Why Am I Writing About Casey Anthony? Why? My Review of Jeff Ashton’s “Imperfect Justice”

Imperfect Justice: Prosecuting Casey Anthony

Jeff Ashton, with Lisa Pulitzer, HarperCollins, 2011

This summer marks the fifth anniversary of America’s biggest made-for-TV courtroom drama since the OJ Simpson case, the acquittal of Casey Anthony.

For those of you who were living under a rock beyond the reach of Nancy Grace’s voice, and with apologies to those of you who are endeavoring to forget the whole sordid affair, Florida woman Casey Anthony was the mother of Caylee Anthony, a two-year-old who went missing  in June of  2008. By the time the child’s body was found in December of that year, not far from the grandparents’ home from whence she vanished, Casey had been charged with first-degree murder, and all media hell had broken loose. The “not guilty” verdict is still stirring up emotion and controversy on the interwebs. I feel a bit “guilty” for stoking it.

Sounding like your favorite TV detective come to life, prosecutor Jeff Ashton lays out the state’s arguments with masterful logic, without losing the emotional drive needed to prosecute a crime as horrible as this. While Ashton does not shy away from describing the full horror of a little girl’s murder, he must be commended for not sensationalizing it as the media did.  He even dedicates the book to Caylee.

My beef with Mr. Ashton is that while he is more than willing to blame Casey’s mother for her enabling her daughter’s irresponsible and deceptive actions, he will not place any blame on the father. I attribute this to the law-enforcement kinship he has with Mr. Anthony, a retired police officer.  While perhaps it is not the place of a prosecutor to speculate beyond the circumstances of a crime,  in my observation a dysfunctional family is a system of dysfunctional individuals, with one person rarely bearing all the responsibility.

This is not literary gold, but it is a pleasant beach-read, if you are in to this sort of thing.

3/5 stars overall, for matter-of-fact storytelling with heart

1/5 “fraidy-cats”, because there is not much suspense, and dark deeds are viewed in hindsight

2/5 “ick-factor,” the crime is horrible, but descriptions of decomposition are medically-precise and over quickly.

 

*Note, this post is adapted from a briefer review I wrote as a summer intern at Boston College Law Library.

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