For aficionados of the Nancy Grace school of law, this is what they would have happen in every trial.
To many Americans, this trial is an outrage. “It’s probably the most egregious international railroading of two innocent young people I’ve ever seen,” said John Q. Kelly, a former prosecutor known for getting a civil verdict against O.J. Simpson for the murder of his ex-wife. Speaking on CNN last month, he called it “a public lynching based on rank speculation.”
The Italian legal system is wholly foreign to me, though I do know that many of the protections that characterize our system, real juries, vetted for bias, and proof beyond a reasonable doubt, are not a part of it. I know it takes a very long time for a trial, as this one lasted almost a full year, leaving Knox in custody for almost two years prior to her conviction. The head judge at her trial is required to provide an explanation for the verdict within 90 days of its rendering. I wonder if it will say more than “we believe she did it.”
There is no making sense of this from our frame of reference. It doesn’t begin to comport with anything remotely familiar to what we consider a fair trial, a system of justice. Obviously, the Italians see things differently, and aren’t particularly concerned that this translate easily into English.
During the summation, the prosecutor told the jury about the things Amanda Knox might have said to Meredith Kercher before the alleged drug-induced orgy that ended with her throat being slashed.
“You are always behaving like a little saint. Now we will show you. Now we will make you have sex.”
This would be a horrible thing to say, except that it never happened. No one says that such a statement was ever made. But summations in Perugia aren’t limited to evidence, as they are here. Rather, this is a permissible indulgence into fantasy, a made up dramatization of what the prosecutors contend might have happened. It’s used to inflame the jury. It’s what prosecutors try to do everywhere, except that there are no restrictions on such fabrications in Italy. Still, arousing passion gets a far better visceral response that appealing to reason. Reason requires evidence.
For those who seem to be in a perpetual rush to do away with all those “technicalities” that get in the way of sentencing defendants who are deemed guilty from the moment the police announce whodunnit, is this really the sort of trial that meets with your satisfaction? You applaud our system in its failures, arguing that we give criminals too many rights. Well, Amanda Knox has enjoyed the alternative. Are you happy now? Is this really what you prefer?