I have no idea if Casey Anthony killed her daughter and if she did, what the circumstances were. I know that serving on a jury is really hard work and making those kinds of decisions is much harder than it looks. I also know that everything I learned about group dynamics in grad school applies to juries and then some and so I'm always far more interested in how juries make their decisions than I am in the specific decisions they make. I do have a couple of thoughts about today's verdict, though.
First of all, I'm incredibly ambivalent about crime-as-entertainment. I understand the fascination of the true crime genre, especially in today's 24 hour news cycle. When I come home exhausted at night ready to channel-surf, Dateline or 48 Hours Mystery can seem really appealing, especially since I don't follow many dramas or reality shows and I don't want to think about more complicated issues like debt limits and campaign finance reform.
I feel bad about it, though. I finally stopped watching those shows (mostly) because they were just too sad for me. People's lives are irreparably devastated and the criminal justice system doesn't always work (more often working against the defendant than for him/her) and even though it's interesting, it's just too sad. Sometimes I'm reminded of my uncle's murder and how interesting that story would be as a true-crime mystery (he just disappeared) . . . yet I would be so sad to see his death or his family's pain trivialized that way. Watching Casey Anthony's broken family faced with a Sophie's Choice every time they stepped onto the witness stand just hurt . . . and yet I watched every morning during my workout.
The other thing that struck me when I heard about the verdict was the memory of a conversation I had with Boo just this morning. We were talking about HLN's dramatic "Verdict Watch" and I said to Boo, "I wish they'd just go to the rest of the news instead of obsessing about this. There is no way that the jury will come back today; there's just too much testimony to go through and too many scenarios to consider. If the jury comes back today, it will be an emotional verdict. If they come back today, they didn't do their job." That's the first thing I thought of when I heard the news from a friend's text expressing disbelief and asking my opinion.