Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lessons From Casey: The Silent Lawyers

The main lesson from the Casey Anthony case is how little the public knows about the criminal justice system.

Who's to blame?

Lawyers.

When's the last time we went to a Rotary Club lunch to explain due process? When's the last time we asked to go to career day to explain to kids the meaning of the Sixth Amendment?

Sure, there are people in society that have their own opinion of the system and could care less if it's Tuesday and someone tried to convince them it's Tuesday, but we as lawyers take little time to educate the masses.

In fact, the only lawyers I see these days are those on TV kissing ass to their host and abdicating their responsibility to maybe take the other side and explain the way things really work.

As the Casey Anthony case comes to an end - the lessons for lawyers, for anyone who works in the criminal justice system, are several:

[1] Trials are like football games. Fans decide who they are rooting for and if a penalty is called against their team, it's bogus. In fact, any moment which shows the weakness of their "team," is discarded as irrelevant and a cheap shot by the other team.

[2] Speed is important. Stopping proceedings to deal with legal issues is not good for ratings. Better to raise those issues on appeal, and have the appellate court reverse the conviction and order a new trial. While the public will complain, it will give them another opportunity to watch a "dramatic" trial.

[3] Accuracy in media reports takes a back seat to the amount of time set aside for the report. Incorrect reporting on rules and case law is of no matter. If it sounds good, it works.

[4] Although the defendant is on trial, the trial is really about the victim, and all rulings should be in favor of the victim. That whole "defendant has a right to a fair trial" thing was written a long time ago, before the public was able to tweet.

[5] Successful commentary is that which criticizes the defense, and everything related to the defense. Take the other side, or express objectivity, and you're out.

Lawyers need to write, speak, express rational thought. Change a mind. Educate a moron.

Those of us sitting back in wonderment over the frenzy, the comments, the lawyers acting like theyre on Broadway, should remember that sitting back is part of the problem.

Non-anonymous comments welcome.Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court, and the author of The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer.Share/Save/Bookmarkokdork.com rules Post to Twitter