I am a father and a grandfather; the idea of one of my daughters doing harm to or killing one of my two grandsons is unimaginable to me. Approximately nine weeks ago, twelve very brave, very judicious, United States citizens were handed the responsibility of judging the case of whether a mother, Casey Anthony, was responsible for killing her own daughter.
As our system requires, these twelve people did not get to listen to the rantings of Nancy Grace and others on television; these "talking heads" had this young woman convicted before she ever saw the inside of a courtroom. The twelve people were excused from the room when certain pieces of evidence were argued over, when snide comments were made, and when the media commented on the comments. I saw more lawyers who have never seen the inside of a courtroom comment on the guilt and/or innocence of this woman, the mounting or lack of evidence against her, her behavior after the child went missing, and her painful-to-listen-to-allegations against her own father. The jury in this case was limited to judging only the evidence proffered in court. Her attorney, Cheney Mason, was correct in his criticism of the media and its prejudgment of the outcome of his client’s case.
The bedrock of our justice system, both criminal and civil, is our jury system. If I am accused of doing something wrong, if I am seriously injured or damaged in some way, I want a jury of my peers determining my fate. I want a completely independent analysis of the facts and circumstances of my case. I do not want my case decided by someone who is employed by the system. That’s what makes our system great; our fate is determined by our fellow citizens, not by the prosecutors, not by the judges, not by talking heads on TV, not by politicians, not by corporate or financial business interests, but by a jury of our peers. The Bill of Rights says so.
You remember the Bill of Rights; these were the first ten Constitutional Amendments, introduced by James Madison to the 1st Congress of the United States in 1789. They went into effect in 1791. The more well-known 6th Amendment guaranteed a right to jury trial in criminal cases. That is why Casey Anthony’s guilt or innocence was determined by a jury of her peers. The less well-known 7th Amendment guaranteed a jury trial in civil cases involving controversies larger than $20.00. No "right" guaranteed by the Bill of Rights has been trampled on more than the 7th Amendment. Tort reforms, at both state and federal levels, have seriously damaged a citizen’s precious right to a jury trial in civil cases. Citizens should be outraged; instead, they stand passively aside and watch corporate interests run roughshod over the 7th Amendment and their civil rights.
These same passive citizens are now outraged that a jury of their peers said that the prosecution in the Casey Anthony case did not do their jobs; they did not meet their burden of proof. They proved that Casey Anthony was a liar, but they proved little else; they did not prove that murder was committed; they did not prove how little Caylee Anthony died. It was their burden to prove and they failed; that’s why they lost. The system did not fail little Caylee, the prosecution did. They brought a flimsy, toilet paper case and tried to use Casey’s conduct, after Caylee’s disappearance, to convince the jury that she was guilty. The issue was not what Casey did after Caylee disappeared; the issue was what Casey did before she disappeared. The prosecution had no evidence, none; the case was a sheep in wolf’s clothing. If you wish to vent anger, vent it at the prosecution for not building an airtight case before seeking justice for little Caylee.
If Caylee was murdered, only her maker and her murderer know what happened. I drew conclusions as the trial dragged on; it was impossible not to. I will not share those conclusions here, because whether or not you and/or I believe Casey Anthony to be guilty does not matter. Those who say "justice was not done" or ask "where is the justice for little Caylee?" are misunderstanding our system. Justice was done in the Casey Anthony trial. When a citizen is charged with a crime, the state has the burden of proving her guilt. Casey Anthony has always been innocent under our system; she is innocent until the prosecution proves her to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and a jury of her peers accepts and votes "guilty" upon that proof. That is the standard we want for ourselves; that is the standard we want for our family members. That is the standard we just celebrated on the 4th of July. It is the only one of its kind in the world. It is the standard that we all should celebrate as applying to all of our fellow citizens. As angry as you might be at the verdict, ask yourself this question: Who do you want standing in judgment of you?
Mark M. Bello is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation where he is instrumental in providing cash flow solutions and consulting when necessity of life lawsuit funding is needed during litigation. Mr. Bello has thirty-four years experience as a trial lawyer and 13 years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the litigation funding industry. Mr. Bello is a sustaining and Justice PAC member of the Michigan Trial Lawyers Association, Justice PAC member of the American Association for Justice, Member of the American and Michigan Bar Associations, Member of the Public Justice Foundation, out-of-state member of the Mississippi Association for Justice and a business associate of the Florida Justice Association, Tennessee Association for Justice, Central Ohio Association for Justice and the Consumer Attorneys of California. He is also a proud member of the InjuryBoard.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.