Explaining The Casey Anthony Verdict

Right.  Pretty ridiculous, I know.  I wouldn’t presume, except that one of the reasons that I started blogging about this is that all the saturation coverage, even though I didn’t really see that much of it before the trial, was so obviously one-sided it seemed like someone should say something.  For the love of God.

And now the verdict is in.  And here, already, are the “trial consultants” with their take, and the well paid “analysts” with theirs.  And yes there are lots of things to talk and speculate about and the prosecution over-reached and all that.

So before the relentless spin machine on the whys and wherefores of the verdict go unanswered I thought I’d put up a little something, just as food for thought in the midst of all the bloviating from mainstream pundits, and make a point I’m sure no one else will make.

It boils down to one thing, in my view.  The case is won or lost in the closing arguments.  Baez was just extremely effective, he believed in his case and he was sincere.  And critically, and somewhat amazingly, he succeeded in turning the tables in the credibility contest.  He appeared to be honest and earnest, and he made the prosecutors look like overbearing and shallow assholes who trafficked in slogans, like “100% of accidental deaths are reported” and “two words:  pathological liar”.  Baez was a hell of a lot more likeable, and without a trace of theatricality or phoniness, so when he came up with a pithy phrase like “They’re trying to make you hate her because she’s a lying slut, appealing to your anger and emotion.”, it didn’t sound like sloganeering.  It sounded like he really meant it.

Baez was a like a philosopher, or a priest.  The prosecutors were like sophists.

And from what I read about them, he also got this remarkable victory from a jury that was naturally inclined towards the prosecution.

Now, you probably need a winnable case to win, and this was a winnable case.  But for a criminal defendant, it is still extremely difficult to win even a case that is winnable.  But if you start with a winnable case and you fight hard and close strong and believe in what you are doing you have a good chance.  And that’s what Baez did.

The outcome is all about the lawyer, and Casey Anthony had a very good one.

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “Explaining The Casey Anthony Verdict

  1. Lucinda

    Thank you for your view and comments. Emotions are not a reality of guilt. Let’s be thankful that this little girl is in heaven with God. Casey’s father is not a reliable man, not a trusting person, and we can not go on our emotions but on the facts. Jeff Aston did NOT by any stretch prove guilt. Is there any wonder he is “retiring”. Otherwise he’d be fired and rightly so. He was so unprofessional and so many times, laughing, making faces, that is NOT how a professional acts. He did not make the case for guilt, so despite your emotions the correct verdict was rendered given all the “facts”.

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  2. bluebird

    Yes Baez did have a natural charm, likability, and a nice face. He had a lot of energy and enthusiasm for his client’s rights and it showed. I think there was a slight change in the amount of hatred for her after Baez’s closing arguments. I think she had a lot of people who believed she was innocent after all. At least I started seeing saner and more logical comments among the vast majority of negative ones in the mainstream media blogs. I hope she can recover, I hope she makes money with interviewd with Baez, immediately, and I hope she can deal with herself and become a person we may see doing meaningful things someday.

    I wonder where she will go once she’s out? She has no money and I do not think she will go back to her parents for a long long long time. Who will take her in?

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  3. Debbie

    If the prosecutors had not ignored so much of the information that was in the document dumps earlier on from the family members testimonies…

    I believe that they could have had a more believable case had they went after George rather than Casey…there was so much of the little things ignored that was in the document dumps…

    Ignorance is bliss…they were too focused on finding Casey guilty…that they ignored the more obvious person…it was there they just ignored it…

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    • Yes, I think the better case was against George. He is much easier to make look entirely sinister. Casey just doesn’t seem at all sinister. Messed up, but not sinister. That doesn’t mean she isn’t sinister, she could be. Her little toddler daughter is dead, after all. But really, when you think about it, there was nothing else that said “sinister”. You would think there would be some other indication, some friend that would come in and say she worshiped Satan or something. As it was you’d have to accept that the first and only truly sinister thing she ever did was murder her daughter, just kind of out of the blue. Possible, barely. Very unlikely though.

      But I don’t think they would have had much of a case against George, either. Anyway, he gets a huge pass from investigators because he’s LE and adopts the proper obedient and supplicating demeanor. At least at the beginning. Sometimes they’ll turn on one of their own but never right away.

      Sometimes a child dies and it may have been a homicide or it may have been an accident and nobody knows and you never do know. I think that’s pretty much the case here. It’s very unsatisfying for many, especially those that have been whipped up into a frenzy and are expecting the great climactic ritual sacrifice that never materializes.

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  4. Marin

    Well, I have a few thoughts… One, if I had been a juror, and I am a “regular person” too, I would have been exceedingly turned off by the prosecutor LAUGHING at his fellow officer of the court. This to me is a sign that he feels he is above the decorum that his position requires, and plainly, just makes him seem like he thinks he’s better than defense counsel. THAT doesn’t always go over so well with the “regular” person as they may have related more to Mr. Baez and felt he was more like them. Also, it made him look like he wasn’t taking the trial seriously and felt he had it in the bag and could laugh. Complacent to the max. This could have turned off the entire jury.
    Mr. Baez, luckily for the preservation and betterment of our legal system, was able to illustrate in closing the lack of evidence and expose mistakes in the prosecution’s case. The part about the 84 searches being the result of a software malfunction seems very possible to me, and the preceding Myspace entry really took the sting out of that one.
    Just because Ms. Anthony’s father doesn’t look like an abuser means nothing. Child abusers don’t always have fangs and crazy eyes. Also, his crying on the stand, to me, looked like the flip-side of his angry outbursts, just making him look unstable altogether. I am truly sorry that he felt like committing suicide, but to me, the note had a tinge of insincerity to me, it’s just a feeling I have in my gut. I believe the mistresses pillow-talk claims as well. I DO think we can look at the parents when children go awry. The more we saw about the defendant’s family, it did indeed seem like their dysfunction could have contributed to her bizarre 31 day behavior. When they walked out of the courtroom after the verdicts had been read, it seemed to shine a light on an unloving family structure… that’s their kid after-all!!!!
    The seeming pro-prosecution stance of the court, could have turned off the jury as well, they may have not felt the trial was proceeding fairly.

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    • THAT doesn’t always go over so well with the “regular” person as they may have related more to Mr. Baez and felt he was more like them.

      Really interesting point to me. This may sound manipulative though I don’t mean it that way and don’t believe it is, but one thing I always tried to do was get the jury to identify with me. It was a trial long process, but you bring it home on closing by at least occasionally using first person plural (“we”) when making your arguments. IDK. Jury trials are really interesting.

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      • Marin

        Not manipulative, but smart. If juries are made up largely of “regular” people and a lawyer on either side gives the appearance of superiority, then it could turn off the jury and effect the verdict. Even when the prosecutor made a big thing about that witness who had his laboratory in an barn, it seemed kind of elitist… I mean, duh, I’m sure it wasn’t test tubes in bales of hay and manure! Maybe the jury thought, “Well, I live in a barn too, I’m sorry you don’t think that’s good enough!” (That may be a little farfetched of me though.)
        It was also kind of like David and Goliath, and they could have been subconsciously rooting for the defense. Karma gave Mr. Baez the last “laugh.” But on that note, will the prosecution appeal and what could be the possible outcome of that?

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        • hcannon

          Appeal what? She was found not guilty.

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        • Hcannon: remember that in a lot of places, such as Canada, the prosecution can appeal a not guilty verdict.

          But Marin, in the US a jury’s not guilty verdict is final in every state and in the federal system as well. There is no appeal.

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          • Marin

            Oh I see, thank you.

            I don’t understand why the media and hoards of protesters are singling this out as the epitome of injustice? My impression is that this strengthened our system, that someone wasn’t thrown in jail for life, just because they needed to pin it on someone. Also I heard a Judge (I’ve forgotten her name) on television saying something to the effect of DNA evidence is not what it’s all cracked up to be and what happened to just using good old fashioned circumstantial evidence… which is a scary thought that a judge would think it just to revert to an outdated evidence gathering practice just so we could throw the girl in jail.

            There are plenty of examples of injustice in our country, how about the mother from Oklahoma who was thrown in jail for TEN YEARS for selling $31.00 worth of pot?
            http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20035294-504083.html
            What about Randall Dale Adams who went to jail for a murder he did not commit? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thin_Blue_Line_%28film%29

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          • hcannon

            You mean in Canada the state can appeal a not guilty? Wow. We are truly blessed. I did not know that. I guess when you are born here you take a lot for granted.

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  5. Ron P

    Mr. Baez, his team, and of course Casey Anthony are winners here. Less obviously though, so are Judge Perry and the state attorneys. A guilty verdict would surely have been overturned on appeal–never a good thing for a judge–where the law of the land takes precedence over the public pressure and political motivation. The prosecutors in this case too were put on notice by Mr. Baez that they had submitted fraudulent evidence about computer searches. The consequences for such misconduct by anyone in front of the bar is serious. They are lucky to still have their jobs and their licenses to practice.

    I agree with you that closing arguments were important here but not because one side was more like-able. Mr. Baez didn’t have to paint a new picture; he simply had to frame the sloppy mess the state had thrown on the canvas. Whatever the picture was, it sure didn’t depict a guilty killer. I’m proud they rendered their verdict. It was just. Everyone won here except the network nitwits and cable hour harpies.

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    • Allison

      Were any of you watching the same trial as the rest of the world?! I live in Orlando, and I have followed this case since day one. If you all believe that George is the guilty one, and Casey is innocent, how can you explain her lies, stealing, and complete disregard for that little girl? Calling her snot nose, making up the fake ‘Zanny’ story……she got the drowning story from the media, and her cell mate!!!

      ! Why did she act that way for 31 days? Why did she lie to her mother about where she was for 31 days? Do you really think she is going to be a on a jailhouse video telling her dad that he was the BEST dad and grandfather if he had sexually abused her? There are so many things to point to her guilt. If you listen to the jury, 2 of them had marked 1st degree murder, and all of them said they know she is not innocent, they just didn’t think the proof was there. I don’t know what they were looking for, but they took reasonable doubt to another extreme. It is like Linda Drane-Burdick said, she was afraid common sense would be lost. It was.

      I was relieved to hear that she was not going to get the death penalty, as I think that if they were going to do that, then any other person who kills their child should get the same, but I was shocked to here not guilty all around. It was not Baez’s strong lawyering, as you may recall he was lectured many times by Judge Perry! For you to say that Ashton retired because of this, and had he not he should have been fired is incorrect! Yes, he laughed and smircked…..however, he believed in his case as Baez believed in his. I saw Baez make faces as well, but he was not called out on it. Ashton is one of the best Prosecutors Florida will ever see….30 years of his time has been put into our state. Thank God for people like him. It is sad that in his last case, the remains had decomposed so badly, because I know had the baby been found months earlier, we would be looking at something much different involving Casey Anthony. She should be glad she has a new lease on life…she will get in trouble again lying. Let us all just hope and pray she NEVER has any more children!!!!!!

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      • hcannon

        I have not seen anyone declare she was innocent here. Just Not Guilty.

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      • Allison, this is a good summary of the prosecution’s position, and the mainstream media take on things. Also known as “common sense”.

        Common sense doesn’t get you very far in determining the truth in a contested situation. In the context of a criminal trial, common sense tells you that criminal charges are not brought without sufficient reason. In other words, in criminal trials common sense always favors a guilty verdict.

        Common sense tells you that Baez is not a strong lawyer because he was lectured many times by the judge, who is neutral. But the truth of the matter is that the judge favors the prosecution in almost every case. Put another way, in that context common sense is still common sense, but it’s 100% wrong.

        I will not fault Jeff Ashton the way some others might. I think he put on an honest case, warts and all. He almost always wins such cases, because common sense is on his side.

        I’ll give you a little mental exercise that might help you, like I think it may have helped another commenter named April. Assume first not the truth of the charges, as common sense tells you, but the truth of the defense’s opening statement. Then see if you can come up with anything from the evidence to disprove it. Return with any questions as you go along, and I’ll try to help you with them.

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        • bluebird

          Atticus said: Assume first not the truth of the charges, as common sense tells you, but the truth of the defense’s opening statement. Then see if you can come up with anything from the evidence to disprove it.

          Comment: This is a great opening statement for criminal defense. And this is exactly what Baez did.

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  6. criminalduidefenselawyer1

    I have to be honest… This part of your article is incredibly true:

    “It boils down to one thing, in my view. The case is won or lost in the closing arguments.”

    As a former prosecutor, and now a criminal defense attorney, I absolutely agree that cases – especially close ones, hinge on the closing argument made by counsel.

    Defense attorneys are typically at a huge disadvantage in closing arguments, and the trial in general, because the State/Government gets to go FIRST and LAST in closing arguments. This means that unless the Defense attorney does a good job in Closing the prosecutor will just rip it apart during rebuttal/final argument.

    Here, the prosecutor did what no prosecutor should do – he brought himself “down” to our (defense attorneys) level and made incredulous personal attacks.

    I think jurors expect prosecutors to be the knight in shining armor type of lawyer, not the down and dirty street fighter kind of attorney. Once a prosecutor becomes the same as a defense lawyer, in the minds of the jury, it’s over – the prosecutor will lose 9 out of 10 times.

    Sincerely,

    Joe Patituce
    Criminal Defense Attorneys – Patituce & Associates

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    • hcannon

      The best thing that I can say about this trial is that due to the Not Guilty verdict there was not another Wrongful Conviction in a Capital Murder Case. The worst thing I see is the Mob. A mob of disaffected citizens going after anything and everything they can. Like a tormented Bull going for the Matadors Red Cape. My question is this. Who or what is the Matador?

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  7. I agree. I am shocked, and rather horrified, by the public outcry that this woman is a “murderer” – let’s be clear, she very well may be. However, the jury – including the alternate jurors – saw it differently.

    Remember, at the end of the day it’s the job of the prosecutor to prove his case. Here, the prosecutor utterly failed to do that. I am glad that she went free, it reminds us all that we need to have better public servants in office.

    Sincerely,

    Joseph C. Patituce
    Criminal Defense Attorneys – Patituce & Associates, LLC

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