I have avoided watching anything to do with the sad case of Caylee Anthony over the past two years.
The image of the big brown eyed pretty little child, missing but then found skeletonized in a swampy dump, juxtaposed against the photos of her smiling mother dirty dancing at clubs have been broadcast, it seems, like 25 million times on cable news over the last couple of years. No thanks. I don’t need to hear Nancy Grace whip her talking heads into a frenzy about Casey Anthony’s guilt and ridicule the whacked out dysfunctional Anthony family on Nancy’s cable-news-gossip-drama-show when I walk into the house after a long day at work.
Fifteen and one-half years ago – on October 3, 1995 – I remember the spectacle following the acquittal of O.J. Simpson, when mostly the African-American community exploded in joy following O.J.’s acquittal, while the mostly white audience shook their collective heads in disbelief. In a trial which lasted for months, the jury returned a not guilty verdict in less than just 4 hours of deliberation.
200 years of slavery, the Civil War, poll taxes and Jim Crow laws, the Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education decisions, Reverend Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement, sprinkled with white on black police brutality ends in a queer result which had little to do with the facts of Nicole Simpson’s murder.
Where were you when O.J. was acquitted? Everyone can remember. I was taking a deposition in West Palm Beach. I don’t remember the name of the case, or the other lawyer or even the name of the person I was deposing. But I remember watching the TV as everyone in the court reporter’s office moaned and groaned as O.J. smiled and walked free from the courthouse.
So here we are some fifteen plus years later. Casey Anthony – not guilty – of premeditated murder, child abuse or aggravated child abuse. Everyone will remember where they were when the verdict was announced.
I was in the Dallas / Fort Worth airport, waiting for a flight back to Miami. I took a photo of the CNN broadcast on my blackberry.
In the past fifteen years, I have handled hundreds of cases, and seen cases turn out far differently than I thought they would. Anyone who tries cases for a living knows that anything can and will happen in a trial.
Unlike the O.J. verdict, this was no shocker. Whereas I avoided all of the cable news shows, I was intrigued watching the closing arguments last Sunday. The state attorneys did a competent job, but defense attorney Jose Baez smoked the prosecution in his closing. "Reasonable doubt lives in this courtroom," he bellowed. Maybe not on the cable news shows, but he was not trying the case to Nancy Grace or her cast of executioners.
After watching Baez for 2 hours on Sunday afternoon, I turned off the TV. If I learned anything in the last fifteen years, I knew there was no way a jury would convict Casey Anthony for murdering her daughter based on this evidence.
Yes, there are tens of millions of Americans in shock, crying about the injustice. But what is clear is that Jose Baez, like Johnny Cochran, love em or hate em, did his job.
Many will bemoan that there is no justice for Caylee, as there was no justice for Nicole, as there is no justice for thousands of other murder victims and their families whose stories are not broadcast nightly on the cable news.
Fifteen years from now, I will remember where I was when the Casey Anthony verdict was read. Will you?
July 6, 2011 Update: This article was picked as one of the "Best in Law Blogs: The LexBlog Network: July 6, 2011."