Category Archives: Opinionated

I Don’t Care That You Think Casey Anthony is Guilty!

Now here I go gettin’ all ranty…

I have refrained from commenting on the Casey Anthony verdict announced yesterday because I don’t think I know enough about the case. I was not a juror, and I was not privy to the evidence and testimony presented in court throughout the duration of Anthony’s trial. But here’s some news: neither were you. Sure, you read some articles in the news, and heard other opinions presented by the mass media, but what do you really know?

I’m sick of hearing people everywhere I go talk about how the jury was wrong, how they would have convicted her on the charge of first-degree murder and how they hope some vigilante gives Anthony “what she deserves”.

For the 25-year old woman accused of killing her 2-year old daughter, justice was served. Because in my mind, one of the cornerstones of the North American justice systems is the right to a fair trial.

Look how quick we are to point to a “flawed” justice system for “failing” us. Believe it or not, the justice system usually works. With hundreds of years of precedents in common law, we have narrowed down the room for error in trials as best we can and have developed a system that the majority of people are happy with, for the most part.

We would all like to think that if we had sat on the jury at the Anthony trial that the verdict would have been different. It’s easy to dismiss the twelve jury members as brain-dead idiots who all came to the wrong conclusion after hearing the evidence. Unfortunately, being a juror isn’t about deciding right and wrong. There are far more complex legal rules that led to Casey Anthony being found not guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter and aggravated child abuse.

One thing people always forget about the law is that you need to prove someone did what you have accused them of. In order to convict someone of a crime they are accused of you must prove actus reus (the criminal act) and the mens rea (the intention to carry out the criminal act).

In the Anthony case, it is clear that 2-year-old Caylee died, but it is not clear how. The prosecution was unable to prove how Caylee died. It was suggested during the trial that Caylee may have drowned and her mother hid her body, but it was also suggested that Casey suffocated her using chloroform and duct tape. So which one are we convicting her of then? The prosecution was unable to prove the actus reus – the main element! – of the case.

In terms of the mens rea, we can all come up with various reasons as to why Casey may have wanted to rid herself of the responsibilities of being a single mother (allegedly so she could have the party-life she had always wanted and be with her boyfriend or because she suffered from ptsd from years of alleged sexual abuse by her father) but the prosecution was not able to prove that Casey intended to kill her daughter in order to achieve this.

The other important thing to remember is that one of the safeguards of the justice system in both Canada and the U.S. is the need to prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If you have any tiny smidgen of doubt the facts that the prosecution has presented you cannot convict the accused. The facts (as presented by the prosecution) must be so convincing and obvious that you have no doubt as to their truth. If the defence is able to make you doubt the truth of the charges against the accused, you cannot convict. Seeing as the prosecution was not even able to prove how Caylee died, how can they expect to convince the jury that Casey was responsible for it?

Not only does this safeguard exist, but the judge spends the entire trial charging the jury. In plainspeak, this means that the judge spends his time explaining complex legal concepts such as guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and actus reus and mens rea so that the jury is fully capable of making these life-altering decisions on our behalf.

Imagine if it were the other way around – if it were so easy to take away someone’s right to freedom and liberty. Wouldn’t we all be up in arms about that? If it were at all possible that Anthony had killed her daughter, or had negligently let her drown, we should put her in jail right away despite a total lack of evidence. In Florida, hastily convicting Casey Anthony of first-degree murder would be sentencing her to execution based on the (lack of) evidence available.

We also forget that motive does not prove someone committed a crime. Just because Casey may have wanted to have less responsibility and party more, we can’t assume that she would kill her own daughter in order to do so. Lots of mothers may feel like that every once in awhile. Do you think your own mother didn’t wish she could go out for dinner without you every once in a while? Sure! But she didn’t kill you. And why can’t we extend the same consideration towards Casey Anthony?

Everyone is quick to assume that justice for little Caylee was not served in the courtroom on July 5, but I argue that it was because justice for Caylee includes a fair trial for her killer, not a potential wrongful conviction to satisfy the public’s need for a Hollywood ending to a sensationalized case.

Until the prosecution can get a case together, with actual evidence, justice for Caylee will have to wait. Instead of calling for vigilante justice and a reformed justice system, let us maintain our trust and faith in the justice system and hope they find Caylee’s real killer, or that new evidence implicating Casey Anthony in the murder of her daughter comes to light.

Cottaging with Rob Ford

The internet was all abuzz yesterday with reports that Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford would not be attending this year’s Gay Pride Parade in order to fulfill long-standing family commitments to go to a cottage. His family trip to Muskoka is a yearly event held on the same weekend every year – and who are we plebes to argue that the Mayor of Toronto could re-schedule such an important tradition?

According to an article in the Globe and Mail:

Mayors of Toronto have been marching in the parade since Barbara Hall wore the chain of office. Police Chief Bill Blair makes a point of being there to build bridges to the gay community. So do provincial and federal cabinet ministers of all political stripes. Brian Burke, general manager of the Leafs, is marching.

(image courtesy of the Globe and Mail)

Initial reactions to Ford’s announcement were negative. In fact, the article referenced above is titled “Mayor misses out on opportunity to celebrate diversity”. The Toronto mayor’s first commitment should be to support Toronto’s gay community by attending a parade that is historically linked to improving gay rights in our progressive city. Some argue events like the Pride parade led to increased rights and acceptance of the gay community in Toronto, and even Canada.

@corecorina’s thoughts shared on Twitter echoed the sentiment of many:

Others argued that Ford should support something that, if for nothing else, feeds a lot of money ($MILLIONS$) into Toronto and garners positive attention to the city on a national scale, which is especially important after last year’s G20 disaster.

It wasn’t long before the other side spoke up. He has commitments! Family commitments! Shouldn’t we respect the fact that he has put his family before his job?! Isn’t that what we would all do? This is a long-standing tradition!

Now everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I am also entitled to think that opinion is, well…stupid.
Rob Ford’s job as mayor is TEMPORARY. It relies on the fact that Torontonian’s are happy with him as mayor, and happy with his choices. Unfortunately, sometimes that includes his personal choices and the community’s judgment of his priorities.

He is the mayor of the largest cities in Canada. Toronto just so happens to have a large gay population. Assuming Rob Ford is enjoying his new position as MAYOR of the damn city, he may want to keep said position. This means he should probably try to appeal to every segment of the population that he can to ensure his position is a little less temporary.

More importantly, in my opinion, is the fact that this even became an issue. Where are this man’s handlers? His media people? Maybe even a publicity rep? ANYONE?! Surely he has been coached on how to speak to the media.

All Ford needed to say to make this a non-issue is that: No, he regrets that previous obligations to his family would prevent him from attending the parade itself, but he would be attending ___________ event or hosting ________ event to kickoff the Pride festivities in Toronto, because he understands the important of this event in Toronto and he fully supports it. (Assuming he does support it – am I going too far here?)

(image courtesy of Slap Upside the Head)

Now let’s see what other commitments Rob Ford has to keep him away from Caribana Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival…

This is what I tweeted today about the Ford Pride Parade controversy:



And seriously, before you judge Rob Ford you should really google “cottaging”. Because maybe he’s a much bigger gay pride supporter than we thought…