Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
July 6, 2011

Casey Anthony and justice

“An acquittal can never be appealed. This case is over forever. Journalists and historians can have their verdict, but the legal system is finished with it.” According to CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, the Casey Anthony murder trial is now closed and can never be reopened. But was justice served? That argument is only beginning.

Since the jury acquitted Caylee Anthony’s mother of her daughter’s death, the story has dominated the national news. Did Casey get away with murder? Or was she put through three years of pain while standing trial for a crime she did not commit? From what I can tell, the jury apparently believed the prosecution did not prove that the little girl’s death was a homicide. If this allegation was in doubt, her mother could not be convicted of murder no matter how bizarre her behavior in the weeks following her daughter’s death.

Yesterday I received a tweet after the verdict asking for my thoughts. Since my next law class will be my first, my legal opinions are clearly not worth your time this morning. I’d prefer to think biblically with you about this tragedy for a moment.

Where was God in the courtroom yesterday? Grieving the tragic death of his child. Jesus instructed his disciples to “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). He taught us that “whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:5). Conversely, it seems that whoever harms a child hurts Jesus. The One who wept at the grave of Lazarus (John 11:35) must have grieved terribly over the decomposing body of this precious little child. He felt the pain of every bereaved family member in the Orlando courtroom yesterday and this morning.

If justice was not done, how can God be just? Again, I have no way to know if Casey Anthony was guilty of murder. But I do know that life is not fair. The innocent are sometimes convicted, while the guilty are sometimes acquitted.

Some of God’s greatest servants “faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and caves and holes in the ground” (Hebrews 11:36-38).

And yet, “these were all commended for their faith” (v. 39). We can reject their example, or we can follow it. In an unfair, fallen world where even God is forced to grieve the tragic deaths of innocent children, we can trust our strength or his omnipotence. We can insist that we understand our broken world before we trust its Creator, or we can admit our need for his forgiveness and grace. Choose wisely.

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