6/13/2011

Casey Anthony Trial Obsession - Why This May Be a Good Thing

Is the country obsessed with the Casey Anthony trial?  Maybe.  TIME magazine thinks so. 

These days, little else besides the Casey Anthony trial appears to be covered on HLN, and other evening news or news feature/talk shows appear to be devoting quite a bit of coverage to this one case in Orlando, Florida.  

I admit to watching more television than usual these past two weeks, and I'm sure that I'll stick with my pattern through to the verdict.  Part of my pondering this whole thing is asking myself why I feel the need to stick with it: it's not like I don't have a gazillion other things to do.  You too, am I right?

However, I don't think that having so many Americans watching the Casey Anthony trial is a bad thing.  In fact, I think it is a good thing for several reasons, including:

1.  Viewers Are Learning How Trials Really Work - Which Helps Lawyers in Future Cases

Trial lawyers have to deal with clients, jurors, witnesses - heck, sometimes even experts - that expect courtroom proceedings to happen just like they've seen them on television.  The attorney's biggest concern is that a jury does not perceive his or her case as weak just because someone looking remarkably like Laurence Fishburne or David Caruso or Marg Helgenberger isn't taking the stand to describe how this fancy dancy lab gizmo can reveal who shot JR in thirty seconds flat. 

Or, that the lawyers aren't numbskulls because they need more than the single file folder you see oh-so-many lawyers bring into the courtroom (and then they don't even open the folder to look inside!).  Oh, oh, oh - and the perfect hair and makeup and wardrobe!  TV lawyers never, ever reflect the reality of real courtroom work.  Trial lawyers work all night getting ready to perform the next day; by that second or third week, no one has perfect hair (or maybe even mascara) at that point. 

So, to the extent that discussions are being had over "junk science" and viewers are watching how cumbersome those objections can be in the Casey Anthony trial and how many paper is really involved, good.  It helps the real lawyers out there - and justice, too.  (I won't discuss the blond attorney's hair, but I think she's doing a fine job of keeping up appearances with everything else on her plate.  Isn't she still wearing heels?  Geez Louise, that's impressive.)

2.  Viewers are Finding Out Why Death Penalty Cases Cost So Much

There is lots of chat right now not only about how much is Jose Baez getting paid (or not), but also about how much the State of Florida is going to have for a final tab in this case.  Viewers are learning the right to counsel that is constitutionally guaranteed to anyone who can prove themselves indigent means that these cases have the government (read that "the taxpayer") footing the bill for work done by both sides as well as all their expenses.  Now, those fees and expenses are monitored (in Florida, it's by the JAC) and the legal fees are far from what a similarly situated criminal defense attorney would get in a private-pay case. 

Still, one of the main challenges to the death penalty in the country today (think California) is the simple fact that it costs so darn much.  In the Casey Anthony trial, viewers are seeing how this works -- and they will soon see, assuming that there is a guilty verdict, how a death penalty case is really two trials in sequential order.  The penalty phase will have its own evidence (witnesses, testimony) as the state puts on its aggravating factors and the defense, its mitigating circumstances, as the decision of whether or not the sentence should be death at the hands of the state is determined. 

So, it's good that viewers are learning the finances of indigent defense, particularly involving the death penalty.


3. Viewers Are Learning About Parents Who Don't Love Their Kids Like People Assume They Do

Right now, I don't think there is enough information out there about mothers who are not automatically loving and kind and protective of their offspring.  Casey Anthony is viewed as something unique, still - and whether or not viewers think she's innocent or a monster, it's still discussion revolving around this one young woman.  I have hopes, though, that this will change.

In my years down at the Children's Court, I saw all too often that mothers (and fathers) are not blessed with an inate need or drive to protect, love, or nurture their children.  Frankly, it was a reality that slammed me in the face, seeing child after child, each beautiful and unique in their own way, discarded or disrespected or victimized in other ways by their BioMom or BioDad.  The mothers really got me - choosing drugs, men, or just their freedom over their babies. 

It happens a lot more than most Americans want to think about: it's easier to think about children starving in Africa or orphaned in Tahiti than it is to consider the overwhelming number of unloved, abused, and neglected kids here in our own backyards.  Here in San Antonio, there are only enough child advocates (via CASA) to assign to 1/3 of the children who have been removed from their parent's care.  That means 67% of the local kids don't have an advocate (they do have a lawyer and a caseworker). 

I hope that the Casey Anthony trial, somehow, sheds a light on damaged mothers - and the children they leave behind.  That, I think, would be the best thing to result from the Casey Anthony trial obsession.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's not just Americans watching this trial, just saying.

Mary said...

I don't know that I'm obsessed by this trial but I do know that for the last couple of weeks, I don't seem to get anything else done..

sadly, I've done this before with other high profile cases, especially those involving the disappearance or death of a woman or child..

this case peaked my attention when I saw an interview on either Nancy Grace or Greta Van Susteren of a woman whose granddaughter was missing and how she rambled on and on about how she was running on fumes and had gotten little sleep, blah, blah..all about her..it struck me at the time as bizarre and so I continued to try to follow what information was out there..but I didn't forget that interview and since have really formed more of an opinion of Cindy than Casey..who can show one face to the cameras and the other face which to me is the real Cindy...she can get this syrupy voice going..like in the jail house videos and then again on the stand..I don't doubt that she was devastated to learn the circumstances of Caylee's death, but the way she carried on in court was a little dramatic and I think that she eats up the attention of the cameras...to me she is pretty self absorbed too and very controlling...

DaisyDeadhead said...

Mary, my granddaughter was born one month after Caylee. She will be in school in autumn, Caylee won't be...

As a grandmother, she just tore my heart out. I certainly couldn't have done it. I couldn't have looked at photos of my granddaughter's bears, her playhouse, her toys...

Although she may have engaged in histrionics in the past, I think the breakdown during the trial was genuine.

Reba Kennedy said...

Hi Mary and Daisy,

FYI, I've been in touch with a psychologist who specializes in issues involving narcissism and I'm waiting to hear back on whether or not we will be able to have a guest post or two here where a psychologist can address issues regarding mother-daughter relationships, etc.

Should know something by Friday.

Thanks for writing,
Reba

Anonymous said...

I too began watching the trial after watching Nancy Grace. I wanted to evaluate the trial and make my own opinion. The moment I heard Nancy Grace say " now she is blaming George an ex-detective" I thought she was niave and stopped watching after one episode. I had grown up with a mother that failed to protect me, she caught a relative doing sexual things to me at a youn age and never did anything about it. btw she worked for law enforcement! I am a young mother under 30 with my own daughter and I would never allow any harm to come to my daughter! I have had way too much experience with sexual abusers and abusees and from my experience my analysis is Cindy is covering for George for reasons including sexual abuse! She excuses and enables him!

Reba Kennedy said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for writing - you've helped me understand that while I believe that Cindy and Casey have had a dysfunctional relationship that contributed greatly to this tragedy, it doesn't mean that George didn't have his own role to play in all this.

Will we ever know if there really was sexual abuse during Casey's childhood? I don't know. However, I don't think Casey - with her lying ways - is going to get much respect for any finger-pointing she may do from the witness stand.

She's lied so much, her credibility is shot.

Which is a real, real shame b/c I don't like the idea of any father getting away with molesting his daughter...but without more, Casey's testimony has no power IMHO.

Thanks for writing,
Reba