Well, the Casey Anthony jury verdict was returned today and yes, I'm surprised that the jury found Not Guilty on all the felonies. From the news coverage, I'm right there with the majority of the country: there's even media alerts on the large, growing number of celebrities who are tweeting their shock at this result.
A copy of the complete jury charge is here (not the verdict, I'm sure that will be uploaded to the web shortly). It's this that the jury had with them in the jury room to guide them in their decision-making, together with the exhibits and their recollection or notes of witness testimony.
Reading through the counts within that charge, I understand that the jurors did not find a sufficient connection in the "act" or "criminal act" to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Casey Anthony was guilty of that particular crime. And I understand that their perspective is different from the judge, the defense, the prosecutor (as I've posted about earlier).
The jury did the right thing: if they did not think that the State of Florida provided evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that there was guilt, then "not guilty" was where they should have come down.
It's not like the jury voted that she is innocent of her daughter's death. Not guilty and innocent are two different things.
In my view, this didn't have anything to do with Jose Baez's antics but dealt solely with the prosecution's evidence, which was almost entirely circumstantial in its attempts to connect the mother to the crime. No DNA, etc. was a big problem for them - apparently, an insurmountable one.
I'm sure that we'll hear interviews and probably read books written by some of these jurors, giving us more details than we really need on the why and the how of their deliberations and their decision. I imagine some of those deals are being ironed out while I type this.
Speaking of book deals and things, I imagine that Casey Anthony will financially benefit from these events. I imagine that Jose Baez and his team are making deals for books and movies and all sorts of things. Maybe Cindy is going to write a book, too. Heck, maybe River Cruz will be on Amazon in time for Christmas.
What I'm interested in watching now is how the public is reacting to this surprise verdict, and how disrespect has grown for our system of justice; how a trial by media does impact a case; and I'm also concerned about some fool seeking vengeance on behalf of Caylee - because I fear that there are those out there that are that incensed that Casey Anthony will walk free.
Finally, today reminds me of one of the reasons that I stopped working the Children's Court. Without revealing details, I can share that I was involved in a case where a prostitute had her children taken from her by CPS and she fought long and hard to get those kids back. She earned the respect of everyone in the case, and we all believed that she had taken this life event as an opportunity to change her life: to have an apartment with ivy growing in the kitchen window, a regular job, her kids in school, her own car and a normal family life.
Her family was reunited and the case was closed. Everyone - the attorneys, the therapists, the ad litems, the case workers, the judge - counted this case as a victory. Victories aren't seen too often in Children's Court. We all took this case to heart because so many of the CPS cases are so sad - we all needed this to remember that sometimes things do work out well.
Then, about a year later, we were told that this woman had been arrested in another state, high on drugs and she had almost killed her youngest child. She didn't fight the charges, and she'll spend the rest of her days behind bars.
Today, I think about that case and that pretty little girl who was about the same age as Caylee when she was almost killed by her mother and I remember the lesson from that case.
It's not always over when the judge closes the case. The justice system isn't omnipotent nor omnipresent and its power is intentionally limited. Life continues after the lawsuit is done.
I worry that this tragedy isn't over with, and I hope and pray that I'm wrong. It just seems in my gut that there's another shoe that's going to drop, and I'm hoping this is just my personal reaction based upon that old CPS case.