The amount of backlash and personal attacks on jurors for the verdict in the James Corasanti trial is disconcerting to me, and should be to everyone.
It's irresponsible and short-sighted to impugn 12 individuals who gave weeks of their lives to serve a public duty that many people try to avoid. Instead of crying foul because the case did not turn out the way certain people thought it should, we should be praising what work the jurors did to come to their verdict.
In a high-profile case like Corasanti's in which vitriolic statements have been publicly (and privately) made about the defendant, the easy thing for a jury to do is give everyone what they want and return a guilty verdict. This was not that jury.
The easy thing to do would be to succumb to the overwhelming sadness of the loss of a young girl. This was not that jury.
The easy thing to do would be to allow a thirst for vengeance in a case made to look like a war between the classes to outweigh any reasonable doubt. This was not that jury.
Instead, we have a jury that pored through the evidence, listened to the law as the judge instructed and came to a verdict that they believe is just. Whether you agree or disagree with the outcome, everyone must concede that this is a verdict based on reason and not emotion — because an emotional verdict would have produced a different result.
We also know that this was not a jury with an agenda. Just as there are many people who avoid jury duty, a high-profile, emotionally charged case can bring out people who actually want to get on the jury.
We all probably know at least one person who thought or said "I hope I get to be on that jury" in reference to Corasanti's or other public cases. Those people have made up their minds and think they are smarter than everyone else. Corasanti's defense team did an excellent job of weeding those people out.
Finally, this was not a "bought" verdict. Yes, Corasanti had an excellent defense team and used resources that are greater than most to obtain experts to counter the prosecution. But that only barely put him on an even playing field. The prosecution has its own experts, investigators, dozens of attorneys and police at their disposal. Most defendants have nowhere near the resources to match the other side.
Outrage at a verdict of not guilty is irresponsible. Jurors should not be intimidated into voting the way outsiders want. Outrage should be reserved for cases where an innocent like Anthony Capozzi is convicted.
Even if we don't agree with an acquittal, it is a reminder that it is possible for the truly innocent to get a fair trial with a jury that will not bend to public pressure.
Jeremy D. Schwartz is a Buffalo criminal defense attorney who has selected juries in high profile cases.