I had hoped in my first post of 2016 to write about the wonderful time I had in December listening to Amanda give her talk at the Loyola Law School. I will tell you about that before long—I promise. But I want to use this post to memorialize the passing of my friend and fellow innocence supporter Joe Bishop. He was, quite simply, one of the most extraordinary men I have ever met.
Joe loved his friends, hated injustice, and he stoutly maintained that God was having a particularly good day when He created Dartmouth College.
I researched the Amanda Knox case extensively just after the first conviction, and by early 2010 my conclusions were clear: Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito had nothing to do with the murder of Meredith Kercher. I then began looking for ways to help. One thing led to another and out of the blue one day I got an email from a man named Joe Bishop. He liked what I was thinking and writing about the case. He said he and a few others were looking to broaden support for Amanda and Raffaele and wanted to know if I was interested in helping.
So many innocence supporters have a similar story to tell. They knew Knox and Sollecito were innocent and wanted to help. But they didn’t know how. Then this man named Joe Bishop came calling.
The people we have come to think of as “haters” and “guilters” have never understood at all how things worked in the Amanda support group. They have conjured up this bizarre fantasy that an evil public relations genius named David Marriott was paid millions to spread fairy dust throughout the media, blinding journalists and their audiences to the reality of Amanda Knox’s guilt.
This was always arrant nonsense. Marriott played an important advisory role to the family as they struggled to sort out interview requests. But he and his firm had absolutely nothing to do with the grassroots effort. I know that for a fact. I was there.
The reason the pro-innocence movement ultimately became as big as it did was because of people like Joe Bishop. In fact I will hazard an opinion that few would dispute:
Joe Bishop was the single, indispensable person who made it possible for a local, Seattle-based support group to become national and international in scope.
Others were important, of course, but Joe was the vital link between the early Friends of Amanda and the rest of us. He was our top talent spotter, recruiter, and strategist. He was an author, researcher, organizer, archivist and an indefatigable poster. He inspired and cajoled and smoothed over the inevitable disagreements and hurt feelings. He urged us always to be well informed and tough, but fair.
Joe was, in short, the visionary who showed us the way and the glue who held us together. And he did all of this while working full time in a demanding job that required international travel, and being heavily involved as well in alumni affairs at his beloved Dartmouth.
The last time I saw Joe was in Chicago, at the Loyola event. Afterwards, five of us supporters went out to dinner to savor what had been a wonderful day for Amanda. Dinner ended and, after the usual hugs and handshakes, we went our separate ways. Three of us headed for nearby hotels. Joe and another long-time innocence supporter headed for the trains. It never occurred to me then that Joe and I would not meet again.
Joe’s father was the eminent Yale Law professor Joseph W. Bishop, Jr. and Joe admired his Dad’s fierce intelligence, integrity, and commitment to justice. Well, the apple never falls far from the tree and I am as sure as I can be that this father would have been just as proud of this son.
Joseph W. Bishop—Joe—friend—fare…..thee….well.