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Brett Rivkind
Brett Rivkind
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Not Guilty! Did the System Work in the Casey Anthony Trial?

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At first, you might ask why is the Casey Anthony trial a subject of a blog on my site, which is devoted to discussing issues that are relative to individuals injured and killed at sea? My blog focuses on maritime cases and maritime laws.

However, the Casey Anthony trial has generated so much attention to our legal system, and now that the jury found her not guilty, there has been a floodgate of criticism of the jury system. Nancy Grace, who is probably loving the attention, has been criticized for her coverage of the Casey Anthony case, finding her guilty before she even had the benefit of a trial before a jury of her peers. As a father of three girls, I’m appalled at Casey Anthony. I had difficulty watching the trial and listening to the evidence because of my feelings about the case. I am one who believes Casey Anthony may have gotten away with murder. However, my use of the word “may” made me think about our system, and the standard required to find somebody guilty of a criminal act, especially one that carries with it the punishment of the death penalty.

I’m a civil trial lawyer. We are only required to prove our cases by what’s called the greater weight of the evidence, which simply means that we must prove what is more likely than not. We’ve all heard the standard in a criminal case, which is the prosecution must prove their case “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Did Casey Anthony murder her daughter? Do we have the burning conviction of no reasonable doubt that she is guilty based on each and every element that the crime requires to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in order to be found guilty? Not having watched the entire trial, I am unable to express a strong opinion whether I feel the evidence itself met the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt regarding each and every element, as defined by the judge and the jury instructions that were read to the jury.

What I do know is that the civil jury system is coming under attack again, as it did after the O.J. Simpson trial fifteen years ago. This leads me back to the question why write about the Casey Anthony trial on a maritime law blog? It is because I’m a proponent of our civil jury system, and whether you are a person accused of a crime, or a victim bringing a civil action to receive compensation for the harm caused due to the negligence of another, our civil jury system is the method that our country utilizes to resolve disputes. We often will discuss with jurors that there are some countries in this world that still believe in the old adage, an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth. This means that some countries believe that if a person negligently causes another one to lose an eye, the compensation should actually be punishment of the wrong doer by similarly causing them to lose their eye. This barbaric system of justice is not what our country is all about.

As I stated above, I’m appalled at Casey Anthony, and everything she stands for. I did listen in disbelief today to the alternate juror speaking on television when he stated that he felt Casey Anthony was a “good mother”. Apparently, the alternate felt that the evidence showed that she was a good mother, and therefore it was too much for the jury to believe that a “good mother” would actually murder their own child. How an individual could come to that conclusion after Casey Anthony didn’t even report her daughter missing for over thirty days is incredible, and unfathomable. Apparently, this particular juror was focusing on motive, which in a criminal case is not an element of the crime. It is almost an impossibility to get into the minds of a deranged individual and figure out why they committed a heinous crime. Putting motive aside, the actions of Casey Anthony following her child going missing was enough for many people to conclude that she must have been guilty of murder. I do not profess to know the psychology of a killer, or know enough about Casey Anthony to diagnose her mental condition, and what actions an individual with such problems would take following the disappearance of their child, even assuming if there was an accidental death.

Back to the topic of why I wrote this blog about the Casey Anthony trial. I am writing this blog because while I am one of the individuals who was truly shocked by the verdict, expecting Casey Anthony to be found guilty, I remain a strong proponent of the civil jury system and must believe that it actually worked in this particular case. Did the prosecution go too far? Did the prosecution make mistakes by presenting certain evidence, leaving out certain evidence, and pursuing certain theories of the murder that were a mistake? Possibly. That is what happens in trials. The bottom line remains that a jury must make the decision based on the law given to them by a judge and the evidence presented in the courtroom. Emotions are not supposed to dictate the decision. While the emotions we feel towards a child, as I do to my three daughters, makes it truly impossible to fathom the actions of Casey Anthony, did she actually commit the act of murder on her child, as the defined by the laws read to the jury by this particular judge, and based on the evidence that the prosecution presented to this jury? I do not know the answer to that question. I do rely on the jury system to work.

We see attacks on the jury system in the civil arena just as well as the criminal arena. I have recently blogged about the documentary Hot Coffee, which tries to dispel myths about the attacks on our civil jury system. Surely, the result in the Casey Anthony trial will result in further attacks on our jury system. Casey Anthony may be free as early as tomorrow. She may go on to write a book, make television appearances, and profit from all of this. That is appalling. I truly hope that doesn’t happen.

I also want to leave with one additional comment that I make as a lawyer. Although I truly respect the lawyers for the defense team, and respect anybody who advocates for their client within the bounds of the ethical rules and the law, it struck me as somewhat offensive to see the defense lawyers hugging and crying along with Casey Anthony, and then hearing that they were toasting champagne to celebrate their “victory”. The defense lawyer had referred to his client as a liar and a slut, but that didn’t make her guilty of murder. Again, as a father of three daughters, I could never have sat next to Casey Anthony during her defense in this trial. Certainly, I would not have been hugging and crying along with her out of happiness for that verdict. Of course, I’m not a criminal defense lawyer who has to take on difficult cases, from both a legal and moral standpoint. I guess you have to love your client regardless. That’s probably a main reason why I’m not a criminal lawyer, and I am a civil attorney fighting for the rights of individuals who have been victims of negligent and criminal acts.

My daughters have asked me how Casey Anthony was found not guilty. The only explanation I can give them is to repeat that there is a difference between not guilty in a court of law, and not guilty. I told them that we may all believe she is guilty, but the jury system found her not guilty. I’ve explained to them that we have to live with that conclusion because that is our civil jury system, and that is our Constitution of the United States that we are so proud of. I am reminded of the famous from Winston Churchill about democracy, which he called the worst form of government, except for all the rest.

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7 Comments

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  1. Marta efbig says:
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    This is true evil.she is the devil himself. And the jury is posesed.Come on all the jurors thought she was not guilty!? All of them?!

  2. liz facciolo says:
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    I enjoyed your article. I did watch 90% of the trial and don’t understand how she could be found not guilty. All the evidence pointed to her. Her behavior alone during the time her child was missing showed her lack of concern for her child. I don’t understand how Baez was allowed to throw everything at the jury except the kitchen sink without any evidence to back it up. This is not fair and should not be allowed. It seems like unless there is DNA or an eye witness to a murder, the defendant will get away with the crime. This shouldn’t be necessary. Where is common sense???

  3. Sarah says:
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    I’m not sure Casey killed Caylee,but if she did she should have been punished. My concern is all these mothers that have abortions and are never treated as a criminal. What is the difference in killing someone when they are in the womb or when they are 3 years old? None what so ever!

  4. Marcella says:
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    The trial was a “huge waste” just like the words that came out of her mouth. She’s a waste of skin and the prosecutors had it all right. They laid it all out on a silver platter and still the dysfunctional jurors got it wrong. Don’t believe George but believe that lying s**t as Baez called her????? give me a break. She is a snake in human clothing. Thank you for giving us a chance to vent

  5. Pat says:
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    Pure Evil! Was the jury deaf?? How could anyone in their RIGHT MIND with all the evidence find Casey NOT GUILTY?? The jurors should have been held in contempt and the judge should have rejected the verdict and sent the jurors back to deliberate some kind of guilty verdit besides the lying! What a shame and a SHAM!! I only wish the worst for Casey and her mother who lied on the stand! Casey trashed her family and if I were the parents, would not want to ever see that NUT JOB!! Caylee should have never been allowed to stay with her mother!! I am shocked and disgusted with the court system and it NEEDS to CHANGE! PATHETIC!!!

  6. Jeannie says:
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    I would like to know if Casey Anthony will be billed for the whole trial? If Caley died in the pool by drowning as the defence stated in their opening statements this trial should have never had to take place. It should have been reported as an accidential drowning. She should have to pay for every last penny of it. She should not profit financially in any way for all the lies she told to everyone. Yes, I mean everyone who looked for, prayed for and worried for Caley.It makes me sick to think that this will open the door for other people to try the same thing to profit from the loss of their child. I will not be buying any book she writes, watching any movie that is made. I think it is disgusting that she has the possibility to make millions of dollars from the death of her child this way.

  7. tina says:
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    I Was shocked. wow what the heck happen there. I thought maybe if it was really a accident but then to leave that poor kid in woods that long, and all the lies. There is something wrong with that girl she is sick in the head. she killed that little girl and I think it was all planed and thats why she has all those recent videos of her with the little girl. She is a sick women who never got the help she needed. I think that the jury saw that and with dealth pently out there they gave in and came back with that. the family is all sick and her mother was lying for her. I am mad to and feel so bad for the little girl. She did three years for the killing of her daughter. she should be in a mental hospital. only god can judge they say.I wish she got help before it was to late.