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Let’s Try All Sensational Criminal Cases on TV!

The jury system, and laws in general, can produce unpopular results and must therefore be changed.

by
Dan Miller

Bio

July 7, 2011 - 12:29 am

The trial of Casey Anthony for the sensationally brutal murder of her young daughter Caylee has been much in the “news.” It began to play out on national television when she was reported missing three years ago, and continued through the trial. Many are outraged that the jury failed to convict Casey Anthony of murder. According to this report provided by ABC News:

Casey Anthony juror Jennifer Ford said that she and the other jurors cried and were “sick to our stomachs” after voting to acquit Casey Anthony of charges that she killed her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.

“I did not say she was innocent,” said Ford, who had previously only been identified as juror No. 3. “I just said there was not enough evidence. If you cannot prove what the crime was, you cannot determine what the punishment should be.”

It has been suggested that the system of trial by jury should be abolished. Michael Graham, the brilliant and completely rational author of the linked think piece, observed with all due modesty:

Any system too stupid to convict Casey Anthony cannot be trusted to decide if I live or die. And finding Anthony not guilty is an act of criminal stupidity.

I’ve been following the Anthony case the way most men not named “Geraldo” have: Watching the headlines and reading the recaps, but not feasting on the daily dish. I knew everything I needed to know when Casey’s lawyers announced her defense would be (I’m paraphrasing only slightly) “My precious 2-year-old daughter drowned, and I panicked and hid the body in the woods, wrapped in plastic and duct tape for six months.”

Next case!

I didn’t need more than that, but there was more. Much more.

. . .

This, my friends, is the jury that awaits us all. Which is why, when my misdemeanoring finally catches up with me, I want to be judged by the bench.

I’d rather have my fate in the hands of a single corrupt, drunken hack from the Massachusetts judiciary than 12 yokels too dumb to get out of jury duty.

A good judge such as presented here:

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… would be far better than stupid jurors! What could they possibly know; they can’t watch television as evidence is presented or even during their deliberations. Why should a bunch of such yokels be sitting in a jury box and getting paid handsome stipends just for being stupid and hence there and bored stiff? The whole system stinks. With brilliance such as demonstrated by Mr. Graham, there is no need to sift through evidence because what it means is obvious to anyone with half a brain who pays due attention to the media.

Indeed, the entire system of criminal injustice is stupid and hence produces stupid rather than just results. It all harks back to a ridiculous old document written by a bunch of yokels comparable to those who now sit on juries. It is referred to as the Constipation Constitution of the United States, the document superior to all others (except some treaties, some United Nations declarations, some acts of Congress, some executive orders, and some administrative agency actions) for the governance of the nation — just as abstinence is the superior and only valid means of avoiding the horrors of anthropomorphic climate change.

Article III,  Section 2 of that specious old document provides:

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

The Sixth Amendment, adopted in 1791, provides:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence [sic].

Obviously, the bunch of long dead white males — who couldn’t even spell “defense” correctly but still wrote the fool thing — didn’t know any better and didn’t think at all clearly. In fairness, it should be noted that “defence” was then an accepted spelling and that it may not have been entirely their fault that they screwed up royally in substantive respects as well; in those primitive and unenlightened times they had no opportunity to watch Saturday Night Live, news on NBC, CBS or ABC, or Dancing with the Stars. Nor had they the benefits of modern public education. The authors were even unaware that the purpose of sensational criminal trials was to help newspaper publishers to sell newspapers and thus to augment their meager advertising revenues. That is surprising because even then, in the dim dark ages of the United States, there were newspapers.

True, even though invented ages ago and in popular use when (according to Vice President Biden) President Franklin Roosevelt appeared on national television in 1929 to discuss the great stock market crash with the American people, television was not available in those unlamented dark ages. The authors should also have anticipated that Al Gore would eventually invent the internet and that a now increasingly important reason for spectacular media events criminal trials is to enable bloggers to get “hits.” The authors of the Constitution should have anticipated, but did not, the now unsurpassed importance of the media to the functioning of a free and democratic society. The failure of the authors to anticipate that such advances would produce remarkable changes in the way a free, democratic, and modern society must function throws their entire document into amply deserved disrepute; it must be shredded (although that’s not quite what the author of the linked article says). Its authors didn’t know much and what they thought they knew was entirely wrong.

Here are a few things the framers did not know about: World War II. DNA. Sexting. Airplanes. The atom. Television. Medicare. Collateralized debt obligations. The germ theory of disease. Miniskirts. The internal combustion engine. Computers. Antibiotics. Lady Gaga.

One must wonder how, because of their abysmal ignorance, the authors even managed to find the place where the Constitution was to be written. Maybe once they found it they could not find what was then euphemistically referred to as the necessary house and had to hurry.

Whatever may have been their reasons and excuses, the failure of the authors of the Constitution to anticipate and to deal adequately with critically important matters is unforgivable and remedial action must be taken, immediately: all provisions of the U.S. Constitution — and all similar to them in state constitutions — failing to take into account the true reasons for sensational criminal trials must be declared null and void ab initio. We cannot wait for the constitutions of the United States and of the states to be amended in ordinary course; we can’t wait for the United Nations or even the Department of Justice. The Supreme Court must convene tomorrow if not sooner in special session, before it’s too late, and so rule. It will be their last session, because thereafter all matters now presented to the Supreme Court will instead be decided by media-guided public opinion polls.

The Supreme Court having acted as it must, there will be a speedy, fair, and proper media trial of Casey Anthony. This should require only an hour or so even if Lady Gaga performs for a few minutes. Polls will then be taken immediately. A prompt verdict approved by more than fifty percent of the poll respondents will be final as to her guilt (or, alas, even innocence). Properly found guilty, as she doubtless will be, an immediate poll will be taken as to her sentence, following which she will be flogged publicly as she deserves to be by media personalities on her way to the gallows. The ratings will be splendiferous and the media revenues alone should be sufficient, with proper taxation, to end the budget and debt crises and, of greater importance, to restore public confidence in our system of justice. It will be a win-win arrangement for all except those who are tried in such proceedings; even they may enjoy the publicity and, even if they don’t, it’s like, totally, for the common good; they should therefore applaud it.

It is common knowledge that not all jury verdicts now result in proper conviction of the guilty. That is because of the absurd presumption of innocence rather than of guilt and because an outrageous burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt has been placed, mistakenly, on the prosecution. And the people who must be convinced are the jurors, often the least enlightened cows in the herd; they are nowhere near as smart and well informed as our favorite media personalities are and, due to their objective analyses, we are as well.

In the Casey Anthony case:

Orlando’s chief prosecutor says his attorneys are disappointed with the verdict in the Casey Antony murder trial but they presented every piece of evidence that existed.

State attorney Lawson Lamar said Tuesday after Anthony was found not guilty of killing her 2-year-old daughter that the case was very difficult to prove. Lamar also said the delay in recovering Caylee Anthony’s remains was a considerable disadvantage.

Since she was obviously guilty, Casey Anthony should have come forward immediately to admit her guilt and to disclose the location of her child’s corpse. By doing so she would have received prompt and fair justice, as we all deserve. Her failure alone to do that should be proof of her guilt more than sufficient for any reasonable person.

According to an alternate juror who spoke with the media following the verdict, the prosecution “didn’t show us how Caylee died, and that was important. … No one could answer that.” That was, obviously, a key question and unless the jury could unanimously agree that it had been demonstrated to their satisfaction beyond a reasonable doubt, acquittal was the only option — then, under a stupid bunch of antiquated laws. Why should it have been the job of the prosecution to convince a bunch of rubes on a jury of anything? Why wasn’t Casey Anthony, who must have known the facts, required to provide the evidence? Why wasn’t she forced to testify at the very beginning of the trial? Why wasn’t she immediately found guilty if she failed to do so and accordingly admit her guilt? When the jury retired for its deliberations, why wasn’t it plunked down in front of a big screen television to imbibe the wisdom of media personalities who — unrestricted by any rules of evidence or otherwise but able to rely on their own speculations clear understandings of life, the universe, and everything — would have explained when, how, and why the vile Ms. Anthony murdered her child? Even a bunch of yokels “too dumb to get out of jury duty” would have understood; media personalities do a remarkable job of enlightening such people, for which we should all be grateful.

Such ideas have much to commend them in other spheres of governance. We now have very costly and contentious elections to decide who will, and who won’t, become our masters wise public servants. Why not let the media decide such questions? They already do so to a great extent anyway and the process should be carried to its logical conclusion. Instead of elections as currently conducted, in the least efficient and most expensive ways possible, we must use popular opinion polls to decide who wins and who doesn’t. Then, since the pesky Constitution still requires the least educational of all colleges, the Electoral College — rather than one of our prominent universities — to play a significant role, its faculty should be chosen exclusively from among the most popular stars of the media. Perhaps some of the more sterling of the professors at Yale and Harvard should be chosen to assist them; whom should be left to the media stars in the Electoral College to decide as their first order of business.

Adoption of these modest proposals will truly be a Win the Future (or something like that) moment for the United States and for the entire world. There will be true justice and shared prosperity such as we have never before seen, we will no longer be concerned about gasoline prices, mortgage payment, or anything else. The seas will cease to rise, temperatures will become consistently pleasant, and Mother Earth will be saved. Remember — it’s not just for us or even for the media. It’s for the children!

Dan Miller graduated from Yale University in 1963 and from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1966. He retired from the practice of law in Washington, D.C., in 1996 and has lived in a rural area in Panama since 2002.
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