Passports,Appeals, and Justice
The Amanda Knox case revealed majordifferences between the American and Italian Criminal JusticeSystems. Italy has a longstanding tradition of an inquisitorialsystem, whereby juries did not participate in trials and judges tookthe lead in interrogating witnesses as well as developing trialevidence. However, in 1989, Italy reformed its legal system, drawinginspiration from the legal system in the U.S. and implementing ahybrid system. Despite this reform, the legal system has beenprimarily dominated by the country`s inquisitorial foundations.Amanda Knox was in 2007 confirmed by Italian Police as the mainsuspect in the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher.
Even though Amanda Knox and herboyfriend were the first to alert the police of a break-in into herand Kercher’s room, she ended up a prime suspect due to erraticbehavior when interrogated. She wrongfully implicated her boss, DiyaLumumba of the murder, a fact that increased police suspicion. Whenthe matter reached court, Knox faced three trials since civil andcriminal suits can be tried together within Italian law. She wastherefore simultaneously tried for Kercher’s murder, defamationagainst her employer, and a civil suit from the Kercher family [ CITATION Mir12 l 1033 ].In this aspect, the U.S. court systems would have handled the casedifferently since civil and criminal trials are tried separately.Therefore, scenarios where evidence froma civil suit has an effect on the criminal trial and verdict would beavoided. In Knox`s trial, evidence used in Lumumba`s defamation suitconcerning her admission to being at the apartment on the night ofthe murder, despite being excluded from the criminal proceedings,would still be heard by the jury.
The Italian prosecution alsoemployed extensive character evidence, portraying Knox as a sexuallyadventurous and overtly erotic person, hence ruining her character.Such evidence would hardly be applicable in the U.S. considering thiscountry’s strict evidentiary rules. [ CITATION Gai15 l 1033 ]
The appeals process utilized in thecase is another unique element of the Knox case, and of the Italiancriminal justice system. Due to the core role of the adversarialsystem in the U.S., appeals are only executed on the narrow questionof law rather than facts. However, the inquisitorial process inItalian law makes the appeals process just as important as the trialitself. As in Knox`s case, appeals from Italy`s Cortedi Assise cases areheard in the Corte diAssise d’appello,Italy`s criminal appellate court. This court extensively reviews bothfindings of fact and those of law meaning that Knox`s trial was nother final chance at contesting the evidence against her. Her appealcase ended on October 3, 2011, with her acquittal. This acquittal washowever later annulled by the Italian Supreme Court in 2013, afterwhich a new trial began in Florence. This second trial ended with there-conviction of Amanda, a decision that was later overturned by theSupreme Court in 2015 [ CITATION Ell15 l 1033 ].
As noted in some of the examplesmentioned earlier, there are multiple ways in which the U.S. criminaljustice system would have handled the Knox case differently. Onemajor difference is in the sequestering of jurors, which is typicalin any trials of grand notoriety in the U.S. Sequestration of thejury in the Knox case only happened once the deliberation processbegan, a fact that meant jurors were exposed to the sensationalismhappening outside the courtroom [ CITATION Koz13 l 1033 ].Considering the evidencethat was used to implicate Knox in the trial, and evidence which wasexcluded, the trial would have had a different verdict if it was heldin the U.S.
There are four major legal systems in the world: Religious law,common law, socialist law and civil law. Among all religious law,only Islamic law is the most comprehensive and extensive in terms ofthe number of countries which practice Islamic law. Sharia is thefoundation of Islamic law, and it refers to the “Sacred Law ofIslam”. The main source of jurisprudence for Islamic law is TheQur’an, followed by the Sunnah. Civil law relies on a detailed setof typically codified rules which are then interpreted and applied byjudges. Judges or magistrates of the Shari’a court are referred toas qadis. This legal system is the most widely practiced globally. Inthis case, judicial precedent is not used to decide case outcomes andinstead, the role of judges is limited to interpreting the applicablestatute as they deem appropriate.
Common law is a major part of many countries, particularly those witha history as British colonies or territories. Jurisdictions observingcommon law emphasize judicial decisions. Court procedures in commonlaw regions are adversarial. Socialist law is primarily used inCommunist states. Socialist law is an offshoot of civil law althoughit has undergone major additions and modifications fromMarxist-Leninist ideology [CITATION Ebb13 p 35 l 1033 ]. Socialistlaw systems facilitate the acquisition and ownership of most propertyby the state.
With regards to Islamic law and the appeals process, classic Islamiclaw is noted to have no ordinary institutions dedicated solely tohearing appeals [CITATION Vog p 85 l 1033 ]. However, individualdisappointed by a judgment can often seek review either throughextraordinary courts, the ruler, the ruler`s agents, or another qadi.
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Ellis, R., & Messie, H. (2015, March 28). Tearful Amanda Knox says she`s glad to have her life back. Retrieved from CNN.com: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/03/27/europe/amanda-knox/
Gaines, L. K., & Miller, R. L. (2015). Criminal Justice in Action. Stanford: Cengage Learning.
Kozlowski, A. (2013). Perceptions of Guilt in Sensational Cases: The Influence of Media. Texas Tech University. Retrieved from http://www.amandaknox.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Perceptions-of-Guilt-in-Sensational-Cases-The-Influence-of-Media.pdf
Mirabella, J. G. (2012). Scales of Justice: Assessing Italian criminal procedure through the Amanda Knox trial. Boston University International Law Journal, 30(1).
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