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lawyering, the legal system, the death penalty….casey anthony

Thoughts of Memorial Day and the men and women who today, and decades past, battle for our freedoms, gives rise to thoughts about our legal system. Where would our country be without the system we have?  Thoughts of Nazi Germany spring to mind.

Our legal system forces accountability on the lawless, forces those who would accuse someone to prove he or she should be accused (of a crime).  It also allows for a defense of all persons – whosoever they are, with whatsoever they are charged with; howsoever guilty they appear – with the opportunity to challenge any evidence against them.

Like doctors who must cure the wounds of the enemy when needed, so too are defense attorneys sworn to uphold the constitutional rights of anyone rightly or wrongly accused.  It’s an adversarial system in which all persons deserve a shot. All persons have equal rights under the law, can challenge the evidence against them in a court of law.

Casey Anthony can, too.

Casey Anthony.

The mere mention of her name will spark copious debates in the blogosphere and elsewhere in the media.

Those of us who are interested in the case have difficulty accepting the fact that Jose Baez, while working up a defense of Casey Anthony, can also parade like a show-horse on the courtroom  steps.

We wish Mr. Baez would stay silent, but we know that he knows that his case must also be tried in the media.

However, it’s not about Jose Baez, it’s about justice.  It’s about ensuring justice for both Casey and Caylee Anthony.

The sticking point with this case is we have been inundated with news coverage. Not only that, many of us have read the seriously damaging and detailed discovery documents put out by the State of Florida.  We have watched and listened to the fine detectives in Orlando interviewing witnesses, and we are convinced (even though we have heard only one side of the story) of Casey’s guilt.

Two Adversarial Sides and Then There’s Whole-Cloth

We know justice is not about lawyering.  Justice in a courtroom is about telling a story.  It is about creating scenarios, detailing evidence, creating a backdrop for the circumstances of “circumstantial” evidence, and proving guilt or raising doubt so reasonable that a defendant’s peers will be able to reasonably assert guilt or non-guilt.

There are two sides to every story under the law, but we want both sides to be honest in their dealings.  We do not want a made-up defense. We want the defense to throw away the whole-cloth and give Casey a real defense with substance – if it exists.

We know so much as a result of the Florida Sunshine Law that allows release of discovery, that we have a predisposition to believe Casey guilty.  And yet Casey Anthony must be heard and must challenge the evidence against her.

We all (myself included) sometimes forget that Casey is innocent right now in the eyes of the law.

As theatre-goers do, must we “suspend our disbelief” and accept Casey’s innocence until the time of her trial?

No.  We need not.  That is not our role in this game.  We do not sit in judgment of  Casey Anthony.  A jury of impartial people, who must suspend their disbelief, will deliver justice.

Oh, but we have a constitutional right to state our opinions, thanks in large part to the men and women who have, and continue to fight for our freedoms.

It is clear that to some people it seems unfair that Casey Anthony should be getting public funds to try her case.  Some feel she should not take up the resources of the State of Florida, especially given our poor economic times.  But, let me tell you, we must be appreciative that we are paying for Casey Anthony’s day in court.   If she did not have her day, when you or I may be forced to defend ourselves, we want the rules to be the same for us, too.  This is what makes Memorial Day special for me, if you know what I mean.

The Death Penalty

I want Casey Anthony to have a fair chance to defend herself; though I fear Jose Baez, given his inexperience, may have already doomed his client to a fate of death.

That is a terrible thing to say, but I cannot stop this nagging realization in me that says: Had Jose Baez been more aggressive with the State early on, and dealt realistically with all the facts pointing to the appearance of guilt (of his client), we would not have to discuss the death penalty today.

I accept the circumstances of this case as it stands today.  But, I do not accept the death penalty and I am angry that we have gotten to this point.

June 1, 2010 Hearing

On Tuesday, June 1, 2010, Judge Perry will hear arguments in a hearing regarding seven motions (regarding the death penalty) that the defense has reckoned are unconstitutional.

Professor Andrea Lyon and the defense are likely not to win on this front as their arguments seem better relegated to the Supreme Court, not to an Orlando courtroom where the State of Florida is simply following the law.

Professor Lyon, I hope, will take the year she has (before the penalty phase of the trial begins), and make an eloquent case to save Casey Anthony’s life.

June 1, though it will be interesting, is predictably an unattainable win for Casey Anthony.

What matters will come to pass in a year, or so, when 12 people have their say.

Please be ready Professor Lyon.


memorial day – the origins

It is likely that Memorial Day had many separate origins. Many towns and cities either planned or had spontaneous public gatherings that focused on honoring those who died in battle.

These humble beginnings grew into a recognition that we humans need to honor our fallen heroes.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day in response to decorating the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

Although it is difficult to pinpoint what state could lay claim to the birth of Memorial Day, (there are quite a few stories as to its origin), the day is generally attributed to having its first observance on the 30th of May, 1868.   (

To honor this day, I want to share the poem Flanders Field with you.  I hope you enjoy it and the photography.

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, 1915.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

A lovely poem by Moina Michael was written in response to Flanders Field:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

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