have not garnered the attention this little girl did, to detriment of the case.

Nancy Grace and her ilk were roadblocks in the investigation with innuendo, opinion, and gossip-mongering trying to influence the outcome of the case. I think the outcome would have been different if the case wasn't so sensationalized.

regina said...

Thank you for this beautiful, thoughtful post. I'm afraid I've gotten too cynical but want to hold out the hope that you had: that this case may inspire advocacy for this nation's children. 25% are currently living in poverty... sigh.

Wander Woman said...

You are so right on so many counts! Unless someone has sat on that jury, they have no idea of what went on in the jury room. I think, and said from the outset, that the prosecution's case was slim. We do not have an infallible justice system, but it is what we have and truthfully, if I am on trial for something I would want to be tried by a jury of my peers. Unfortunately for most folks, their peers are those same folks trying to get out of jury duty.

Nice, blog by the way. Came here from Redneck Liberal (I like to let people know where their traffic comes from as I like to know it on my own blog)


Pamela said...

Kudos. Well said. Thanks for articulating great thoughts clearly.

The Cookie said...

Well Done! Spot on! I cannot add anything because you have expertly summed up exactly what I was thinking!

Love your blog, by the by ...

catnmus said...

I couldn't agree more. I just received a jury summons yesterday and unfortunately had to postpone it due to prior commitments. But I am eager to receive my new summons in 6 months. I have the luxury of getting paid by my employer for at least 2 weeks of jury duty. I find it a bit difficult to fault those that are paid hourly, though.

On the verdict, I remind myself of this quote from "A Few Good Men": "It doesn't matter what I believe. It only matters what I can prove!" That is the blessing and the curse in our legal system. We may read about evidence or events in the paper that are later disallowed by the judge or simply not used as evidence by the prosecution or the defense. All that matters is what the prosecution can prove happened, against any reasonable doubt. In this case, the circumstantial evidence only makes you believe what PROBABLY happened. And that's not the same as "no reasonable doubt".

Anonymous said...

As soon as I saw that the defendants were white I knew they would get off. For exactly the reasons you state. Race and class does matter in the US. Yikes.
I am sorry for all the kids who dye each day, the ones abused, the ones used as prey. I don't really know how you can look into a child's eyes and still harm it anyway.
You've made me realize that the verdict of guilty is not justice. Justice is making amends somehow and really having to understand the pain your actions cause.


Joan Q. said...

You're right. Last time I checked mob think wasn't the way verdicts are reached. Having noted that, race & class were certainly factors in the case. You can bet your sweet Afro that, if she'd been Keisha Brown-Jefferson, her ass would be under the jail -- stat, damn it.

No news . . .

Sarah G said...

I spoke with a friend who works with women in a DV shelter who are also in substance abuse recovery. These are women fighting every day to regain custody of their children - they live for their children. Yet my friend said that almost universally the women in shelter responded to this case by asking "Where was CPS? Why didn't that woman get services before things got so bad?"

As much as these women are fiercely protective of their own children and horrified by the death of Caylee (and the one way or another neglegent actions of her mother) - they recognized the short distance between women in horrific situations who get support services to become better parents and women who do not.

Thought this was an interesting perspective on the case.

bev said...

I submit that if she had been Keisha and a woman of color, not only would she be in jail, but the trial would not have been any sort of media feeding frenzy at all. If she were Keisha and she lived in north St. Louis, her trial would be buried on page 3 of her local paper and that'd be that and everyone would say that it was a shame, but you know...that sort of thing happens in those sorts of neighborhoods, dontcha know. But this, THIS is "news" because after all, we don't expect a young, attractive, middle class white woman to carry out this sort of horror, now do we. These sorts of things don't happen in these sorts of places.


I'm white, I live south of Delmar (ABB knows what I mean) and I'm sick of it all.

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