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Nancy Grace had much to lose and even more to gain with her exhaustive coverage and her very spirited condemnation of the not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony trial. And even as one may wonder what else can be said on the proceedings, HLN prepares to go into a marathon of Grace’s coverage this weekend. Thankfully for Grace, it will contain mostly repeat airings of her reports as she says she’s feeling the wear and tear of being immersed in the case.
“The trial has been exhausting and emotional and has required so much hard work, but I think that once again it has focused a lot of attention on our justice system,” Grace tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a very hard thing to digest when your justice system fails you, but coming to terms with the fact that you cannot stop believing in it, because it is the best system in the world, it is.”
“It’s hard to grapple with those two conflicting facts,” she continues. “That the system can fail, but that’s all we have, all we have is our justice system to cling to and to believe in … the only thing I can do is keep working and keep trying and just keeping on.”
We spoke with Grace about her take on the trial, the public’s perception of her and what her focus will move to next.
THR: We just found out that Casey could be free by mid-July. What were your thoughts when you heard that?
Nancy Grace: She will be walking by July 13, there’s not any “could” to it. I’ll tell you what disturbs me more than the “no-jail” time is the conviction itself. I mean as far as the death penalty goes, I think that is an option that should be offered to jurors in certain heinous cases, but I was never about her getting the death penalty in this case. I was about a verdict that spoke the truth about what happened and we were robbed of that by this jury.
THR: Speaking of the jury, one of them appeared on ABC last night. She said she felt the murder was never proven, how did you feel about that?
Grace: Well, she also said she is sick at the verdict [and] that she does not believe the mom is innocent. Look, when you walk outside of the building, and you see that there are puddles on the pavement and women are rushing by with their umbrellas and men have on their raincoats, you don’t have to see a storm to know it rained probably while you were inside. Nobody needs to tell me it, right? I can figure it out. This is a circumstantial case, and under the law, circumstantial evidence is as valid as direct evidence. That they couldn’t figure this out?
THR: Listening to that juror, it seemed like the defense was successful in trying to dictate how the jurors should think about the case and the evidence. Did you feel they were successful at that?
Grace: What the defense was successful in doing, in defense of the jury, is striking the right jury for this case. But they were successful at, the only hole in this state case was something that they had no control over, and that is the fact that we can never see cause of death, and the reason we couldn’t is because “Tot Mom” so successfully evaded capture. And the location of Caylee’s body, that it was completely skeletonized, it’s what we call a dry bones case. And there is a bone break, or there is a nick to the bone from a bullet or a stab wound, you cannot determine from the skeletonized remains what the cause of death is. You cannot get poison or drugs very often from the body, it’s very, very difficult. So that’s what the defense had to their advantage, and I believe that’s why the jury did what they did, because they couldn’t figure out the evidence or didn’t want to, and as far as the juror going and saying now how sick they felt about it, you know thanks for telling me now. It’s crazy, to now say “Oh, well now I know she’s not innocent.” There are no do-overs in our justice system, that’s it.
THR: Jose Baez spoke to Barbara Walters and said that he feels Casey is innocent and a good mother. What were your feelings about those statements?
Grace: Well, frankly, I have no feelings about what the defense attorneys say outside of the courtroom. What they do in their private lives, how many high-profile interviews they do or whatever books they write … I really could not care less about, all I care about was the verdict, a truthful verdict, a true verdict, and we were robbed of that.
THR: The trial has brought HLN and your show very high ratings. What do you think the trial has done for your career?
Grace: Well I know that a lot of people hate me and say rotten things about me, I know that much. I mean sure, ratings are great, but my contract is not tied to ratings, and I do not have incentives in my contract that are ratings based. I don’t have any incentives period in my contracts. So, to me, this is a story that transcends TV ratings. I’ve never really considered myself a TV person anyway. I’m a crime victim and a lawyer, a former prosecutor, and that’s how I lead my life in every way. Sure, ratings are wonderful, but I think more important for me is that this story shows that our system , while it is the best in the world as far as I’m concerned, is not infallible. That’s why it’s so important that you strike the right jury and you do everything right when you’re in that courtroom, because there are no do-overs, you get one chance.
THR: What was your response to defense attorney Cheney Mason’s comments criticizing TV pundits and TV lawyers?
Grace: Well frankly, I do not recall Mason referring to me specifically, or mentioning my name. I would assume that he is resolving most of his bitterness toward his fellow colleagues that he practiced with here in the Florida area that came out openly and served as legal analysts and said that they believed “Tot Mom” would be convicted, which was not hard to do. However, if for some chance, Cheney Mason is referring to me, no I really don’t care what the personal feelings of one of “Tot Mom’s” defense attorneys are about me. That is not on my radar, at all. I only care about what happens in the courtroom.
THR: What’s next for you? When will you not feel the need to address the Casey Anthony trial again?
Grace: When the case is finally over, and that is approaching soon. I mean we’ve covered literally hundreds of missing people, missing children, unsolved homicides since Caylee went missing. And it’s just hard when you’re so emotionally invested in a particular case. I care so much about the child victim, and also George and Cindy Anthony, just watching them breaks my heart. They’ve got a life sentence ahead of them of living life without Caylee and, oh, it’s just thinking that their own daughter murdered her. But like every good trial lawyer, what you have to do is set aside those emotions and that investment, because there are other cases that need you. So I’m going to pick up the next file and go on to the next missing person or missing child or unsolved homicide and that’s what we’re going to do.
THR: Lots of civil action is going on now that the trial is over. Do you think that it’s possible that something good can come out of this situation?
Grace: Oh, absolutely, I definitely believe good can come out of this case. And the proposed legislation deals with parents that do not report those children missing within “X” number of hours after they do go missing. I think that it’s an excellent idea.
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro
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