COURT TECHNOLOGY AND TRIAL PRESENTATION

The Court Technology and Trial Presentation Blawg features articles, reviews and news of interest to lawyers and other legal professionals. This blog is published by Ted Brooks, a Trial Presentation and Legal Technology Consultant, Author and Speaker. Ted's trial experience includes the Los Angeles Dodgers McCourt divorce trial (with David Boies), People v. Robert Blake murder trial (with M. Gerald Schwartzbach), and a large number of high profile, high value and complex civil matters.

All materials © 2014 Ted Brooks, unless otherwise indicated.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Casey Anthony Verdict: Was it Wrong?


I will begin by stating that I have worked on a number of high profile criminal and civil trials in my career, including the Robert Blake murder defense, so I know what it looks like on the inside. I hope to work on several more, so there are some things I cannot share here.

I will admit that I didn’t follow this trial closely, even though it was deemed the “Trial of the Century” by HLN. Ratings reportedly doubled for the trial on HLN, as they focused almost exclusively on the trial. It is important to note that media carriers are not just a public service – they are a business. Other than a few inside tidbits here and there, my source of information on this trial was the same as most everyone else’s – the various forms of mass media coverage.

While Nancy Grace and the HLN team seemed to imply this was a done deal, as I watched the verdict being published, I can’t say that I was shocked. I may have been leaning slightly toward a guilty verdict, but I know that the jury has information that I do not, and that I have information that they do not. Although the waves of comments on Twitter seemed disappointed with our legal system and the outcome of this trial, I can say that a case is not decided on the opinions of observers and commentators. It is decided by the evidence presented by each side, and in Criminal Law, it must be convincing beyond a “reasonable doubt.” In other words, what the jury sees and hears is used to determine the outcome of the case, and nothing else. Although this jury was sequestered (isolated), a “normal” jury will simply be instructed to avoid any contact or exposure to media coverage of a trial, and not to discuss it with anyone.

During deliberations, the jury has only their notes and admitted evidence to work with. Although we were given an opportunity to see most of the evidence presented to the jury, they were not viewing it along with a picture of little Caylee in one corner, and “Tot-Mom” in another. Visual presentation can be very persuasive. In fact, that’s what I do for a living. It’s not always just the information that matters, but also the way it is presented.

So, do I agree with the verdict? Absolutely. You cannot convict someone if you don’t have the evidence to do so. That’s why our justice system works. It may not be perfect, but it’s the best there is. The jury agreed that Casey Anthony had lied to Law Enforcement Officers, and convicted her, based on the evidence. They found her not guilty of murder, due to the lack of evidence.

For additional info:

What a quick verdict can tell us about a jury by Doug Keene for CNN, about the Casey Anthony trial

The Red Well: Blog Aggregator for Views on Litigation Persuasion by members of the ASTC (American Society of Trial Consultants) 

Jurors and Technology in Trial: What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits By Ted Brooks, about the Robert Blake trial, and others

Video of Robert Blake Verdict


Video of Robert Blake Jury Foreman explaining why they acquitted him.



13 comments:

  1. Say, thanks for coming by and commenting at mine. I didn't follow the case either--I never do. But the outrage on Facebook was a little unreal, and inspired me.

    cheers!

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  2. Sure, I enjoyed your post. And the flames continue to blaze today. Tragic loss, tough verdict, courageous jurors, the system works. Reasonable doubt = no conviction

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  3. Hi,
    I did watch the trial (DVR'd) and thought Casey's behavior was so pathological ~ it was fasinating to watch! It's a very sad situation that no one won and Caylee was lost. Do I think Casey harmed her beautiful little girl? Unfortunately, I do. Was justice done ~ probably not. I hear attorney's speak about the sequestering issues that perhaps needs to be re examined; I hear people speak about having professional jurors. I don't know what the answer is but Cayless is dead and everyone responsible for her just walked away....

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  4. Spot on with the analysis. It is not the rumor and innuendo of the media but the facts that are presented to the jury that make a verdict. I too was not following closely but what I did not see was much hard evidence from the prosecution. I will admit I was influenced by the media coverage and visual presentation to raise some serious questions about the defendant’s innocence. This is not be the first time the court of public opinion rendered a guilty verdict not supported by the facts and it would also not be the first time the prosecution rushed to convict without adequate evidence.

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  5. I watched only the closing arguments in the Casey Anthony trial. That jury should be commended for their courage in reaching the right result. Sure, she was likely guilty, but trials are never about the truth; they are about the evidence, about what you can prove in court. The defense may have made mistakes during the course of the trial, but Baez's closing presented a substantial amount of reasonable doubt, mainly because (i) the uncertainty of cause of death, (ii) the absence of a link between the alleged murder weapon (duct tape) and the accused; and(iii) the lack of motive made the evidence against her purely circumstantial. In essence, the prosecution proved that she was a bad mother, perhaps even an inhumane person by society's standards, but it did not prove homicide beyond a reasonable doubt. While the circumstantial evidence was not sufficient to prove murder beyond a reasonable doubt, it might have been adequate to prove some kind of reckless or negligent conduct, which would have put her in jail for a long period of time (about 10-15 years). In my opinion, the prosecution made the mistake of going for an extreme conviction (Murder in the first degree) in light of the lack of direct, demonstrative evidence. The prosecution should have known, prior to putting on its case, that the evidence was circumstantial and that their key expert would say that the scientific evidence did not conclusively prove that Casey was the murderer. Their mistake in judgment - due to their conjectured belief in the guilt of the accused due to the "31 days of lying to the police and not reporting he daughter missisng" while Kaylee was dead and rotting in the woods - had the effect of leaving the jury no alternative but to acquit. People (my mother included) should stop blaming the jury, and the judge, and put the blame where it properly belongs. That's the way that I see it. Rafael

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  6. Her lies worked for her. There was nothing left to get DNA from. Since her only crime was lying she deserves some kind of award, she is a champ, a champ who killed her child. Commen sence would tell you who in their right mind would take an accident and make it look like a murder? What did this jury need to convict? Maybe a photo of Casey dropping the body in the woods?

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  7. What mother does not report her daughter missing for 31 days? The day the kid goes missing shacks up with the boyfriend all night and the entire day after??!! Develop a web of lies to friends and family regarding the "where abouts" of the 2 year old. Has access to the blanket her 2 year old was wrapped in, the cloths, the duct tape on the shelf in the family garage, the canvas bag the baby was thrown in and then into the swamp. 7 people smelled decomosition in the trunk, not to mention the science to prove chloroform and chemicals detected a month after the body was desposed of... Two specially trained dogs alerted on the trunk indicating a dead body, and the mother was the only one driving the car.. the "defense story about the pool" was another lie she stole from a felon in a cell next to her that she overheard one night. And why didn't she telephone 911 when she found the kid in the pool?? Corageous jury - BS -The jury wanted to get out of there so one of them could go on a European vacation.. A guilty verdict would mean a few more weeks to sit for the punishment phase.. They didn't have "guts" to do the right thing..They just wanted to go home, and took the easy way out.. Makes me sick - It seems the only way to be convicted of murder in this country, as proven by this jury, is to get it on video tape. No wonder the rest of the world laughs at our system. The defense guys pat themselves on the backs about a job well done, and let a murder go free.. I suppose it means more in movie deals, books and appearances on TV..

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  8. Any time via trial technology or for any other reason our society can interpret justice in something less than the antiquated idea of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth then we are beginning to move away from a hedonistic culture to one of compassion. A innocent child was killed and now perhaps due to our technology another death will not occur.

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  9. I do not understand you people whio admit that u did not watch the trial,or just watched the closing arguments can conclude that this jury was "right". I don't need Nancy Grace or any other media outlet to tell me what happened, I went to the mountains of information easily obtained if you care to spend the time. Depositions, interviews, statements, forensic evidence,EVERYTHING ASIDE FROM WHAT THE COURT "SEALED" IS THERE!! There is SO MUCH THE PROSECUTION WAS NOT ALLOWED TO BRING UP AT TRIAL, but THE DEFENSE TEAM SAID ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING TO CONFUSE THIS PATHETIC JURY AND FOR THE MOST PART WERE NOT PREVENTED FROM DOING SO. This was not an incompetent prosecution team who overcharged, the Grand Jury indicted her on 1st Degree Murder BEFORE CAYLEE'S BODY WAS EVEN FOUND!!! This was a defense team whose ethics and antics took a new low. This jury DID NOT follow the Judges's Instructions as Juror #3's interviews prove. The 2 Alternates who have spoken publicly are even more frightening than the 12 that did in their total disregard for what is to be considered evidence. This Jury simply did not understand, and IMO DID NOT WANT TO UNDERSTAND, even the most basic FACTS ie: after being told in testimony by both Prosecution AND Defense witnesses that Caylee's remains were too far gone due to lenghth of time and environmental conditions laying in those woods to expect to find ANY DNA, they wanted it? They were considering the penalty in deliberation AS A FACTOR IN THEIR DECISION!!(see statement from Jenifer Ford Juror#3)This was a travesty from beginning to end, if you take the time to LOOK at what happened here I can't see how setting this MURDERESS FREE was "the right thing"...RIP Caylee, forgotten in this trial but not in our hearts..

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  10. The travesty is not the fault of the JURY. They had nothing to do w/the sequence of events and the body not being recovered before it had decomposed. They saw what what mattered in a court of law. They did not base their verdict on media and public opinion. I have taken MANY hours over the last few weeks to go behind everything I saw on the live coverage and media/public rumors and do my own in-depth digging for the truth... And let me tell you it is sad and disturbing to have discovered how OFF sooo many of these stories were that are being circulated throughout the country. I'm not going to list them all but one main factor is that the duct tape found can not be proven to have been on her face and even if it was-- not the cause of death.. The heart sticker on the duct tape is another persistent lie. There was never a sticker on the duct tape. It was on a piece of cardboard found somewhere around the area of the remains.. The blanket, tape, laundry bags etc were all in the Anthony home. Two other people were actually living in that home full time when Caylee went missing. Casey had left the home around that time and had less access to these things in that case. People seem to be refusing to acknowledge the fact, as well, that there were approximately 9 other LE that testified to smelling nothing in the car-- including George Anthony himself... There's alot more but I'll leave it at that.

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  11. Although I did not like the verdict, I feel Casey Anthony was guilty, after working in the court system for 14 years, you only can go by what is presented, not your feelings. The defense apparently did a good job of the reasonable doubt.

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  12. Reasonable doubt and a reason TO doubt are two different things. The defense presented a story with NO EVIDENCE to back it up. Anyone can make up a story. So if that is considered reasonable doubt then every circumstantial case from here on out should be rendered "not guilty". I don't agree with the verdict but I understand where it came from. The question I want answered is why was there so much evidence not allowed in the trial?

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  13. This note is not about the verdict, but about the fact that every single case must be in some way damaged by its public chasing of radio and other media (certainly by TV) race after ratings....such trials could hardly be considered objective, regardless of how "impartial" the chosen jury claims to be.
    IN America- when buck is to be made, the justice is silent.

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