Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt

I never really paid attention to the whole Casey Anthony case until today, but this comment from the defense attorney Jose Baez struck me:

We should all take this as an opportunity to learn to realize that you cannot convict someone until they've had their day in court. We have the greatest constitution…If the media and other members of the public do not respect it, it will become meaningless.

This is an unfortunately common problem. The whole point of "beyond reasonable doubt" and "innocent until proven guilty" is to make sure that potentially innocent people aren't railroaded by overzealous prosecution, especially when it is defined by emotions and gut feelings rather than by evidence. Especially when the prosecution usually has the upper hand in getting it's story out to the public.

Casey Anthony and her family are screwed up, there's no question about that. But that doesn't automatically mean she is guilty of all the crimes she was charged with, and the jury decided that there wasn't enough evidence for a guilty verdict on the most serious counts.

We should all be thankful for that: just because society may disapprove of you and considers you to be a horrible person in general, you are still going to be treated more or less fairly by the judge and jury. The system isn't perfect, but isn't the attempt to remove prejudices from the decision something to admire about our legal system?

She may be actually guilty of the crime. We in the public have a right to an opinion on that matter, if we care enough to have one. But please, be sure you know the difference between thinking something is likely true and knowing that something actually is true. Understanding this distinction is what makes the difference between civilized disagreement and a lynch mob.


  1. Um yea okay, well she is guilty. Someone would have to be an imbecile to think she is not guilty...who did do it? If she is innocent of it why not report the child missing, why lie to police who are trying to find your baby. If she were truly innocent then she tried to portray hereself as guilty. People are emotional about this because a mother killed her kid and got away with it...its that simple.

  2. A mother MAY HAVE killed her kid and got away with it. Your and others' assumptions that she did do not make it so.

    There are many reasons people lie and do crazy things, especially people as messed up as Casey Anthony who was apparently a pathological liar even before her child died/was killed. All a lie is evidence for is that the person lied. It doesn't necessarily suggest why they lied, and even if the lie is to cover up a crime, that crime isn't necessarily the one that was being charged.

    Who did do it? That's what the prosecution and police were supposed to figure out. If they couldn't, that doesn't mean they can just make a best guess and throw someone under the bus. That's why we have the standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt."

  3. You have no reason and no right to say if she is guilty or not. No one knows the acsolute truth except the one person who did it and obviously that person isn't going to stand up and raise his/her hand. If they jury didn't see enough evidence then how can you possible find enough evidence to prove her guilty? It sickens me when people start pointing fingers and acussing others when they themselves have no idea what the real truth is. Put yourself in her shoes, if ou were acused of something and you know for a fact you didn't do it then how would you feel if I came up to you and said you were a horrible awful disgusting person who deserves to die? I'm not saying Casey Anothony is innocent but I'm not saying she's is guilty either, all we know is she "is not guilty" which simply means they didn't find enough evidence to prove she was. end of story.