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
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- 6 tiny scientific mistakes that created huge disasters
- Inside Turkey's shadow war with ISIS
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- 10 things you need to know today: November 22, 2014
- Don't change a thing: 8 inventions that never needed updating
Subscribe to the Week