Constitutional Opinions

Foreman’s Knockout Punch

Justice may not have been served in the Casey Anthony trial, but the Constitution was.

By 7.6.11

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If you are superstitious about having 13 at table for dinner, you probably should not invite all the people in the state of Florida who thought that the justice system worked well in the Casey Anthony case.  That would be the 12 members of the jury which acquitted her, and yours truly.  As a constitutional conservative, the verdict of the jury resonates with me ringingly. They got it right, just in time for July 4th, and so did the Founding Fathers of this great country.

One of the areas of confusion in the conservative personality is a tendency to back all the conclusions advanced by law enforcement personnel. People have this odd idea that it is more conservative to lock people up in large numbers for long terms over small infractions with little evidence.  That may be a good plan for Barack Obama to lower the unemployment rate by taking people out of the equation, but what great principle does this conserve?

You can see where people are coming from with this attitude. They want to be on the side of the law, and they want to live in an orderly society. However, to be a conservative in the United States is to preserve the values of the Constitution intact against the depredations of low forces. Such forces include not only bad faith elements with corrupt motives; they include also good faith elements moved by emotion to militate against moderation.

The Constitution acts to protect citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. It gives those citizens the right against self-incrimination. These two rights are confirmed within the first five amendments, indicating their significance. If we show fealty to the vision of the Founders in fighting against censorship and laws restricting gun ownership, we must be equally vigilant in resisting overzealous confiscation of property and prosecutorial excess.

Beyond that, the criminal code in all States of the Union requires evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus a true conservative should be on the front lines challenging jury verdicts when they rely on the good feeling they get from the prosecutor or the bad feeling they get from the defense lawyer; or when they react to the atrocity of the victim's wounds or the arrogance of the defendant's personality; or when they respond to the soaring rhetoric of the prosecutor or the heart-rending appeal by the defense attorney. If we want to throw the book at defendants, we must first go by the book in adjudging them.

In this particular case, there was only one thing which was well proven, namely that the defendant had known all along what happened to the child. Casey had sole custody of her daughter and she continued her regular schedule after the girl disappeared. When pressed after a month, she blamed the nanny. When it turned out there was no nanny, it became clear that she had full knowledge of her daughter's fate. If she knew her daughter was dead, it was a good bet she had either caused the death or had been negligent in letting it happen.

That was it. There were no witnesses that she had ever treated her daughter badly. No witnesses of an altercation. No witnesses of a dead body. No witnesses of her moving a bulky or suspicious package. No witnesses of her dumping an object in the woods. The cause of death could not be determined by the autopsy. There was no blood anywhere. There were no fingerprints, no DNA, either on the body or on the duct tape which was said by the prosecution to have been nefariously employed.  There was no blood or bodily secretions in the trunk of her car, only mysterious "smell molecules." And there were some Google searches about chloroform, although no one proved that chloroform was used as a weapon nor that she had bought or made any.

All in all, if this quirky girl with the multiple fantasies and excuses committed a murder and cleaned up after herself, she managed to outsmart the best crime labs in the country. To see her as a master criminal who outperformed most of the famous killers of history is quite a stretch. With the prosecutors asking for a murder-one conviction and a death penalty, the jury had only one choice.

The same big-government who hate to give up control of your health and your business, your motorcycle helmet and your tobacco inhalation, who do not trust either Providence or individual citizens to arrange life on their own, cannot bear to walk out of the courtroom and say that the fate of this defendant was not given over to the purview of man. Mighty State has struck out and Casey will take a walk; a constitutional, if you will.

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About the Author

Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.