By Andy Weddington
Friday, 08 July 2011
"This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Little more than three years ago a bright-eyed 2 year-old named Caylee Anthony died. How, because of the state of her deteriorated remains (and secret keepers aka: liars), will most likely never be known.
Tuesday afternoon Caylee's accused murderer's lead defense attorney, Jose Baez, standing before a microphone, his team--appearing as a cerebral phalanx covering his six, made a few remarks about our judicial system and his client, Casey Anthony (Caylee's mother)--who'd not only faced charges of murder but sundry related serious offenses. Found not guilty, of all charges but four counts of lying to investigators, Mr. Baez said Casey did not murder Caylee.
"Murder"--an interesting word choice by Mr. Baez. He did not say Casey did not kill her daughter or that she was not responsible for her death. And innocence was not addressed.
During another interview, Mr. Baez said Caylee's death was "...a horrible accident...a tragedy...that snow-balled out of control...". Which causes one to wonder if that is what actually happened or mere opinion.
Words. Listen closely, lawyers use them cleverly.
Murder. Guilty. Not Guilty. Accident. Tragedy. Innocence.
Three years ago little Caylee was reported missing. That is, reported missing--not by her mother, her principle guardian--by her frantic maternal grandmother who called the police. As it was, Caylee's whereabouts had been unknown for more than 30 days. And with that chilling phone call a bizarre tale began to unfold.
American justice, rooted in the presumption of innocence, is interesting.
Soon after grandmother's call reporting her missing granddaughter, Casey Anthony--the prime suspect--was being "tried" by talk show hosts refereeing lawyers, judges, legal experts, psychologists, psychiatrists, crime scene processors, detectives, jury selection consultants, commentators, citizens, et. al. in the media long before her day in court.
All the while the wheels of due process turned.
Finally, court. And drama that, in essence, was a chess game between art and science. Though, at times, it looked more like Twister.
Last week's commentary concluded America is a land of 310+ million odd ducks. The Anthony family is American. The Anthony family, all of them--accused, father, mother, brother of the accused--proved themselves odd ducks during the trial.
Anyway, the jury listened. Courtroom spectators listened, too, and sometimes to discourse not privy to the jury and all others, around the country and world, following the trial on TV and the Internet. So there was at least three perspectives, but the only one that mattered was the jury's--the sequestered jury's.
Meanwhile the talk show hosts, lawyers, judges, legal experts, psychologists, psychiatrists, crime scene processors, detectives, jury selection consultants, commentators, citizens et. al.--self-appointed quarterbacks--continued to "try" the case in the media. Though, despite all their education, expertise, and experience all they could do was speculate. And wildly they did. Guilty. Not Guilty. Maybe this. Maybe that. Maybe this and that. And there were some, with opposing thoughts, that led to emotional, heated exchanges. Why? More theatrics for the purpose of entertaining voyeurs?
Today's comment is not meant to analyze our legal system, offer an exhaustive review of the peculiar particulars surrounding the messy death of Caylee, nor "retry" Casey Anthony--she had her day in court.
But there is a curious, befuddling piece at the root of Caylee's death that warrants mention. That is, how is it a child is missing for more than 30 days and her mother, in this case presented by defense as a good, caring mother, does not immediately report her disappearance to authorities? Particularly when considering a child out of sight, for mere seconds, triggers parental panic? Thirty days? Why? How? And, What? Are you kidding?
Casey not reporting her missing daughter along with her behavior--the documented self-absorbed, carefree party girl lifestyle--during those 30 days certainly not conduct consistent with the accidental death of child. Any reasonable person concludes something's seriously amiss. Mischief. And there was a compelling circumstantial case built around scientific evidence that supported such a conclusion.
Casey was charged with murder. In a court of law art trumped science (that some dismissed as "fantasy forensics"--hence Twister) and Casey's peers found her not guilty. And with that finding, in relatively short order (11 hours of deliberation), there's wonder and anger about the jury's work--as to inferences, deductions, common sense, logic, and the intellectual rigor applied thereto.
Casey was responsible for Caylee. And she, and most probably others, damn well know exactly how Caylee died but they're not obligated to tell. There's that little matter of self-incrimination. Murder had to be proved and the jury decided the prosecution failed. And so the debate as to what defines "beyond a reasonable doubt" continues.
And with that it appears, at least for the time being, no one will be held accountable for Caylee's death. That is ridiculous. And seems criminal. And though in the eyes of the law that may be justice and bring temporary bookkeeping closure to the case, Casey, and any others in the know, assuming each and all are of sane and rational mind (despite being odd ducks), will be haunted for life. Surely, how could they not? Little Caylee, the innocent victim in every respect, one way or another, will haunt them. And that's life's justice--of sorts--not physical confinement but mental imprisonment and torment.
Casey's innocence, or lack thereof, is another matter. So is truth.
Per Buddha, "Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth."
The truth hidden, for now, Casey won her freedom. And as inappropriate as it may seem, she won the lottery--not a scratch card but Powerball, and soon lots of cash for her story. That, too, is ridiculous. And seems criminal. But it's not. Arguably, immoral and unethical. But so goes the American way. Crime pays.
The sun and the moon are not long hidden.
For how long hidden the truth about Caylee's death?
Who knows. But, according to Buddha, not long.
What is long, forever long, is the unknown of what Caylee's life might have been.
With this jury, a cynic concludes it's okay to kill someone but you'd better not lie about it. And, oh by the way, who's Caylee's father? Where is he? And what, if anything, does he know?
Can you imagine trying terrorists in our civilian courts? Goodness.