I haven’t been following the Casey Anthony trial in any depth because, in truth, it’s not a noteworthy case. But since the media latched onto it for dear life, the court of public opinion seems to have presumed guilt before innocence and has largely criticized the jury for not convicting. This is an alarming reality; the only people qualified to pass judgment on guilt are the twelve people who heard all of the arguments and saw all of the evidence — in other words, the jury. Maybe she murdered her daughter, maybe she didn’t. Our presumption must always be that she didn’t until the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she did. That the prosecutors couldn’t convince the twelve who count is not to be scorned; it is to be accepted as proper. There’s an old adage central to our conception of justice that puts it nicely: it’s better to let 100 guilty men go free than send one innocent man to prison. That was true in Lord Blackstone’s time and it is still true today.
Yet for all my ranting about how people are oft too quick to adjudge a defendant guilty, these commentaries make the point every bit as well as I might wish to: