One of the biggest news stories of recent years is the murder trial of Casey Anthony. This woman, in case any readers have been living under a rock for three years, was accused of murdering her two year old daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony, and then proceed to party like it was 1999 for thirty-one days.
She then led law enforcement on a wild goose chase, by claiming the child was abducted by her alleged 'nanny', who turned out to be an entirely fictional character. Ms. Anthony claimed to have no idea where her child was, but the alleged 'nanny' had been watching Caylee for over a year while Ms. Anthony 'worked' at a job which also turned out to be entirely fictional.
Finally, almost three years after the disappearance of Caylee, the trial of Casey Anthony took place in a courtroom in Orlando, Florida. The sequestered jury listened to six weeks of very compelling testimony, only to return a 'not guilty' verdict on all charges related to the death and subsequent disposal of Caylee. In fact, the only charges that they found Casey guilty of were four counts of lying to the police, all misdemeanor charges that were caught on videotape.
It is a common misconception that Ms. Anthony did not report her daughter missing to the authorities for thirty-one days. The reality is, she never reported Caylee missing AT ALL. It was Caylee's grandmother who made the initial 911 call, after she realized that her granddaughter was not with her daughter, and was in fact missing. This 911 call began a six month long search which finally culminated in the finding of Caylee's tiny skeleton bagged up like trash and thrown into a swampy area less than a quarter mile away from the Anthony family home.
So how could it happen that twelve reasonably intelligent people, after listening to almost six weeks of testimony and evidence, render such an absurd verdict? Legal experts have opined about the possibility of the 'CSI effect' which seems to be caused by the plethora of forensic crime dramas on network television. Apparently because of these shows, jurors have been led to believe that any and all of their questions in a criminal case can be answered by irrefutable hard evidence. In reality however, this is rarely the case. In fact, most murder trials in the U.S. are based on circumstantial evidence. In other words, jurors these days don't want to have to 'connect the dots' at all.
Still other experts have argued that long term sequestration makes a jury more apt to render a quick verdict and to err on the side of the defendant. In the case of Casey Anthony, the jurors who have spoken out have said that there was a tremendous amount of pressure in the jury room to acquit on all but the least consequential of the charges brought against Anthony. One could certainly argue, given the length of this trial that this verdict was delivered in haste.
In my personal opinion, the real problem with this jury was the lack of understanding of the term 'beyond a reasonable doubt'. That becomes even more clear to me every time one of these jurors speaks to the media. At some point, THIS jury decided that they could only convict if there was absolutely NO doubt of guilt, and that is not the way the process is supposed to work. Nevertheless, the jury has spoken. It's over, and there will be no justice for Caylee Marie Anthony, at least not in this lifetime. Of course, those who disagree with the verdict can simply wait for the freight train known as karma to run over Casey Anthony. In my heart, I know it's just a matter of time.