Casey Anthony's acquittal on charges that she murdered her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, was certainly unpopular, says Alan Dershowitz at The Wall Street Journal. But it was the right decision. For thousands of years, says the "legendary defense lawyer," Western society has stood by the principle that it is better for 10 guilty people to go free than it is for one innocent person to be imprisoned or put to death. Using this as its basis, our justice system seeks to do only one thing: Find undeniable proof that a defendant committed a crime. While we might like to think the Casey Anthony trial was about seeking justice for a slain child, it was actually about finding evidence that Anthony killed her. But "the evidence in this case left a reasonable doubt in the mind of all of the jurors." In cases like Anthony's, we have to accept that a legally just result "may not be the same as a morally just result." Justice may not have been found for Caylee, but the law prevailed. Here, an excerpt:
Casey Anthony was not found innocent of her daughter's murder, as many commentators seem to believe. She was found "not guilty." And therein lies much of the misunderstanding about the Anthony verdict....
The verdict in the Casey Anthony case reflected the lack of forensic evidence and heavy reliance on circumstantial inferences. There was no evidence of a cause of death, the time of death, or the circumstances surrounding the actual death of this young girl....
A criminal trial is not about who is the better lawyer. It is about the evidence, and the evidence in this case left a reasonable doubt in the mind of all of the jurors. The system worked.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Mike Huckabee's head-scratching advice to Christian voters
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- How Scotland's independence movement lost the vote and still won everything
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
- The Tea Party has its own immigration problem: Cuba
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
Subscribe to the Week