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Posted by on Jul 7, 2011 in Law, Society | 4 comments

John Adams: ‘It Is More Important That Innocence Be Protected Than It Is That Guilt Be Punished’

Twitter reaction to the verdict is stark. Just one percent agree with it. Casey could be set free today. This John Adams quote is worth remembering:

It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, “whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,” and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.

Mashable has The Online Reaction to the Casey Anthony Verdict [STATS].


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  • DLS

    If only one per cent agrees, then we have an awfully stupid public, though concern isn’t limited to stupidity, but to folks’ attitudes.

    There’s no grand emotive subject here, either. (the principle of presumption of innocence, or “it’s better for N guilty people to go free than one innocent person be convicted and sentenced,” etc.)

    It’s simply the fact that the prosecution didn’t provide enough evidence or proof to convince the jury that Anthony was guilty. There wasn’t sufficient proof given; it’s as simple as that. The prosecution couldn’t even say how the child died! More importantly, they couldn’t prove that Anthony killed the child. How can that be so hard to understand? Do emotions rule many?

    Incidentally, as in the Constitution itself (making it inarguably constitutional), Adams here refers to the death penalty in a way that makes it clear it is legitimate. It’s the punishing of the innocent that is wrong.

  • merkin

    I have not paid any attention to the Anthony trial so my opinion on the verdict would be even more useless than it normally is.

    However, in support of John Adams, it is helpful to remember that the primary reason for the criminal justice system is to prevent the innocent from being mistakenly punished. Like it or not it is better to free the guilty than to jail the innocent.

    I am certain Mr. Adams would have appreciated my help and support.

  • DLS

    I don’t dispute what either Joe W. or Merkin says, but I’ll repeat that it’s unnecessary here. What happened was that the prosecution did not prove that Anthony murdered her daughter — and it’s worth repeating that it was particularly bad (and probably in and of itself made it impossible to secure a conviction) that the prosecution could not tell everyone how Caylee Anthony (the daughter) died.

    Just so you two know I’m not saying either of you are wrong; you aren’t.

  • Loujr

    I’m not sure why people keep getting wrapped around the axle on the prosecution not proving exactly how she died. In this case it doesn’t matter one bit. There is no reasonable doubt in my mind (and apparently the juror’s minds since they stated that they feel sick for their verdict) that duct tape on a toddler’s dead body is a result of anything other than homicide. To entertain anything else has left the realm of “reasonable” as I see it. Knowing exactly how she died at this point is a “nice to have” but not necessary to prove a case. I also believe it is unreasonable to doubt that anyone outside of the Anthony family dumped the body based on that specific location being so closely tied to the family. Finally, several witnesses gave testimony that Casey Anthony was the last person in the family to see Caylee alive. That should at least get a manslaughter conviction. I agree there is no proof of forethought or murderous intent which is why no first degree conviction. I think the jury was so focused on the “how” not being answered that they threw the rest of the case out. I guess it’s ultimately all up to the individual.

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