A blog by Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Tannebaum. Commenting on criminal law issues of local and national interest.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What Will You Say If Casey Anthony Is Acquitted?

After my last post, where I criticized the lawyer frenzy of commentary on the Casey Anthony case, I was immediately asked if I was going to write about the case. I said no. I would not be writing about the case. I would not be picking apart the evidence, the lawyers (on either side), the judge, witnesses, or any other aspect of the case. I'm not there. I'm watching bits and pieces, and it's not my case.

I've accepted an interview once during the trial, by a reporter I know and respect, who had one question regarding whether it's common to see a certain type of evidence in a case. Easy question, and the answer wouldn't involve me pontificating about a death penalty trial 200 miles away.

In not "writing about the case" though, I do have a question: What if she's acquitted?

I'm not saying she will be, or even that it's likely, but anyone who has ever entered a courtroom knows that you can never say what a jury will do.

The hate mob surrounding the defense in this case is as big as it gets. I have read nothing negative about the prosecution. Nothing negative about the judge. This was not the case in O.J. Simpson, where both the defense and prosecution and judge were the subject of the public's scorn. In OJ, the defense had the best mob, simply because Simpson was a popular figure. Casey Anthony is hated.

So I ask, if she is acquitted, will Baez be a hero? Will it be because the jury was stupid? Will it be because the judge did something wrong? What will be the take from the anonymous commenters on newspaper websites and from lawyers who have been spending months critical of everything defense?

Will everyone have been wrong? Will the "system" be to blame?

Just a question.

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


  1. Again, I don't allow anonymous comments. Sorry, that's what local newspapers are for.

  2. M. Stephen Stanfield10:50 AM

    Lots of my clients are university students. At least once every couple months, after I tell parents the very harsh penalties their child is facing always ask me full of righteous indignation, "Who is responsible for these laws?" I always pause for a moment before replying, "You are. You told your elected officials they need to be tough on crime."

    People aren't tolerant of acquittals because they never expect to be in those shoes.

  3. It'd say "only in America."

  4. Joseph Hobson11:26 AM

    I just cannot get over how the prosecution introduced into evidence that morphed picture of a smiling defendant with the photo-shopped image of her daughter with tape over her mouth. How is that not a mistrial?

  5. Batguano! That's the word that will describe most of the media if Casey is acquitted. Geraldo will be nuts, O'Reilly will demand IQ tests for prospective jurors, and Nancy Grace will demand summary execution for accused child killers.

    Frankly, I don't see that happening. But, one never knows.

    I had not tried a case in eight years. Then, I found myself facing a jury with an impossible set of facts, and an unsympathetic defendant. Only defense was "jury nullification." After the verdict, I turned to the young ADA and told her not to be upset because everyone who tries cases will lose when they should win, and win when they should lose. (The "lose when they should win" part just came a little early in her career.)

    Again, nobody knows what a jury will do. But, I wouldn't put any money down on an acquittal.

  6. The same thing as if she is convicted, I'll refer to Nancy Grace as a lackwit demagogue.

  7. Cynthia Brunt6:07 PM

    Baez is no hero, but the prosecution has no case. So with an acquittal, justice - as we know it - will have been done. The mob mentality is as pitiful in this case as it was during OJ... Whatever we think we know about OJ's guilt or innocence, the jury in that case did their job as directed. The prosecution did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that OJ killed those people. In this case, the state cannot even prove there WAS a murder. That the state put that television personality on the stand as a credible ME is amazing to me.
    I would direct all of us to watch the PBS Frontline earlier this year on the credibility, rather, the fallibility of state medical examiner's offices across the country.
    The public is rabid and this needs to stop.

  8. i hope that she gets off, not to justify careless manslaughter, but solely as a testimony against the injustices of the trial. honestly, i hope that she repents, and is born again. JESUS did not die so that people should fry—a real day of Judgment is coming.

  9. I hope she gets off as well... The case is so one sided for the state all the news people just bash her.. Thats NOT a fair trail in AMERICA!!! Come on this is the Amanda Knox case.

  10. Mike Brooks of CNN is my hero he acually disagreed with Dr. Spits saying doc has been out of the main stream. We are taking about CNN, do theses commentators no have people that research stuff for them before commenting. Dr. did refer to the main stream regarding administration of pathologist. He proforms autopsies regularly. Mike Brooks on the other hand hasn't worked as criminal case at least since his retirement in 1999. My dear Nancy grace uses" cadaver dog expert" whom we as experts laugh at in the industry she know as the red jump suit. Most legitimate handlers avoid scenes where she is.

  11. Catherine12:21 AM

    I don't usually comment on blogs, but after today and finding this page I find myself writing.

    This case has my attention. It has from the very beginning, and I ask myself why. What is it about this case that is so compelling? Well, I suppose there are a lot of reasons. One thing I know for sure is that if, God forbid, I am ever in a situation where I am a defendant, I will be so greatful for my defense attorney and pray that he/she will do everything in their power to help me.

    I try to watch the coverage online whenever I can (no talking heads a/k/a experts) but that isn't always possible. I must then rely on the media and I hate it! I am glad there are cameras in the courtroom and I get that it's all about ratings, but is all the yelling and sensationalism really necessary? I would just like to see real justice.

    I know it's probably hard for some people (media especially), but please everyone remember "innocent until proven guilty". Someday it just might be you.

  12. I have nightmares where I am in Ms. Anthony's position ever since this trial started.

    I do find it sickening the amount of unqualified so called "legal analysts" paid to comment by the media, hosting shows touting their credentials as "former" this and that, plugging their stupid books, leaving out the fact so obviously deduced by their current MEDIA careers that the practice of LAW was never their true passion or conviction. Those "contributors" who appear on Nancy Grace, willing to lap up her BS and just AGREE rather than CONTRIBUTE lest their mics get cut only stand as the most obvious of buffoons and traitors to integrity, but their ilk are evenly sprinkled across all the network shows.
    That being said, I am willing to bet there are at least a few good lawyers who find themselves commenting on this ongoing trial for reasons similar to my following it: the defense strategy boggles the mind, utterly, to the point that even long time professionals may find themselves confused and a bit outraged.
    I never agreed with the State for seeking the death penalty in this case where I thought, based on lack of evidence as opposed to [reasonable] inference, the only valid charged lied between aggravated manslaughter and 2nd degree murder.
    But I am given such pause by the fact that the same man who was telling me on TV a few years ago that my community needed to keep up the search for a live and kidnapped toddler is now telling me in so many words that he either knowingly lied to me or has a client he remained counsel to even after she lied so egregiously to him. I am not offended so much as I am puzzled. That man has no right to condemn this circus onslaught that he chiefly created. If he does his job, he will still get his client her freedom. If her own lawyer doesn't know any better than to court such a frenzy at his client's peril, then how could anyone expect the lay public and moronic media to behave in his defendant's interest?

  13. When the trial began I figured she is guilty. But I've listened to her police interviews and watched some of the trial. It's also possible that an irresponsible mother who never wanted to be one and who clearly has some sociopathic tendencies accidentally killed her child and covered it up because she didn't want grief from her parents. I have a hard time believing anyone would cover murder this badly. I don't think the prosecution has proved murder, only lying and death. First degree murder seems a high burden to prove here.

  14. Lilith, I agree that whether or not Casey planned to kill her daughter, toyed with the idea, the day Caylee died she wasn't planning it. It was so poorly executed, she couldn't even figure out where to dump her body.
    However, I can easily see this qualifying as Felony Murder if Caylee died in the process of Casey committing aggravated child abuse either with chloroform or just the use of the trunk itself to stick her in while she went on her date.
    That said, I still can't believe this is a death penalty case. I have no sympathy, affinity, or respect for what I know of Casey Anthony, but if the state of Florida can seek the death penalty for a case as circumstantial and incomplete as this, all citizens should be concerned.
    That being said, I do feel the state has a complete enough case for a conviction, but where are the aggravating factors? The internet searches were not sufficient, all they prove if Casey Anthony made them is that she may have been toying with the idea of knocking Caylee out with chloroform, not murdering her with it. The State Attorney's office must really gravely dislike this woman to have sought the death penalty on those grounds, it seems personal or highly political.

  15. blind justice5:01 PM

    I watched alot of the trial, and I didn't see that the following were proven: that the body had not been moved to Suburban drive; that duct tape was over the face; that the body had been in the trunk; that the child did not die accidently; how the child died; where the child died; that George Anthony wasn't lying; that Crystal Holloway was lying; that Casey was a bad mother as there were many reports that she was a good mother; a credible motive for her one day up and committing child murder. What has been said about her motive has been what people want to believe in order to continue the press driven hate fest; that she is a 'narcissistic person' who wanted to party. That requires both a psychiatric diagnosis, and belief that after 3 years a desire to 'party' would be so strong that she would murder her own child. Sounds like nonsense when I write it, but this is exactly what is being said in the media and by the 'expert' talking heads. I have watched the trial in its entirety and don't know anymore than I did before it, just more possibilities without conclusions. Makes me wonder how many innocents Ashton has railroaded thru the system.
    When I tell the truth, things are simple, when I tell a white lie, everything gets complex. I understand the need for some rules, but it seems to me the legal system is way too complex. A cop told me you could always find a law to convict someone with. I don't know if Casey is guilty or not. That is what a trial is for. I thought.

  16. Margee8:33 PM

    First I have to say that I have worked in the field of pathology for 25 years now and have seen some of the greatest forensic pathologists being trained and now are in the field practicing. While at one time Dr. Spitz was the top in his field with cutting edge techniques and investigations, that was a very long time ago. Things have change tremendously in the field of pathology and one must stay on top of the new methods. To say that Dr. G's autopsy was shoddy, was just so outrageous. Many of my pathologists have worked with her and she is top of her field. Not every lab is accredited, as there are many many accreditation groups and many times it comes to state funds not being provided, etc. With that said, this case against Casey is "circumstantial." I don't understand why others don't seem to understand that....sometimes there just is not the evidence of how or where, but they certainly do no when. I went once into the morgue during an autopsy where the body was decomposing in the bag it arrived in and TRUST ME, YOU WILL NEVER FORGET THAT SMELL, EVER...nothing is like it, no matter how long you leave your wet, moldy garbage out to rot in the sun...doesn't compare.
    We all have families with issues and dysfunction and if someone tells you never, they are lying. No matter what, she hated her mother, more than she loved Caylee. She never wanted the child and when her fit of rage came to full head, she used it against the child. Now, With Cindi lying every other word out of her mouth, should casey get off, she will learn another lesson and that is momma taught me to lie well and "I am so great at this, I can get away with anything." She will believe her own lies and trust me, she will be back in court one day again.

  17. listen..plain and simple .... no matter how u fee about Casey, if justice is served right she will be found not guilty... simply put ask each of the 12 jurors to write down the story of wat happened to the caylee and I guarantee u that each one will have their own version ...which means NO EVIDENCE ... the state made a mistake by jumping the gun and arresting Casey without evidence. .. and now its too late and embarrassing to retract...c so they didn't even do a thorough investigation... this is. not a police state where u follow people around hoping they would mess up... I guarantee if someone followed any of u for just one month, I am sure each of us would've broken the law somehow... I hope that Casey gets to go home not because I feel bad for her, but because I will feel great that the law stands strong incase anyone of us are in Casey's shoes...

  18. Well, she was acquitted at least of all the really serious counts. So, while I have no idea of the potential penalty in Florida for lying to a law enforcement officer, it must be a lot less harsh than a lethal injection.

    Early on, I made a comment about the media response being akin to "batguano." Accordingly, let me suggest that everyone wear a suitable head covering. The bats, and the product they produce, will be all over the place for the next few days.

    On a brighter note: maybe Geraldo, and the rest of the talking heads, will finally shut up about this case.