Casey Anthony:
The Thing That Wouldn’t Die
 
ORLANDO - Good grief, it's been a month since her acquittal and she’s still in the news!  Here’s the deal: On January 26, 2010, Casey Anthony was convicted of six counts of check fraud in which she stole better than four hundred dollars from her “friend” Amy Huizenga.  Orange County Circuit Judge Stan Strickland sentenced her to 412 days in jail — credited to time served — followed by one year of probation.
 
Now here’s the rub: because she was already in jail awaiting trial for the murder of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee, Judge Strickland ordered that the probation would not begin until she was released from prison.  Due to a “scrivener's error” (a term only a lawyer could love) Casey ended up serving her probation, on paper at least, concurrently while she was in jail awaiting the murder trial.
 
Judge Strickland has now filed paperwork to correct that error, and Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. is deciding the matter as I write.
 
Serving sentences concurrently is actually very common.  In fact, Casey's 412-day sentence was allowed to be served concurrently while she awaited trial — no problema.  The problem is that Judge Strickland’s probation order was very specific and very clear.  It’s on camera.  No one is disputing what his order was and what should have been done.  The Defense is arguing that because Casey has already lawfully served and been released from her probation — and they have a letter to prove it! — that making her serve another probation would be double jeopardy.  (In fact, any additional punishment of any kind would be double jeopardy.)   Frankly, the Defense has a lot of legal ground to stand on.  The problem The Public has is that Casey Anthony, because she was in jail already, has, in effect, suffered no punishment at all, not even probation, for her check fraud convictions.  And Amy Huizenga needs justice!  “Justice for Amy!”  Casey was sentenced to one year’s probation, and, dammit, she has to pony up!
 
Here's how I tot things up:  (1) the court could either let the error slide, saying that Casey has served the probation, or (2) order her to serve the probation as intended.  The latter would mean that Casey would have to return to Orange County, Florida, to serve the probation.  The Press would certainly like this scenario, because it would drastically reduce their photo-op search area for the surprisingly elusive Casey Anthony (for the record, I don't think it's her in the TMZ photos}.  The truth is that The Press is hoping this story will go on, and on, and on, and on, and...  kind of like keeping an open wound from scabbing over.  Casey is a ratings sledgehammer.  The channel formerly known as Court TV has enjoyed its best ratings since the Great Purge of 2009.  Money, money, money.  “How long can we milk this cash cow?”  Casey Anthony is Miss Homicidal Ratings of 2011.
 
The former, letting the error slide, would allow the story to die all the sooner.
 
I am of a mixed mind:  I enjoy these media brouhahas as much as the next crime-tv fiend; they’re fun as hell.  “I just stick the aerial into my skin, and let the signal run through my veins...”  On the other hand, I think, maybe, Casey Anthony, a free woman, has the right to start over without being hounded and harassed.  Say what you will about her, she doesn’t seem to be a media whore; at least I can't think of any instances where Casey has courted the camera.  All the footage I’ve seen is from surveillance cameras or home movies.  This story seems completely media driven.
 
I am reminded of Caril Ann Fugate — remember her? — Charles Starkweather’s late-1950s spree-killing adolescent gun moll who, upon release from prison, became a useful member of society, a hospital worker, and still lives a quiet life.  I wonder if that would have been the outcome if she was found not guilty and thrown back into a venomous society unified against her.  After the unexpected Not Guilty verdicts, Casey Anthony might fuck up again, but doesn’t society owe her half a chance?  An even playing field?  Wouldn’t it be best if she became a useful member of society?  Isn't that what we all really want?  Not vengeance?
 
But here’s a more provocative question: don’t we all really want clerical errors in our favor to be legally binding?  Judge Perry’s decision might become a legal precedent (not really), cited for millennia...  “Your Honor!  Although the vast sum of money erroneously deposited into my account was clearly a typo, according to ‘State of Florida vs. Casey Marie Anthony,’ I get to keep it!”
 
Actually, it seems to be a no-lose situation: probation, the show goes on; no probation, advantageous errors become legally binding.  As I said, I am of a mixed mind.
 
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August 5. 2011
CRIME BEAT
  by Jack Tarpits    Crime
Beat
UPDATE — August 12
Judge Perry rules that Casey Anthony must report to the Department of Corrections, Orange County, Florida, no later than noon on August 26 to begin serving supervised probation.  The show goes on!
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