Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Casey Anthony Acquittal Stirs Memories of Guevara Case: Prosecutorial Arrogance Run Amuck

I try to avoid tabloid news whenever possible. Up until a couple of weeks ago I had never heard of Casey Anthony or of the murder case involving the death of her young child. As a criminal defense attorney for over 24 years, the last thing I want is to be reminded of is work on my time off.

Unfortunately the corporate media news networks would rather bombard Americans with tabloid-style, sensationalistic coverage of two-bit tragedies, white trash murder cases and other sad, but inconsequential matters, then cover matters of national significance. Therefore I could not help but be caught up in the hysteria that was the public's interest in the Anthony verdict today. Not because of the outcome. I had predicted it.

No, I am not a savant. All I needed to form my prediction was to hear the network news summaries of the prosecution's case, hear excerpts from the prosecutor's summation and see the clip of the arrogant, evil, fool of a prosecutor laughing out loud during the defense counsel's summation to know where this thing was headed.

You see, when prosecutors loose all perspective, when they become assured of the righteousness of their cause, when they loose their own humanity in the vilification of the defendant, they deserve to lose. Justice is not about the righteousness of a prosecutor or the alleged evilness of a defendant, it is about truth and it is about the victim. Sometimes the prosecution has to be patient for the truth to emerge. Sometimes the truth takes a long time. That is why there is no statute of limitations on murder. However fools and the self-righteous are often not patient.

The Anthony acquittal may cause Minnesotans to remember a murder case occurring in Dakota County approximately 18 years ago. A young child by the name of Corrine Erstad was the victim of a grisly murder. But just like the Anthony case in Florida, the prosecutor in Corrine's case was an overreaching, arrogant, self-righteous fool of a County Attorney by the name of James Backstrom. Just like the prosecutor in the Anthony case, the Erstad case became all about the prosecutor and his righteousness. Instead of waiting for a solid case to emerge, the always arrogant Backstrom pushed ahead with a weak case with one eye on re-election to predictable results. I have a colleague who owes his career to the arrogance and impatience that is Jim Backstrom.

Many years later Minnesota Public Radio did a story on Backstrom, a journalistic light weight, retrospective piece on the bully's career. In the article, the reporter noted that "... Erstad's photo shares a place on the same book shelf as the one of Backstrom's mother. " What the article should have said that in front of the shelf was a full length mirror because the arrogant, overreaching County Attorney never did change his ways or really take stock of his conduct or if he did it never showed.

May the Anthony and Guevara cases be a warning to the Backstroms of the world and may God grant them the wisdom to change their ways.

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