Reading through all the comments left here over the past week regarding the Casey Anthony trial (and thanks again to everyone who has taken the time to leave a comment, it's appreciated), I've been thinking about how different perspectives can be taken on what we are all watching unfold.
There's the viewpoint of the truthseeker: what really happened here?
Everything gets pondered, and personal recollections and experiences are mined for information that will help explain how this crime could have happened, and why. To be honest, that's me. Maybe you, too.
But that's not necessarily what anyone's role is there in the courtroom.
First, there's the perspective of the defense attorney.
This focus is upon getting their client acquitted - and if not freed, then with the least amount of punishment possible. That's the defense attorney's job. To defend.
Second, there's the prosecutor's focus.
The state attorney is compiling evidence and presenting it to the jury and placing it in the record in order to meet the elements of the crimes contained within the charge (see earlier post on what the state has to prove, and with what Casey has been charged.) Enough evidence has to be presented to meet the burden of proof - beyond a reasonable doubt. Not all evidence will be placed before the jury (for example, I'm not hearing anything about how Casey was arrested under an overpass while she was changing cars and possibility trying to run away). When they rest their case, they should set down thinking "we have given the jury everything they will need when they get those jury instructions, to tie law to facts and come back with the verdict we want."
Third, there's the judge.
He's protecting the law as it is presented to him. No objection made to a piece of evidence and he knows it should have been? He must set there and let the attorney make the error. Expert provided that he thinks isn't the best choice? Not his call. If the law and the precedent has been met, then he must follow state law. Is the law being followed as the attorneys do their job? Then the judge is doing his.
Fourth, the jury.
They are to take what has been presented to them and deliberate with the instructions that have been given to them (hasn't happened yet) to decide whether or not the state has met the burden of proof for "guilty" on the charges they've been given. They are not deciding innocence.
No one in that courtroom is considering innocence - they are considering the standard of "not guilty."
Here's why that is very important to all of us.
The crux of this proceeding, as any criminal proceeding, is whether or not the government will be allowed to take a citizen and throw them in a cell, denying them freedom for a period of time. In this case, the government is going one step further: the State of Florida is asking that the citizen be killed by an executor for the crime that the state is alleging has been committed.
Freedom, life: it's one of the truly great things about our American system of justice that we fight so hard to protect these things. Not every country does, and we read about that every day.
So, when we are all watching the Casey Anthony trial, I for one want that prosecution to be strong in its case and I want the defense to be stellar in its challenge. It's not because of Casey Anthony, though it's her life on the line -- it's because I respect the system and what it means to all of us.
Now, as the state is preparing to rest, I'm waiting to see what the defense is going to pull out of its hat. Mr. Baez and his co-counsel knew the evidence before it came in, so all this "drowned in the pool" and "body was moved" has to have some sort of basis they'll try to present. Will this sway the perspective of "not guilty" here?
I don't know yet. But "not guilty" is all that the defense has to meet -- and that's another way of saying, here's enough doubt to keep you from jumping the reasonableness hurdle.