First responses came on numerous discussion and opinion sites set up on the internet, where writers argued passionately for and against Ms Woodward.
"Good riddance" and "may she rot" competed with a more sympathetic "I have always believed in your innocence". A substantial third group said that whether or not Ms Woodward was innocent, it was time to lay the whole affair to rest.
Some of these were grudging: "So you got away with it", others more generous: "Let her go home ... The justice system did what it was designed to do."
Then there were those who wanted her to return for quite different reasons: "Better to let her go. We have enough murderers here and why should our taxpayers pay to keep her in jail?"
Many saw the judgment as a comment on American justice. "Why have a jury?" was a frequent comment, alluding to the fact that the trial judge had overruled the jury's murder verdict.
This was also the direction taken by US legal analysts, whose instant assessments were solicited by America's numerous radio and television talk shows. CNN's resident legal specialist, Roger Cossack, said that Ms Woodward might have been "very lucky" but "justice, I believe, was done and the matter is over".