Making the Obvious Connection

Perhaps I should’ve seen this coming. But the National Review cites Casey Anthony’s acquittal as a reason to avoid jury trials for terrorists. Because terrorists, like unpopular media targets, are obviously guilty of anything we can charge them with.

To lawyers, jury trials aren’t admittedly the most sensible thing in the world. Can we actually expect twelve men-on-the-street to understand structured financial transactions well enough to assess where one went wrong, why, and who’s to blame? Well, with good enough lawyers, yes. Because we have to. Can we trust them to always get the decision right? No. But that’s part of the reason they’re there, and more importantly, it’s how the system works. We don’t abandon procedural safeguards when they’re inconvenient, and go against our gut. Unless, of course, there’s an “R” next to our name.


  1. I’m not a big fan of using the civil legal system for foreign terrorists for reasons of national security BUT I think there should be some sort of military tribunal or extra-jurisdictional process where they can a trial in private with all the same legal rights and protections they deserve under international law. Unfortunately the President doesn’t agree.

    As for ‘homegrown’ terrorists with American citizenship – yeah, they should get heir day in court. The Anthony verdict only proves that prosecutors have to make a solid case and prosecute it well.

  2. Again, I think you’re trying to parse individual preference and belief based on judgments that have been actually been made based on feasibility. Obama has made clear that given his way he’d conduct civilian trials for most if not all detainees. Who’s holding him up, do we think?

    1. It seemed like when he made a legal case for indefinitie detentions he was saying ‘No trials for these guys.’

  3. If they allegedly committed a crime here, they should be processed through our criminal justice system. If they have been taken into custody elsewhere by our forces for acts outside the US, they need processed under international law.

    1. That’s not really possible, since there is no international criminal system that can prosecute the sort of cases we’re talking about here.

      The alternative would be to prosecute under the domestic law wherever they’ve been captured, but that’s not always a realistic option, either.

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