Happy New Year!
A number of you have kindly kindly expressed hope that I will keep writing about the Amanda Knox case in 2015. Let me assure one and all that despite my failure to post recently I am alive and well and following the case closely.
In fact, I have written (but not posted) another extended piece, an anatomy of the exceedingly odd and confused habits of mind that characterize judges in Italy. Exhibit A for the moment is the lamentable Nencini’s extraterrestrial masterpiece. More people should read it because in so doing they would recognize immediately that they have entered the realm of science fiction, not compelling legal prose. Nencini creates a wonderful imaginative world that is quite unlike the world in which we actually live, a world with its own logic and technology and its own laws of physics, chemistry, and biology. And when he is not indulging flights of fancy, he is just plain dishonest.
Now, Nencini is admittedly not the brightest frog in the swamp. His foolishness, however, raises issues that go well beyond him. For one thing the human damage is appalling. For another, the dream of establishing universal human rights—the dream that led to Nuremberg Principles and the creation of institutions like the European Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court—depends utterly on our ability to define and defend the elements of a fair trial, as well as the reasoning that leads to valid interpretation of evidence. It simply will not do for judicial jackasses like Nencini to caper madly about, wallowing in logical absurdities, presuming guilt, cherry picking evidence, and insisting on eccentric interpretations of technology and science that do not conform to any known standards.
All this I might have said and more….
But but as we enter 2015 it feels like someone has deliberately let the air out of the tires of case and I am increasingly sure that Amanda Knox will never spend another night in prison. (I am less certain about poor Raffaele Sollecito who had the misfortune to be born in a country whose courts lack moral and intellectual seriousness).
I have no inside knowledge and base my opinions solely upon what is on the public record and what I know about human nature and institutions. Amanda is by all accounts doing well. She graduated from the University of Washington and is earning a living as a writer. She is very much the law abiding, productive citizen she has always been. The idea of ripping this thoroughly decent young woman away from friends and family is grotesque and morally repellent, and any person with even minimal intelligence and decency knows this.
The critical things to understand is that the people who will be making decisions henceforth are of a much higher caliber than the deplorable types who created this mess. As filled with contempt as I am for the Italian courts, the same is not true of my feelings for the Italian people. I am convinced that serious people in and out of the Italian government—as distinguished from the pagliacci who hold sway in the courts at the moment— know perfectly well that Knox is innocent and are working quietly to set things right. These serious people also know that Italian courts are an international embarrassment and a major drag on the Italian economy.
I am also quite certain that serious people in our own State Department and Department of Justice have reviewed the case and know full well that the latest trial was a face-saving joke and the conviction based on wild flights of fancy and zero evidence. Since one of the most solemn obligations of a government is to protect its citizens, I imagine the U.S. has quietly conveyed its concerns quite pointedly to the government of Italy.
The Italian courts are so reckless, so out of control, and so driven by agendas that have nothing to do with justice, that it is impossible to predict what they will do. This said, I believe there is a significant chance that Nencini will be reversed for selfish, internal reasons. It is simply not in Italy’s interest to see such travesty escape into international venues with real judges—far better to bury it in-house.
If Cassation is reckless enough to affirm Nencini, then an appeal to the ECHR is certain and I am reliably informed that no extradition request would take place before the hearings in Strasbourg play out. Since the defects in the Knox trials are precisely those that the ECHR has sanctioned Italy for repeatedly over the years, I imagine Amanda will get a very attentive hearing indeed.
Only in the unlikely event that the ECHR aligns itself with the forces of injustice would the question of extradition even come up. Italy would have to make a request and our government would have to accept it. The former is far from certain, but a preemptive rejection by the State Department is likely on the grounds that Italy is treaty bound to conduct fair trials of American citizens not crude parodies thereof.
I won’t speculate about what might happen if an extradition case gets into the American courts because I am convinced that it will never get that far. Amanda’s defenses are powerful and the government, fearful of bad publicity and a damaging precedent, will not risk trial.
I am not sure how the end game will play out. But I am as certain as I can be under the circumstances that things have changed and that serious efforts to put Amanda back in prison are essentially over.
So for now I am going to cool it and see what happens. I’ll definitely post from time to time, but probably shorter, more topical pieces. Please don’t mistake my diminished output for lack of interest or commitment. I will do whatever I can do to protest this travesty of justice and expose the corruption and lack of decency and intelligence that led to it.