Friday, July 08, 2011

I like juries

Until the world erupted in horror at her acquittal, I'd never heard of Casey Anthony. Once I did figure out what her case was about, I was glad I'd missed it.

But I'm glad I didn't miss this yesterday:

“I did not say she was innocent,” said Ms. Ford, who was juror No. 3. “I just said there was not enough evidence. If you cannot prove what the crime was, you cannot determine what the punishment should be.”

...“We were crying, and not just the women,” she added. “It was emotional, and we weren’t ready. We wanted to do it with integrity and not contribute to the sensationalism of the trial.”

I like juries for the same reason I applauded the New York City DA whose case against Mr. Strauss-Kahn has collapsed. It's really amazing how often, once pulled into their unfamiliar, ritualized task, jurors do a good job of making the law work the way it is supposed to.

These jurors sent an important reminder to prosecutors: sometimes you can't get away with just proving the accused is loathsome -- you have to prove commission of the charged crime.
***

Meanwhile it looks as if the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have forgotten what their job is. Starting under Bush and continuing merrily on under Obama, they apparently decided to give a "get out of jail free" card to those nice, cooperative Wall Street firms that 'fessed up to finagling the financial system. Why go through the bother of prosecuting?

From today's New York Times:

“If you do not punish crimes, there’s really no reason they won’t happen again,” said Mary Ramirez, a professor at Washburn University School of Law and a former assistant United States attorney. “I worry and so do a lot of economists that we have created no disincentives for committing fraud or white-collar crime, in particular in the financial space.”

I suspect juries might not have felt so kindly toward financial crooks if prosecutors bothered to bring a case.

3 comments:

Darlene said...

I am still gnashing my teeth over the fact that Obama didn't press for prosecution for the Bush administrations many crimes. I guess we are not a nation of laws after all. Either that or the laws only apply to the 'little people'.

I didn't follow the Casey trial and knew nothing about it until it became the 'cause celebre' on cable TV. I would have agreed with you until I read an editorial on the proof this morning. Among other things, a cadaver dog identified Casey's car as having had a decomposing body in the trunk. And her lies were so blatant and conflicting that I would have found her guilty. Short of an eye witness to the crime there was enough proof to convict her. In my mind, this case is reminiscent of the O. J. Simpson trial. Justice is not always well served.

Kay Dennison said...

What Darlene said.

John Schappi said...

Nice to know that I'm not alone and others didn't follow this media flacked trial.

I did happen to have the TV on when I heard one commentator say "we never would have seen all this publicity and attention if the family had been black."

Followed by gasps from the other commentators that he would publicly air this truism.

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