Today, I witnessed our system of justice at work. And our American system of justice worked. I am profoundly moved by this quite unexpected (!) event.
Serving as a juror on any case is a solemn duty. Solemn. The two most important words that I, as a juror, have always kept foremost in considering the guilt or innocence of a fellow citizen — and the accused are, all of them, our fellow American citizens entitled to every right the rest of us receive — those two words that mean the most are Reasonable Doubt. It is better that many guilty go free than that one innocent person be found guilty. Always. No matter who the defendent is. No matter what the crime is. Even the death of a precious little girl.
I’ve studiously avoided listening to much of the trial of Casey Anthony, but it was impossible not to hear a lot, particularly the “talking heads” on every news channel. What bothered me most about the case were two things: (1) She was overcharged (capital murder was not a reasonable charge, in my opinion); and (2) I had a lot of doubts about the scant — scant — evidence that the prosecutors were able to provide. This does NOT mean that I don’t think Casey Anthony is probably guilty. She probably is. But the prosecutors did not prove her guilt beyond ALL reasonable doubt.
How interesting that the jury verdict came in on the day after the most important holiday for every citizen of this nation. And that that holiday is named “Independence Day,” which means — to me — this nation’s founding, so radical at its conception, meant that every citizen deserves the same rights as every other citizen.
I haven’t heard from any of the jurors yet, and we may never hear from them. But there were 12 citizens, just like you and me, who came together and found insufficient evidence to charge the defendant with either capital murder or manslaughter. That is, quite simply, huge.
And I suspect that being in that courtroom every day is a very different experience from watching it on television, particularly with the constant opining from the “talking heads.” One day, a neighbor came over and she asked me to turn to the HLN channel. There was Nancy Grace, who has to be one of the most odious personalities on television. I am sure that Ms. Grace is seething at the moment. But I’ll make sure to avoid listening to her. Leave that to her fans, although I am astonished that anyone would elect to view her show. But, were Nancy Grace charged with a serious crime and I were a juror for her case, I would have to set aside ANY personal feelings I have about her as a person, and make the difficult effort to solely consider the evidence. That is difficult to do. And Casey Anthony was certainly an unappealing defendant in many, many ways. So it is especially remarkable that the jurors set aside any negative impressions that they must have had about her.
The point is that being a juror, in the courtroom, is a very different experience. Most of all, there is a monumental burden in being a juror, particularly in a capital case. I have no doubt that those 12 people gave the case their very best attention and consideration.
Enough from me. I just wanted to say that — whether or not we agree with the jury — the system worked. And thank god for this system that we American citizens are so fortunate to enjoy.