[Illustration by IMJUST80]
BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” is one thing — not guilty “because I didn’t actually see it happen” is an entirely different matter. More on that later. First, a little background. Why do we seem to be more interested in seating ignorant, uninformed, malleable juries, than in arriving at reasoned, rational verdicts. Why does our criminal justice system place such a premium on seating jurors who know little or nothing about what’s taking place in the world around them? Why does a system that claims to place “fairness” and “equality” on such a high pedestal seem to prefer that the least educated, the least capable of critical thinking, and the most easily manipulated be the ultimate arbiters in this most preeminent of democracy’s arenas? Hamilton, Jefferson and Madison must be rolling over in their graves.
It’s also worth noting that NOWHERE in the Constitution or Bill of Rights does it say ANYTHING about requiring a finding of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Those words simply DON’T appear! Surprising, huh? Gee, with the all the rhetoric surrounding that specific phrase, you’d think it must be penned in blood somewhere within those magnificent documents. You’d be wrong. Believe it or not, the reasonable doubt phrase was originally concocted to protect the souls of jurors from damnation. Although there are a lot of deliberate statements concerning the rights of the accused, “beyond a reasonable doubt” is simply a concept our Supreme Court has “read into” those documents.
By the way, here’s a real stunner for ALL of you past and would-be jurors out there. CSI Las Vegas, New York, and Miami are fairy tales! There isn’t one forensics laboratory in the country that even remotely resembles them! I’m so sorry to have be the one to break this to you, Mr. and Mrs. Couch Potato, but these labs exist only in the minds of the shows’ producers and set designers. Get a grip, folks. They’re nothing more than fact-finding fantasy factories. They’re Star Trek for the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle crowd. But I digress.
Following the “not guilty” Anthony verdict(s), one of the jurors said that “she and the other jurors cried and were sick to our stomachs” after acquitting Casey Anthony. I submit that that lone statement is the ONLY example of “common sense” uttered or exercised by the entire Anthony jury from opening statements to arriving at their verdicts. Why is this important? Because although there is “specific” language applicable to “the rights of the accused” in those magnificent founding documents, NOWHERE does it state in any form or fashion, implied or otherwise, that jurors aren’t at liberty to exercise any and all manner of COMMON SENSE they may damn well choose to, and, in fact, are damn well OBLIGED to!
I submit that the only remaining “beyond a reasonable doubt” scenario that meets this jury’s threshold is as follows: Caylee committed suicide with chloroform and had implored beforehand that her mother cover her nose and mouth with duct tape afterwards, stuff her body in some trash bags, retain it in her mother’s car trunk for a month as a remembrance, then toss it in the woods, and, last but certainly not least, make up a totally bogus, certain to be refuted, story about her disappearance to cover the shame and embarrassment that her Grandmother would inevitably have to bear as a result of her having committed such an altogether selfish and sinful act.
In that same vein, when discoursing the finding of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” and its relationship to the exercising of “common sense,” no doubt it might be helpful to acquaint oneself with the definition of the word “reasonable.” Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary defines it as follows: adj. 1. Capable of reasoning: RATIONAL. 2. Governed by or in accordance with reason or sound thinking. 3. Within the bounds of COMMON SENSE (my capitalization). 4. Not extreme or excessive: FAIR. I believe all are applicable to questioning how on God’s green earth this jury could ever have arrived at Not Guilty verdicts, but for the sake of argument I’m going to concentrate on number 3. Are you beginning to get the connection here? If so, I’d like to discuss a few of the “reasonable doubt” vis-a-vis “common sense” stumbling blocks the Anthony jurors were apparently too mentally crippled to climb over on their way to what should have been some altogether “common sense” justice for Caylee Marie (and, yes, I’m going to get pretty goddamn sarcastic in my interpretations):
1) Prosecution didn’t prove “cause of death.” Yeah, right. What the hell kind of cause was supposed to be proven?! She’d been stuffed into a couple of trash bags with duct tape across her nose and mouth, and there was more than ample proof of chloroform having been involved! Evidence that a dead body had been in the trunk of Casey Anthony’s car was OVERWHELMING (scent-trained dog handlers, police officers and others totally familiar with the unmistakable smell of death testified exhaustively to that very fact)! Got COMMON SENSE?!
2) George Anthony lied. Yep, I’m reasonably sure he did—about having sex with River Cruz. Hell, I’d lie about that too. But he damn sure wasn’t lying when he said he didn’t have ANY KNOWLEDGE OF or ANYTHING TO DO WITH any bullshit cover-up of any bullshit accidental drowning! Were you sleeping through the video taped family prison visitation presentations?! Got COMMON SENSE?!
3) George Anthony might have had something to do with the disposal of Caylee’s body. Nope. That dog won’t hunt either. He’s an ex-cop and detective, and he isn’t stupid. You can bet your sweet ass that he’d have disposed of the body somewhere it would NEVER have been found. Got COMMON SENSE?!
4) Casey lied about Caylee’s disappearance but it doesn’t mean she had anything to do with her death. Were you even present at the trial?! What fucking planet were you visiting?! Did you not SEE and HEAR expert testimony that NO ONE has ever failed to report the ACCIDENTAL drowning of a child?! NO ONE! Got COMMON SENSE?!
Still not convinced? Well, then I submit that the only remaining “beyond a reasonable doubt” scenario that meets this jury’s threshold is as follows: Caylee committed suicide with chloroform and had implored beforehand that her mother cover her nose and mouth with duct tape afterwards, stuff her body in some trash bags, retain it in her mother’s car trunk for a month as a remembrance, then toss it in the woods, and, last but certainly not least, make up a totally bogus, certain to be refuted, story about her disappearance to cover the shame and embarrassment that her Grandmother would inevitably have to bear as a result of her having committed such an altogether selfish and sinful act. Got COMMON SENSE?!
So, there you have it, folks. Baez gets gets his duly deserved “best bullshitter” award, the Prosecution is left “deer in the headlights,” twelve obviously commonsensical observers let Casey beat the rap, the taxpayers are out 400 grand, and little Caylee gets tossed out with the trash, again. God bless the American jury system. Uncork the champagne!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.
1,679 = The number of Americans killed in action in Afghanistan
11,191 = The number of Americans wounded in Afghanistan.
0 = To date the number of financial industry kingpins indicted for having committed the most massive FRAUD in American history.