The Dangers of "Caylee's Law"

Fruitless outrage won't prevent future tragedies.

It was once suggested, as a general rule of staying alive, never to fly on an airline named after a state or the owner. As a general rule of sound government, it's also a good idea never to enact a law named after a person. Personalizing criminal law usually stems from fruitless outrage at a freakish event.

Plenty of legislators are ignoring that risk. Their proposals, all going by the name "Caylee's Law," are an understandable response to the acquittal of Casey Anthony of killing her 2-year-old daughter. Swearing when you stub your toe is also understandable, which doesn't mean it will do your toe the slightest good.

It remains an open question whether Anthony committed murder, but even if she didn't, she was guilty of shocking malfeasance. What mother who had nothing to hide would fail to report her toddler missing for 31 days? The sponsors think that alone constitutes criminal neglect.

So in some 20 states, bills have been introduced making it a felony not to report a child's disappearance within a given time—eight hours, 24 hours, or 48 hours. Some would also make it a crime not to report a child's death within one or two hours. If such a law had been in effect in Florida three years ago, Anthony might have gotten a lengthy sentence despite the murder acquittal.

It seems to have gone unnoticed that she did get a lengthy sentence—one year each on four counts of lying to law enforcement officers, almost all of which (with credit for good behavior) she had already served. Florida can blame itself for leniency on that offense. If she had given her false statements to a federal investigator, Anthony could have incurred five years in prison per lie.

For people given to homicide, the proposed change would have zero deterrent effect. If Anthony was willing to overlook the laws against murder, she would not have been fastidious in complying with a reporting rule.

The point of these measures is retribution against a single villain who allegedly escaped the severe penalty she deserved. But a law specifically aimed at preventing a repeat of today's notorious case will almost certainly be irrelevant to the shocking crime of tomorrow. In these instances, the unforeseen and surprising are the norm.

From the push for Caylee's Law, you might assume the problem with American justice is that there are not enough criminal laws on the books. In fact, there are some 4,400 such statutes at the federal level alone, on top of thousands more enacted by the states.

So pervasive are the prohibitions that journalist and lawyer Harvey Silverglate titled a book Three Felonies a Day to suggest how often an ordinary person may unwittingly risk imprisonment. If there is anything prosecutors lack, it's not grounds on which to investigate or indict citizens.

Targeting parents who fail to report missing kids on a government-approved schedule will probably accomplish nothing useful. Conscientious adults with grounds for concern already call the cops. But the change would burden police with trivial cases that would soon resolve themselves.

Already kids are reported missing at the rate of more than half a million a year, usually because they run away or neglect to tell parents where they are. A 2002 Justice Department study noted that "all but a very small percentage are recovered fairly quickly."

But a mother whose son has a habit of absconding and reappearing could go to prison for exercising sensible patience. A divorced dad whose ex-wife gets angry when he's tardy returning the kids from a weekend outing could give new meaning to "custodial parent."

Cops, meanwhile, would be swamped with cases that are beyond their capacity to investigate and don't need investigating. Northwestern University law professor Ronald Allen says parents with rebellious adolescents "will go to the police, and the police will say, 'This is the fourth time, right?' And the cops will do nothing."

Or maybe they won't. But if they leap to locate all the absentees whose parents previously would not have seen the need to report them, police will have less time to focus on the few missing children who need urgent action.

These measures are good for channeling anger about something horrible that can't be undone. But put them aside until passions have cooled, and chances are they will not be missed.

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  • ||

    Florida can blame itself for leniency on that offense. If she had given her false statements to a federal investigator, Anthony could have incurred five years in prison per lie.

    Why not simply death for lying to our overlords?

    In an article about the danger of expanding criminal law to cover an individual who was not convicted, you mention a potential expansion of Florida criminal law? About lying to the cops, no less?!

    No, the answer is to accept that just because someone who is most likely guilty is acquitted: OJ, Michael Jackson, this bimbo, is no reason for the rest of us to lose Liberty, or to increase the power of the State.

    Occasionally, guilty people will be let off. Since it is a human system administered by human beings, mistakes will be made. The ONLY alternative is to find every single person accused guilty.

  • Nancy Grace||

    The ONLY alternative is to find every single person accused guilty.

    Sounds good to me.

  • Liberty Belle||

    Right, until you're the one wrongly accused and found guilty.

  • ||

    our legal system is based on the concept that it is better that 10 guilty men (or hawt wimmins) go free than one innocent be convicted.

    people who don't like that can suck on it!

  • Almanian||

    What dunphy said

  • ||

    It's hard for them to suck on that concept after they have been sucking on Nancy Grace for months.

  • ||

    especially if they're cops...

  • Doug||

    +1

  • Hit, then run||

    Sometimes it's a relief to crap in your pants.

  • NotSure||

    I say that the government inserts chips in every new born baby, that way every child can be monitored in case they have a bad parent. I mean if it saves just one life it can't be bad, look at the TSA and how many lives they have saved.

  • GroundTruth||

    About 10 years from now, this won't be the joke you think it is.

  • Realist||

    Five tops!

  • CrazyPianoMan||

    Sounds like fun. 1984 has come and gone and we still haven't got our Orwellian world. We need to hurry it up people!!

  • Homeland Security||

    We're working on it as fast as we can, sir.

  • Untermensch||

    Look at the comments on Balko’s article on Huffington Post (it makes a similar argument) and it's clear that these arguments are wasted on the people who need to consider them. Supporters of the law want to do something for poor baby Caylee, etc., etc. They see law as a tool for registering moral outrage, not as a way to regulate human behavior in the least onerous way. In addition, even those with the willingness to admit that there are cases where the proposed laws might cause problems keep maintaining that prosecutors wouldn’t use the law against innocent parents. How any of those Nancy Grace-watchers could not realize that prosecutors would use laws against innocent people is beyond me given their idol’s track record as a prosecutor and in calling for the blood of people on her show who turn out to be innocent.

    But beyond that, if a law is not meant to apply universally, why is it a law? If the act itself isn’t bad—something the more intelligent of Nancy Grace’s watchers even perceive—why prohibit it?

    But some of the people commenting on Balko’s article want the rules to be even stricter than those proposed. Why let practical effects and concerns get in the way of those baying for blood? This whole thing is a perfect example of why we end up with so many crappy laws on the books.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    We live in a society raised on moral outrage as a substitute for reason and rational thought.

    Povich, Donahue, Jones, Rivera, Savage, Grace....

  • Realist||

    All the pundits on Fox News.

  • ||

    Hannity supported the verdict and agreed the prosecutor didn't make his case. Hannity and Geraldo were not slamming the verdict.

  • ||

    You can take Rivera out of that list, for this issue anyway.

  • ||

    i would also note there are some very good critiques of balko's logic on THIS law at volokh.com which is generally quite libertarian, and with quite educated and experienced legal minds.

    again, MOST kneejerk legislation is bad, however those who think that a law requiring parents ot notify law enforcement that their child is missing is a bad law, need to support WHY it is a bad law with actual arguments, not nancy grace jokes and such.

    is there a substantial liberty interest in protecting the "right" of a parent NOT to report their child missing after, for example, their knowign the child to be missing for 3 days?

    if so, what are those legitimate interests and how do they outweigh the reasons to have such a law?

  • Untermensch||

    Dunphy, I tried to find the Volokh article that was critical and failed to find it. I did, however find a very positive take on Balko’s article there, so I wonder what you are referring to. Can you supply a link?

    I think there are legitimate interests. If I have a child who makes a habit of running away for a week or so and hiding out at friends’ houses but always comes back, what good does involving the police do after 24 hours when I know it is in character for him? If anything, making such a call invites the involvement of social services, child protective services, or other agencies of the state that are quite likely to make things even worse through their officious meddling.

    Now if one of my children vanished, I would report it very quickly, law or no law, because I know my children and know that they would not vanish without cause. But this law applies a uniform standard for evaluating the behavior of parents that does not allow for individual circumstance or parental knowledge of what is or is not likely to be an actual issue.

    Given the alternatives of not complying (felony charges) or complying (bringing in CPS), I can see many parents opting to risk the felony charge in the expectation that Jr. will emerge as he has always done in the past. When he does not do so, the likelihood of felony charges may substantially exacerbate the problem of non-reporting of the missing child since the felony charges are the likely result.

    It is very easy, as an abstract principle, to state what parents should or should not do and to argue that there is no substantial liberty interest to be protected by opposing such a law, but that argument is fundamental question begging since we cannot, a priori, know what those interests are and whether they are fundamental. I would argue it actually fails on its face given the heavy hand of the CPS and other organizations that routinely cause more harm to families but which would routinely follow upon reporting.

    So while I would report my children missing, I have known many people who would wait due to bad experiences with the state on previous occasions or because they know that their missing child is repeating a predictable pattern.

    I do not see how this law could not cause more harm than good overall.

  • rather||

    I don't this proposed law applies to teenage runaways but to children under 13?

  • Untermensch||

    P.S. Nancy Grace jokes are always appropriate.

  • ||

    i am going to stand corrected. wherever i read the legal article about caylee's law that i referenced, it was apparently NOT volokh.com

    the only article i can find at volokh.com is the ilya somin article which *is* critical of caylee's law

    when yer wrong, yer wrong. so, i humbly stand corrected.

    oh btw, just to clarify about the "running away" thing, that's why such a law has an age distinction. heck, in my agency, we can't classify a child under a certain age *as* runaway. they are automatically filtered into our missing persons investigations.

    sure, an 8 yr old CAN run away, but a missing 8 yr old is much more likely to be in peril vs. a 16 yr old - the latter of whom routinely run away.

    but again, i was wrong, so i apologize

  • Untermensch||

    Dunphy, I've always liked reading your comments because you seem to be one of the few here who isn’t totally doctrinaire and who can admit to shades of gray. So even if I disagreed with you on this issue, it was an honor to have you disagree with me.

  • ||

    i appreciate that. cheers

  • Realist||

    Three days???? Let's make it one!

  • ||

    if a parent is trying to protect their child because they think the child may be doing something illegal (like a weekend getting high or eloping with their underage BF or GF), I can think of some damn good reasons why parents would not want to report their child missing to the police.

  • jtuf||

    As a general rule, laws named after dead children are a bad idea.

  • ||

    absolutely correct. however, it does not follow that all such laws are.

    the amber alert law for example is not.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amber_alert

    these laws have saved lives and without encroaching on liberty interests, unless the right to listen to the radio or see highway signs without pesky advisements about recently abducted children is a liberty interest.

    again, GENERALLY speaking you are correct.

    but amber alert is a notable exception

  • SFC B||

    You did read the third section where independent studies indicate that Amber Alerts don't actually do anything to help children who really are in danger? "Crime control theater" is how the researchers described it.

  • ||

    yes, i DID read that. that's why it's called "controversies" section. imo, the bulk of the evidence is that the amber alert has been a significant net positive. it does not therefore follow that there are not valid criticisms and that my opinion is not proven beyond all doubt

    in the real world, facts are often not rock solid proven and there IS room for debate.

  • ||

    Amber Alerts do nothing but snarl traffic. In our area, 19 times out of 20, the Amber Alert is issued because a non-custodial parent (usually a father) took off with the kid. How dare those fathers actually want to see their own kid for which the state demands they pay support, anyway.

    Gagatrocious child-named laws such as Amber Alert or Caylee's Law are just another way in which parents willingly cede responsibility for the choices they make to the gub'mint. They can't be bothered to supervise their own kids, so let's make a law so that it becomes the job of all their fellow citizens, including law enforcement, to do damage control.

    AFAIC, if your child disappears because you can't be bothered to supervise the kid, or because you killed it (because it was harshing your party lifestyle), the only name law that I care about is already being enforced: Darwin's Law.

  • Some Guy||

    In our area, 19 times out of 20, the Amber Alert is issued because a non-custodial parent (usually a father) took off with the kid.

    I was pretty sure that such cases were explicitly not eligible for Amber Alerts. Unless that varies by state.

  • mr simple||

    There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese.

  •  ||

    What about arguing with strangers on the internet?

  • ||

    a law i learned trading futures.

    never use more than 3:1 leverage on index futures

    and ALWAYS set a stop order

  • NotSure||

    No arguing with strangers, no involvement with women with dagger tattoos, is there any point of living anymore ?

  •  ||

    No. Would you like to borrow my noose?

  • NotSure||

    Or we could argue with each other, and live another day.

  • ||

    the premise of the argument is correct, however the conclusion is not. kneejerk laws are almost always bad, but they are not always bad.

    you can't judge the validity of a law solely on the basis of it being a response to a bad incident. it's suggestive, not dispositive.

    there are many important liberty interests. the liberty of a parent to not be subject to prosecution for failing to report their own missing child knowing that the child is missing , especially under a certain age, after say (for example) 48 hours.

    that's an entirely reasonable law.

    i'd just make a simple proposal. there ARE far too many laws on the books.

    if the legislators want to pass such a law, they should have to choose some OTHER law to throw out, to maintain "balance"

    for example, there is no justifiable liberty interest in having a right not to report one's missing child to law enforcement. especially considering the long recognized concept that a parent has affirmative duties in caring for children (one has no duty to report or help an injured/dying person who is not your child, for instance. you can simply ignore them and suffer no legal penalty)

    however, there are substantial liberty interests in many self regarding (or regarding between two consenting adult) behaviors such as drug use, prostitution, etc.

    so, the legislature should only pass such a law if they can rescind some ACTUAL LIBERTY ENCROACHING law of which there are plenty to choose from

    it's a fair trade.

    laws that are "for the children" are very often misguided and libery encroaching.

    a law that requires a parent to report their child missing, if in fact they are, is a "for the children law" that doesn't upset any legitimate interests

  • Nancy Grace||

    You're my favorite commenter on this site, dunphy.

  • ||

    that's a cute trolling attempt, but it's still based on the same logical fallacy that ANY law made in response to a tragedy is NECESSARILY a bad law.

    a law requiring parents to notify law enforcement that their child is missing (given a certain period of time) is reasonable.

    if it is not reasonable, and does not properly balance liberty interests of parents with legitimate interests of a third party (the child) - then explain WHY

    merely using the functional equivalent of an ad hom argument doesn't qualify.

    the vast majority of kneejerk legislation is bad. it doesn't therefore follow that all kneejerk legislation is bad

    so address the instant case

  • NotSure||

    Perhaps providing a concrete example could help your cause, I doubt you will find one though.

  • ||

    again, that;s a nice evasion of the issue but it's exactly that. an evasion of the issue.

    i can't recall any kneejerk legislation i have ever supported whether it was the four loko ban, the ephedrine ban, the assault weapons ban.

    however, again... just because kneejerk legislation is usually bad is not "proof' that this legislation is bad

  • NotSure||

    It is very easy to prove everyone wrong who says "all knee jerk laws are wrong", one example would do it. To win your case you just need one, a single measly one. The only one evading is you.

  • ||

    these are concepts of law, notsure.

    the issue is , if THIS law is bad, then explain why.

    so far, the argument has been nancy grace jokes and "kneejerk laws r bad, ok"

    there is no way to "prove" a prospective law is good or bad. this isn't a logical proof, it is about concepts of liberty and responsibility.

    again, can you offer an actual argument or do you have evasions still?

    we both concede most kneejerk laws are bad, as are most "do it for the children" laws, however not all are (for example, childseat laws are "for the children" but are good laws. at one point, those WERE kneejerk laws. )

    so again, what;'s the actual argument against a law requiring a parent to report their child missing?

    do you have one?

  • NotSure||

    Back to square one, it is a bad law because ALL knee jerk laws are bad, of EVERY country through out ALL history. There is no law that can protect against bad parents, unless all children are micro chipped. ALL tyrannies were created via knee jerks, no other way.

    Child seat laws are not a good law, because they achieved nothing, other than giving cops more oppurtunities to fine people.

  • ||

    the fact that you say child seat laws achieved nothing shows you are not seriously commenting or are astoundingly ignorant.

    so, thanks for clearing that up

  • Quetzalcoatl||

    I guess, just to make an attempt, I'd say that the proposed notification times are too short.

    If your 2 year old has been missing for 24-48 hours, then that's one thing. But a 13 year old may merit more time, as would a 17 year old.

    The other issue, which I believe Balko raised, is that a parent who finds their child dead may go through any number of reactions. There have been cases of people who continue to live with their spouse's corpse without reporting it because they suffer a mental break. So I think that there definitely needs to be more leniency there.

  • Quetzalcoatl||

    One other problem that I have with this specific law is that it may be difficult/impossible to determine WHEN a parent noticed the child was missing. I can't think of a way to determine that.

    So in that case, it seems better not to pass an unenforceable law.

  • NotSure||

    A normal parent does not need the law to tell them that if their child has gone missing, this is a serious matter. So this law only makes sense for the bad parents, but if the parent is bad, they are likely not going to care what the law states anyway.

  • ||

    that's true of many laws like bank robbery and murder, even

    laws, to some extent, create incentive and disincentives to obey them, but no law can MAKE an irresponsible person obey it

  • NotSure||

    Actually Reason magazine has tons of articles about supposedly such "indefensible" laws, read some of them, you will start to spot a pattern.

    What did the child seat laws achieve ? Other than boost the ego of your nanny state.

  • ||

    many laws are defensible, many aren't.

    the issue is that parents have an affirmative duty in many respects to provide for their children's safety.

    just for clarification, i am referring to seats for kids under 2 yrs of age.

    if there is one thing that is demonstraby true, btw, it is that our country is MUCH MUCH safer when it comes to highway safety (per capita and per mile driven) over the last several decades, which is a combined influence of

    1) better DUI enforcement
    2) improved car safety
    3) car seats

    etc. etc.

    and it's not my nanny state. i am against, for example, seatbelt laws. i'm a libertarian.

    when it comes to people under the age of 2, who clearly can't make their own decisions and who are not biologically capable of being safe in a seatbelt, it's an entirely different matter

    we can agree on shit like happy meal bans and probably most shit.

    but if you think a parent should be able to hold a 2 yr old on their lap while they motor down the freeway, we are going to disagree

  • Ray Ray||

    .... kids are in car seats until they are, like, 13 now. They have to be about 5 feet tall to sit without one.

  • ||

    dunphy is pointing out that generalization is a fallacy. Logically he doesn't need an example to prove that.

  • ||

    logically, dunphy should go back to fellating the LEO's before they notice his absence.

  • NotSure||

    Here is a novel idea instead of having the laughable (sorry but it truly is laughable) concept of assigning a maximum quota of laws the government is allowed to play with. How about creating something which sets up the limits of what governments can do to people, perhaps one can call that thing a constitution or something.

  • ||

    that's groovy, but please explain why a law requiring parents to notify law enforcement of a missing child would be unconstitutional or should be (normative is fine, if you like).

    the law has long recognized for good reason, a positive duty (legal) between parent and child that does not exist between two random people.

    if i see a guy bleeding to death i have no legal duty to even call 911 to help the person out , let alone provide medical care (actually, (*i* have such a duty as a medical responder and LEO but an average person does not).

    contrarily, if YOUR child is bleeding out and you don't do anything, that is legitimately prosecuted under child neglect laws.

    there is an affirmative duty because of
    1) the special relationship established between parent/child as a protective role
    2) the recognitition that a minor is not fully responsible for their own safety like an adult

    hth

  • ||

    oh, and btw of course it's laughable. it's called a joke (the thing about a maximum # of laws)

  • NotSure||

    Care to point out the parent/child clause in the US constitution ?

  • ||

    care to point out how that is relevant?

    are you actually going to make an argument that laws under the parent/child relationship are not constitutionally valid?

    should a parent be able to withold food and water from a child until the child starves to death?

    the law has long established a DUTY of parents to act in certain ways in regards the welfare of their child. the law does not recognize such a duty of one average person towards another, though

    it's distinguishable under the law.

    do you disagree with this distinction?

  • NotSure||

    Well where is this duty clause then, why not point out it. Let me guess: the catch all "general welfare" is what you were thinking of.

  • ||

    you don't understand constitutional law if you can ask this question

    the constitution does not have to have a specific clause in order for a state law prohibiting certain behavior to be constitutional

    that's not how constition WORKS

    the constitution defines limits on govt.

    iow, what laws CANNOT be passed because they violate the bill of rights and/or how certain procedures work (constitution talks about things like senate composition, etc.)

    seriously, this is pretty basic shit.

    there is nothing in the constitution that authorizes, let alone mandates a state to criminalize rape, for instance.

    yet, states can criminalize rape.

  • ||

    that's not how constition WORKS

    the constitution defines limits on govt.

    Actually, I completely disagree with this, and it is not a trivial distinction. The Constitution defines what the government CAN do, not the other way round. The bill of rights exists because a group of lawmakers wanted to be absolutely sure that people in the future got the point. There was another group who opposed the adoption of the bill of rights, not because the disagreed with the content, but because they worried that future generations would misconstrue the existence of the bill of rights to be a listing of all of the things government cannot do. They all clearly saw the constitution as a document authorizing a certain limited authority to the government. Any power beyond that specifically authorized in the constitution is reserved to those providing the authorization (the people and the states). It says so right in the document.

    To your main point, states have their own constitutions which authorize them with their own sets of powers. They are not the same as the federal constitution so the states have different powers. Included among those powers are most criminal laws.

  • ||

    NotSure - These are STATE LAWS we are talking about. The Constitution has nothing to do with it.

  • NotSure||

    Are state laws allowed to bypass the constitution ?

  • sarcasmic||

    If federal laws bypass the constitution, I don't see why state laws should be held to it either.

  • ||

    no. and there is no constitutional PROHIBITION on caylee's law. furthermore, caylee's law at least is being proposed on state by state basis, thank god, and not some sort of federal fiat

  • ||

    this begs the question that caylee's law "bypasses the constitution" which is meaningless drivel.

    nobody, not even the fiercest critic of caylee's law is arguing that caylee's law is unconstitutional

  • Casey Anthony ||

    I have my right to pursue happiness, I can't go party all night if I have to hang around the police station telling them my kid has disappeared.

  • HermanLame||

    Remember, as the Constitution was originally envisioned, excluding specific areas, its prohibitions were intended to apply to federal law and federal actions. At the state law level, it was left to state legislatures to flesh out the limits on the law/protections for liberty (hopefully in a libertarian rather than statist direction). I am pretty sure something like Caylee's law would be defensible under the 10th Amendment, as well.

  • Untermensch||

    This sort of argument about abstract principles in the face of the common-sense principle that if you bring the bugger into this world you (and not someone else) are responsible for him is the sort of reason people think libertarians are heartless pigs who care only about money.

    Is this really the sort of argument you want to make: that because the U.S. Constitution does not obligate parents to care for their children that laws cannot assume that there is some sort of relationship there that needs to be given extra weight?

    If we start applying that principle to all laws we’ll find that many reasonable laws wouldn’t work because they aren't explicitly addressed in the Constitution. But the founders accepted the general framework of Common Law, so we get all sorts of things that aren’t declared there. As a minarchist, I don’t find it problematic at all to see it enshrined in law that parents have an obligation not to neglect or harm their children. I do have a major problem with the delegation of enforcement of such laws to administrative agencies, but that's a separate issue.

  • ||

    yes, exactly. children are not adults. i know some reasonoids think that spanking should be criminal assault (i disagree), as one example

    two things are clear: parents have affirmative duties regarding kids (something adults do NOT have generally speaking vis a vis other adults, not even spouses in most cases), and ALSO substantial authority.

    parents can spank kids. can't spank an adult w/o consent

    parent can lock a kid in their room (within reasonable period of time). do that to an adult and risk unlawful imprisonment charges

    a kid has no right to self defense for being spanked btw. i arrested a 15 yr old a couple of weeks ago for assaulting her parent after she spanked the girl. IF the kid had been an adult it would have been valid self defense. but it wasn't.

    no rational human being, i think we agree, argues against the concept of special parental duties AND authority. (except a few funhouse mirror libertarians). there is substantial room to argue WHERE the limits of these concepts exist

  • sarcasmic||

    I like the Heinleinian bicameral legislature outlined in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress where one house needs a two thirds majority to pass laws and the other needs a one third vote to repeal them.
    Think about it. One house's sole duty is to repeal laws. People running for office not on what they will do, but what they will undo. And they only need one third's support to do it.
    Meanwhile the lawgivers need two thirds to pass anything.

  • ||

    there are leftist idiots (redundant i know) on daily kos who actually claim that heinlein was a liberal, not a libertarian.

    lol

  • Some Guy||

    if the legislators want to pass such a law, they should have to choose some OTHER law to throw out, to maintain "balance"

    And the unintended consequence would be to have a whole bunch of combined laws that only count as one.

  • TRTB||

    All this needless tip-toeing around the issue. Just pass a law that if everyone knows you're guilty, the judge can overturn the jury's verdict. Problem solved.

  • Charles Lynch||

    I like the way you think.

  • Jane Lynch||

    As do I.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    There definitely needs to be a waiting period between voting on a law and the outrage that spawned it. I'm thinking two years and three months. (It can't be on the anniversary.)

  • sarcasmic||

    It was once suggested, as a general rule of staying alive, never to fly on an airline named after a state or the owner.

    If Huffy made an airplane would you fly in it?

  • Quetzalcoatl||

    Balko did it first.

  • ||

    "There ought to be a law"

    The Statist response to anything and everything.

  • GregorySmith3||

    What if the parents are on one of those 180 days cruises around the world while the kids stay with the butler or the maid? Will the help get charged when they fail to report the disappearance in a timely manner or will the parents get charged?

    Either way, cases like Caylee are uncommon. This law will be meaningless and seldom applied, hopefully.

  • sarcasmic||

    It's the intentions that matter.

    Results are meaningless.

  • Quetzalcoatl||

    That's the problem, Gregoo!
    It's not illegal to be rich (yet) so we need this law so that we have some way to punish the 180-day-cruising parents of the world!
    As a bonus, we could confiscate all of their riches, which they used to commit the crime.

  • NotSure||

    WHAT ??? It is not illegal to be rich, I demand government remedy this disgrace of a problem immediately !!!

  • ||

    Why wait? Let's confiscate it all now, just in case they might commit crimes later. btw, head injuries still rank high in car crashes (regardless of seat belts)... better make a law requiring helmets in cars.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm sure someone wealthy enough to do all that cruising could afford enough legal representation to get away with most any crime.

  • GregorySmith3||

    Damn, nobody's making fun of me? Did I say something smart? ;)

  • Quetzalcoatl||

    Ya did good, kiddo.

  • Almanian||

    + Gregoooooo!!

  • ||

    our legal system is based on the concept that it is better that 10 guilty men (or hawt wimmins) go free than one innocent be convicted.

    That's why the police should just shoot them before they get into the system.

  • NotSure||

    It is one way of solving the overcrowded prison problem.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    It's not going to do a thing to solve the coming Peak Cemetary problem, though.

  • JohnE||

    I did not closely follow the trial.(I have a life) it did not look to me like the prosecution proved their case. That means you acquit her. I am convinced she killed that kid but the state still needs to prove it for her to go to jail and they did not do that..

  • ||

    the prosecution made the same mistake they made in amadou diallo, they overcharged.

    there were a # of substantial problems with their case, including the argument from one witness about being able to distinguish HUMAN decompisition from decompisition. i've smelled dead humans and dead whales, and trust me , it just smells

  • sarcasmic||

    Are you saying she had a dead whale in her trunk?

  • Almanian||

    It could have been a chick from Jezebel - same thing.

  • Quetzalcoatl||

    dead whales

    ... Ahab?

  • ||

    I thought the same thing. They had a lot of largely irrelevant circumstantial forensic evidence that they tried to inflate to be the key evidence. Then they tacked on a death sentence to make sure that everyone picked through every weakness in their case carefully.

    If they had just charged murder/manslaughter and left out evidence beyond the obvious - kid missing for a month, mom covered it up, then pretended it was a kidnapping for another month, grandparents report car smelled like dead body, dead body found hidden near home with effects that could all be traced to home - they have a pretty open-and-shut case. But they took a 3 hour case and made a month out of it. I've heard several people argue that "there was not a shred of DNA linking Anthony to the murder - so you must acquit". This is what happens when you over-promote the forensics and throw everything at the wall hoping something will stick.

    As a side note, if I'm ever accused of anything criminal, I hope the jury has a similar standard. The DA says I'm guilty of lying to Congress? I want the jury to say "where's the DNA proof!?!"

  • ||

    ""I've heard several people argue that "there was not a shred of DNA linking Anthony to the murder - so you must acquit".""

    Some do say that. Sadly a cop got away with rape in NYC for that reason. One of the jurors spoke out and said they thought he did raped her but couldn't convict without any DNA evidence.

    A big problem with the Anthony case was a lack of cause of death. Even the state's pathologist said he couldn't rule out accidental death.

    The prosecution tried to say the tape over the mouth caused suffocation, but appearently, they don't have a clue about how tape works. When you stick tape to a dirty wall, it falls off. Tape doesn't stick to something behind that which it is initally stuck to.

    Trying to make that the cause of death along with trying to demonize her made the defense's claim that the prosecution's case was nothing but fantasy forensics and hate ring true with the jury. Hell, not one person on the jury sided with the prosecution.

    I'm thinking the death penalty issue made mom and dad defend Casey in a way they might not have if it was a lesser charge too.

  • ||

    This. Imagine my complete surprise, many years ago, while auditing my first abdominal surgery as a student, to discover that a gutted human smelled exactly like a gutted deer.

    I don't know what the hell I was expecting, but it wasn't that.

  • ||

    That whole thing sounds like it might jsut work. Wow. Very cool indeed.

    www.complete-privacy.us.tc

  • Butts Wagner||

    Isn't not notifying authorities of a missing child possibly child abuse/neglect or some other existing law? A jury shouldn't need a rigid law defining something like the time to notify officials of a missing child to be able to define child neglect/abuse. Either the jury believes the parent/guardian was doing enough to protect the child or not.

  • ||

    actually, that point has been made before. apparently, arguably florida's child neglect law WOULD cover the situation of not reporting the child missing for 31 days.

    the prosecutor CHOSE not to charge that law, since they went full bore for murder and didn't want to muddy the waters.

    again, arguably a tactical mistake

    much like overcharging murder in the first place was

  • ||

    Well it's not too late is it? It's not double jeopardy if it's not the same crime.

  • Realist||

    The fucking thumpers on Fox News have their pitch forks!

  • ||

    right, because the punditz at MSNBC, CNN etc. aren't also doing the outrage thing?

  • ||

    Sure, but the pitchfork brigade has been led by Nancy Grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell and the folks over at FOX (especially O'Reilly). Others have been bad, but not quire as bad.

  • Untermensch||

    Nancy Grace is CNN. And she is by far the one with the biggest pitchfork.

  • Almanian||

    I still remember the absolute PANIC that set in when I "lost" my older daughter at a highland dance competition for about...oh, 2 minutes when she was 5 or 6 years old. She'd wandered over to the announcer's table - they announced missing girl, I walked over - all is well.

    So, to not report a little kid for...31 fucking DAYS? REALLY? That's unfathomable to me.

    With that said, I can envision several scenarios (such as those Chapman mentioned, incl messy divorces, simple errors in understanding who was where when, etc.) that could lead to severely-ugly unintended consequences.

    I, too, think "[name of dead kid] Laws" are almost always bad. This is one such proposed law.

  • A Serious Man||

    We don't need another law, just as long as some family member sues Casey Anthony for wrongful death so that she'll never make a penny off of this.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Their proposals, all going by the name "Caylee's Law," are an understandable response to the acquittal of Casey Anthony of killing her 2-year-old daughter.

    Meanwhile, legislator Anonymous Coward is quietly slipping amendments into each bill banning the proposition of bills that do not contain the subject matter of the bill in the title of the bill.

    What mother who had nothing to hide would fail to report her toddler missing for 31 days? The sponsors think that alone constitutes criminal neglect.

    A blindingly irresponsible one. And before you repeat "31 days" yes, there are human beings in the world, who survive to puberty and the legal age for copulation, who are that fucking stupid. Impregnating stupid women is almost a sport for some. Some are so stupid that they will lose track of their child for days on end and not care because they are otherwise occupied (with partying or some other such activity).

    But who cares about little, unimportant things like physical evidence of a violent crime? The ravenous mob must be appeased.

    Vox populi, vox dei.

  • ||

    I propose passing a law that mandates flogging to death shithead politicians that write up laws like this

  • Matt||

    "In fact, there are some 4,400 such statutes at the federal level alone, on top of thousands more enacted by the states."

    Government should take some cues from fantasy baseball -- you're only allowed a certain number of roster on your team, and you're only allowed to pass a certain number of laws. If those laws can't get it done, they suck and should be dropped so you can add the laws that actually hit home runs (or send people actually guilty of a violent crime to jail).

  • ||

  • longqi||

    http://playwowgame.com
    "In fact, there are some 4,400 such statutes at the federal level alone, on top of thousands more enacted by the states."

  • longqi||

    I propose passing a law that mandates flogging to death shithead politicians that write up laws like this

    http://intel-amd-via.com

  • coniefox||

    Maybe enact a law named after a person will make people profound impact, but i think it's a lack of respect for person.

  • ||

    Just look at 'em. I know, right?!? Pretty sah-weet.

  • ||

    We know that millions of women in the U.S. kill their babies every year; before they were born of course, so that makes it all right according to some. Now some pinheads want to make a special law because one mother waited too long to decide to kill her kid?? Hypocrites!

  • SFJD||

    I really, REALLY don't want to sound callous, because the death of a child is a terrible child.

    But, any law named after a dead child is almost guaranteed to be a bad idea.

  • scarpe Nike Store||

    is good

  • nike shox||

    is good

  • Casey Anthony Shirt||

    Support Caylee's Law!

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