Jurors selling their stories subverts justice system in Anthony trial and verdict…

July 7, 2011

If memory serves me right, people have been convicted of murder even when the body could not be found, although I would think that rare.

But some are saying that the prosecution in the Casey Anthony case overreached in going for a capital murder charge when no time or actual cause of death could be determined.

And the suggestion from juror comments now coming out is that the panel did not fail to convict Anthony because they thought she was innocent, it’s just that there was too much room for reasonable doubt with nothing but circumstantial evidence.

In criminal court the standard for conviction is “beyond a reasonable doubt”, while in civil court the bar is lower at “preponderance of evidence”.

I would not want to get in the way of free speech, but the disturbing thing in all of this is that the whole affair of the trial (which I admit here I did not follow, but heard about from time to time) is that it seems to have been (and still is) more about making money for participants (perhaps even the defendant Anthony herself) than justice in the death of a little girl.

A lawyer with not much experience has made a name for himself with what appears to be a miraculous victory for a client already fairly well convicted in the court of public opinion.

Apparently Anthony was not much into mothering but a lot into partying and may have felt her child was a drag on her lifestyle.

The Cable TV networks, especially the ones we have now that specialize in the tawdry world of crime and celebrity foul-ups and such, are raking in the doe with a story about a dead girl that they hope to keep alive (that is keep the story alive) for as long as possible. The OJ trial started it all for cable. Sensational coverage by the media at large, in the old days newspapers, has a long history going back to and before the famous Scopes Monkey trial.

But here’s something new, perhaps (or not), now even the jurors are apparently trying to cash in. After the verdict for acquittal came down the jury reportedly agreed to stay mum in front of the media frenzy for interviews. But we now find out they or some of them at least apparently were just holding back so they could sell their stories to the highest bidder, not in the interest of the integrity of the judicial system.

As I already said, I would not want to get in the way of free speech, but the fact that jurors would sit through a trial contemplating how they might cash in once the verdict was handed down seems to me to be a clear subversion of justice. Who knows what effect that might have on their thinking and their deliberation and their interpretation of the facts? And one might think that handing down a verdict of not guilty in a case, however circumstantial, that seems to so clearly point to guilt of the defendant, makes a more compelling story than throwing the book at an apparently guilty person (and no I do not know if she was really guilty or not — but she lied a lot, and that has been proven).

There are laws, I believe, in at least some jurisdictions that forbid convicted felons from profiting from the sale of their stories, maybe that should be extended to jurors, but there is that free speech barrier.

But fair trials are important to us all.