FLINT - Watching the Casey Anthony verdict, it occurred to me that it's probably time the American justice system starting using an instant replay system like the NFL.
The lead prosecutor could toss a little beanbag of protest onto the courtroom floor then stand around flapping his or her arms and mouthing curse words.
That would be the judge's signal to jog stiffly over to a hooded TV monitor off to the side of the courtroom, which would be America's signal to run to the kitchen or to the bathroom.
After five minutes, the judge would reappear, jog stiffly back to the bench, activate his microphone and say, "After further review, we find the jury to be completely nuts and perhaps under the influence of pending book deals, therefore
their ruling is overturned and in fact reversed. Bailiff, please escort Ms. Anthony to a corner cell at the Guantanamo Bay detention, preferably one the rats frequent."
I know, I know. I'm supposed to celebrate the fact that the verdict, as wrong as it seems, means our system "works."
But I just can't. To legal beagles, the verdict may be the difference between the actual truth and the legal truth - a fine line sometimes, to be sure - but to me all it means is that you can, in fact, get away with murder in America. All you need to do is make sure no one sees you do it and hide the body long enough for the evidence to disappear.
It also doesn't hurt to be pretty. If you're pretty - or famous, like O.J. Simpson - and the crime is heinous enough, the national media will take an interest, and that always seems to screw with a jury's head.
You can't tell me many of those jurors weren't thinking about book and movie deals. They had to be thinking, "Gee, if we make the obvious choice, my chance of fame and riches goes bye-bye. Slam dunks don't sell. But if we acquit "
That may sound cynical - and maybe it is - but we'll see. If there aren't a dozen books and a made-for-TV movie on the market within three months, I'll eat my hat. Odds are that in those books jurors will strike an angry, defiant tone, saying "If you weren't in that courtroom then you just don't know."
They'll go on about the lack of direct evidence and how no one saw her do it. And it's true that juries aren't allowed to fill in gaps, no matter how much they want to.
The problem, of course, is that jurors can bend over backward so much to not fill in those gaps that they can end up convincing themselves that what obviously happened didn't. Or maybe didn't happen.
In legal terms, that's called reasonable doubt. And because of it, Casey Anthony will go free. She's a lucky woman - for now, anyway. By that I mean she escaped criminal justice but, like O.J., she can't escape karmic justice.
She knows what she did. And it'll replay in her head to the end of her days.
EDITOR'S NOTE - Andy Heller, an award-winning columnist for The Flint Journal, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. For more of his work, visit his blog at blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/aheller. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.