"A first-class piece of journalism..." -- David Margolick, Vanity Fair*

When Following a Court Case is a Trial

In Trials on July 9, 2011 at 3:29 am

Supreme Court building. Original uploader was Noclip at en.wikipedia.

Interviewees after the conclusion of the Casey Anthony trial split into two camps.

First were the trial watchers who expressed outrage at the not-guilty verdict.  They’d seen photos of Anthony partying just days after her daughter’s death and were shocked by the behavior of the seemingly cold-hearted mother.

The second group was exasperated by the attention the trial received “when we have more important problems.”

Both views are mistaken.  Trials are news; the verdict was correct.

Round-the-clock cable coverage may numb viewers and create a circus atmosphere but it does not change the fact that when a mother is accused of killing her daughter, it is news.

That the mother is young and portrayed as a “party girl” by the prosecution added a salacious element.  (She certainly was insensitive, at best.)  Charges of child abuse added shock value.

But because the trial was covered like a reality show does not make it one.  This was all too real.

Regarding the verdict, some of the same people who are not sure how Calley was killed are quite sure her mother was guilty.

Calley may have drowned as the defense team claimed or was suffocated by the tape found on her mouth when her body was discovered or in other ways.  But unless the jury was sure beyond a doubt how and why she died, how could they find her mother guilty?

Casey Anthony’s not guilty verdict does not mean she was innocent.

The burden placed on the prosecution to prove guilt was not met.  But Casey may well have killed her daughter and it is difficult to believe that she has told everything that happened.

The prosecution also may have over-played its hand by charging Anthony with first-degree murder.

The desire for a “do-over,” though understandable, is not constitutional as it would place Anthony in double jeopardy. This is not to be confused with the question and answer show hosted by Alex Trebek, which every year looks more like a lonely outpost of civility and clarity.

  1. “Trials are news; the verdict was correct.” Exactly. This is why I renewed my ACLU membership. Here’s to all surviving bastions of civilization, in all their diverse forms ~~

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