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July 7, 2011

"Oklahoma lawmaker plans to introduce 'Caylee's law'"

The title of this post is the headline of this new Reuters article, which reports on a bill being discussed that is a classic example of a high-profile case leading to new crime legislation.  Here are the details:

An Oklahoma lawmaker said on Wednesday he planned to introduce a "Caylee's law" in his state requiring parents to swiftly report the death or disappearance of a child in the first legislation stemming from the death of the Florida toddler....

"It is unconscionable for a parent to delay notifying the authorities of the death of their child. Most parents would immediately notify authorities if their child had gone missing," state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft said, adding he planned to introduce the law in Oklahoma's 2012 legislative session.

"Any delay could endanger the life of the child and, in the case of a child's death, make it that much harder to collect evidence.  I think the actions of Caylee's mother were reprehensible," he added, saying most people he met felt that Casey Anthony "escaped true justice"....

Wesselhoft said it was a problem that there were no laws regulating the timely reporting of a child's death or disappearance, and that the law should give a parent 24 hours to report the death of a child and 48 hours to report a child under age 12 as missing. "Violation of this law would be a maximum misdemeanor or a felony conviction. Oklahomans do not want to experience a situation such as what occurred in the Caylee Anthony case," said Wesselhoft, a Republican.

UPDATE:  This WSJ Law Blog piece, headlined "Proposed 'Caylee’s Law' Generates Virtual Frenzy," provides interesting info about the social media buzz pushing the idea of this new law:

More than 98,000 – and counting -- people across the country have signed onto a virtual campaign calling for a new federal law that would make it a felony for parents not to alert police of a child’s disappearance.

The online petition, started by an Oklahoman woman less than 24 hours ago on a social change website, comes on the heels of the Casey Anthony trial in which the jury reached a “not guilty” verdict on first-degree murder charges Tuesday....

The petition is the fastest-growing campaign that has ever been hosted on the site and is causing website traffic problems, a spokesman for Change.org told the Law Blog.

It calls for the creation of a new federal statute called “Caylee’s Law” – named after Anthony’s deceased daughter -- that would make it a felony for parents not to report the death of a child to law enforcement within an hour of discovering the incident, or within 24 hours in the case of child disappearance.

But some question the constitutionality of such a proposed law. Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law scholar at Harvard, points out that criminal laws usually fall within the realm of state jurisdictions.

When Congress does enact them, however, it does so under the Constitution’s commerce clause, which applies to cases that significantly impact interstate commerce. Tribe posits that the proposed “Caylee’s Law” would fail to meet that test and would not hold up at the federal level. “This is an understandable reaction to…a verdict that people feel unsatisfied with, but violating the constitution would hardly solve the problem,” Tribe told the Law Blog.  “There is no basis I can see for any congressional power to deal in this broad way with all cases of injury -- and perhaps fatal injury -- to children.”

July 7, 2011 at 08:45 AM | Permalink


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The Adam Walsh Act, Megan's Law, ....Caylee's Law
All laws made to make housewives feel good. No thought about unintended consequences.

Posted by: anon2 | Jul 7, 2011 9:35:18 AM

No more camping trips, then?

Posted by: Jonathan Edelstein | Jul 7, 2011 9:50:31 AM

The following restrictions on laws should be made:

1) Laws cannot have an acronym that is or is similar to, in meaning or pronunciation, an actual word.

2) Laws cannot be named after a person.

3) If, in the debate over a particular law, an ad hominem attack against a person or group of persons is used, the law shall not be passed.

4) At every session where a potential law is being discussed, a group of five randomly selected popular comedians must be present. If they can elicit laughter from more than five people by making a joke about the potential law, it shall not be passed.

Posted by: NickS | Jul 7, 2011 9:51:03 AM

NickS -


Posted by: SRS | Jul 7, 2011 12:17:35 PM

yep all the num-nut retards are up in arms. to pass another USELESS law that will make not ONE DAMN DIFFERENCE.

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 7, 2011 3:20:23 PM

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