Justice on Trial - the Casey Anthony Case

As I write, the jury in the Casey Anthony trial is in deliberations. They apparently can convict or acquit her on a variety of charges ranging from lying to the police to first degree murder. I admit to not having watched much of it, but of what I did see, a few impressions.

1. People who are somewhat batty can be called to the stand to testify about the most peripheral things. The one I saw was a lady professor from Tallahassee (FSU). She calls herself a "traumatologist" and her specialty is grief. Yes, it's an academic discipline for the mastery of which she is paid real money. When she spoke, her air was that of many professorial types, of mild condescension - as though her words descended from a higher altitude - and of distraction, resulting in a painfully slow delivery to which she was entitled since she was, well, a professor and a specialist in some area of "how the mind works." (This affectation, the one conveying the impression that we are privileged to be witnessing her efforts to find words that fit the depth of her intellections, is a common trait in the professoriat, but is most prevalent (in my experience) among purveyors of the soft sciences - the psychologists and sociologists. It's a disorder of higher education, but I've no idea for a cure.)

This woman could not answer a question directly. If asked by Mr. Baez, "Ms. Professor lady, would you please tell the court what advanced degrees you hold?" she would respond, "Well, up in Wisconsin, this is when I was living on Elmore Street..." The prosecutor kept jumping up to object that her answers were non-responsive, unimpressed by her academic freedom to wander. She also seemed to have trouble understanding what a peer-reviewed journal was. Her sole purpose in being called to the stand was to testify that people grieve in different ways, such that Casey Anthony's party life - the "beautiful life" according to her tattoo - in the wake of her two year old daughter's alleged and completely nonexistent kidnapping by the alleged and completely nonexistent nanny - might merely have been the coping mechanism of a desperate and immature young woman. I would imagine the jury's having a problem with this explanation, since Miss Anthony spent approximately a month coping in just this way, until her parents discovered that the child was actually missing and called police.

2. Miss Anthony is guilty as sin. How can one know this, without actual proof of manner of death and a connection between the body and the defendant at time of death? Easy: Miss Anthony didn't want the child found. After she confirmed that Caylee was missing, kidnapped, that is, she proceeded to pile one lie upon another, distractions all, which moved police not inch closer to finding her daughter. If this was her manner of coping with a debilitating grief, then she is not merely immature but insane, and our traumatologist from Half-Assed U should have made a plea for Casey's incompetence to stand trial. (This was tried at one point by the defense; it didn't work.)

3. Lawyers can knowingly lie in court. In opening remarks, the defense made several claims: a) Caylee died as a result of an accidental drowning. Someone put the pool ladder up, the kid climbed it, and that was it. b) George Anthony, Casey's father and an ex-cop who knows something about procedure, covered up the accident by putting his beloved grandaughter into a plastic trash bag and binding it with duct tape, as he used to do with deceased family pets. Why he would do this was not explained. And where was Casey during, and in the aftermath of, the accident? We don't know. The defense never told us and she refused to take the stand. c) George Anthony had sexually abused his daughter for some lengthy period of her life. A similar charge was made against her brother Lee, all with Casey's approval. There is no evidence to support any of it, but the defense was allowed to level the calumny anyway, for no other purpose than to suggest that if a man would abuse his daughter, what else might he be capable of? It is the kind of accusation that, if the man is innocent, can ruin his reputation and break his heart. But I can only conclude that this is of no consequence in our search for the truth.

4. This family has been described by various professional lip-flappers (Bill O'Reilly, Nancy Grace, et al ad nauseum) as "dysfunctional." Yes, discovering that you have a sociopathic narcissist in your midst will incline things in that direction. Dysfunction is a matter of degree, and aside from the erratic, mendacious, and irresponsible behavior of their daughter prior and consequent to her crime, this family seemed to me like a whole lot of others, until the sociopathic narcissist was outed and brought chaos into their lives.

5. The aforementioned professional lip-flappers have likewise asserted time and again that their only concern was finding "justice for Caylee." Aside from the fact that it's not their job (their only job is to talk about people who actually do the finding), I've often wondered about the very concept. How do we find justice for the dead? Do the dead actually need it or even desire it? I doubt it. If the dead suffer annihilation, any desire for anything went with them. If they're in heaven or hell or somewhere in between, they're probably taken up with other matters. Our efforts (anything short of prayer, that is) won't improve their lot. Let's face it: when the truly innocent are wantonly deprived of the only thing for which we can find no words to describe its value, life itself, we want to punish the bastard who did it. When the delight of another's presence is ripped from us, we want justice for ourselves, and we want that justice to stand as a thing to be feared, that it might discourage others so inclined. I do not find this a reprehensible impulse. And absent any further revelations about what really happened (of which there will be none), I expect this jury to come to the same conclusion.

Also, no harm can come from offering a prayer on the Anthonys' behalf. If any of you have daughters, as do I, can you imagine what it must be like to discover that one of them is this sort of person? I cannot.

[Update: she was acquitted of all but lying to the police. So I was badly wrong about this jury. As to my opinion on whodunnit, see number 2.


William Luse

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