TV Lawyers Are Guilty in Casey Anthony Trial

The sensationalizing of the American justice system

The American justice system worked exactly the way it is supposed to in Florida this week whether you like it or not. I know many of you are shocked that Casey Anthony was found not guilty of murder and many of you are angry. Angry you should be, shocked you should not be unless you listen to the Nancy Graces of the world who cry for mobs to pick up torches and pitch forks purely on the emotions of the case.

It was Nancy Grace and the other armchair lawyers of the world that caused a mob to gather outside Anthony’s sentencing hearing today carrying signs that the 12 jurors in the case should be charged with murder. In fact those jurors were incredibly brave to stand up to the overwhelming pressure from television lawyers and the crowd that gathered at their bequest to stick to the rule of law.

Orlando attorney Cheney Mason blasted those “incompetent talking heads” in his statement after the verdict this week:

Well, I hope that this is a lesson to those of you who have indulged in media assassination for three years. Bias, prejudice and incompetent talking heads saying what would be and how it would be. I’m disgusted by some of the lawyers that have done this, and I can tell you that my colleagues from coast to coast and border to border have condemned this whole process of lawyers getting on television and talking about cases that they don’t know a damn thing about and don’t have the experience to back up their words or the law to do it. Now you have learned a lesson. And we appreciate the jurors. Those of you who have been objective and professional, we like it. Others we will be talking to again.

Amen to that. If this trial took place in Great Britain with its media Contempt of Court law, reporters, anchors and executives could be criminally charged for sensationalizing a case and polluting the chance of a fair trial. Thank God we have not come to that in this country. Thank God this jury listened to the evidence and the attorneys in the courtroom and not the ones who fight for face time on TV.

I know many of these attorneys who lust for their moment on MSNBC, CNN or Fox News to fill the 24-hour news cycle. Many pay an agent to get them their face time. When they get to the studio they are often told what their position will be so that both sides are argued. Often the attorneys know little of the facts of the case and instead deal with the emotion of the case. Emotion is what TV does best.

Media philosopher Marshall McLuhan once stated that everything man invents is just an extension of ourselves. The car is an extension of our legs, and the telescope is an extension of our eyes. McLuhan argues that while print is an extension of our brain, television is an extension of our tactile sense—it makes us feel things more than any other medium. That can be, and is, manipulated for ratings and profit.

And that is why, despite the chastising threat by Cheney Mason, the reporters, anchors and TV attorneys were back at it again this morning, fighting for face time with the protestors their cameras lured there, as a countdown clock took us to sentencing time.

And again the court got it right. This time it was Chief Judge Belvin Perry handing down the maximum sentence of one year each for the four counts of lying to investigators, to run consecutively. Those lies sent police on a wild goose chase that kept them from finding the body of little Caylee Marie Anthony and from finding her killer (that was probably her mother, Casey Anthony).

You see, I am not defending Casey Anthony. I empathize with the jurors who feel the same way I do, that she probably killed her daughter. But that had to be proved by the prosecutors and it wasn’t. They couldn’t tell the jury how she died, when she died or if she was even murdered. They did prove that Casey Anthony was a liar, a bad mother and a despicable human being—but not a murderer. They played on the emotion and won over the TV crowd, but not the jury who stuck to the rule of law.

Juror Jennifer Ford says that conflict made her sick to her stomach. “I did not say she was innocent,” Ford told ABC News on Wednesday. “I just said there was not enough evidence. If you cannot prove what the crime was, then you cannot determine what the punishment should be. If you’re going to charge someone with murder, don’t you have to know how they killed someone or why, or have something, where, when, why, how?”

That comes from a woman who sat in a courtroom for 33 days with the other jurors and listened to every speck of evidence. She and the other 11 jurors voted unanimously and quickly.

I know that there are some who will claim this just proves that the system protects criminals, that they have more rights than victims. In this case it may have. But the system is really set up to protect the innocent, the falsely accused, from prosecutors seeking personal gain, from mobs seeking vengeance and from the media who feeds all of the above.