- Lanny A. Breuer, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division
Try Casey Anthony in federal court for the murder of her daughter
This petition was created on 4/14/12.
On July 5, 2011, in Orange County, Florida, Casey Marie Anthony was acquitted of the murder of her 3-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony. The vast majority of the American people firmly believe that this was a miscarriage of justice in that the Florida jury trial failed both the interests of Caylee Marie Anthony and the American people at large.
The Petite Policy of the United States Department of Justice ( http://www.justice.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usam/title9/2mcrm.htm#9-2.031 ) states: "This policy establishes guidelines for the exercise of discretion by appropriate officers of the Department of Justice in determining whether to bring a federal prosecution based on substantially the same act(s) or transactions involved in a prior state or federal proceeding.
This policy precludes the initiation or continuation of a federal prosecution, following a prior state or federal prosecution based on substantially the same act(s) or transaction(s) unless three substantive prerequisites are satisfied:"
1. The matter must involve a substantial federal interest.
Policy states that the determination of a substantial federal interest will be made on a case by case basis applying the considerations applicable to all federal prosecutions contained in USAM 9-27.230 ( http://www.justice.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usam/title9/27mcrm.htm#9-27.230 ), and there are several factors that can be used to make this determination. I will address some, though not all, of them for the sake of brevity.
According to USAM 9-27.230, the nature and seriousness of a particular offense is a consideration. The homicide of a child less than 3 years of age and the improper disposal of her corpse in a swamp is both serious and especially depraved.
USAM 9-27-230 also states that it is appropriate to take a victim’s age into consideration. Children are the most vulnerable citizens, and the protection of such citizens certainly constitutes a substantial federal interest. In addition, our children are, arguably, the country's MOST valuable resource; any offense committed against a defenseless child is serious. The victim in this case was a child that had not even reached the age of 3 when she was murdered.
Another consideration contained in USAM 9-27.230 is the deterrent effect a prosecution would have. The federal government has a duty to ensure that what happens to those who commit such heinous crimes, as Ms. Anthony did to her daughter, serves as a deterrent to others who would think of committing them. The state proceedings totally failed in this regard, and the federal government does have a substantial, vested interest in pursuing such deterrence for the safety of its citizens, especially the safety of the youngest, most vulnerable of those citizens, like the victim in this case.
One of the primary functions of government is to protect the lives of its citizens. The protection of those Americans who, because of physical, psychological, or mental deficiencies, cannot protect themselves is and always has been both a substantial and enduring federal interest, and many government programs that target such groups have been created for just that purpose. America's children constitute one of those groups.
Sending a message of deterrence by prosecuting Ms. Anthony for the murder of Caylee Anthony, a child, would help to preserve and protect those United States citizens who may become victims of such a crime in the future, those citizens who are most deserving of that protection due to their inability to provide them for themselves, America's children. The federal government cannot go into people's homes and tell them how to treat their children, but what they can do when a child is murdered and thrown in a swamp is to send a message to those homes that this is NOT how you treat your children, and that message is sent by way of criminal prosecution of those who do to their children as Ms. Anthony did to her child.
2. The prior prosecution must have left the stated federal interest demonstrably unvindicated.
The Petite Policy gives a number of conditions under which this prerequisite can be met. One of those is jury nullification that was the result of a clear disregard of the evidence. The verdict in the trial of Casey Anthony that occurred in Orange County, Florida, in the summer of 2011 was the result of a disregard of the evidence. Statements given by the jurors after the trial prove that they failed to look at the vast majority of that evidence, thus nullifying the jury as well as the evidence. A statement by one of the jurors in this case, Jennifer Ford, proves that the jury only “…started to go over the evidence.”
In another statement, Ford said that it was easier to get to the, alleged, drowning of the child than it was the murder. This is incomprehensible in light of the fact that there was no evidence of a drowning presented at trial, so these jurors based their verdict on evidence that never even existed; essentially, the jury favored a theory that had no proof of it while not even considering or looking at the evidence that did prove the child was murdered.
In addition, jurors stated that they gave a lot of weight to the potential sentences Ms. Anthony was facing in coming to their verdict. ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked juror Ford that if the prosecution had not sought the death penalty it would have affected how they deliberated in this case. Ford's answer was, "Absolutely." By law, the jury is not allowed to consider potential punishment during the guilt phase of a trial, and this is another indication of jury nullification in that the jury gave the potential punishment, something that should NOT have been considered by the jury, more weight than they did the evidence that was presented at trial. Essentially, the jury did not think it was fair to convict Ms. Anthony simply because one of the possible sentences she could have received was death.
Another condition in the Petite Policy that applies to this requirement is the unavailability of significant evidence. The trial judge, Judge Belvin Perry, at his discretion, failed to allow evidence into the trial that should have been allowed; thus, this evidence was unavailable for the jury's consideration. One case in point is a potential witness who should have been allowed to testify at Ms. Anthony’s trial but was not. This person's name is Robyn Adams. Ms. Adams was in the Orange County jail at the same time Ms. Anthony was and had information, which Ms. Anthony freely gave her, about how she, Ms. Anthony, treated her daughter. Inmates of correctional institutions are allowed to testify all the time at trials, yet Judge Perry kept this testimony out. This is but one egregious example of important, relevant evidence that was kept out of the trial, but there are more. From a perusal of the evidence that Judge Perry kept out, it is evident that Judge Perry didn't just want to keep out evidence that was too prejudicial, he wanted to keep out evidence that made Ms. Anthony appear too guilty.
In addition, it was disclosed on or about November 20, 2012 that computer searches relating to the homicide were found on the Anthony home computer. This is evidence that was not available for the state trial in 2011 because it was not discovered until well after the trial had ended, and it can now be used in a federal prosecution.
A third condition in the Petite Policy also applies to this prerequisite; it requires that 3 conditions be met:
A. The alleged violation involves a compelling federal interest of enduring national priority. As stated in #1 above, keeping our most valuable resource, our children, from being murdered, is both a compelling federal interest and an enduring national priority. America's children are America's future, and protecting America's future is a both compelling and enduring national priority.
B. The violation involves egregious conduct. I don’t think that anyone can argue with the fact that unjustified homicide is egregious conduct, and that egregious conduct is compounded by the fact that the victim in this case was a child less than 3 years of age. Adding insult to injury, the child's body was carelessly disposed of by tossing it into a trash dump/swamp.
C. The result in the prior prosecution was manifestly inadequate in light of the federal interest involved. In order to protect its most valuable resource, the federal government must do what is necessary to protect the lives of its youngest citizens. The not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony trial is not only manifestly inadequate in light of the federal interest, protecting our children from mortal harm, it works against this federal interest in its totality.
3. The government must believe that the defendant’s conduct constitutes a federal offense, and that the admissible evidence probably will be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction by an unbiased trier of fact.
Murder is a federal offense; there can be no argument to that point. There are also other crimes connected to this crime that Ms. Anthony could be charged with that are also violations of federal statutes. The evidence that was admitted at trial was sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction; the problem was that the trier of fact in the state’s case did not even look at that evidence. Moreover, there is relevant evidence that was not admitted in state court that could be admitted in federal court that would serve to further obtain and sustain that conviction.
We, the undersigned, believe that the prerequisites required in the Petite Policy to try someone in federal court, after state court proceedings, have been fully met, and we respectfully request that the United States Department of Justice indict Casey Marie Anthony for the murder of her daughter, Caylee Marie Anthony, and/or any and all offenses associated with that crime.
- Lanny A. Breuer, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division
I just signed the following petition addressed to: Lanny A. Breuer, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, to have Casey Anthony charged for any and all crimes associated with her involvement in the death of her daughter, Caylee Anthony. I firmly believe that the Florida state trial of Ms. Anthony was a miscarriage of justice and that justice was denied Caylee Anthony as well as the American public at large. Please look in to the possibility of filing criminal charges against Ms. Anthony. Thank you.
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