The Casey Anthony verdict: Unpalatable, but correct

Casey Anthony might be guilty, but the prosecution didn't prove it beyond reasonable doubt. She had to go free. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON, July 6, 2011 — Most people learning of the “not guilty” verdict in the highly publicized Casey Anthony murder trial thought the outcome was unjust and unfair, but not all. 

Some, like former criminal prosecutor and current trial attorney Debbie Hines, expected that the young Orlando, Florida mother, accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee in 2008 and then partying afterwards, would be set free. Yesterday, a jury found Casey Anthony guilty of misleading the police but not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter, or aggravated child abuse.

“It was a classic textbook case of reasonable doubt,” Hines said. She was quite surprised to discover after learning of the verdict that she was in the minority who thought the case was fairly decided. Hines, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney who has defended clients in criminal cases, said she found herself in demand over her differing viewpoint on the case.  She was called in to appear on several local shows, appearing on the local CBS affiliate WUSA9 before settling down to pen her thoughts in a post on her blog, Legal Speaks:

Judge Belvin Perry reads instructions to the jury before they deliberate in the Casey Anthony case. (Photo: Associated Press)

Judge Belvin Perry reads instructions to the jury before they deliberate in the Casey Anthony case. (Photo: Associated Press)

“There were enough holes for the jury to see through the prosecution’s case.  There was more than enough reasonable doubt to go around. The jury only needed one reasonable doubt and the defense gave them many more doubts based on reason. …

“When I prosecuted, I always asked that the verdict be fair and just. And if it was fair and just based solely on the evidence and nothing else, I was satisfied, even with a not guilty verdict. … The prosecution had a good victim in Caylee but a poor or weak circumstantial case. Hence, the jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of murder of her daughter, Caylee.

“In the words of the late attorney Johnnie Cochran, if the evidence doesn’t fit, you must acquit. And in the Casey Anthony case, the evidence didn’t match up to a murder conviction. It was a just and fair verdict.”

Indeed, many people found the verdict reminiscent of the outcome of the OJ Simpson murder trial. In that 1995 case, the Heisman Trophy winner was acquitted of the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. The Casey Anthony case had an equally sympathetic victim and broke the hearts of many parents. 

In the end, no matter how much people wanted a guilty verdict for Casey Anthony, the prosecutors did not meet their burden. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. Court watchers who are parents, and even those who are not, invested a lot of energy in this case. They don’t have to agree that it was decided wrongly or rightly, but the fact remains that a little girl’s life was snuffed out and no verdict will bring her back. Instead, we are left with an empty feeling wondering whether justice was indeed served, or denied.

Read more Politics of Raising Children in The Communities at the Washington Times. Follow Jeneba Ghatt at @JenebaSpeaks. Her work can also be read at JenebaSpeaksBlackWeb 2.0 and Politic365.  She also co-hosts a Blog Talk Radio show called Right of Black which tackles current events and politics from a perspective not often seen in the mainstream media.



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Jeneba Ghatt
Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt is a former journalist turned lawyer turned citizen journalist. Currently, she manages her boutique communications law firm, where she has represented small businesses and nationally-recognized civil and consumer rights organizations before the United States Supreme Court, federal courts and the FCC. She also covers the White House and US Congress for the online news site Politic365.com while authoring her own influential blog JenebaSpeaks.com which is frequently accessed by top policy makers and think tanks, and the investment community. JenebaSpeaks.com focuses on the intersection of politics and technology and reports on policies and rules in the communications and tech sector.
 
Before opening her law firm, The Ghatt Law Group, which was the first communications firm owned by women and minorities, Jeneba regulated Comcast and Starpower as the Assistant General Counsel for the District of Columbia's Office of Cable Television and Telecommunications, and at one point was the only communications regulatory attorney in the entire city. She is founding member and policy chair for a new trade association, the National Association of Multicultural Digital Entrepreneurs and provides advice and counsel to new businesses in the tech industry, particularly small businesses owned by women and minorities.

Born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, but raised in the United States by her Catholic mom and Muslim dad, she started her college career creating web content for one of the earliest websites in history while working part time for the University of Maryland's Office of Technology. Following her graduation from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, she founded and co-wrote one of the earliest blogs and since then has gone on to found and author six different widely read and influential blogs. She was one of only 22 writers and bloggers to attend the first White House summit for African American media.
 
She holds a Certificate in Communications Law Studies from Catholic; a Juris Doctor from there as well, and a Master of Law in advocacy degree from the Georgetown University Law Center where she first taught and lectured as a Staff Attorney and Graduate fellow at that law school's Institute for Public Representation. She later went on to teach Media Law at the University of Maryland at College Park and guest lecture at Yale Law School and Penn State University, College of Telecommunications. She is well skilled and versed with social media and manages several Twitter, Facebook, Linked In accounts and groups.
 
She sits on the board of several non profits and trade associations.

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