Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Casey Anthony: (Procedural) Justice Was Served

Their disappointment is palpable. I almost feel sorry for them, but not quite.

Consider the similarity between this case and the Amanda Knox case in Perugia, Italy. In both cases, a physically attractive but morally unattractive young woman is accused of a bizarre homicide. This triggers a massive media frenzy which feeds off its own multiplying energy, eventually chewing up the woman's character, spitting it out on the ground, and stomping on it. The women make matters worse by behaving badly after the fact and telling reprehensible lies that are eventually exposed. The prosecution had in both cases rather tenuous circumstantial evidence and a narrative that, if true, would explain the evidence and incriminate the accused. Unfortunately, other narratives, at least as facially plausible, would exculpate the accused. Knox is sentenced to 27 years, while Anthony is acquitted of all felony charges.

Why the different results?

I'm sure there are many factors involved, including perhaps the facts of the cases themselves. However, one thing that must have made a big difference is this: in Italy, unlike in the US, juries are not sequestered. Every night, the Italian jury went home and were exposed to the media narrative about what an evil witch the accused was.

Fortunately, the American jurors were kept away from the tabloids and the talk shows, and were able to reach a different conclusion from the one that the people in the above clip have convinced each other is true.

This enables them to reach a conclusion based on evidence and legal rules and definitions, and not on indignation, pity, or mob hatred (or empathy). The system that makes a verdict like this one possible makes me proud to be an American.

Update: I recommend this. There is much wisdom there.

No comments: