Lessons from the Casey Anthony Trial

July 31, 2011

By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 562-7549

www.thecollincountylawyer.com

I’ve been getting asked about my thoughts on the Casey Anthony verdict.  My opinions are probably not like most on the topic.  To be completely honest, I didn’t follow the trial particularly closely and — like the rest of the world — I’ve got no clue whether she killed her child or not.

My view is that this trial — and the result —  has done a lot to educate the public as to the nuances of our criminal justice system.  Regardless of whether people fit into the “she did it” or “she didn’t do it” camp, people are debating the evidence and more importantly discussing the reasons why a criminal trial works the way it does.  That’s heathy.

When trying a complicated trial to a jury – whether it be a serious felony or whether it is a DWI with blood evidence, it is critical the jury understand it’s virtually impossible (1) to prove your own innocence in any case; or (2) to convince skeptics you are innocent by testifying in your own defense.  It’s also just as critical for citizens and jurors to understand that the police and prosecutors are making educated guesses at what happened too.  “The police tried really hard” and “we can’t let someone get away with this” just aren’t evidence.  If we don’t have evidence we run the risk of convicting an innocent person.  These are the real lessons from the Casey Anthony Trial.

Of course, there are always people that just don’t get it.  That is, people who only conclude from the Casey Anthony case that “our system is broken.”  Simply stated, that sentiment from someone not involved directly with the case presumes guilt — not innocence.  Also, when that sentiment is shared by the masses, it tends to produce mean changes in the law and jurors with an axe to grind.  This type of apathy also carries with it a nugget of self-ritcheosness which I find particularly difficult to swallow as someone that visits a lot with people who wonder where all of their rights have gone.

The Casey Anthony verdict teaches us many lessons which we sorely need — not the least of which focuses on whether the jury was right or wrong.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice about any particular situation, you should contact an attorney directly.

 


Grand Jury Notice Letters From the District Attorney’s Office

February 2, 2011

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.rosenthalwadas.com

If you have gotten a a letter notifying you of a grand jury date in Collin County, Texas, it means the District Attorney’s office is attempting to indict you for a felony.  You need a lawyer immediately.

A grand jury is a body of citizens appointed by a district judge who meet regularly to review whether there is sufficient evidence to issue a true bill of indictment for a felony offense.  An accused does not have the right to be present nor present a case to the grand jury.

Though you don’t have many rights when it comes to a grand jury proceeding, you do have a lot of legal strategy to consider.

How Your Lawyer Would Deal with the Grand Jury

Often times a person accused of a crime can submit a “grand jury packet.”  A grand jury packet is an informal summation of the Defendant’s arguments for the grand jurors to review not to indict.  Most packets include an an analysis of the applicable law, the defendants side of the case, and also other mitigating factors behind the incident being investigated.

On occasion, a grand jury will allow an accused to testify in their own defense when the accused volunteers to do so.

Many times, also, it may not make sense to submit a grand jury packet.  One advantage a criminal defendant has in our system is that they don’t have to divulge their defense to the prosecutor.  Depending on the particular facts, it may be wiser to not reveal your defense until the time of trial.  Knowing when a grand jury packet will work — and when it will backfire requires thorough and detailed professional analysis by an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney.

It is possible to turn the grand jury situation to your advantage as a criminal defendant.  this is because the theory behind the grand jury system is that it is actually a safeguard against over-zealous prosecution.  Think of it this way — a civil lawyer needs only a good faith belief to file a lawsuit for money.  A prosecutor needs probably cause to file a misdemeanor without a grand jury review.  Because a felony charge is so serious — it does require review and indictment by a separate panel.  That panel can — and will tell the prosecutors “no” from time to time.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice about any specific situation you should contact an attorney directly.