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Protesters blast the Casey Anthony verdict outside of the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida. Some have vented their fury at the 12-person jury.
Protesters blast the Casey Anthony verdict outside of the Orange County Courthouse in Orlando, Florida. Some have vented their fury at the 12-person jury. Roberto Gonzalez/Getty Images
The conversation was too loud and too personal. Especially for a half-full D.C. Metro train at rush hour. A middle aged man in Dockers and gym shoes wearing a wrinkled shirt a size or two too small confessing to the woman on the other end of the phone that he lacks a sexy job and looks a bit like Homer Simpson.
The volume irritated another passenger, across the aisle and two seats down. He snorted and stared. When he picked up his paper shopping bag to step off the train, he made a point to walk past the loud talker and bark: "I hope you get some therapy, buddy!"
From one point of view, the loud talker may have been just an inconsiderate jerk. From another, maybe he was in therapy. Maybe he had no concept of social norms. Maybe the last thing he needed at the end of a long, difficult day were the stinging words of a total stranger one stop from the end of the line.
Nearly 1,000 miles south, another visceral and even louder reaction was rippling across the country after the verdict in the Casey Anthony trial. Anthony walked out of jail early this morning, and one poll shows that 64% of Americans believe she got away with murder. No harm in that belief. But a tiny minority of those people blame and wish harm to the 12 men and women who never asked to be a part of this case but who ultimately decided her fate: The jury.
Juror number 12 (the judge is withholding the juror's names during a "cooling off period") reportedly quit her job in Orlando and fled to Michigan. Her husband told NBC News that she was terrified that her co-workers would attack her in outrage over the verdict. Social media has helped feed frustrations that grew into rage and worse.
If anyone understands the public fury those jurors face, it's Yolanda Crawford. She served on the jury that acquitted O.J. Simpson and told USA Today the decision will likely haunt them for years. "For the first year, I had to hear O.J.'s name every single day," she said. "People would ask, "What were you thinking? What's wrong with you? Why did you do it?"
That rage is misplaced.
Few, if anyone, outside the courtroom sat through every minute of the trial and heard the instructions to the jury. And nobody else faced a decision that could put a woman to death or let her walk away free.
Jonathan Turley, an attorney, argued on his website, "The fact is that the evidence against Anthony was highly circumstantial and questionable."
It was certainly enough for a trial, but was it enough to convict a person and subject her potentially to the death penalty?
While many Americans learned about the case through ciphers like Grace and an army of bloggers who focused on Anthony's love life and pictures of the adorable Caylee, the jurors were focusing on the evidence:
•There was no clear evidence of how the child died.
•There were no witnesses to the act.
•There was no clear evidence of a motive.
For every major circumstantial fact offered by the prosecution, the jurors had doubt as to whether it was true or whether it tied Anthony to the death. In the end, the only clear crime was lying to the police, the count on which Anthony was found guilty.
Still, the fury rages.
Atticus Finch wisely declared five decades ago in To Kill A Mockingbird, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
The times have changed. The lesson, though, remains as poignant as ever.