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There's A Reason They Call It A "Not Guilty" Verdict

I've been somewhat surprised at the backlash against the jury in the Casey Anthony trial. No sentient being with warm blood could help but be repulsed at the prospect of what Ms. Anthony was accused of. But proving beyond a reasonable doubt that she did indeed murder her daughter? That's another story.

That's also the social contract we as Americans agreed to in the design of our justice system.

I can't say I followed the Casey Anthony trial as closely as, say, Nancy Grace, but from what I did read and hear, the evidence against Ms. Anthony appeared to be circumstantial. To the extent that the evidence did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she murdered her daughter, the justice system worked as it should have. I'd rather let a murderer go free because of circumstantial evidence than have an innocent person subjected to the death penalty based on circumstantial evidence. That's how our justice system is designed.

No, I'm not naive, and yes, I know that people get convicted all the time based on circumstantial evidence. And yes, Ms. Anthony's acquisition of a tramp stamp with the words "Bella Vita" during the time her daughter was missing didn't help her case. But disliking how someone carries herself and proving that she murdered someone beyond a reasonable doubt are two different things. No, I don't think Ms. Anthony is innocent. But I don't think the prosecution was able to prove its case, try as they might, beyond a reasonable doubt.

There's a reason why they call it a "not guilty" verdict: It doesn't mean the accused was innocent; it means the prosecution could not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Ms. Anthony isn't necessarily innocent; she's just "not guilty."

And as flawed as the American justice system can be in practice, in theory, it's pretty good and better than most. I'll definitely take it over what some of the other nations have to offer, even on a bad day, like the day Ms. Anthony was acquitted of murder.


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