Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

I have to admit I’ve been surprised over the last 24 hours or so at the reactions of conservative talk show hosts to the “not gulity” verdict in the trial of Casey Anthony, charged with killing her young daughter.  First let me say that I have no opinion on the verdict itself.  I didn’t sit in the courtroom for more than a month listening to testimony.  The jurors did.  I don’t know if this woman killed her daughter.  Only she and God know for sure.

What I do know is this.  The Constitution established a justice system for the United States.  It may not be perfect, but it’s arguably the best system in the world.  Millions of people have emigrated (legally and illegally) to this country partly because of our legal system.  (Those who are hear illegally are here in spite of our legal system, but that’s another post.)

I thought conservatives were pro-Constitution.  I thought they were all about the Founding Fathers and their vision for our country.  Yet, here they are griping about a decision made by a “jury of her peers” to let Casey Anthony go on the charge of murder.  I hope we never reach the point where trials are held on television and the viewers get to vote “guilty” or “not guilty” by calling an 800 number like “American Idol”.  Legal matters of life and death shouldn’t be decided by a majority vote of uninformed viewers.  There would be  no way to police the process to ensure that it wasn’t a popularity contest or that people weren’t casting multiple votes.

Whether this jury made the right decision is a matter of opinion.  It didn’t take them long to unanimously reach a decision.  If Anthony did kill her daughter, she will ultimately face a higher Judge.  If He finds her guilty the punishment will be much worse than anything the state of Florida has at its disposal.

Remember, it’s not the jury’s job to decide whether this woman is guilty.  Their job is to decide if the prosecution proved that she’s guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt.  There is a difference.  In this case it’s obvious that the prosecution failed.  If she really did it, shame on them.

Here’s what worries me.  Many people, including the conservative pundits (who should know better) are passing judgement on Ms. Anthony, and on the judicial system.  This does more harm than good.  If the system is going to fail, and I’m not convinced that it did in this case, isn’t it better to let a guilty person go free than to lock up someone who’s innocent?  That’s the “reasonable doubt” part.  We would expect that the prosecutors (who work for us) who had three years to prepare a case and 33 days to present it to do a competent job.  Either they did in this case, or they didn’t.  We’ll probably never know for sure, but endless speculation after-the-fact does no one any good and has the potential to do much harm.

One Response

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with you Mike. Well said…

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