Archive for June 18th, 2011

By coincidence I have been reading “Lincoln Lawyer” between updates on the Casey Anthony trial for the death of her daughter. The fictional book has begun to feel like an overlay on the live drama on my TV.

Haller, the protagonist in the book is a defense lawyer, a jail house lawyer, if you will. He hangs around the lockup with his bail bondsman friend as those charged with crimes are brought before the judge. They have many repeat clients and it is rare to represent an innocent one. The fear Haller lives with is that he will not recognize an innocent person, cop a plea and be complicit in sending that person to prison. I won’t spoil the book, or movie, for you. Haller lives for the big money client, the “franchise”, with a case that goes to trial and generates a big income for him. He finds it.

As I switched from trial watching to reading another chapter, Haller begins to look more and more like Jose Baez, Casey Anthony’s attorney. You would think Baez would not fare well with the comparison my mind was making, but you would be wrong. I believe in our system of justice even with mistaken incarcerations coming out all too often as results of the Innocence Project, a team that works to free those wrongly convicted. Everyone in this country deserves a good defense, guilty or not. This is the heart of our justice system. Those attorneys who choose to spend their days defending the accused at the risk of burning a hole in their own souls by association with scum are doing the dirty work of our justice system. They have my gratitude.

Sure I scream at the TV when Baez puts on a client obviously slanting his testimony toward the defense, who is paying him. I cringe at some of the stretches in credulity that are presented as fact in order to create doubt in their client’s guilt. But that’s his job. As slam dunk as it looked opening day for the State, this is a circumstantial case. All Baez’s team must do is create reasonable doubt in one juror. Will they do it? And if they don’t will Baez worry that he has let an innocent woman go to jail or die? When this is over, will he be back at the lockup as another night’s suspects are paraded before a judge? Or will the Casey trial be a “franchise” in the lingo of Haller, and one that keeps on giving?

Everyone I know in the Orlando area was praying they would not end up on this jury. Everyone I know is now playing juror in their mind. It is impossible not to. But it is not up to us to decide if another person lives or dies because of the tragic death of a precious little girl. Nor do we have to hand our business card to suspect after suspect at the next bond hearing. We don’t have to live and wallow in that world because other people have chosen to. Thank God! And justice for Caylee.

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