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With the exception of the occasional DUI defense case (which I still enjoy doing to keep my skills sharp), I have not regularly practiced criminal defense law in over a decade, but there is a key lesson to be learned from the Casey Anthony trial and verdict and it deals with credibility. Simply put, the lawyers handling the prosecution never delivered on their promise to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Casey Anthony committed first degree murder. Because they didn't deliver, the jury simply didn't trust them. Overreaching is a dangerous thing in every instance, but can be fatal to a courtroom presentation. Humans are skeptical by nature and particularly so when placed in judgment of others, so it is of paramount importance for the attorneys presenting a case to earn and never lose credibility with the jury.

I am the first to admit that I did not follow the case closely, but one would have to be completely out of touch to know nothing of the case given the associated media saturation. It seems that the facts were probably there to prove negligent homicide/manslaughter and that the prosecution could have maintained credibility and trust had they simply followed the facts instead of their ambition.

We need to maintain credibility in every aspect of our lives and this includes the presentation of a personal injury case to an insurance company or trial court. For this reason it is imperative to choose a lawyer who will be respected by everyone involved. Typically this excludes those one might find parading across your television screen. The right lawyer makes a difference and gets better results for his clients. If you need advice, contact a lawyer who understands the importance of maintaining credibility in every relationship.


  1. Gravatar for Richard N. (Rick) Shapiro
    Richard N. (Rick) Shapiro

    John: great point, great blog post from an injury trial attorney. Who cares that you are not trying criminal cases, injury attorneys, like prosecutors must prove the case we say we will.

    I also wrote a story on Norfolk Injuryboard agreeing with your credibility point.

  2. I agree with both of you. I have not tried a criminal case in almost 20 years, but I don't think that jurors have changed. They listen to the evidence and also pay a lot of attention to the law that the judge gives them. I have spoken with jurors after a criminal trial who begrudgingly voted not guilty "because of what the judge said."

    The prosecution told those jurors in opening that they would prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. They couldn't even prove the cause of death. I will bet that the jury believed that she probably did it. "Beyond a reasonable doubt," however, is a much higher burden and has been a basic tenet of our criminal justice system since the beginning.

    I feel awful that a child has died and questions still linger. I also feel that way when someone is exonerated by DNA evidence (way beyond a reasonable doubt) after sitting on death row for 20 years. That DA's office needs to think long and hard as to how they tried this case and what lesser crimes they could have charged her with.

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