Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Court of Public Opinion Doesn’t Count

With yesterday’s not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony trial, there was an important lesson to be learned:  the court of public opinion does not count. While many seem shocked over what they perceive as a mother getting away with the murder of her daughter, those same people need to reflect on themselves and be shocked at their own behavior by passing judgment on someone before getting all the facts. The media is most to blame for fanning the flames for a guilty verdict. They should know better that it is the jury – not the media or the viewers – that have the last word.

The Casey Anthony trial was not some sort of reality competition show like “American Idol” where viewers can call in and vote to convict, This was real life where the judicial system makes the decision.  Some think that the not guilty verdict means that the system DIDN’T work – and they are wrong. The jury heard the whole case and did not hear any conclusive proof that Casey Anthony was guilty of murder.

Sure, it is highly suspicious that Casey did not report that her daughter Caylee was missing for over a month after Caylee’s disappearance. It does suggest that either she murdered her daughter, or knows who did. But this is the whole point of the not guilty verdict – the jury apparently did not believe that the prosecution proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Casey herself killed Caylee. Caylee is dead, but the prosecution never definitively answered the question -  who killed her and how?

Casey Anthony may be not guilty of murder, but the case does seem to imply that her parenting skills are questionable, after all, no good parent would allow their child to go missing for a month without reporting it. But a possible uncaring parent is not proof of murder.  The jury did convict Casey on the charges of her lying to law enforcement officers.

While the not guilty verdict may seem to fly in the face of logic, it is an important reminder that facts, not feelings, is what should be the factor in deciding guilt or innocence. Will the media learn this lesson for the next big case? I seriously doubt it.

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