July 5, 2011

On Celebrity Defendants

So, Casey Anthony has been acquitted of murder and other more serious offenses. She still faces sentencing on four counts of lying to police, but that’s a far cry from the trip to the death chamber the state of Florida was gunning for.  I know very little about the case (and care about it even less), aside from what I saw about it on 48 Hours months and months ago.  But I do know one thing for certain – a large group of people in this country, who have been tied up in this case for months, are going to flip their shit once they learn of the verdict.

Which is, of course, their right.  It’s a free country and everyone’s entitled to an opinion, even an uninformed one.  An uninformed opinion is the only kind that the public in general can have about a case like this.  I don't care how much TV coverage it gets or how apoplectic it makes Nancy Grace, the general public simply can't make an informed decision about whether the jury got it right in this case.

Or any other celebrity case.  It’s impossible for regular folks to keep up with all the minutiae of a trial.  Did you sit through all the testimony from every witness?  Did you listen to all of the instructions given by the judge?  Did you pay attention to all of the closing arguments (occurring on a Sunday, of all bizarre things)?  Outside of the jurors who heard the case, who would?  Sooner or later, no matter how interested you are, you’ve got to go take a shower or shuttle the kids to soccer practice or go to work.  The actual jurors aren't saddled with such distractions.

None of that means the jury in this case got it right, or got it wrong, for that matter.  But whether it's Casey Anthony or OJ Simpson or Lizzie Borden (pick your "Trial of the Century"), the only ones who have all the relevant facts and the tool and time to analyze them are the jurors who hear the case and render the verdict.

In a much less high-profile case (a smaller story, but I know you’ve been following it), I won a pretty big case before the Fourth Circuit today.  The court refused to go along with other courts on the issue, creating a circuit split which could mean a full en banc rehearing or even an appointment with the Supreme Court.  We'll see.

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