I have been lucky in my legal practice to really have a diverse experience. I have litigated criminal matters, hundreds of them, as well as had the opportunity to work with juvenile and dependent children in the legal justice system. So, I’d like to think I really am in a good position to speak on this. First, as to the not-guilty verdict, a jury of Casey Anthony’s peers have spoken. Casey Anthony’s parents’ recent press release stating that the jury heard the evidence and facts both scientific and non-scientific and came to a fair result, best summarizes my position on the verdict.
With legal blogging, one of the consequences has been PR companies and organizations now sending unsolicited emails to identified legal thought leaders/bloggers online. One such group is Change.org who sent me the release below. I read the release and felt, strongly, that this law was way too reactionary and does not even come close to dealing with the gray areas that often happen.
Caylee’s Law, contact your Senator and Representative: there should be a new federal law created called Caylee’s Law that will make it a federal offense for a parent or guardian to not notify law enforcement of a child going missing in a timely manner.
Let’s keep another case like Caylee Anthony out of the courts.
SHOULD PARENTS REPORT THEIR CHILDREN MISSING IN A “TIMELY MANNER?”
You bet. I think most parents would say if their children went missing even less than 15mins, they are already beyond concerned and would do something about it. After 24hours most mothers would probably be beating down the police station doors demanding they search for their babies. Accordingly, the answer to this question is an unequivocal resounding, no brainer, “yes.”
THE BIGGER QUESTION IS , SHOULD PARENTS WHO DO NOT REPORT THEIR CHILDREN MISSING IN A “TIMELY MANNER” BE CHARGED WITH A FELONY?
This question here to me cannot be answered with a blanket “Yes” as the folks at change.org propose; without thinking about the highly detrimental effect this law would have on families and children.
First, what is “timely manner?” This needs to be defined.
Second, there is a tendency to make a minority incident the majority rule when a tragic incident happens. Have those proposing this law shown that the majority in the USA go long periods not reporting their children missing?
Third, what about instances where mommy or daddy or both are away on a business trip, internationally, and child/children are left with relatives. If a child goes missing, should mommy and daddy be arrested, especially where they have no knowledge their child is missing in the first place?
Fourth, what about existing child endangerment criminal laws that can already be used against offending parents? In California, for example, California Penal Code section 273a (endangerment statute)& 273d (child abuse) could easily be used to charge a parent who does not report a missing child or death of a child. So, what is the difference with this new law?
These and many more questions arise from this new law. I don’t think it is the right direction. I think it is quite reactionary, will clog up both the criminal and dependency court systems, cost our judicial system a whole lot more money with an already thinly stretched budget. The laws are already in place. Should we decide as a society we want new laws, let’s think about the broader impact and craft carefully thought out laws that would protect the child’s best interest, which necessarily includes the family unit the child belongs to.
Caylee’s law too reactionary? I think so. Your thoughts?
MORE THAN 250,000 AMERICANS JOIN VIRAL “CAYLEE’S LAW” CAMPAIGN
Oklahoma woman’s campaign urging lawmakers to create “Caylee’s Law” attracts more than 250,000 supporters in less than 36 hours, making it Change.org’s most popular campaign of all time.
WASHINGTON, DC – In less than 36 hours, more than 250,000 people in all 50 states have joined an Oklahoma woman’s Change.org campaign calling for the creation of “Caylee’s Law,” which would make it a felony for a parent to fail to report a missing child to law enforcement.
Launched by Michelle Crowder of Durant, Oklahoma, the campaign calling for “Caylee’s Law” is already the most popular petition of all time on Change.org, the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change. The campaign’s viral momentum continues to grow, with an average of two new signatures every second, 121 every minute, and 7,292 every hour. The campaign is growing 108 times faster than what was previously Change.org’s most popular petition ever.
Crowder started the Change.org petition on Tuesday evening after Casey Anthony was found “not guilty” of first-degree murder or manslaughter in the case of her two-year-old daughter Caylee’s death, but guilty of providing false information to police. Anthony will be sentenced at 9 am today.
The Change.org campaign focuses on one of the central controversies of the case: the fact that Anthony never notified law enforcement that her daughter was missing.
When Crowder, a mother of two, was asked by CNN why she launched the Change.org petition, she told the news network, “I do not know any lawmakers or government officials; I just felt something had to be done.”
State legislators in Florida, Oklahoma, and New York have pledged to introduce bills to create Caylee’s Law in their states. Three Florida state lawmakers have already drafted versions of Caylee’s Law. Other states are expected to follow suit soon. The Massachusetts State Police spokesperson expressed support for Caylee’s Law yesterday, saying the law makes sense because “with each passing hour the chances of finding a missing child decline sharply.”
“I’m just completely and totally amazed. I didn’t expect my Change.org petition calling for Caylee’s Law to take off like this,” said Crowder. “Legislators in Florida and Oklahoma have already pledged to introduce Caylee’s Law. I hope that other states, and Congress, will also take up Caylee’s Law. We can’t afford to have another case like Caylee Anthony’s in the courts.”
The “Caylee’s Law” petition has been covered by the Associated Press, CNN, TIME, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and Patch.com/AOL as well as by local stations in many states, including Florida (also here), Massachusetts, Michigan (also here), Oklahoma (also here, here, and here) and Utah as well as Washington, D.C.
The record-breaking petition is the latest sign of the increasing impact of campaigns on Change.org, which was profiled this past week in the New York Times, Sacramento Bee, and Washington Times.
“There is extensive debate about this issue, and this campaign has been remarkable,” said Change.org founder Ben Rattray. “In less than 36 hours, a woman in Oklahoma has recruited hundreds of thousands of supporters for her cause. Change.org is about empowering anyone, anywhere, to take action on the issues that are important to them, which makes it the perfect platform for this record-breaking campaign.”
The previous record for Change.org’s most popular petition of all time was held by a campaign led by women from the townships of South Africa calling for legislative action on ‘corrective rape’, an increasingly common hate crime in which men rape lesbian women to ‘turn’ them straight. More than 170,000 people in 163 countries signed that petition. Other top Change.org campaigns have included a campaign calling for McDonald’s employees to be held responsible for the beating of a trans woman (153,000 supporters) and a campaign calling for the release of internationally acclaimed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (143,000 supporters), which led to a cyber attack on Change.org emanating from China.
Live signature totals from the “Caylee’s Law” petition on Change.org:
Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 300,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.