Raising The Bar For Guilty Verdicts

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I thought Aphrodite Jones summed it up best on Hannity when she said that the jurors in the Casey Anthony trial had taken the concept of “reasonable doubt” and extended it to “shadow of a doubt.” If you look up the word “reasonable” in the dictionary, you find: “not exceeding the limit prescribed by reason; not excessive.” In this case, the jurors clearly exceeded the limit prescribed by reason.

In his closing remarks, Jose Baez turned reasonable doubt on its head and convinced the jurors they were obliged to convict only if they had no doubts. In other words, he successfully misled them as to the intent of the law.

If the bar for conviction is any doubt rather than reasonable doubt, we’re likely to see more verdicts like O.J. Simpson’s and Casey Anthony’s in the future. Based on F. Lee Bailey’s wild theory that Mark Fuhrman rolled up one of O.J.’s socks in his pant leg, I guess you could argue that it justified some doubt about O.J.’s guilt. But if the doubt is one in 10 million (which are the odds I would ascribe to Bailey’s totally unsubstantiated theory), that would exceed the limit prescribed by reason.

The fact is that O.J. was clearly guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And, don’t kid yourself, Johnny Cochran, F. Lee Bailey and all 12 jurors knew it. So did attorney Robert Shapiro, which is why he resigned from the case.

Let me be clear that I never want to see an innocent person put in prison, let alone executed. But it’s happened in the past and it will happen again, because — sorry, liberals — life isn’t perfect. It has often been said that it’s better that 99 murderers go free if it means saving the life of one person falsely accused of murder.

Perhaps. But what about 1,000 murderers going free in exchange for saving the life of one innocent person? Or 10,000 murderers going free in exchange for saving the life of one innocent person? Where do we draw the line? Answer: where the evidence is beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you set the bar for conviction so high that defense attorneys know that it’s just a game of throwing enough legal excrement against the wall, they can always raise some doubt. But that’s not where the bar is supposed to be. The law clearly states reasonable doubt.

Set aside the chloroform; set aside the duct tape; set aside the claimed childhood sexual abuse; set aside George Anthony’s supposed affair. All these are secondary issues. The three key issues that are indisputable — and that represent evidence that makes Casey Anthony’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt — are:

First, in the history of the world, no mother, no matter how good or how bad she may have been in the past, ever went partying for 31 days after her child disappeared, never calling the police and never displaying any concern about her. To say this was just her way of dealing with emotional distress is not a reasonable conjecture.

All the DNA evidence in the world can’t stand up to common sense. Casey Anthony’s behavior was overwhelming circumstantial evidence that made her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Second, in the history of the world, no one ever sat in a prison cell for three years, claimed she didn’t know what happened to her child (in this case, after her Zanny-the-nanny tale was exposed), then, at her trial, told her attorney to tell the court that the child died as a result of a drowning accident. (I’m assuming here that Jose Baez didn’t make up this story on his own and subject himself to criminal prosecution.)

Again, you don’t need DNA here. If you blatantly lie about your child’s cause of death, it’s beyond a reasonable doubt that you killed her.

Third, in the history of the world, no mother, after finding her child drowned, ever decided not to call the police and instead wrap the child in a plastic bag and throw her in the woods. There is no reasonable explanation for even a world-class idiot turning a drowning accident into a potential death-penalty homicide. To believe someone could have done this is to go far beyond a reasonable doubt.

As a side note, if I learned anything from this case, I guess it’s that I will never again get suckered into believing that a quick jury verdict implies a conviction. How well I remember when the jury came back with a verdict in the O.J. trial after just three hours of “deliberation.”

At the time, Jeffrey Toobin, now a legal analyst for CNN, opined that such a quick verdict had to mean a conviction. He was so naïve that he didn’t realize that the jurors had decided they were going to acquit O.J. before the trial had even begun.

While I didn’t buy into Toobin’s opinion in the O.J. circus, I have to admit that in the Casey Anthony trial I did believe that the quick verdict meant a conviction. With such overwhelming evidence against her, there was no way the jury could arrive at an acquittal without many days of deliberating. This time around, I guess I proved to be just as naïve about juries as Toobin.

The reason one cannot draw any conclusion from a quick verdict is because the hype about how jurors, on the whole, are intelligent, deep-thinking people who carefully weigh the evidence is just another self-delusive example of American feel-good talk.

No doubt, some jurors are intelligent and well informed. But the politically incorrect reality is that a significant percentage of jurors are totally unqualified to make sound and honest judgments based on the law. Perhaps professional juries in high-profile cases are a possible alternative to some of the dolts who now sit on juries and insist on ignoring evidence that is beyond a reasonable doubt.

That said, the guy who should be really mad about the outcome of the Casey Anthony trial is Scott Peterson. He had much less evidence against him than she did, but, thanks to Mark Geragos’ obnoxious arrogance and puffery, Peterson ended up on death row.

In closing, I would also opine that the biggest giveaway to guilt is the one thing that Casey Anthony, O.J. Simpson and Scott Peterson all had in common: None of them showed a lick of grief or sorrow at any time.

Defense attorneys are fond of saying that no one can predict how he might act if he were under indictment for a murder he didn’t commit. Hokum, I say. Any person who’s had a loved one (or even an ex-spouse, as in the case of O.J.) murdered would be grief-stricken — and would show it. I wouldn’t say this one piece of circumstantial evidence demands a guilty verdict beyond a reasonable doubt, but I’d wager that the emotionless person on trial would be guilty in 99 percent of the cases.

Final thought: Casey Anthony should work on repressing her laughter, because what lies ahead for her is a life of overwhelming problems and unhappiness. She’ll probably make a few million dollars quickly, but her story is likely to have a tragic ending.

There’s a part of me that almost feels sorry for this emotionally disturbed young lady, but the thought of how her 2-year-old daughter’s life ended makes that an impossibly high bar to clear.

–Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer

is a New York Times #1 bestselling author and host of the highly acclaimed Liberty Education Interview Series, which features interviews with top political, economic, and social leaders. He has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business, The Tonight Show, Today, The Dennis Miller Show, Good Morning America, The Lars Larson Show, ABC Nightline, and The Charlie Rose Show, and has been the subject of feature articles in such major publications as Time, People, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Barron's, and The New York Times.To sign up for his one-of-a-kind, pro-liberty e-letter, A Voice of Sanity, Click Here.