Cracks in the system

There was some kind of trial that resolved recently.

Ok, I'm not actually that clueless. But I didn't follow the case, so I decided to do some catchup on the Casey Anthony trial coverage after the verdict blew up Facebook, Twitter, and even workplace water-cooler talks. Anthony was sentenced today.

A common thread seems to be reactions like "she's guilty" and "what were those jurors thinking" and "the justice system is broken."

Incidentally, when I typed "The Legal System is" in Google, top autocompletes were:

The legal system is a joke
The legal system is broken
The legal system is not our enemy

So there's a problem at least in perception, and possibly in practice. There are voices far more qualified than mine to comment on that topic. 

Here's an TED talk, food for thought (on certain aspects of our legal system at least):

Going back to criminal law... the court of public opinion is not the same as the trial by peers that's taken as a fundamental right in the US.

So here's the question: does the public reaction indicate that the legal system is broken, or does it indicate that in some cases, we have a problem with the existing rules?

A news brief from TampaBay.com (reposted on the Sun) revealed this comment from one of the Jurors.
"I just swear to God ...," said the juror, who spoke to a reporter on condition of anonymity on Wednesday. "I wish we had more evidence to put her away. I truly do ..." (source)
This, at least, tells me the system "worked" to the extent that the jurors focused on the evidence - the burden of proof that is the responsibility of the prosecution, and a system that declares a defendant innocent until proven guilty.

To me, that was actually something of a comfort. There's a little cynical side of me that sometimes thinks that presumption of innocence is not always the case.

Still, I would not have wanted to do that job.

The final thought I have on this is... why people have focused so intensely on this investigation (versus other cases that are also horrific, or other examples of how the justice system possibly failed)? Why is this the poster case for a 'failed justice system'?

I'm not answering that question (or really even the first one) - I'm more interested in hearing your thoughts. Leave 'em in the comments below!


  1. I served on a jury years ago. It was a 3 day trial and it was not as serious a topic as this one. But I remember the judge clearly stating (before we went in to deliberate), this jury system is not perfect. But it is the best we have and it is one of the best in the world. Do your best!

    Do I believe jurys always deliver the right verdict? No. Only God knows the truth of anything. But I do believe what the judge said. It is the "best we have" right now.

    Is the system broken? I don't think so. I think it is flawed at times, just like humans are flawed. Just as some people were wrongly accused and put to death, or some who are guilty go free ... there are other cases where justice was served and the right verdict was delivered.

    It is the best we have ... for now.

  2. There's an interesting OpEd piece in the Washington Post that asks the question - "what if Caylee had been black?" http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/if-caylee-anthony-had-been-black-would-you-know-her-name/2011/07/06/gIQAtTW23H_story.html This kind of touches on the debate in Baltimore about the attention the Phylicia Barnes case did/did not receive.

    @ RK - Great points, I do think there are many cases where it works just as it's supposed to.