Home / General / The “How Victims Are Supposed to Act” Standard

The “How Victims Are Supposed to Act” Standard


Yesterday’s big tabloid story actually has some things in common with our discussion about the DSK prosecution yesterday.   Correct me if I’m wrong — I don’t claim to have followed the Anthony case closely — but it seems to be that the widely vilified Anthony jury acted in a very responsible manner.   Unlike people who assume that juries will inevitably make inferences according to completely arbitrary and meaningless standards of how victims are supposed to act, the Anthony jury — to its credit — ignored the sexist assumptions that seemed to constitute a disturbingly large percentage of the case against Anthony.

In an act of obvious comedy gold, the Daily Beast has given Marcia Clark a platform to explain why the Anthony jury was even worse than the one that acquitted a murderer despite actually overwhelming evidence largely because of her inept prosecution.   But what she (and, as far as I can tell, most people outraged about the verdict) chooses to emphasize makes me think that the jury was right:

As a matter of fact, the coverage we did see of the Casey Anthony case leaned heavily in favor of conviction. The photographs of a half-clothed Casey dancing in a Hot Body contest days after her daughter died, getting tattooed with the words “La Bella Vida” (Beautiful Life), Casey’s apparent celebration of freedom now that her baby was dead…

Seriously, a tattoo? The weight that people outraged by the verdict put on this sexist bullshit is a pretty strong signal that the prosecution didn’t have much of a case.   Some of Anthony’s behavior was (unlike this) legitimately odd and she was apparently dishonest in explaining her actions, but I think it was pretty reasonable for the jury to conclude that it’s not enough given the complete lack of physical evidence. Anthony may well have killed her child, but I don’t think the failure to convict here was a failure of the American jury system.  She was convicted of lying to the authorities, which the prosecution could prove, and acquitted of murder, which they couldn’t.

Finally, I’d like to note that the “person didn’t act like a victim is allegedly supposed to act” routine was also a major part of the case against Cameron Todd Willingham, which should tell you what you need to know about its value.

…on a related note, Nancy Grace is a really odious media figure.

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  • Dave

    The Bella Vita tattoo could well have been a memorial. Not sure why everyone who brings it up thinks it’s all about “Kid’s dead, time to party.”

    • Jon H

      Or friends trying to cheer her up.

  • Sexism, yes, and also we happen to think that there’s only one right way to grieve. People go fucking nuts when somebody close to them dies, sometimes. They dye their hair blue, tear up the carpets in the living room at 3 a.m., quit their jobs, have public sex with strangers, get tattoos even. People do all kinds of crazy shit and we sit around and get all judge-y about it because grief is scary and we don’t understand it.

    I don’t know anything about this case, but I do know the commentary is mostly about people holding a stranger up to standards they could never attain.


    • Scott Lemieux

      Exactly. 1)There aren’t enough victims like this to make generalizations, and 2)even if there were there would be obviously be exceptions to the general rule. The whole idea that there’s one way victims will react is just bizarre.

      • Scott, curious about something:

        They can’t retry her for murder based on double jeopardy.

        Could they retry her on her defense? In other words, either she or the father was negligent in letting the kid drown, but she knew Caylee was dead and yet did nothing for thirty one days about it. That sounds like at least a possible obstruction of justice.

        • Malaclypse

          They already tried on both obstruction (convicted) and child abuse (acquitted).

          • This is why I ask these questions :-)

      • Pug

        Just so I have this exactly straight, Casey Anthony is a victim?

        Now that is some spin I haven’t heard before. I was kind of thinking of the young daughter as the victim. You know, the two year old tossed in a swamp with duct tape over her face, not the hot body contestant.

        Her, I think of as an acquitted murderer. Sorry about that.

        • mark f

          I was kind of thinking of the young daughter as the victim. You know, the two year old tossed in a swamp with duct tape over her face, not the hot body contestant.

          We all understood what Scott was saying, Ms. Grace, so no need to demonstrate.

        • If she was wrongly prosecuted, then being put through Hell for all these months and leaving the courthouse with her name blackened forever (or as you so cutely put it, “as an acquitted murderer”), then in that case, yes, she is a victim.

    • Halloween Jack

      This commenting system needs a way to favorite comments so that I can favorite yours.

      • DrDick


      • soullite

        Indeed. +1 to everyone but Pug up there.

  • The prosecutors couldn’t even come up with a definitive “the child was murdered” claim, much less provide a link between Casey and Caylee’s death.

    That, to me, sounds like reasonable doubt.

    She got away with murder, not as blatantly as OJ did, but she did nonetheless. I think she’ll find a special room in hell has been reserved for her and it overlaps into her mortal coil.

    • Oh…one more point.

      Starr Jones, on The Today Show this morning, was very blunt in pointing the finger at the Nancy Grace’s and the other court punditry of the country in setting up expectations that Casey would be convicted, when none of them or us was sitting in that court room compiling the evidence and listening to the judge’s instruction.

      • Jon O.

        Nancy Grace demands blood. It’s what gives her power!

    • I agree 100%. I kept thinking, “How can you convict someone of murder when you can’t even show that the dead person was murdered?” The prosecution was awful, even if only because there were no friggin’ facts. The case basically consisted of, “She lied” (which she did) and “she danced half nekkid.”

      • Scott Lemieux

        Right. Reading accounts of the case, I kept hearing Adam Schiff saying “the only pattern here is that you have no facts!”

    • This sounds right. I managed to completely avoid it until yesterday, when the verdict and popular outrage (not to mention the loud popping sound that I can only presume was Nancy Grace’s head finally exploding for good) made it as unavoidable as the Royal wedding. But in just reading about it yesterday, it seemed like the prosecution bet everything on the murder-1 without sufficient adequate evidence for it, and totally failed to anticipate and/or counter the defense’s claims. A lawyer friend of mine even called the prosecutors “morons” and said that, had they gone for manslaughter, their case would have been much stronger, but there’s no death penalty for that. So they basically put all their eggs in one basket and then ineptly made their case and failed to address the defense.

      So, yeah…having Marcia Clark write about this seems like the perfect choice.

      • Hogan

        We have a long history in Philadelphia of DAs seeking the death penalty in every case in which they could remotely argue the right circumstances. One reason is that a “death-qualified jury” (i.e., on in which every member has sworn that they would have no trouble issuing capital punishment) is much more likely to convict than a jury not so qualified.

        It’s not a foolproof system, obviously.

      • John F

        and totally failed to anticipate and/or counter the defense’s claims.

        well to be fair it seems the defense made up their claims on the eve of trial. In fact from what I’ve seen what the defense claims happened is so less probable than what the prosecution claims happened that the defense’s theory of the case actually ran the risk of backfiring- should have just contested the prosecution’s evidence, not offered a less likely explanation…

        But then again they won any way.

    • Anonymous

      Man, they should have called you as a witness! What, with you knowledge of what happened, must be based on seeing a murder!

    • jack

      The prosecutors couldn’t even come up with a definitive “the child was murdered” claim, much less provide a link between Casey and Caylee’s death.

      Tough to come up with how the child was murdered when the killer doesn’t report it for a month, eh?

      • Worse, she didn’t report the disappearance for a month, and even tho the body was reported just about a month after the first signs Caylee was missing (August 2, I think), the police didn’t investigate until a follow up call in December telling them where to find the body.

        If only…

  • Malaclypse

    Yep. The standard is not “would I hire this person as a babysitter.” It is “am I so convinced by the evidence that I am willing to see this person executed.”

    • DrDick

      Which is why I will never sit on a capital case jury. I have had three friends murdered and I oppose the death penalty. I do not care what you did, I am not willing to see you executed.

      • Anonymous

        I do not care what you did, I am not willing to see you executed.

        Yeah, who needs democratically promulgated laws by duly elected representatives of the people anyway? You seem to know best.

  • I’ve always thought that one of the lessons of the OJ trial should have been that even if you think you saw the whole thing you still didn’t see what the jury saw. Part of this, of course, is that people who follow trials on TV are also being exposed to necessarily biased commentary. (I’d say that commentary tends to be biased towards conviction too, and I would think that might be grist for an interesting study.)

    I didn’t follow the Anthony trial. Did the prosecution screw it up the way Clark & Co. did? I watched the OJ trial during my lunchtime workout at a gym full of lawyers and it became pretty obvious to us fairly early on that they were over-trying their case. When that happens, particularly in the context of a criminal prosecution it seems as though what the prosecution thinks it is doing is building something air-tight. What actually happens a great deal of the time is that room for doubt starts to become built into the proof.

    Good plaintiffs lawyers and good prosecutors make their point, then move on. Good defense lawyers– civil and criminal look for openings, then hammer on them.

    Years ago I was about to put a doctor on the stand in a pretty substantial PI case. “I don’t know what I’m doing here,” the doc said to me. “This guy is really a mess.” “Well, doctor,” I said, “What should I do?” “Put me on the stand, qualify me, then ask if I have an opinion. I’ll give it to you, then you sit down.” My direct was maybe 15 minutes, then the doc was crossed for two hours, but he stood up to it, and even got stronger because I hadn’t left any lose ends for my adversary to pick up. He rested, exasperated, and we carried the day. This simple lesson is one that more lawyers could profit from.

    • Hogan

      It seems to me the OJ prosecutors had the straw, they just didn’t know how to make bricks out of them. The Anthony prosecutors didn’t even have that much straw–no clear cause of death, no physical evidence to connect Anthony to the death.

      • rea

        Never, never, never ask the defendant to try on a glove unless you know ahead of time whether it fits.

        • mark f

          How hard is it to fake a glove not fitting anyway? “Gee whiz, it’s awfully tight. I don’t think I can get it on!”

          • Halloween Jack

            IIRC, Christopher Darden (one of the prosecutors) later admitted that he realized his mistake almost immediately; even though OJ wasn’t a great actor, or even a particularly good one, he was an actor, and even though he was hamming it up, it passed muster anyway. (And none of the jurors caught how easily OJ slipped the gloves off afterwards.)

        • Scott Lemieux

          Or, more generally, “don’t waste time with silly gimmicks when you have plenty of real evidence.”

          • sam

            I’ve always thought that OJ both did it, AND was framed.

            In the sense that, yes he killed them, but the police didn’t believe they had enough evidence, so they planted that really bizarre bloody sock.

            In this case, I was somewhat stunned even before the verdict at what little evidence the prosecutors actually had (I hadn’t paid much attention, except for reading one or two articles in the times when it was wrapping up). I would have been more surprised if they had found her guilty. Whether or not I *think* she did it.

            • Malaclypse

              I’ve always thought that OJ both did it, AND was framed.

              Same here. The LAPD framed a guilty man.

              • Davis

                If you remember from Touch of Evil, the corrupt cop mostly cooked evidence on actually guilty people. Giuliani wanted to confiscate cars from people acquitted of DUI. Why? Just because they just didn’t have enough evidence to convict doesn’t mean they were not guilty.

                It’s unfortunate that a vicious gossip like Nancy Grace gets to have a TV show.

              • I agree also too.

            • John

              Eh. It’s been a long time since I’ve read it, but I remember Vincent Bugliosi’s book doing a pretty good job at suggesting that this is implausible at best.

    • mpowell

      Well, I think you’re pushing here. We all knew about the problems with the prosecution’s approach and their various mishaps. They were famous almost immediately. But most people thought the DNA evidence was pretty airtight. You had to establish gross police misconduct to refute it. The glove should have been a non-issue one way or the other to a reasonable jury, even if it was an incredibly stupid move by the prosecution.

  • CJColucci

    I wasn’t following this case closely until the end. What I saw was a decent, if not overwhelming, circumstantial case, a prosecution theory that made sense, and conflicting defense theories that didn’t. It was enough to convince me as a bystander that she probably did do it, but the actual evidence underlying the more sensible theory wasn’t all that strong, so I can’t fault the jurors, even if, given the circumstantial nature of the case, there was less matter that the jury would have seen (mostly relating to witness credibility) that I didn’t and, therefore, less reason than usual to defer.
    That said, suppose that Casey (or OJ, for that matter), actually didn’t do it? Much of the world thinks she did, and her life is probably in the toilet from here on in. Not so bad if she got away with it — at least she’d get some punishment — but terrible if she’s actually innocent. But how will we ever know?

    • Emily

      It was enough to convince me as a bystander that she probably did do it, but the actual evidence underlying the more sensible theory wasn’t all that strong, so I can’t fault the jurors

      Not to be a tool, but “probably did it” is NOT the burden that we hold the prosecution to in criminal trials. If you think the evidence was such that she “probably did it” then you should be aplauding the jurors for reaching the correct verdict of not guilty.

      • CJColucci

        You’re right, of course. Not having heard a lot more of the evidence, I didn’t form an opinion of my own to a “reasonable doubt” standard, so I wasn’t setting up that comparison. From what I saw, though, I would not have questioned a conviction, either.
        I’d be interested in knowing whether the jurors thought she probably did it, but acquitted anyway. Actually, I’d be even more interested in how often, if ever, jurors in criminal cases really do that.

        • Malaclypse

          Actually, I’d be even more interested in how often, if ever, jurors in criminal cases really do that.

          Anecdata: I’ve only been a juror once. In that case, we were all convinced that the defendant was a bad person, and we all wondered what he had really done to end up in court. We were all aware that he had probably done something to end up in trouble, and there was some chance that what he had done was, in fact, what he had been charged with. And we took about 15 minutes to acquit, as the state had not even kind of proved a case.

  • JB2

    I didn’t follow the case on TV at all, but I did note that, following the close or proofs, at least one print reporter (I think in the NYT) thought that the case was surprisingly thin and that an acquital was a real possibilty. I mean – no cause of death? That’s a pretty deep hole for a murder prosecution to dig out of.

    Agreed that “she must be guilty because she didn’t ‘grieve’ the right way” is a ridiculous line of argument. People react to extreme stress and extreme grief in all kinds of ways: over the top freak-outs, complete emotional shut-down, and even inappropriate giddiness. Any half-way intelligent jury would understand this.

    • John F

      I mean – no cause of death? That’s a pretty deep hole for a murder prosecution to dig out of.

      Yes, but I think the defense actually helped the prosecution with the claim that she accidentally drowned- really? Then why was the duct tape applied to her mouth? To me that says, the defense knows what happened but is lying about it.

  • richard

    Scott, I don’t think you followed the trial closely enough to make observations (but I’m not going to hijack this blog into a discussion of this tabloid case). But two points – she didn’t report her missing daughter for 31 days and she repeatedly told police, her parents, and others the story that she had left her daughter with a babysitter who dissappeared, a story she only admitted was a lie in her counsel’s opening statement. This wasn’t “apparently dishonest” as you put it. Her defense admitted that every statement about the babysitter (dozens and dozens of them) was pure fabrication.

    She seems to have gotten away with murder because (1) the body was found so late that it was impossible to state with precision the cause of death and (2) the jury, notwithstanding the law which doesn’t require it, wanted proof of motivation for the crime.

    • 3) The state failed to meet the required burden of proof.

      4) No one cares what Nancy Grace thinks/emotes/shrieks.

      • Hogan

        I might care what Nancy Grace thinks if she ever took the trouble to do so.

    • Craig

      The law does require evidence that the defendant killed the victim, of which there was none in this case.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Her defense admitted that every statement about the babysitter (dozens and dozens of them) was pure fabrication.

      Yes, and she was properly convicted of lying to the authorities. On the 1D murder charge, not only did the prosecution have nothing concrete to tie the murder to Anthony, they couldn’t prove that it was a murder at all. Hence, all the ridiculous hand-waving about tattoos and drinks. It’s not just that the prosecution didn’t have motivation; on the murder charge, they had pretty much no relevant evidence at all.

      • richard

        I dont think thats true. They presented expert evidence as to the cause of death (although it wasn’t the strongest evidence in the world because of the fact that the body had been in the swamp for months) But thats my final word. There’s enough debate on this case that I’m not going to waste my time

        • mpowell

          I don’t see how anyone looking at the facts of this case could think the state proved a 1D murder charge without being able to establish cause of death. I’m sorry, but any other opinion is pure bullsh*t. We’re not just talking about any reasonable doubt here, we’re talking about just plain regular doubt. Anthony might be guilty as hell… of manslaughter. She would have a similar motive to cover up in that case and the evidence that she actually wanted her child dead is weak to non-existent. And frankly, accidentally killing a toddler isn’t all that difficult.

          A manslaughter charge would have been a completely different ball-game. This distinction is mentioned above, but I can’t believe more people aren’t talking about the problems with distinguishing between manslaughter and murder in a case like this.

          • Laughing Loafer

            The jury did have the option to convict on manslaughter charges, didn’t they?

            • John F

              From what I’ve read, no.

              I think that was the prosecution’s big mistake, murder 1- in Florida means death row- this wasn’t some state without the death penalty or a death penalty statute designed to never ever execute anyone (i.e., NY’s)- the prosecution was trying to kill the defendant- so if you are on that jury- and you “think” she “did it” or knew who did and covered it up, or was just a terrible parent – is that enough to justify killing this woman?

              • Malaclypse

                Yes they did. See the “lesser included” charges.

              • Laughing Loafer

                Articles on the verdict clearly state that she was acquitted of aggravated manslaughter as well as murder. I’m not disagreeing with the general point, but I’m slightly surprised (not outraged, just surprised) that the jury didn’t bring in conviction on a lesser charge.

                • It sounded like this was because the prosecution did nothing to prove this, either; again, by focusing strictly on murder-1, they neither made the case for the more severe charge nor offered reasoning/arguments why manslaughter was a possibility that the jury could legitimately consider too.

        • Ed

          With a different jury it could have gone another way and reasonably so, although I don’t fault these jurors. The prosecution messed up but they did have a decent case, albeit a circumstantial one, and the defense was all over the map. Casey Anthony’s conduct would have made anyone look askance, to put it mildly. Lindy Chamberlain she isn’t.

      • L2P

        Trial lawyers (not Nancy Grace, christ, what an idiot) look at the inferences from the evidence, and try to make the jurors draw the inferences you want from the evidence. As a prosecutor, what I try to do is convince jurors that a defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” because the only reasonable inferences you can draw from the facts is that the defendant is guilty.

        What are the best inferences you can draw from these admitted laws for the prosecution? That the defendant felt guilty about something to do with the child’s death and wanted to cover it up. So far, so good. But where was the evidence to prove that the “something” was that the defendant killed the child?

        That was weak. Can ANYONE say, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant lied because she felt guilty about killing her child instead of for some other reason? Maybe it’s just me, but I think if you got that level of certainty from this trial, I could convince you of literally anything.

        • mpowell


        • richard

          Nancy Grace is an idiot (have always thought so) but if I were a juror I would have come back with a guilty of murder verdict in about ten minutes (and I don’t think my opinion is pure bullshit). There was plenty of evidence including expert opinion to come to a conclusion that this was a murder and that the defendant did it. But I’m withdrawing from this debate.

          • Craig

            What evidence is that? You yourself admitted that the evidence that there was a murder at all “wasn’t the strongest.” How can you believe beyond a reasonable doubt that this woman committed murder when you can’t believe beyond a reasonable doubt that murder was committed at all?

            • Lindsay Beyerstein

              Overall, I’m inclined to agree with L2P and mpowell.

              And yet, if you find a baby’s skull with duct tape over the mouth, the only available inference is that someone killed her. If she drowned or died of other natural causes, there would be no need to duct tape her mouth shut.

              I think the jury was right to acquit because the duct tape didn’t (AFAIK) establish who killed her, or whether the killing was a premeditated murder. But it seems like a pretty ironclad indication of foul play.

          • And if I were 5″ taller I’d be an AWESOME basketball player.

            As the kids say: LOLWhut?

            • DocAmazing

              You look taller online…

          • Furious Jorge

            It’s pretty convenient to “withdraw” from the debate without bothering to back up your assertions.

      • Pug

        The relevant evidence was disposed of in a roadside ditch and it decomposed. Unfortunate.

        • Malaclypse

          Good thing you know really and for true what that evidence proved.

          • Harry the Hat


          • Hogan

            The lack of proof is what proves my case!

        • Furious Jorge

          Unfortunate indeed. But just because you think you know what that evidence would have told us, doesn’t mean you’re right. We will never know, I’m afraid.

    • John

      That she caused the kid’s death seems by a considerable margin the most likely explanation. That it was first degree murder seems a lot harder to conclude.

  • And remember, never, EVER go swimming on the day of your mother’s funeral.

  • efgoldman

    efgoldmans laws of highly-publicized trials:
    1) The Anthony postulate: The longer it takes the prosecution to present their case, the less real evidence they have. (Exceptions: Complicated conspiracies and multiple counts, like serial killings.)
    2) The OJ conundrum: If the prosecution has real evidence, and they prolong the trial by showboating and publicity-hounding, the chances of acquittal go up exponentially.
    3) The jury axiom: Any prosecution case that can’t be presented in ten days or fewer (except see exceptions to (1) above) should be pled out.

    • She was offered immunity…I presume limited immunity…on August 2. Obviously, the prosecution knew they had a bad case as early as that, probably because the body hadn’t turned up.

    • CJColucci

      Over-trying cases is a common problem, and often backfires. My wife was a juror in an atempted homicide in the Bronx. The alleged shooter and the victim knew each other and it was broad daylight in the street. Supposedly, the defendant walked down the street firing a .45 (never recovered) and hitting the victim several times. The case obviously turned on whether the victim, a drug dealer, was telling the truth about who shot him or was laying the shooting off on someone else with whom, the evidence showed, he had been having a dispute, rather than finger a business associate or competitor. Simple.
      But a seasoned, skilled prosecutor put in lots of physical evidence that didn’t advance the ball. Why, for example, show the .45 slugs dug out of the victim’s body when you don’t have the weapon to match them to? (Either of two answers, neither particularly good: (1) Because we can; (2) Because .45 slugs are big and scary) Eventually, even though the defense lawyer was a stumblebum, the jury acquitted. The defendant took the stand and the jury believed him. And my wife says the jury thought not only that the case had not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, but that they believed he didn’t do it period, which ties into a question I raised in another part of the comment thread.

      • John F

        The defendant took the stand and the jury believed him.

        Giving lie to the assertion by some defense attys that you never ever put the defendant on the stand…

        But one guy I knew in Law School worked for a defense atty said the primary reason you never let the defendant on the stand is that he’s guilty -and he’s gonna be asked questions he can’t answer, and he’s not as good an actor as he thinks he is…
        the secondary reason is that the typical criminal deft, guilty or not, is not nearly as bright as the guys asking the questions- if nothing else an experienced litigator is going to make the witness look like pretty weasly and evasive.

        The sole exception was a defendant who was both innocent and not a moron.

        • I’d be careful even then. Testifying is harder than people think it is, even when all you have to do is tell the truth.

  • efgoldman

    Also, too, it occurred to me that Nancy Grace and Andrew Breitbart would be a perfect blind date…

    • witless chum

      I was about to post that Nancy Grace was the worst, but this reminded me that she could be worse. Sorta.

    • The thought of those two hooking up makes me want to blind my mind’s eye.

      • Halloween Jack

        I don’t mind it so much, if by “hooking up” you mean “being thrown into a sack with a dull knife and the neck of the sack tied shut.” Which is really no one’s idea of hooking up, but it cheers me up so what the hey.

  • The kicker for me is, the prosecutors are getting a lot of the blame and possibly rightly so, but no one is talking about the meter reader who found the body about a month after Caylee disappeared and was ignored by the cops until he checked back in five months later.

    • And that says something about how messed up we are as a species*. Blaming the prosecution presumes that if it had done its job properly (whatever that means) the jury would have returned a guilty verdict. It does not presume that the state did the very best job it could, but at the end of the day it just couldn’t meet its burden of proof.

      *Do NOT get me started on the Armchair Jury Members.

  • Mikey

    I didn’t follow this thing at all, but I get the sense from these conversations that the state just over-charged her. Is that it? Would they have convicted her if the charge was negligent homicide or something like that?
    And if that’s likely the case, why would the state go for broke, so to speak, if conviction on a lesser charge would have been more certain?

    • Mikey

      Sorry I missed Malaclypse link to the actual charges above – I’ll try to follow along with the class better next time

  • wengler

    I have no opinion on this but now that it is over I am sure cable news will now focus on the very serious stories of the nation.

    I kid, I kid. Time for shark attack summer.

    • efgoldman

      Time for shark attack summer…

      Or a blonde coed to disappear.

      Or both.

      Probably both.

      • Bill Murray

        We’re less than 18 months from the next big election, it’s political horse race time

        • elm

          Not sure why you think all these things are mutually exclusive.

  • jack

    I don’t claim to have followed the Anthony case closely

    You could have stopped right there. You’re coming from ignorance.

    “Hey, I only saw a few minutes of the super bowl, but here’s my recap!”

    Are you freaking kidding me?

    Yes, in large part because of the mother not reporting the death, most of the trail was circumstantial evidence. People act as if that dooms the case. MOST verdicts are based on circumstantial evidence, and there is nothing weak about it. Where do peopl get this idiotic idea that a circumstantial case is weak?

    I thought the state was reaching when asking for the death penalty, but to not even give her child abuse, for jurors to actually say they believe the defense’s theory when there was NOTHING to support it, is ridiculous.

    But remember, YOU didn’t watch most of it. So continue with your brilliant analysis.

    • Walt

      Your posing as an expert on a trial that you watched on TV? Seriously?

  • EuroAmerican

    As an American living abroad and only able to follow this case through some sketchy internet coverage, and hearkening back to the original post, what this case confirmed for me is that the idea of “this person didn’t act the way they were supposed to” is an international problem.

    The Amanda Knox case is happening in my “backyard” so to speak and receives considerably more coverage, but this same assertion has received so much play here as well, despite given alternate explanations for some of the “suspect” behavior like doing cartwheels and the splits in a police station waiting room, though it is rarely mentioned in the press that she had been sitting and waiting for more than seven hours at that point and needed to both move and stretch. Also, news reports point out that she and her also convicted boyfriend were making out in the police station following the murder, even though it has been shown that some people bury grief in romantic or sexual activity as a coping mechanism.

    My point, essentially, is that not only is this reaction to “inappropriate” behavior not uncommon, it’s international. And furthermore, from what I gather, evidence for the crime in the Anthony case was sketchy because of decomposition and contamination, which was apparently a large factor in her acquittal. What is interesting is that, in the Knox case, though the same problems exist (blatantly), the opposite conclusion was reached.

    It could be said that, if one compares the two cases despite the fact that they were and are being tried in different systems, that the Anthony jury was more competent because they were able to recognize these problems and not be caught up in some of the sensationalism and character assassination (whether true or not), whereas the Knox jury, which in Italy also includes the judge (who should probably have known better), did not recognize the lack of forensic evidence, the shoddy way that evidence was handled, and preferred character assassination and unfavorable inferences due to the defendant’s behavior.

    Though I could be way off by at least mildly commending the Anthony jury due to my very small amount of knowledge re: the case, it seems that they did a much better job in a similar situation to what is continuing in Italy.

    • John

      Wow, wasn’t familiar with that case, but it seems like an extraordinary railroad job.

      • The Knox case had more physical evidence linking her to the crime, albeit it didn’t rise to the “smoking gun” level.

        That said, keep in mind it was an Italian court. I think the standard there is the judge has to be “internally convinced” as opposed to “reasonable doubt”. It’s sort of a hybrid “Napoleonic/presumed innocence” thing.

        • Anonymous

          It is true about internal conviction. But there’s also the fact that in the Anthony case, the judge was extremely good. He was very direct and very strict with rules of evidence and evaluation of evidence. The judge in the original Knox trial allowed evidence that was mishandled by all international standards and DNA samples that were too small to be conclusive into evidence.

          I have no opinion on whether Knox is guilty or not or whether Anthony is or not. But the standard of public judgement seems the same.

        • John

          From what I’ve read, the physical evidence seems extraordinarily weak to the point of meaninglessness, and the “confession” was clearly coerced and worthless. There’s also absolutely no discernible motive.

          • mark f

            Did she get a tattoo?

            • John

              She bought underwear (while locked out of her house and unable to get to her own clothes) and, although I am unable to grasp what this means, online commenters are very up in arms about the fact that she ate a pizza. She also sat in her boyfriend’s lap.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Knox strikes me (unlike Anthony) as pretty clearly innocent.

  • Jim Lynch

    I didn’t follow this trial. But I did follow OJ’s murder trial. I thought then, as I do now, that the SOB was guilty as charged. But the day the cops testified that they had declined to wait on a search warrant, and climbed the fence onto Simpson’s property because they feared that he might too have been attacked, was the day I figured he’d likely walk. It was a bald-faced lie that insulted the intelligence.

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