America? Hold the Double

by Chris Markham. 0 Comments

Amanda Knox made the news again a few weeks ago. Remember her? She’s the American foreign exchange student that lived in Perugia, Italy. She also found her British roommate murdered, an act for which she, her boyfriend, and another man, were put on trial, and found not guilty. After the verdict (and about four years of imprisonment), she left Italy, never to return.
There were a number of reasons this was such an interesting tale for us here in the States. First, Knox is a comely young woman; second, so was the roommate (we have an unnatural fascination with crimes committed and allegedly committed by and on young, pretty women); third, the alleged crime occurred during what was described as a “sex game” gone horribly wrong (we have an unhealthy interest in sex games gone horribly wrong); and fourth, it happened outside of the United States (who knows what happens with those European sex games that go horribly wrong with two attractive women involved that ends in murder). In short, this story has just about everything we love (except a cool cat video as well).
In my profession, I hear just how bad the American justice system is a great deal of the time. Justice favors those with money. Justice is too expensive. I never should have gotten sued. I shouldn’t have to sue to get what I have coming to me. But international cases such as the Knox trial just goes to show how superior our system is.
In the good old US of A, we all know that someone cannot be tried twice for the same crime, as long as the first trial (bench or jury) results in a verdict of “not guilty”. I had to be fairly specific here, because we’ve seen mistrials, hung juries, etc. If any of the aforementioned occurs, the state will, most likely, try its luck again.
Many, many, MANY books, movies and television shows have the “double Jeopardy” concept, as provided for in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, as a plot twist. Some of the time, the person declared innocent is a guilty as sin. But their hubris gets the best of them and they commit yet another murder to show how smart they are, and they’re promptly arrested and convicted. In some instances, the state lay in wait, hoping the innocent person screws up again, say, busts into a Las Vegas hotel room and beats up a guy for stealing sports memorabilia. The cops get him, the court convicts him, and he ends up in prison for the rest of his life, something that he avoided a cant few years earlier.
Apparently in Italy, if the prosecutor doesn’t or can’t prove his case in the first trial, he is free to go after the same defendants again in another trial. That’s what just happened in the Knox case. The trial was repeated (with no new evidence, to my understanding and the defendants not present) and this time Knox was convicted of murder.
Because the United States doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Italy, as long as Knox remains in America (or stays out of foreign countries with extradition treaties with Italy) she’ll never do one more day of hard time.
The purpose of this article is not to debate the guilt or innocence of Knox; rather, it provides us an example of the superiority of our justice system compared to others around the world. As mentioned previously, Americans have a constitutional right to a fair trial, a speedy trial, and (with the earlier listed exceptions) the safeguard against being tried a second time for the same criminal act. As I’ve stated in previous columns (right Brenda?) the state has an infinite amount of resources at its disposal. It can always use these tools to secure a conviction at a second trial if the first one fails to deliver a favorable verdict. And that’s what the prosecution in Italy tried to do – they saw what worked and what failed in the first trial, and “secured” new evidence and witnesses to best gain a conviction at the second trial. That’s not right. As the old saying goes “Even a blind squirrel can find a nut now and then.”
Here in America, justice is supposed to be blind. But in other countries, it can be NUTS!

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