Lawmakers introduce 'Caylee's Law' to both N.J. houses
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Sen. Sacco introduces law named after dead Florida child
State Sen. Nicholas J. Sacco (D-Hudson) on Monday introduced "Caylee's Law," a bill designed to make New Jersey among the first states in the nation to require parents to promptly report a missing child.
Named for Caylee Anthony, a Florida child who was not reported missing for 31 days after her disappearance and was later found dead in December 2008, the bill seeks to protect other children from suffering the same tragic fate. Under current law, failing to report a death is a disorderly person offense, and there is no set timeframe for reported a child missing.
“No matter the outcome of the Casey Anthony trial, it is clear that more needs to be done to protect children, and this bill does that,” Sacco said. “I cannot think of any situation in which the parents of a young child would be justified in not calling the police immediately if their son or daughter went missing. Hopefully, this law will prevent other children from befalling the same sad, tragic fate as Caylee.”
The proposal would make the failure by a parent or guardian to report a missing child under the age of 13 to law enforcement within 24 hours a fourth degree crime, punishable by imprisonment of up to 18 months, a fine of up to $10,000 or both. It also would upgrade the failure to report a death to the appropriate authorities in a timely manner or disturbing evidence of a death from a disorderly persons offense to a fourth degree crime.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) is sponsoring an identical bill in the Assembly that he plans to introduce at its next session.
HB 37 - Offenses by Caregivers of Minor Children
GENERAL BILL by Diaz and Plakon (CO-SPONSORS) Abruzzo; Ahern; Brodeur; Broxson; Corcoran; Garcia; Julien; Nuñez; Porth; Ray; Rouson; Smith; Soto; Steinberg; Trujillo; Williams, T.
Offenses by Caregivers of Minor Children: Designates act "Caylee's Law"; penalizes failure of caregiver, willfully or by culpable negligence, to make contact with child under specified age in his or her care for certain period & to immediately report child as missing to law enforcement after that period expires without contact in certain circumstances; provides enhanced criminal penalties in certain circumstances; requires caregiver of minor child to report child's death to law enforcement agency within specified period in certain circumstances; requires caregiver of minor child to report location of child's corpse to law enforcement agency within specified period in certain circumstances; provides enhanced criminal penalties for caregiver of minor child who knowingly & willfully gives false information with specified intent to law enforcement officer conducting missing person investigation or felony criminal investigation involving child.
Effective Date: July 1, 2012
Last Event: Filed on Thursday, July 07, 2011 10:54 AM
UPDATE II: The Florida Senate wants in, too. Here's a letter Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman Greg Evers just sent to Senate President Mike Haridopolos:
"Dear President Haridopolos:
"In the days following the verdict of the Casey Anthony trial, I have received numerous emails from concerned citizens that Florida law was not adequate to protect the safety and welfare of our children. While I respect the judicial process and the burden of proof that exists in such cases, I join my fellow Floridians in voicing concern about any inconsistencies or inadequacies in the law that could potentially lead to future issues such as this. One of the greatest privileges afforded to us as Americans is the presumption of innocence and a trial by a jury of our peers, and while I would never have wanted to be in the shoes of those Pinellas county jurors, I do feel it is imperative that we explore this issue further and, as a body, discuss any necessary changes to Florida law.
"As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, I respectfully ask that you allow our committee to dedicate its first fall meeting to discuss any potential changes that can and should be made to our criminal and civil laws that protect our most vulnerable citizens. At your direction, I am requesting to hold subsequent workshops on the issue, as necessary, to ensure the Senate takes a thoughtful and measured approach while avoiding potential unintended consequences.
"Thank you for your time and consideration in this important matter."
This Caylee Law is in it's infancy and I am sure is going to have to be tweaked before it actually becomes a law.
The problem with both BillRM's posts, and the article that Boomerang posted, is that they do not refer to actual legislation which is being currently proposed in state legislatures--which is nowhere as broad as the Caylee's Law petition originally posted on change.org. I don't believe in opposing legislation before you've even read the actual bills and found out what they contain.
Within minutes of the Casey Anthony verdict, much of America devolved into the mass media equivalent of a mob bearing torches and pitchforks. Twitter lit up with calls for vigilante justice, and proposals that we revoke the Fifth Amendment's protection against double jeopardy (or at least that we revoke it for Casey Anthony). Nancy Grace nearly spit fire, proclaiming, "The devil is dancing tonight." Conservative syndicated columnist Ben Shapiro wants to change the jury system entirely.
Even as DNA testing continues to exonerate wrongly convicted people, including people who were nearly executed, it's this rare case -- in which a jury recognized that there was no physical evidence linking Anthony to her daughter's murder -- that has America questioning its justice system.
High-profile trials are anomalies. They're about as far from the day-to-day goings on in police precincts, courtrooms, and prisons as your typical TV crime drama (the other place Americans get most of their (bad) information about the criminal justice system). Despite what much of the public seems to have taken away from these sorts of trials in recent years, the average person wrongly accused of a crime isn't a wealthy college lacrosse player with top-notch legal representation. Prosecutors who wrongly charge people aren't usually stripped of their law license or criminally sanctioned. (In fact, they're rarely sanctioned at all.) Black men accused of murder aren't typically represented by "dream teams" of the country's best defense attorneys. And, believe it or not, if there's a problem in the criminal justice system when it comes to children, it's that parents and caretakers are too often overcharged in accidental deaths or as a result of bogus allegations, not that they regularly get away with murder.
Even more regrettable is that every time a Casey Anthony-type trial captures the public's attention, someone gets the idea that we need a new law in response to the completely unrepresentative case, a law that presumably would have prevented that particularly travesty from happening. The problem, of course, is that the new law -- usually poorly written and passed in a fit of hysteria -- is too late to apply to the case it was designed for. But it does then apply to everyone else.
Laws named after crime victims and dead people are usually a bad idea. They play more to emotion than reason. But they're disturbingly predictable, especially when they come after the death of a child. So it's really no surprise that activist Michelle Crowder is now pushing "Caylee's Law," a proposed federal bill that would charge parents with a felony if they fail to report a missing child within 24 hours, or if they fail to report the death of a child within an hour. What's surprising is just how quickly the Change.org petition for Caylee's Law has gone viral. As of this writing it has more than 700,000 signatures, and is now the most successful campaign in the site's history. For reasons of constitutionality and practicality, it seems unlikely that Caylee's Law will ever be realized at the federal level. But according to the AP, at least sixteen state legislatures are now considering some version of the law. That's troubling.
This is a bad way to make public policy. In an interview with CNN, Crowder concedes that she didn't consult with a single law enforcement official before coming up with her 24-hour and 1-hour limits. This raises some questions. How did she come up with those cutoffs? Did she consult with any grief counselors to see if there may be innocuous reasons why an innocent person who just witnessed a child's death might not immediately report it, such as shock, passing out, or some other sort of mental breakdown? Did she consult with a forensic pathologist to see if it's even possible to pin down the time of death with the sort of precision you'd need to make Caylee's Law enforceable? Have any of the lawmakers who have proposed or are planning to propose this law actually consulted with anyone with some knowledge of these issues?
Jamie Downs is the Coastal Regional Medical Examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and co-editor of a forthcoming book on forensic ethics about Caylee's Law. Downs also formerly served on the board of directors for the National Association of Medical Examiners. Contrary to what you may have learned from watching CSI, Downs says, there's no way for a medical examiner to determine time of death in the sort of narrow window that would be necessary to enforce Caylee's Law. "I understand that people are outraged, and I understand why they'd want a law like this, but I just don't think it's a good idea. I don't see how you would enforce it," Downs says. "You just can't say for certain that a person died an hour and five minutes ago as opposed to 45 minutes ago."
If medical science can't pinpoint the time of the child's death to the minute, how else are authorities going to determine it? They can't ask the parent. A guilty person isn't going to give you an honest answer, and even an innocent parent may lie if they fear the truth could land them in prison. It also seems safe to assume that a parent's first instinct upon witnessing the death of a child isn't to look up at the clock to take note of an official time of death.
Certainly it's easy to distinguish a body that's been dead for less than hour from one that has been dead for six or seven. Presumably, Crowder and the lawmakers supporting this bill put the cutoff at one hour to prevent someone who intentionally or accidentally kills a child from having time to cover up what happened. But if that's the justification, it's all the more important that a forensic pathologist be able to nail down the time of death to the minute. And that just isn't possible.
There are myriad other problems with the one-hour requirement. What if a child dies while sleeping? When would you start the clock on the parent's one-hour window to report? From the time the parent discovers the child is dead, or from the time the child actually dies? If it's the former, can you really believe what a parent tells you if he knows a felony charge hinges on his answer? What if a parent or babysitter missed the deadline because she fell asleep at the time the child was playing outside and suffered a fatal accident? You could argue this is evidence of bad parenting or inattentive babysitting, but under those circumstances, do you really want to charge a grieving parent or heartbroken babysitter with a felony?
The portion of the bill that requires a parent to report a missing child within 24 hours is just as fraught with problems. When does that clock start? From the time the child actually gets abducted, gets lost, or is somehow killed, or at the time the parents noticed the child was missing? How do you pinpoint the time that they "noticed"? When teenager Rosie Larsen is abducted and murdered in the new AMC drama The Killing, it takes two days for her parents to notice she's missing. They thought she was spending the night at a friend's house, and she and her friends often rotated sleeping over at one another's homes on the weekends. The Killing is fiction, but this isn't an implausible scenario. Again, are we really so angry about the Casey Anthony verdict that we're prepared to charge grieving parents with a felony because it takes them longer than some arbitrary deadline to notice their child is missing?
The law and the attention it attracts could also cause problems of overcompliance. How many parents will notify the authorities with false reports within an hour or two, out of fear of becoming suspects? How many such calls and wasted police resources on false alarms will it take before police grow jaded and begin taking note of missing child reports, but don't bother investigating them until much later? How many legitimate abductions will then go uninvestigated during the critical first few hours because they were lost in the pile of false reports inspired by Caylee's Law?
It isn't difficult to come up with other scenarios where innocent people may get ensnared in Caylee's Law.
Here's another: You're camping with your family when your son goes missing. One of your other children says she last saw him swimming in a lake. You spend several hours frantically looking for him before discovering that, tragically, he has drowned. You call the police. Under Caylee's Law, is this a "missing child" case, or a "dead child" case? Do you get charged with a felony for not notifying authorities within an hour of your son's drowning, or are you afforded the 24-hour window from the time you noticed he went missing? Is this really the sort of thing we want parents to be considering while they're trying to find their child? What if your kid gets lost hiking on a camping trip where there's no cell phone reception? It could take a few hours to notice your kid is missing, another few to look for him before you begin to panic. In some cases, it may be best to keep looking than to abandon the area to notify authorities.
The counter to these hypotheticals is that a prosecutor wouldn't charge grieving parents under those circumstances. But why give them the option? Sure, it may be difficult to conceive of a prosecutor charging good parents who bear zero blame in a child's death, but it's not hard to envision a prosecutor using the notification requirements to punish parents or guardians who make subjectively poor decisions that aren't otherwise crimes. Why were you letting your kid swim in the lake unsupervised in the first place? Maybe the babysitter bears no blame for the SIDS death of the infant she was watching, but it took her two hours to notice the baby had died in his sleep because she was napping off a hangover, or making out with her boyfriend downstairs. If you find it doubtful that a prosecutor could be so vindictive, look at Mississippi and Alabama, where women who have had miscarriages are being charged with murder
all of the examples you provided speak to time frames which could create the "unintended consequences" pointed out in the opinion piece linked by boomerang.
I understand that you have your own view in this matter, but your "evidence" here did not support the smackdown you were after.
Speculating on fantasy legislation seems quite pointless. As actual legislation is proposed, and refined, within state legislatures, then it can be properly evaluated as to precise content, possible consequences, and necessity
Lawyer wants to question Casey about Caylee
Friday, 08 Jul 2011
MyFoxTampaBay.com staff report
TAMPA - It looks like we could soon hear from Casey Anthony about what happened to her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.
Tampa attorney John Morgan has served Anthony with a subpoena to appear at a deposition in a lawsuit he has filed against her.
The deposition is scheduled for July 19, two days after Anthony is scheduled to be released from jail.
Morgan is representing Zenaida Fernandez-Gonzalez in a defamation of character case.
Fernandez-Gonzalez says she lost her job, car and home after Casey Anthony said she was the nanny who had Caylee Anthony.
Morgan says because the defamation case has to do with Caylee's disappearance, he will ask Casey Anthony a long list of questions, including:
•When was the last time you saw Caylee?
•What happened to Caylee?
•What did you do, if anything after Caylee died?
•What did you do with her body if anything?
•Who was in on it with you?
•Who did you talk to about it?
Whether Casey has to answer the questions remains to be seen. Legal experts say in civil depositions, the field of questions is generally wide open. But it is not uncommon for lawyers and judges to hash out the scope of the questions before the deposition takes place.
Morgan said he will record the deposition, file it with the court, and release the video of the deposition to the public that same day.
Group seeks to recover expenses in search for Casey Anthony's daughter
By Ed Payne, CNN
July 13, 2011
(CNN) -- A search and rescue group filed a civil suit against Casey Anthony on Tuesday to recover the money the organization spent in an attempt to find her daughter Caylee during the summer and fall of 2008.
The suit by Texas EquuSearch (TES) alleges the search organization spent over $112,000 and coordinated more than 4,200 volunteers in an unnecessary attempt to locate Caylee for months after her mother knew the two-year-old girl was dead.
"Casey Anthony made ongoing misrepresentations to TES and its founder Tim Miller, and failed to correct materially false information provide to Mr. Miller in order to convince TES, its staff and volunteers to engage in extensive, costly and time-consuming searches for Caylee," the lawsuit says.
During the trial, Casey Anthony's lawyers argued that Caylee accidentally drowned in the Anthony family's above-ground pool, and that Casey Anthony and her father, George Anthony, panicked and covered up the death -- something George Anthony denied on the witness stand.
The case began drew national attention in part because Casey Anthony failed to report Caylee missing for a month, during which she moved out of her parent's home, partied in Orlando nightclubs and shopped. When confronted, she accused a nonexistent nanny of taking the girl.
Caylee's skeletal remains weren't found until December 2008, six months after she was last seen alive.
The suit asks for compensatory damages of $115,00, plus interest and attorneys' fees.
Casey Anthony, 25, is set to be released Sunday after receiving credit for time served on a four-year sentence. She was convicted of lying to police during the investigation into Caylee's disappearance. She was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges in her death.
How a Casey Anthony Interview Could Backfire on News Orgs
7:36 PM 7/8/2011
by Marisa Guthrie
Three days after being acquitted of capital murder charges in the 2008 death of her two-year-old daughter Caylee Anthony, Casey Anthony is officially a pariah.
Representatives for Jerry Springer denied a report on Friday that the syndicated talker offered Anthony, her parents George and Cindy Anthony, and her brother Lee Anthony, $1 million for a joint interview.
Adult film purveyor Vivid Entertainment rescinded an offer to Casey Anthony to star in one of its films following a public outcry from porn fans.
Steven Hirsch, co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment, said in a statement: “It’s clear to me now… that there has been an overwhelmingly negative response to our offer and so we’ve decided to withdraw it. It has become obvious to us that Vivid fans, and people in general, want nothing to do with her and that includes a XXX movie. We want to make movies that people want to watch and we now believe that we underestimated the emotional response that people are having to the verdict. A movie starring Casey Anthony is not what people want to see.”
On Thursday, Hollywood agency Paradigm, backpedaled on representing Anthony’s defense attorney Jose Baez hours after the company announced internally that it would rep Baez in TV, film and book rights.
Nevertheless, as Anthony is due to be released from jail on July 17, bookers for the broadcast and cable networks are camped in Florida working contacts in hopes of landing interviews with Anthony and her family. But the stench of checkbook journalism and the prospect that Anthony could profit from the death of her daughter is giving news executives back in New York pause.
One executive characterized any Casey Anthony interview as “hugely complicated.”
And a booker echoed that sentiment: “It’s complicated any time you’re paying somebody who everybody thinks is a killer.”
“It’s going to be one of the biggest gets,” said another booker. “But is it worth the bad press? Sometimes it’s not.”
News organizations are already feeling the heat for the widespread practice of licensing photos and videos from interview subjects. ABC News was revealed to have paid the Anthony family $200,000 in 2008 for what a network spokesperson has described as an “extensive library of photos and home video for use by our broadcasts, platforms, affiliates and international partners.” ABC News also paid meter reader Roy Kronk, who discovered Caylee Anthony’s remains, a $15,000 photo licensing fee. But it was not for a picture of the remains, rather it was for a photo of a snake. Kronk appeared on Good Morning America. He testified that the snake distracted him when he found Caylee’s skeleton. (ABC News did not pay Baez or juror Jennifer Ford.)
Now news organizations routinely disclose on-air if they’ve paid a licensing fee. And the practice has become so derided, that they take pains to disclose when they haven’t paid. Today host Ann Curry noted as much during her interview with Octomom Nadya Suleman on Friday.
News organizations dealings with Anthony, say industry observers, must be squeaky clean if they hope to preserve some semblance of journalistic integrity and also land what is sure to be a ratings bonanza. But Anthony, who is clearly estranged from her family and has no resources to speak of, has little incentive to grant a free interview.
“She’s got no interest in granting a regular news interview,” says television news analyst Andrew Tyndall. “She’s only got interest in granting a promotional interview, which is remunerative. Of course, news organizations should sit her down and say, ‘What’s your theory of what happened to your daughter?’ But that’s a news interview. There’s no prospect of an actual journalistic interview being done here, where real journalistic questions are asked and answered and we actually gain some insight into the circumstances of this case.
“Journalists, for their own self-preservation,” adds Tyndall, “should go a million miles away from this because there’s no information, just sensation.”
Did you see the CNN clip with the jury/trial consultant who said that by following the chatter on social media that the defense knew to focus on George to give the jury reasonable doubt?
Updated Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Social media guided defense in Casey Anthony case
By Walter Pacheco
The Orlando Sentinel
ORLANDO, Fla. — A consultant for Casey Anthony's attorneys analyzed more than 40,000 highly charged opinions — negative and positive — on social-media sites and blogs, and used them to help the defense craft its trial strategy.
Whether it worked is difficult to gauge, but a jury last week found Casey Anthony not guilty of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie.
"When bloggers and others in social-media sites started to attack George Anthony about his alleged mistress, the defense team beefed up their questions against him," said Fort Lauderdale-based consultant Amy Singer. "None of the bloggers ever changed their minds about him."
The innovative pro bono tactic by Singer shows how social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter could revolutionize the way lawyers defend their clients, especially in highly publicized cases such as the Casey Anthony murder trial.
"This is the first time I have heard of this kind of consulting for a trial, and it's incredible," said Florida A&M University professor Shiv Persaud. "It definitely might become a part of my curriculum in trial practice. We could benefit from a new type of tool we didn't have before."
Every day of the trial, Singer and her revolving team of at least five people scanned thousands of tweets, Facebook posts and messages from bloggers.
They gauged opinions about defense and state attorneys, witness testimonies, evidence and especially the focus of the trial: Casey Anthony.
Those opinions were presented to Casey Anthony's defense attorney, Jose Baez, who initially had his doubts about the social-media tactic. Ultimately, Singer said, Baez would decide how and what he was willing to adjust in his trial strategy.
When public opinion on Twitter or Facebook changed dramatically, Singer said she made it clear to the defense that it needed to tweak its strategy.
"A perfect example was Cindy Anthony," Singer recalled. "People hated her when she admitted to the chloroform searches, but there were many who said she lied out of motherly instinct. They felt a kinship, especially mothers. In closing, the defense softened its approach and said she lied to protect (Casey Anthony)."
Singer, a trial consultant and litigation psychologist with experience in high-profile cases such as the O.J. Simpson trial, William Kennedy Smith rape case and the Jack Kevorkian euthanasia case, said she learned plenty from the countless hours spent reading and analyzing social-media traffic.
"I've spent 32 years listening to people's reactions to trial stimulus, but it's never been anything like this," Singer said. "This whole case was driven by social media. We really tapped into people's minds, and I think it's a tool that should be used by defense and prosecution."
Danielle Tavernier of the Orange-Osceola State Attorney's Office said their prosecutors use social-media sites to locate witnesses but do not hire jury consultants.
"It's really a question of cost. We do not have the resources to spend time reviewing social media," Tavernier said. "We have other cases to prosecute, but maybe it's something that could develop in the future."
From a defense attorney's point of view, trials really aren't about seeking the truth, or about getting justice, it's all about simply convincing a jury to acquit your client. A defense attorney friend of mine once bluntly told me that what he wanted in an ideal jury was 12 suggestible morons. So, if the Casey Anthony trial showed that social media is possibly useful in targeting people's suggestible areas, we can be sure that defense lawyers will be using this info in future high profile trials.
Nor is it about seeking truth from the state point of view.
The defense just happen to be better in leading morons around this time then the state.
They were seeking the truth about what happened to Caylee.
Bullshit, they (the state) could not figure out what happened to Caylee
The state, and law enforcement, try to piece together the elements of a crime and connect them to the person they believe is responsible. That is exactly what they tried to do in the Casey Anthony trial. They were seeking the truth about what happened to Caylee.