July 9, 2011

An open debate on Caylee's Law

I would like to take this opportunity to make an open rebuttal to the page Get Caylee Justice, in regards to their support of Caylee's Law.

As many readers here know, I am against Caylee's Law for many reasons, including the painfully simple fact that it is a violation of the Fifth Amendment. Nevertheless, so many folks continue to deny the facts, and come up with any number of illogical reasons why we need this law. Using the lengthy response from this one page as an example of the oft-repeated points by supporters of Caylee's law, I will now refute their position through applied logic and the exposure of their application of the classic 25 Rules of Disinformation. Point by point, in parentheses, I will cite the tactic being applied, so keep the list handy.

Let us begin...
Absolutely amazed with people. I didnt not ban you yet so I can explain a few things to you about Caylee's law and effective parenting.
Right out of the gate, we see the opponent try to goad us (5, 18), while threatening to ban us (25, 6) and then attempt to establish themselves as an authority (8) as if they are the only good parent on the planet, while assuming that we know nothing about good parenting.
One, on average a child who is abducted is killed with in the first six to eight hours. SO to be quite frank, without a doubt, every second counts.
Here the opponent exposes the fallacy of their position, and is "quite frank" about it, establishing a fall-back position (11). While anyone would agree that indeed seconds do count either in an abduction, or even of course in a medical emergency, the proposed Caylee's Law only makes it a felony crime to not report a missing child after 24 hours, not the first six to eight in which the child is actually killed, according to our opponent. Therefore, Caylee's Law is not a practical measure or standard for dealing with a child who may have fallen into harm's way.
Second, to all of your little attempted theories about well what if you didn't know in the first hour or 24 hours, it is after you discover. Sure, a child might go off to a friends house, but I can tell you, my daughter will need to call me whenever she gets to where she is going, and if she leaves that place to go to a new place. A rule every parent in my mind should have into effect. 
In the first sentence they ridicule earlier statements we had made in the course of previous discussion on the issue. as "little attempted theories" (3, 8, 18) rather than seeing the points raised as the legitimate and logical points they were (1, 19). That discussion can be viewed here. Or if they remove the thread/comments, we can add the screenshots later that we took of the conversation.

As to the specifics of the proposed law itself, most versions propose to make it a felony if you fail to not report a missing child within 24 hours, or a child who has died within 60 minutes. Now, in general, a reasonable person should not have to point out how these time constraints may be impractical in the real world for any number of reasons which may not otherwise be considered to be criminal or even immoral.But more to the point, our opponent here specifies that the point of "discovery" is when the clock starts ticking. There is no such provision made in the laws I have seen proposed. If it were, it would again make the law itself pointless. After all, a parent accused of wrongdoing could claim that they didn't know, had not made the discovery for any number of reasons, for any amount of time. Indeed, in the Anthony case itself, Casey never did admit to discovering her deceased child at all, at any time. The only thing that can be factually established is the time of death, not when the parent actually discovered the child was deceased.

Next we see the "MY child" logic (2) so often applied in these discussions. Again in an attempt to establish themselves as the perfect parent with perfect children (8, 11) while simply ignoring (9) the many, many examples of why a child may be out of touch with a parent for more than 24 hours, and why it is not necessary to always have the police micro-manage how you raise your child. Maybe the child simply forgot to call. Maybe because of scheduling between work and school the parent and child fail to connect. Perhaps the child has run away from home in a fit of rebellion against an overbearing and obnoxious parent who fancies themselves perfect and who demands nothing less than perfection from the child. Is it a good idea to set out rules like this for a child to keep in contact and be communicative? Absolutely. But trying to force them to act in this way will only encourage rebellion and leave the parent in situation after situation where they will not in fact be able to find their kid. And more importantly, it should not be a FELONY on the parent if the child breaks this household rule.
Also if you do not report your child after as you say been floating in the pool for twenty hours, you are going to have some serious felonies on your hands anyhow with federal level child negligence and abuse.
Yet again we see the opponent actually make the point for us, that Caylee's Law serves no practical purpose (15), because as the opponent themselves have pointed out, there are already laws on the books which can be applied. Murder, negligence, all of these things are already illegal, and did nothing to save the life of little Caylee, nor was Casey proven to be responsible for her daughter's death. If this law had been on the books already, prosecutors would have had an even more difficult time actually proving that Caylee was even in her care at the time of the baby's death/disappearance.
Third, every law has acception to the rules. Technically if you were to be walking by a man screaming for help while drowning in the river, and you didn't jump in and save him, you can get first degree murder, not even man slaughter, murder. This law was added to be able to charge everybody in a group killing with first degree murder. Now how many people do you know charged with murder because they didn't jump into a save a stranger over something they had nothing to do with? It is an exception to the rule.
This passage is outright false in a number of ways (3, 4, 13, 20, 22) and the opponent is trying to use a "red herring" in order to distract us from the facts. To begin with, no as a matter of fact, laws do not have exceptions to the rules. Nor should they have any.

"The duty we owe our constituents obliges us to be as attentive to the safety of the innocent as we are desirous of punishing the guilty; and we apprehend that a doubtful construction and various execution of criminal law does greatly endanger the safety of innocent men." ~JOUR. HOUSE OF BURGESSES (1773-1776) 

Arbitrary justice is no justice at all.When a particular police officer, prosecutor, or judge can pick and choose who they will and will not prosecute based upon their own personal biases, hunches, political affiliations, etc., rather than on the rule of law applied equally to everyone, you wind up with fiefdoms of absolute dictatorship.

Now again, the example of the man drowning in the river is patently false. There is no such law that requires anyone to risk their own life and limb to save anyone. Even the police are not required to take any such risks. No murder charge, no manslaughter. In fact if you did jump in to save them and failed, then you could actually be opening yourself up to charges and a lawsuit. Same goes for rendering first-aid of any kind, Heimlich maneuver, CPR, etc. The only way you can be charged with murder in a group setting, is if you conspire to and are in the process of carrying out a felony. If you and a friend decide to rob a store at gunpoint, and your friend shoots the clerk, you are going to prison for murder as well, even if you did not know your friend was going to kill the clerk.

So end all be all, the opponent here has failed to establish a rule, and therefore cannot establish an exception to the rule. 

For further information, you might like to watch this video discussing a recent case where people stood by and watched while a teen girl was brutally raped.
As I have read posts on your page, let me explain this to you. Caylee's law was not made to "bring back a dead child" it is infact to bring harsher punishments on things such as this to maybe deter somebody from killing their or anybodies child (if you read the entire law, it isn't just for parents, it is for adult in a caregivers position, like if your kid went over to a friends house and went missing it would be the responsibilty of that adult. Like the Haleigh Cummings incident where she wasn't reported for a few hours.
Again we see that our opponent is trying to put words in our mouth (4). No one ever said anything about bringing back a dead child, though the logic (13) of some opponents in that camp seems to often imply it, or that the law would actually prevent a death. If the threat of execution or life imprisonment on a charge of murder does not deter someone from killing their child, then they certainly are not going to be deterred by Caylee's Law.

Yes, we are aware (8) that the law applies to all caregivers, not just parents. Which actually only complicates matters further. How does one prove who's care the child was actually in when they disappeared or died? This was one enormous gap in proving Casey guilty of murder in the first place, so how will this new law actually help in that regard? It also opens the door to wrongful prosecutions.
I know you think it want stop people from commiting crimes but a lot of people do like to obey the law. There are some people who dont care if they are going to get the death penalty and are going to do things regardless of the punishment. But some of us respect the law. You wouldn't rob somebody for a million dollars if it was completely legal and you werent going to hurt anybody? The law stops you from doing that because you dont want to go to jail. It is to try and stop those who can be stopped.
Again we see circular logic being applied (13) along with assumptions made as to what we would do in a given situation (4). No law ever prevented a crime. If someone is willing to murder their child, then obviously they don't care enough about the law to worry about another few years getting tacked on to their life sentence thatnks to Caylee's Law. And those of us who respect that law, who don't murder and abuse our children, should not go to prison not meeting some arbitrary reporting deadline that fails to take into account the many nuances of modern family life and the many reasons why a parent may not be able to, or may feel it is best not to report to police. 
Also the law was created to try and preserve the evidence so nobody can walk away free because the body was to decomposed.
Which now bring us to the entire crux of the matter. This law is created to destroy YOUR Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Your right to not provide evidence against yourself or to self-incriminate.

But we also see here again the fallacies of our opponents position  (1, 9, 13, 15, 20)  since we all know full well that many people have been successfully prosecuted without a body ever being located at all, or in very poor condition for examination as was the case in the Scott Petersen trial.
And in mind, anybody who is complely opposed to this law, should think twice about becoming a parent.
So then our opponent finally signs off by invoking a whole slew of disinformation tactics in a single sentence. (2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 13, 17, 18)

I expect rules 24 and 25 will follow soon as well. So let me sign off here with a little of the old number 18.

And check out some of our previous coverage on the subject:

Caylee's Law - Do we need one?

Was Casey Anthony trial propaganda-coup to destroy the Fifth Amendment?

Is Casey the poster-child of modern feminism?

And also be sure to join the Facebook page Say No To Caylee's Law.

"All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach." -Adolf Hitler

Caylee's Law - Do we need one?

In the wake of the acquittal of Casey Anthony on the charge that she had murdered her daughter Caylee, there has been much public outrage and a call for new laws that might have been applicable in this case, in the hopes of "preventing" something like this from happening in the future. Online petitions and Facebook groups supporting a "Caylee's Law" are abuzz with activity, but the proposals are vague and seem more to be aimed at assuaging the public's anger over the trial's outcome rather than enacting a practical code of justice.

Let us begin by looking at the fact that Casey did not get off entirely. There are already laws on the books that were and may have been applied. She served three years in jail for the four misdemeanors she was convicted of, for lying to police. A rather lengthy sentence in fact for non-felonious offenses. Child abandonment, obstruction, and perhaps even criminal facilitation might also have been charges which convictions against her might have been secured. Under Federal law she may have been charged with misprision.

§ 4. Misprision of felony

Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

Now another three years may not be enough to satisfy the bloodlust of an outraged public, but frankly, no law really will change that. The public feel "cheated" out of a murder conviction, despite the fact that the prosecution failed to make their case. Much reasonable doubt exists that Casey was actually the person who took her daughter's life. It seems pretty clear that she knew her daughter had been killed, took steps to cover up the crime even, but there is no proof at all that she was the actual killer. For all we know it could have been a boyfriend or acquaintance, a babysitter, another family member even, we really don't know. It is easy to assume things, but convictions are not won on assumptions and guesswork, nor should they be, lest we all find ourselves behind bars on mere accusations of wrongdoing.

Now let's go ahead and look at what exactly is being proposed. The petition letter from Change.org reads as follows:

Create Caylee's Law, Not Reporting Child's Disappearance Should Be a Felony


On July 5, 2011, at 1:15 pm CST, Casey Anthony was found not guilty of first degree murder in the death of her daughter Caylee Anthony. The only charges she now faces are four counts of falsifying police reports, each of which only carries a 1 year prison term. Since she has been in jail since August 2008, she will be out of jail ENTIRELY too soon.

I'm writing to propose that a new law be put into effect making it a felony for a parent, legal guardian, or caretaker to not notify law enforcement of the disappearance of a child within 24 hours, so proper steps can be taken to find that child before it's too late.

This way there will be no more cases like Casey Anthony's in the courts, and no more innocent children will have to go without justice.

The case of Caylee Anthony was tragic, and there is no reason for another case like this one to hit the courts. Let's do what is necessary to prevent another case like this from happening.

[Your name]

As is so often the case with these boutique laws, they seem to make sense at first glance. It seems pretty reasonable to expect a parent to report that their child has gone missing. But why, exactly, should not doing so be a felony? Why should I be of the opinion that Casey Anthony is getting out of prison  "ENTIRELY too soon?" It seems to me that the phrase was authored on the basis of emotional appeal rather than sound logic. It was written in anger, not written as a practical observation.

Keep in mind here too that low-level felonies only carry sentences of a few years themselves. Even if such a law were enacted, Casey Anthony may still be getting out of prison after serving only a few years, sentenced to time-served while awaiting trial. Especially considering the fact that misdemeanor offenses rarely are met with a sentence of incarceration at all much less 3 years in prison.

So what level of felony is actually being proposed here? Is the author suggesting that failure to report a child missing be tantamount to murder? That a parent found guilty under this proposed law face a sentence on the order of 25-to-life perhaps? The knee-jerk response that I can hear already by some readers of this article is "absolutely! Casey Anthony should do life in prison for not reporting her child missing!"

But this proposed law is not about Casey Anthony. She will never be charged under such a law. That opportunity is passed. So we are left with contemplating how such a law will be applied in the future. Now let us imagine for a moment that you are a single-mother, working two jobs, and your teenage child often goes to stay at friends houses. You come home from work to find the apartment empty, as is often the case, and after a meal and some sleep you head back out to work early the next morning. That night you come home to be greeted by police with the most terrible news a parent could ever imagine. That your child has been found dead. Oh, and by the way, the time of death has been placed at 30 hours ago, and you are now under arrest facing life in prison for failing to report that your child was missing.

We could also suppose that perhaps the child bounces back and forth between the homes of a divorced mother and father regularly. Maybe both parents live in the same area and the child goes back and forth using their bicycle or public transportation, or just takes whichever school bus they feel like taking at the end of a school day. For a short period of time, 24 even 48 hours perhaps, both working parents assume the child is with the other parent, only to find that their child has been found dead somewhere. In a case like that, who gets charged? Both parents?

And what about cases where the parent claims to have left the child with a babysitter, as Casey Anthony claimed in this case? What if it cannot be proven who was actually in charge of the child at the time of the disappearance and thereby subject to the new proposed law requiring that a missing child be reported? Are both the parent and the babysitter charged then in such a case?

Now these are just a few examples that immediately come to mind. In time, we would see many more unforeseen examples arise of how such a law would actually be a miscarriage of justice. After all, the law is the law, and does not differentiate between people who break the law with good reason or not. It will be applied to all parents, not just in cases like this one.

Then of course too, we should also consider cases of missing persons and unreported deaths other than children. In a sense, this proposed law does not even go far enough. Why should only children be protected by such a law, with a parent/guardian be held accountable for this perceived negligent indifference? Shouldn't a husband who fails to report his wife missing and/or dead also be held accountable? Or even a roommate perhaps? And then of course where does one actually draw the line? Could not then an employer be held accountable for failing to tell police when an employee doesn't call or show up to work for days?

So this proposed law actually falls short of the reaching the moral high-ground the petitioners think they are taking, while displaying a lack of logic and blatant emotional appeal.

This way there will be no more cases like Casey Anthony's in the courts, and no more innocent children will have to go without justice.

No law ever prevented a crime, and this proposed law will not stop children from being killed. Even if this law were on the books now, and Casey Anthony could be charged under such a statute, it still would not be justice for Caylee for one big, glaring, obvious reason. Her killer is still at large. To say otherwise is to assume that Casey is indeed the killer and this law is simply an end-run around justice in order to imprison her anyway even though she was exonerated of the murder charge. Laws are not there as a box of tricks in order to lock up anyone we feel like. It is not the job of the People's prosecutor to sit there and say, "Well, if we don't get the person for this crime, we have a few more crimes we can get them on instead and make sure they wind up in prison no matter what."

If we are going to go down that road, why not just throw out the Constitution entirely and throw everyone in prison who doesn't look right, or who we think "deserve" to be in prison.

Which of course now brings us to the Constitutionality of such a proposed law. The Fifth Amendment protects us from self-incrimination, and not for the reasons you may think. This right is not to protect the guilty, it is there to protect the innocent. Specifically, to protect us from threats and coercion to gain a confession to, or evidence of a crime. You throw away the protections against self-incrimination, you open the door to false confessions and torture.

SELF-INCRIMINATION: Acts or declarations either as testimony at trial or prior to trial by which one implicates himself in a crime. The Fifth Amendment, U.S. Const. as well as provisions in many state constitutions and laws, prohibit the government from requiring a person to be a witness against himself involuntarily or to furnish evidence against himself.

SELF-INCRIMINATION, PRIVILEGE AGAINST the constitutional right of a person to refuse to answer questions or otherwise give testimony against himself or herself which will subject him or her to an incrimination. This right under the Fifth Amendment (often called simply PLEADING THE FIFTH) is now applicable to the states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, 378 U.S. 1,8, and is applicable in any situation, civil or criminal where the state attempts to compel incriminating testimony.

~Black's Law Dictionary

If Casey Anthony were guilty of any crime whatsoever involving the death of her daughter, requiring her to report her daughter missing to police would be a violation of her Fifth Amendment rights which protect her against self-incrimination. That doesn't mean a self-incrimination of murder either. It could have been something as simple as a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully dealing with human remains, or being high on marijuana at the time of the Caylee's disappearance or death even if she was not present.

Therefore, the only time this proposed law could be applied in accordance with the tenets of the Constitution of the United States, is if you first proved that the parent/guardian was in fact innocent of all other crimes related in any way to the disappearance of the child. And of course then, a person who had done nothing else wrong whatsoever, is the last person you would actually want to send to prison for not reporting their child missing.

So now we see, that what appeared to be reasonable proposal, a good idea, actually is not. So many people have said, "I can't believe this isn't already a law." Well, folks, now we know why it isn't. Because emotional appeal, knee-jerk reactions, and flawed logic should never be the basis of law. The passage of such a law would actually be contrary to liberty as prescribed by our Constitution, and another stride deeper into the fascist trend of this nation's recent history.

"I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few."  -Adolf Hitler

EDITOR'S NOTE: A poll for this topic has been attached to the bottom of this site. Feel free to leave comments as well, of course. 

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I may be contacted at my email address marselus.vanwagner@gmail.com