Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In The Court of Public Opinion, The Verdict is.........

By Susan Murphy Milano

Three long years of listening to one sided opinions from talking heads were finally silenced today after a 6 plus week jury trial rendered a verdict of not guilty. The Casey Anthony trial is likely the most viewed trial thus far in our history. Millions tuned in by radio, cell phones, television and the Internet on the edge of their seats as each count of the indictment was read.

The Internet comments and posters slammed anyone who commented on the fact that the prosecution had a circumstantial case and was not able to convince a jury that Casey Anthony was guilty of murdering her daughter, Caylee. 

James Copenhaver, principal in the firm Orlando Private Investigation commented on his private facebook page " Way to go Justice System,,,Thank God it still works for the common people of this great land...I think the State's case was not up to par, and they should have kept it simple, not throwing a ton of suspects evidence at them. I just feel the Sheriff's Office rushed to charge her. Keep in mind they charged her with 1st Degree murder before even having the body..~OPI"

For Copenhaver's comment and others who voiced the same opinion, people slammed them on the Internet for not sharing their outrage by the jury's verdict.

In the three years of finger pointing and barking on the big screen, many children have gone missing or tragically have been discovered murdered, but where is there media coverage for those cases? Why did the media “select” a beautiful doe eyed angel as their public billboard spewing venom at anyone who did not agree with them? The answer: ratings, ratings, ratings!

When True Crime Author Diane Fanning wrote “Mommy’s Little Girl,” she did so with the facts in the case. She was contracted by the publisher to write this book. What Fanning does as an author, in my opinion, is preserve the life of a child silenced, discarded in a way that frankly is difficult to fathom. She provides an insight to the reader few writers have been able to achieve. As a homicide survivor, I appreciate anyone that can remain on track with the facts, regardless of outside pressures in the court of public opinion.

In this court of public opinion, jumping up and down will not bring an innocent child the justice she deserves. And it will not reverse a legal system in place that affords all citizens in this country; the right to a fair trial. That a person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

If all those who voiced their outrage today, could be just as passionate and concerned about the other children or missing adults who do not make national headlines, because for these families who require the public's help in finding a child or getting out information that could lead to an arrest, the media coverage is more like a selective lottery drawing.

Today, is new day. Sadly another child will likely be reported missing or a mother will be discovered murdered in her own home. Do we wait for the media to dictate what new case will be covered and discussed?

In the court of public opinion, we have silenced our own individual voices by allowing the media to spend three long years on a single case that should have only been tried in a courtroom!

Susan Murphy Milano is with the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education. She is an expert on intimate partner violence and homicide crimes. For more information visit

Susan is the author of "Time's Up A Guide on How to Leave and Survive Abusive and Stalking Relationships," available for purchase at the Institute, and wherever books are sold. Susan is the host of The Susan Murphy Milano Show, "Time's Up!" on Here Women Talk and is a regular contributor to the nationally syndicated The Roth Show with Dr Laurie Roth. Susan is a survivor- the daughter of a police officer family intimate partner homicide by her father who murdered her mother before committing suicide.


  1. Interesting comment. However, I am still not convinced that the family didn't have something to do with this poor child's death. Too many lies to just cover up a child gone missing and turning up dead.

  2. You know Missing Person; I just referred to the Somer Thompson case last night when discussing this verdict with a friend. If people want to convict from public perception of what is a good or bad mom; well, If Caylee was a known wanderer of the neighborhood and was killed in the same manner as little Somer Thompson was; heinous; I have a feeling public would have still blamed this one in particular. There are thousands of pictures of Caylee with her mom unlike so many other kids who have been victims that I can think of off the top of my head who didn't seem to get any attention in life. The court of public opinion can be a powerful weapon and those sometimes who really need it don't get it either. So many missing children since then and before this time; that does not take away from Caylee in any way shape or form; no different when people felt this way on the Laci Peterson case; nothing away from her at all but all the others are out there as well needing help. They are all victims

  3. Very well stated, Susan! If not for public opinion and 'media court' becoming the front runner of 'justice' for such cases, it's highly likely true and real justice would be achieved. I have a very strong feeling, the Kyron Horman case will continue to follow the exact same footprints of this case. In the meantime, an eight year old little boy continues to be missing, with nothing more than rumored speculation regarding his step-mom, Terri Moulton Horman. History repeating itself, unnecessarily so, time and time again. We MUST find the correct path to legislation, to put a once and for all stop, to this horrendous injustice!

  4. Susan, I am so glad to see a frank analysis of the useless sensationalism and selective coverage provided by so-called news shows.

    I have been continually disgusted with shows that seem to feature 24/7 coverage of a particular case, the screen plastered with red "breaking news" banners and proclamations of new and startling evidence. It's almost as bad as the SNL skit about such excessive graphics.

    As you pointed out, imagine how many other missing and endangered people could be helped by TV shows, especially people who are still alive. Instead, they make a handful of cases into white knuckle soap operas, creating addicts out of intelligent people who could be getting involved in victim advocacy themselves.

    Being glued to the TV to hear sharp-tongued critics make grandiose and attention-seeking claims does not achieve justice for the victims. It achieves what you said, ratings. Cha-ching. And I have noticed that they focus on victims who, as horrible as this will sound, have mass appeal. Offhand I don't recall seeing national furor over a visibly disabled child or an overweight middle-aged woman even though their lives are every precious bit as valuable as others'. You're spot on; networks know what sells.

    I'm not saying that people should stop watching these shows altogether, but if they are truly concerned about missing children, human trafficking, sexual assault, and the other horrors our fellow human beings suffer, they should take that passion and emotion and put it to a productive use.

    Write letters to the editor. Blog. Volunteer at a shelter. Be a shoulder for a domestic violence victim to lean on-- we all know one. Work with children with special needs. Work on your parenting skills. Analyze and remedy the problems in your own family that can lead to pathological behavior and worse. There is always a way to get involved at some level.

    We need to start achieving justice for others and stop enabling the networks to keep dwelling on a select few crimes whose victims may actually be hindered, not helped, by the frantic, frequently subjective, nonstop coverage of their cases while others suffer in silence.

    To your post, Susan, I add a hearty amen!

  5. For all those who want to convict people on suspicion and innuendo, you may want to move to Ontario Canada. They have so many judicial committees there, their very own constitution does not get applied to judicial decision. In one case a convicted sex offenders went national in an interview talking about his "reinstatement hearing" on National Television and blamed the person who opposed the policy of reinstating sex offenders like him. The teacher who protested the multiple sex offenders being allowed to teach kids got kicked out of teaching and the repeat sex offenders was allowed to teach. I prefer our American Justice System over Ontario Canada where innuendo and lies are allowed as part of their system of justice.

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