First of all, let me just take this opportunity to say that I'm always honored to be invited to appear on the Nancy Grace show. Nancy Grace is a true star of the airwaves today, and a heroine to many. It's very humbling to be appearing before millions in one of those little rectangular talking-head cameo boxes on screen, along with Sue Moss and the rest of the lawyers. I was proud to have been invited once and I'm always thrilled to be asked back again.
And, no - Nancy and I don't agree on many things. Respecting your colleagues doesn't mean you necessarily see eye to eye with them. This is especially true among attorneys, and exceedingly true among the criminal bar. Prosecutors and defense attorneys may fight viciously in the courtroom, but we'll shake hands in the hallway. You know a good lawyer when you see one, even if they're on the other side.
Now, back to the Casey Anthony case ....
Last week, I was on the Nancy Grace show for a couple of nights, because Nancy was talking about the death penalty as it applies in the Casey Anthony matter. Specifically, the fact that the prosecution had taken the death penalty off the table in the Casey Anthony case and Nancy Grace's arguments that the "tot mom" should have a jury decide whether or not the death penalty should apply to her.
Now, before this goes any further let me reiterate: I will not discuss the Casey Anthony case, itself, in any detail or particular. As the attorney who represented Casey Anthony in the death penalty discussions with the Florida state attorney's office, I cannot do that - it violates my work product privilege, attorney-client privilege ... well, you get the idea.
That doesn't mean that I can't discuss generalities, and the law regarding the death penalty today. And with that caveat, there are lots of lessons popping up in the Casey Anthony matter.
The Casey Anthony case - it's revealing many things. Here's one.
One lesson that I'm learning from all this media coverage of the Casey Anthony case is this: the need to know WHY -- why did a beautiful baby, Caylee Anthony, die? Why ... why...why? A hundred questions come to mind.
Well, in all this questioning and need to understand, there's a great many people that are looking at judgment. And that's good. Our society, as with all successful societies, must have rules and judgments that are assessed against those who break those rules. Without this basic structure, we'd live in chaos.
But along with judgment, there must come mercy. At least, in America, we believe in the consideration of mercy before the imposition of judgment.
That is why we have things like probation and parole and personal recognizance. Mercy.
Mercy is my job.
That's my focus, it's the raison d'être of my practice. Death penalty considerations come in the sentencing phase of a defendant's case. Whether or not to impose the death penalty is a decision made only after the defendant has been found guilty of the specific charges that bring with them the possibility of capital punishment.
Judgment and Mercy
In the Casey Anthony case, there's a tremendous amount of airtime and forum group time (think Websleuths) with energies being placed upon judgment.
I'm not seeing much on mercy. Are there considerations that may explain and mitigate this woman IF (and that's right: IF) she did the crime of which she has been accused?
Journalists are taught that to get the whole story, you must ask "who, what, where, when, why, and how."
In the Casey Anthony case, I'm not hearing many people asking that question WHY.
And, to me, that's the most important question. Why. Why did this death happen? Because that's the real answer we all want to know, I think, in any crime. And, because that's where mercy is found.