Marty Dolan, principal at Dolan Law and his associate Karen Munoz represent victims of wrongful death and personal injury. His column “Law and Wellness,” appears in the Chicago Lawyer and her column appears regularly in the Law Bulletin.
As lawyers we’ve all been asked by family and friends, “what do you think about the Casey Anthony verdict?”
Casey Anthony mania has surpassed even a tabloid’s wildest concoction. I have been following the case with mostly one ear but ever since the verdict was reached last week, it has been impossible to not dive headfirst into the twists and turns of this case. It has wide appeal and has generated interest on many levels.
On a legal level you could spend days debating and discussing the rulings and admissibility of certain evidence. What I have found more interesting though is the social reaction to the case and the verdict. Anthony may have escaped a criminal conviction in Orange County, but in America, the people have clearly spoken. She has been condemned to a different type of sentence; she is now a social pariah, and a social outcast of the worst kind. She has been convicted in the minds of most people who knew anything about the case, and unlike the OJ Simpson case, and the public reaction to that verdict, this case is not polarized by race. Right or wrong, innocent or guilty, Anthony has been socially convicted.
In my opinion the reason the case has garnered so much attention is because Anthony is a young woman who has been accused of one of the most heinous and despicable acts a mother can do. The killing of her own child. Evil is supposed to look and act a certain way, and Anthony did not meet those stereotypes. We as a society want to believe the bond between mother and child is sacred and when someone acts outside of that norm, it attacks our sensibilities, and everything we believe in. I don’t envy the jurors and the hard decisions they had to make. I do feel strongly about the public attack on the jurors decision, whether we feel it a good decision or a bad one. I think it’s wrong to attack a decision which we took no part in. We were not there day to day listening to the evidence. We were merely passive actors in a melodrama fit for Law & Order SVU. Unfortunately this case is not a TV script, it’s a real story with very real consequences. A child is dead. How she died, we may never know.
The jury did the best it could with the evidence presented. What happens in a courtroom is not always accurately portrayed in the media. It is colored by our biases and our prejudices. That is the reason we have a jury trial system in this country. If the casual observers had their way, especially the Nancy Grace ilk, Anthony would have been burnt at the stake. Whether I feel the verdict was right or wrong, I am thankful we do have juries whose job is to weigh the evidence presented at trial, and not the evidence as presented throughout the media.