Knox’s trial by majority jury

I’ve included morning links pointers to Timothy Egan’s excellent coverage of the murder trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in Italy; see here and here. Sadly, they were both convicted today. By most accounts that don’t slip into tabloid-style junk reporting, the conviction was based on shaky evidence, anti-American sentiment, and the deluded fantasies of the local prosecutor. (See this post on Simple Justice, via Radley.)

I know very little about the Italian justice system, but one thing this trial demonstrates is the virtue of requiring unanimous juries for conviction. The Seattle Times notes that Italian prosecutors have to meet a much lower standard:

Italian juries have only to reach majority consensus. Each of the eight jurors imposes a sentence they believe proper, from life down to acquittal. The ultimate sentence given is the maximum that at least five of the jurors will support.

I’m not aware of the jury’s vote being published, but it’s possible that the two were sentenced to more than 20 years in prison on the basis of just 5 of the 8 jurors’ vote. They will hopefully fare better on appeal, though that process could take years.

Previously:
Oregon’s low bar for conviction

Comments

  1. Jackson says:

    What I know about the Italian criminal system I’ve learned from the Knox case. But here’s what’s wrong with it: the jury is composed of 6 locals and 2 judges; there’s no voir dire to screen for conflicts (which doesn’t matter really since there’s already a conflict — the 2 judges sitting on the jury); majority rather than unanimous vote; in case of tie, the senior judge gets to vote twice; double jeopardy; the prosecution introduced evidence in the closing argument (that Knox and Kercher had argued over money); and bizarrely the victim’s family gets a cash award, thereby motivating the family to cooperate with the prosecution no matter how cockamamie the story was.

    20/20 has a good round-up of these points.

    In the end I can only conclude anti-Americanism is what drove this thing — which to me is strange because they threw Sollecito to the wolves too. It was a witch hunt in a very literal sense. Apparently for a lot of people believing Kercher was sacrificed in a quasi-Satanic kinky sex ritual is realistic. No forensic evidence connecting Knox or Sollecito to the scene? She must have used her dark arts!

    Every time I despair of the US legal system something like this comes along to remind me how more fucked up the rest of the planet is.

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