Casey Anthony and the DUI
Regardless of the moral "rightness" of this week's controversial trial verdict for accused infanticide, Casey Anthony, the question persists, did the jury do its job as instructed, or merely commit "jury nullifIcation"? The latter term describes an empaneled jury "going rogue" by coming to a decision, based not on the facts, not on the evidence, but to accomplish a verdict consonant with prejudices that jury holds against -- or for! (think OJ's first trial) -- a given defendant. Did Anthony's jurors merely act to prevent a troubled (and apparently-sympathetic-despite-herself) young mother from facing the death penalty? Or did they properly acquit in the face of an insufficient prosecution's case? In the ultimate, constitutional, sense, it is the prosecution's case against a defendant that is "on trial," even more than the defendant, herself. The People have the burden of proving a defendant's guilt, not the defendant her own "innocence." Constitutionally, the defendant needn't take the stand and testify to rebut the prosecution; in fact, in misdemeanor DUI trials, the defendant needn't even be present in the courtroom where his "fate" is being decided!
And this is as it should be, even when it leads to controversies (or "miscarriages of justice," as some see Anthony or Simpson) in rendered verdicts. "Better the guilty go free, than the innocent stand unjustly convicted." The Anglo-American judicial system historically errs on the side of protecting theprospect of innocence.
To those arrested for DUI, it seems that their own "justice" and "innocence" is of no care or concern to those prosecuting them. The public believes DUI's are "lumped together" and given "standardized" punishments, without regard to contexts, considerations or consequences, to careers, family economies or reputations. Casey Anthony can, it seems, "get away with murder," but the first-time, low blood-alcohol, non-injury, DUI faces life-changing penalties...
If the Defendant's approach, as given him by his DUI attorney, is "To hell with you, Mr. Prosecutor. I don't care about the potential for injuries and death every DUI threatens. Your cop is a fascist and a fool, your blood-alcohol testing machines are all broken; now dismiss my case on my say-so or I'll take your keister to trial!' you can indeed expect a "motivated" prosecutor to take your "go to hell" and show you the way there, first.
If, however, your approach is one of diplomacy, respect for evidentiary facts and California's stern DUI policies -- if you address issues of character, as well as those of technical "defenses" -- with the right legal representation, it is possible to change a diffident prosecutor into one seeking Justice, and the protections of the Constitution, not just for the Casey Anthony's of the world -- but for those accused of DUI in California.