by Daniel T. Zanoza, Executive Director
It is a tragic story, but it's one we are growing accustomed to with the devaluation of the lives of children. Allegedly, sometime around mid-June of 2008, a Florida woman's two year old toddler went missing. Besides the obvious fact, the only problem was this child's mother failed to tell authorities her child was gone and she didn't know where little Caylee Anthony was. About a month later, Cindy Anthony, the grandmother of the missing toddler, finally made a police report, stating the child hadn't been seen for over four weeks.
Casey Anthony, the mother of the missing two year old, then laid out a litany of lies to the authorities which led police and volunteers on a wild goose chase of staggering proportions. The mother was charged with child neglect and lying to the police before it became obvious little Caylee was the victim of foul play. It was one of those depressing stories that seems to be common place in a society which, in all too many cases, sees children as disposable commodities, actual possessions of parents who sadly do with them what they wish. This neglect takes on all forms, from simple neglect to what apparently took place in the Caylee Anthony case, the removal of a child who simply got in the way of a parent's pursuit of a certain lifestyle which had little place for a child within it.
Later in the year, the lifeless decayed body of the ultimate innocent was found mere blocks away from the mother's home and what may have been a case of abduction quickly transformed into a nightmarish scenario of murder, greed and self-absorption.
However, some amazing things have transpired since Casey Anthony was charged with the murder of her daughter. Seemingly, out of the wood work, high-profile attorneys and legal experts joined forces to defend a woman whose guilt seemed obvious. In addition, the national media reverted back to a way of covering the story which had little to do with the search for justice and seemed more about turning the death of an innocent child into a ratings bonanza meant to fill the 24 hour news cycle.
The coverage of the Casey Anthony trial is eerily reminiscent of something that left a stain on American justice and the profession of journalism nearly 20 years ago. We were beginning to see a repeat of the O.J. Simpson fiasco which eventually led to the release of someone who was almost certainly responsible for slaughtering two human beings, his ex-wife, Nicole Simpson and her friend, Ron Goldman. The Simpson trial made a joke of America's judicial system. Judges and lawyers mugged for camera time during the televised trial. What I call baseball journalism took the place of legitimate reporting and America was torn asunder along racial lines, all for the sake of ratings.
Evidence offered by the prosecution was often met by ridiculous rebuttal from the defense team, no matter how unlikely or absurd that information was. It was a kind of tit for tat reporting that had little basis in fact, but thrived on the principles of sensationalism. Lawyers-- who seemed to be conscience-less--used every under-handed tactic to distract and derail true justice, while the country watched in slack-jawed awe.
Sadly, the Anthony trial seems to be following the same outline. High-priced lawyers, many of them far beyond the financial means of the Anthony family, lined up like pigs at the trough to defend what appears to be the indefensible. However, no one seems to be asking the question "why?". Why are these representatives of the court willing to offer their services pro bono in a case which seems cut and dry to most Americans? Of course, every one deserves good legal representation, especially in cases of such magnitude. But why are these lawyers lining up, in this case to represent a woman who apparently has lied at every opportunity and, in many circumstances, seemed more worried about herself than her missing child? The answer is all too simple. Dr. Henry Lee, perhaps the world's leading forensic scientist, climbed onboard the Anthony defense bandwagon. He was quickly joined by Linda Kenney Baden, a defense attorney and wife of one of the most well-noted forensic pathologists (Dr. Michael Baden) in America who can be seen on television nearly every day discussing high-profile cases--from the Menendez brothers' trial to the mystery surrounding the murder of Colorado child beauty queen, JonBenet Ramsey.
There are more lawyers who have joined Dream Team 2, most of whom would charge six-figure salaries to take on a case of this magnitude. Did the Anthony family suddenly come into a financial windfall? It seems very unlikely. In fact, a publicity-seeking bounty hunter put up $50,000 of his own money to produce bail for Casey Anthony before she was charged with the murder. It was another case of an individual looking to get his time in the spotlight at the expense of Caylee Anthony's death. The very same can be said about the lawyers representing Anthony. They have stepped forward for one reason and one reason only--to seek publicity for themselves and their careers. This is not a wholesome endeavor to seek out justice for someone wrongfully accused of a capital crime. It is the American justice system up for manipulation by the sleaze merchants of American culture.
Amazingly, while following the case closely, I have never heard a member of the mainstream media ask the question which is on the lips of most Americans. Who is footing the bill for this woman's defense? The media doesn't ask this question because these high-priced lawyers serve their purpose to a tee.
The search for justice concerning the death of a little girl who never had a chance to live the smallest fraction of a full life has turned into a media circus. Rich lawyers see their ability to charge ever-growing rates with each media exposure. The press itself features these con artists hawking their wares, while having little true interest in the pursuit of justice for Caylee Anthony or for Casey Anthony as well. Some hoped the O.J. Simpson trial was an anomaly, something Americans would never see again, but that was only a dream. Truly, American justice is for sale to the highest bidder and the program with the largest viewing audience. Shame on them for putting us through this again. Shame on our society for tolerating it.
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