Collection: N America context
Thursday, August 25, 2016
The West Memphis Three: Another Instance Where A Strong Pro-Guilt Case Is Being Garbled For Profit
Posted by The Machine
1. Overview of the series
In my last post on how media hype can badly tangle crime cases, I examined Sarah Koenig’s biased coverage of the Adnan Syed case for the Serial podcasts and her flawed approach to assessing the evidence against him.
In this post, I will analyse a critically acclaimed documentary about another alleged miscarriage of justice: West of Memphis and associated media hype.
The Peter Jackson documentary claims three men known as the West Memphis Three (the WM3) were wrongly convicted as child killers and points the finger at another man.
2. West Memphis 3 background
In May 1993, three eight-year-old boys - Steve Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore - were found dead in a ditch in West Memphis in the US state of Arkansas. There is a crimescene video at the bottom here.
They had been stripped and bound. Steve Branch and Michael Moore had drowned and Christopher Byers had bled to death after his genitals had been mutilated and partially removed.
Three teenagers - Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley - were arrested following a tip that Echols had been seen covered in mud the evening the boys disappeared and Misskelley gave a confession.
The WM3 were convicted of murder in 1994 (see the judge and courthouse below) and sent to prison.
However, they were freed in August 2011 after taking an Alford plea. This is a deal which allowed them to maintain their innocence while agreeing prosecutors had enough evidence to convict them.
3. The media campaigns
There have been high-profile campaigns to free the WM3 and cast doubt on their convictions. HBO Television made three films about the case: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, Paradise Lost 2 Revelations and Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. CBS News produced a documentary about the case entitled A Cry for Innocence.
A number of celebrities and musicians supported the WM3, including Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, James Hetfield from Metallica, Henry Rollins, actor Johnny Depp, Natalie Mains from The Dixie Chicks, and film director Peter Jackson. Do any of these celebrities put forward a compelling case for innocence?
In a word - no.
Johnny Depp and Henry Rollins basically say they could relate to Damian Echols.
“I immediately related to Damien and what he went through growing up. He comes from a small town from Arkansas. I come from a relatively small town in Kentucky. I can remember being kind of looked upon as a freak or, you know, different because I didn’t dress like everybody else. So I can empathize with being judged by how you look as opposed to who you are.” (Johnny Depp, A Cry for Innocence, CBS News).
“Damien liked to hang out alone and wrote he was depressed. Hello! He liked to listen to weird music. Check! He was a wise ass in the face of law enforcement. Are you kidding? It could have been me.” (Henry Rollins, West of Memphis)
After reading some of the comments in the media about the WM3 case, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Damien Echols was only a suspect because he wore black, listened to Metallica and read Stephen King books.
This comment by Guardian journalist Emma John is a typical comment by the supporters of the WM3
“At their subsequent trial, evidence introduced by the prosecution included the fact that Echols wore Metallica T-shirts and read Stephen King novels”
Several documentaries angled to exonerate the three have been widely promoted on HBO and Netflix including this one.
Emma John and countless other journalists, as well as the producers of Paradise Lost and West of Memphis, completely ignore Echols’ startling mental health records - Exhibit 500 - that show he was a seriously disturbed and violent individual.
He was sent to a mental health hospital on three separate occasions. He threatened a number of people with violence and on occasion attacked others. For example, he threatened to kill his parents and to eat his father alive and he admitted trying to “claw the eyes of out” of a student. According to a report, Echols sucked the blood from the wound of one of the boys in Arkansas Juvenile Detention Center.
Damien Echols’ lawyers presented his mental health records as evidence in the sentencing phase of his trial, presumably to convince the jury he was mentally ill and not fully responsible for his actions, in order to spare him from the death penalty.
4. The West of Memphis production
West of Memphis is available to watch on the streaming for-pay movie site Netflix. Netflix flatly states that the West Memphis Three are innocent.
“They spent 18 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit—and the real killer is still out there.”
There’s no legal basis for such an unequivocal claim. The WM3 accepted the court’s judgement of guilt. They were not acquitted by a jury or exonerated by the Supreme Court of the United States.
West of Memphis doesn’t provide any credible exculpatory evidence to support Netflix’s categorial assertion that the WM3 are innocent. No-one should expect this to be the case because if there had been any exculpatory evidence, it would have been presented in court.
A couple of the prosecution’s witnesses recanted their testimony, but that doesn’t mean the entire case against the WM3 collapses. In the Perugia case Judge Massei didn’t find two of the prosecution’s witnesses to be credible, but he and the other judges still found Knox and Sollecito guilty of Meredith Kercher’s murder.
The Telegraph and Empire gave West of Memphis five stars out of five. The Guardian gave it four stars. Does the documentary deserve such high ratings from these mainstream media organisations?
If you compare West of Memphis to Andrea Vogt’s documentary about the Meredith Kercher case is Amanda Knox Guilty? (which is the gold standard for true crime documentaries because it’s balanced and factually accurate) you have to conclude that it’s light years away from being anywhere near as good as Andrea Vogt’s documentary.
The producers haven’t made a balanced and objective documentary that lets the audience make up their own minds. As with all documentaries about people who have been convicted of murders they allegedly didn’t commit, the cherrypicked story is told primarily from the defence point of view.
This isn’t surprising - Damian Echols and his wife were two of the producers.
I strongly suspect this is also the reason why most of the evidence that led to the convictions of the WM3 is completely ignored. When I found this out, I felt that the producers had been sly and dishonest. Their commitment is clearly to the WM3 - and not the truth.
If you want to have an informed opinion on the WM3 and to understand why they were convicted, you need to read the official court documents and witness statements, and then consider all the pieces of evidence as a whole.
When you research the case for yourself, you will discover that Damian Echols didn’t become a suspect because he wore black, was different, and a bit of an outsider.
When he was questioned in connection with the murder of the three boys, he failed a polygraph test.
A ten question polygraph test was formulated and three polygraph charts were conducted. The test contained the following relevant questions:
Q.#3. At any time wednesday or wednesday night, were you in robin hood hills? “No”
Q.#5. Were you present when those boys were killed? “No”
Q.#7. Did you kill any of those three boys? “No”
Q.#9. Do you know who killed those three boys? “No”
Q.#10.do you suspect anyone of having killed those three boys? “No”
It is the opinion of this polygraph examiner that this subject recorded significant responses indicative of deception when he answered the above listed relevant questions in the manner noted.
Conclusion: deception indicated.
By reading the official court documents, you will also discover that Echols knew specific details about the crime.
“Detective Bryn Ridge testified that Echols said he understood the victims had been mutilated, with one being cut up more than the others, and that they had drowned. Ridge testified that when Echols made the statement, the fact that Christopher Byers had been mutilated more than the other two victims was not known by the public. The jury could have reasonably concluded that Echols would not have known this fact unless he were involved in some manner.
“Echols took the witness stand, and his testimony contained additional evidence of guilt. When asked about his statement that one victim was mutilated more than the others, he said he learned the fact from newspaper accounts. His attorney showed him the newspaper articles about the murders. On cross-examination, Echols admitted that the articles did not mention one victim being mutilated more than the others, and he admitted that he did not read such a fact in a newspaper.”
The police obtained further corroboration that Damian Echols had been involved in the murder of Steve Branch, Michael Moore and Chris Byers when his friend Jessie Misskelley told them that he, Echols and Jason Baldwin had attacked and killed the boys.
“On June 3, or almost one month after the murders, Detective Mike Allen asked Jessie Lloyd Misskelley, Jr., about the murders. Misskelley was not a suspect at the time, but Echols was, and it was thought that Misskelley might give some valuable information about Echols. Detective Allen had been told all three engaged in cult-like activities. Misskelley made two statements to the detective that implicated Echols and Baldwin, as well as himself. The statements can be found in Misskelley v. State, 323 Ark. 449, 459-61, 915 S.W.2d 702, 707-08 (1996).”
(Damien Wayne ECHOLS and Charles Jason Baldwin v. STATE of Arkansas,Supreme Court of Arkansas).
It should be noted that Jessie Misskelley repeatedly claimed that he, Echols and Baldwin had killed the boys before and after he was convicted. On one occasion, he confessed despite being warned not to by his lawyer.
This should trouble anyone who believes the WM3 are innocent because Misskelley wasn’t threatened or promised any deal by the investigators.
He may have a low IQ, but he wasn’t hallucinating when he made these confessions. In short, they were voluntary statements made over a significant period of time - from 3 June 1993 to 17 February 1994.
Furthermore, Misskelley also knew specific details about the crime. He told the police that Christopher Byers had been castrated in an interview on 3 June 1993.
RIDGES: Cutting him in the face. Alright, another boy was cut I understand. Where was he cut at?
JESSIE: At the bottom
RIDGE: On his bottom? Was he faced down and he was cutting on him, or
JESSIE: He was
GITCHELL: Now you’re talking about bottom, do you mean right here?
GITCHELL: In his groin area?
RIDGE: Do you know what his penis is?
JESSIE: Yeah, that’s where he was cut at.
RIDGE: That’s where he was cut.
GITCHELL: Which boy was that?
JESSIE: That one right there.
GITCHELL: You’re talking about the Byers boy again?
RIDGE: Are you sure that he was the one that was cut?
JESSIE: That’s the one that I seen them cutting on.
RIDGE: Alright, you know what a penis is?
RIDGE: Alright, is that where he was cutting?
JESSIE: That’s where I seen them going down at, and he was on his back. I seen them going down right there real close to his penis and stuff and I saw some blood and that’s when I took off.
Jessie Misskelley’s claim that Christopher Byers was castrated was corroborated by the autopsy report.
“The skin of the penis, scrotal sac and testes were missing. There was a large gaping defect measuring 2 3/4 inch by 1 1/2 inch. The shaft of the penis was present and measured 2 inches in length. The gaping defect was surrounded by multiple and extensive irregular punctate gouging type injuries measuring from 1/8 inch to 3/4 inch and had a depth of penetration of 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch.”
In West of Memphis, it’s claimed that turtles might be responsible for the missing genitals. I found this theory to be fanciful to say the least.
According to the medical examiner, Chris Byers bled to death because his genitals had been mutilated and partially removed. I believe Jessie Miskelley that this happened before he was thrown into the ditch.
In the same interview, Jessie Misskelley told the police officers that one of the boys was cut in his face.
RIDGE: Okay, now when this is going on, when this is taking place, you saw somebody with a knife. Who had a knife?
RIDGE: Jason had a knife, what did he cut with the knife. What did you see him cut or who did you see him cut?
JESSIE: I saw him cut one of the little boys
RIDGE: Alright, where did he cut him at?
JESSIE: He was cutting him in the face.
Prosecutor John Fogleman highlighted the fact that Jessie Misskelley knew facts that nobody else knew in his closing argument. He pointed out that Misskelley knew one of the boys had been cut in the fact and that this specific detail wasn’t mentioned in any of the newspapers.
Nothing in there [the newspapers] about a boy being cut in the face. Said they were beat up real bad, but nothing, nothing in there about somebody being cut in the face. He [Jessie Misskelley] says, “Yes, one of them was cut in the face.”
Jessie Misskelley also claimed that Damian Echols grabbed one of the boys by the ear and that the ear was discoloured as a result.
MISSKELLEY: He [Damian Echols] grabbed one of’m by the ear, I don’t know which one, he grabbed on of’m by the ear trying to pull his ear off or something. He grabbed’m pretty tight. It turned kind of red.
This was also corroborated by the autopsy report for Chris Byers. According to the report, he suffered injuries to his right ear:
The right ear was abraded and contused. The inferior aspect of the right ear showed multiple linear abrasions measuring 1/2 inch to 1 1/4 inch.”
When you find out the three boys were stripped and two of them had injuries to their genitals, it’s natural to assume there must have been a sexual motive. Jessie Misskelley told the police that Damian Echols and Jason Baldwin sexually assaulted two of the boys.
JESSIE: Then they [Damian Echols and Jason Baldwin] tied them up, tied their hands up, they started screwing them and stuff, cutting them and stuff, and I saw it and turned around and looked, and then I took off running, I went home, then they called me and asked me, how come I didn’t stay, I told them, I just couldn’t.
John Fogleman also drew the jury’s attention to the fact that Jessie Misskelley knew that two of the boys had been sexually assaulted - something that was also corroborated by the autopsy reports. Chris Byers and Steve Branch had injuries to their genitals.
Finally, in talking about the boys being sexually abused, Inspector Gitchell says, “So they both did it to all three of the boys?” Jessie: “Just them two as far as I know.”
According to Lisa Sakevicius - a criminalist from the state lab - the three victims were tied with three different knots.
Her testimony would seem to rule out that the three boys were killed by a single attacker and indicate there were three attackers.
Jessie Misskelley didn’t just confess to the police. According to his friend Buddy Lucas, Misskelley also confessed to him.
Lucas - so we sit there, sit there, and I said, he said man me jason and damien we went walking last night in the town of west memphis, I said why didn’t you all come by and get me? we will we uh, we were in a hurry and everything go up there and come back home. I said alright I understand (inaudible) now since I found out I’m kinda glad he didn’t come by and get me
Ridge - okay, what did he tell you he do?
Lucas - we…. he told me that uh, that he got in a fight, that’s what he told me at first
Ridge - okay
Lucas - I said damien and jason they helped you? He said um-yea and everything so I said well did you all hurt anybody? And he said yea, I didn’t think it was those 8 year old kids or anything, so I turn around and come to found out that jason he was with jason and damien when they sacrificed them little kids. I was come and tell you all
Ridge - he tells you he’s in some trouble?
Lucas - uh-huh
Ridge - and what did he tell you he was in trouble over?
Lucas - that he really, he said um, we hurt, uh…. uh we hurt a couple of boys, that jason and damien killed
Ridge - okay
Lucas - couple, I said was you involved? He said yea, I said what did you do? I finally got it talked out of him what did he do, he said I hit uh, a couple in the back of the head
Ridge - okay, and
Lucas - and everything to keep them from running and everything
Ridge - and that’s what he told you?
Lucas - yes sir
Two witnesses claimed that Damian Echols admitted he had killing the three boys.
Twelve-year-old Christy VanVickle testified that she heard Echols say he “killed the three boys.” Fifteen-year-old Jackie Medford testified that she heard Echols say, “I killed the three little boys and before I turn myself in, I’m going to kill two more, and I already have one of them picked out.”
The testimony of these two independent witnesses was direct evidence of the statement by Echols. These witnesses were cross-examined by Echols counsel, and it was the jury’s province to weigh their credibility.
(Damien Wayne ECHOLS and Charles Jason Baldwin v. STATE of Arkansas,Supreme Court of Arkansas).
5. Alternative perp Terry Hobbs
The producers of West of Memphis make a case for Terry Hobbs - the stepfather of Steve Branch - being the killer and that his friend David Jacoby was a possible accomplice. However, Hamish McKenzie points out in an article for The Atlantic that the filmmakers are guilty of hypocrisy.
“But the rave reviews miss a dangerous hypocrisy at the heart of the film, which was paid for and produced by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, and directed by Amy Berg. In their quest to clear the names of the “West Memphis Three"—Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Jr. who were teenagers when they were convicted for the 1993 killings—the filmmakers decide that they have found the actual murderer: Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of one of the murdered boys. And in publicly making the case against him, they perpetrate a similar sort of injustice to the one they originally set out to correct: relying on questionable evidence to prosecute in the court of public opinion.”
The producers of West of Memphis point the finger at Hobbs because he has a history of domestic violence, he gave inconistent alibis and they think two hairs found at the crime scene implicate him and his friend Jacoby. However, Thomas Fedor, one of the defence experts, called the hairs weak evidence.
“The two hairs that I know about – the one that could have in fact come from Mr. Hobbs and the one that could have in fact come from David Jacoby – constitute what I call weak evidence. Because there are other people it could have come from and there isn’t any way to really prove our selection of possible sources for that hair.
I don’t think – my personal opinion – I don’t think that that hair evidence would be enough to convict Mr. Hobbs or Mr. Jacoby or anyone that would be in a similar situation because it’s simply not strong enough.
The percentages I gave of people who could be the source of those hairs are 1.5% of the population in the respect to one hair and 7% in respect to the other hair. That’s not particularly strong evidence and especially in the context of what most people are accustomed to with DNA testing.” (Thomas Fedor, Forensic Serologist).
6. Some conclusions
Concluding the WM3 are innocent on the basis of watching West of Memphis would be like concluding Amanda Knox is innocent after reading Waiting to Be Heard. The documentary is clearly biased and one-sided.
The producers did not address most of the evidence that led to the convictions of the WM3 let alone refute it. This is not surprising when you consider the fact that Damian Echols is one of the producers.
The defence lawyers assessed the evidence and recommended that their clients accept a court judgement of guilt. Surely if there was no credible evidence against the WM3 they would have opted for a new trial. If they had been found not guilty, they would have been able to sue the state for millions of dollars.
The supposedly exculpatory evidence was that some DNA was recovered from the crime scene was not attributable to any of the victims or the WM3. Since it is not known to whom that DNA belongs, one cannot say what that person’s role, if any, was and whether the evidence would help the defendants.
Above: from freeway, crime scene is by a creek within trees in left background
7. Valuable Sources
Click: ‘West Memphis Three’ freed after 18 years in prison
Click: Damien Echols: Statements and Polygraph Reports (May 9-10, 1993)
Click: Supreme Court of Arkansas
Click: Closing Argument of John Fogleman
Click: Damien Echols - mental health records - Exhibit 500
Click: Peter Jackson’s West of Memphis: the tale of three wronged men
Click: Damien Echols: how I survived death row
Click: West Memphis Three Facts
Click: The Unsettling Recklessness of Peter Jackson’s ‘West of Memphis’
Click: Misskelley v. State
Click: Statement of Jessie L. Misskelley, Jr. (June 3, 1993 at 2:44 P.M.)
Click: Statement of Jessie Misskelley, Jr. February 17, 1994
Click: Autopsy report for Steven Branch
Click: Autopsy report for Chris Byers
Click: Autopsy report for Michael Moore
Click: Lisa Sakevicius’s testimony
Click: A Skeptic’s Guide To The West Memphis Three Documentaries
Click: Is Amanda Knox Guilty?
[Below: The crime scene about 1 mile west of Memphis - warning, images of the murdered boys are included]
Archived in Justice systems, Other systems, The wider contexts, N America context
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Tuesday, August 09, 2016
So Where Would YOU Want To Go On Trial? In Italy Or In The U.S.?
Posted by Peter Quennell
Maybe 9 out of 10 Italians think this.
Over the years the Italian justice system has become immensely tilted against prosecutors and victims at trial. Right now it is one of the toughest - or if you like, most lenient - anywhere in the world.
We have still not seen even ONE American lawyer claim that after the first trial in 2009 which found RS and AK guilty that there were strong grounds for an appeal.
In the US, back in 2009, full prison terms would have been begun.
And in fact virtually nothing at the 2009 trial was challenged in the appeal. But the defenses subversively organized to get Civil Judge Hellmann instead of Criminal Judge Chiari to preside, and in 2011 a farcical “not guilty” outcome was the result.
Then there was a THIRD jury trial, in 2013-14, which (as so often in Italy) threw out the not guilty outcome of the previous appeal trial.
And finally, in 2015, due to more subversive defense machinations with a little mafia help, the final Supreme Court appeal was assigned to the FIFTH Chambers, for the first murder appeal that Chambers has ever heard.
A second farcical “not guilty” outcome was the result.
Say what you like about the American system, there is not remotely any parallel in its judicial history to all of that. Quite the opposite in fact. We have had various posts pointing to an increasingly hard line in the US.
This is one not necessarily sought or appreciated by prosecutors or judges, who usually like trials and want to see juries of peers call the final shots.
It is actually being imposed by Federal and State politicians, many of whom were prosecutors themselves. Bizarre jury outcomes as at the OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony trials contributed somewhat to this trend.
One result is a trend the exact opposite of Italy’s - the increasing elimination of juries and even of trials altogether. The New York Times explains.
The criminal trial ended more than two and a half years ago, but Judge Jesse M. Furman can still vividly recall the case. It stands out, not because of the defendant or the subject matter, but because of its rarity: In his four-plus years on the bench in Federal District Court in Manhattan, it was his only criminal jury trial…
The Southern District held only 50 criminal jury trials last year, the lowest since 2004, according to data provided by the court. The pace remains slow this year.
In 2005, records show, there were more than double the number of trials: 106. And decades ago, legal experts said, the numbers were much higher.
“It’s hugely disappointing,” said Judge Jed S. Rakoff, a 20-year veteran of the Manhattan federal bench. “A trial is the one place where the system really gets tested. Everything else is done behind closed doors.”
Legal experts attribute the decline primarily to the advent of the congressional sentencing guidelines and the increased use of mandatory minimum sentences, which transferred power to prosecutors, and discouraged defendants from going to trial, where, if convicted, they might face harsher sentences.
In 1997, according to federal courts data nationwide, 3,200 of 63,000 federal defendants were convicted in jury trials; in 2015, there were only 1,650 jury convictions, out of 81,000 defendants.
Former Judge John Gleeson, who in March stepped down from the federal bench in Brooklyn to enter private practice, noted in a 2013 court opinion that 81 percent of federal convictions in 1980 were the product of guilty pleas; in one recent year, the figure was 97 percent.
Judge Gleeson wrote that because most pleas are negotiated before a prosecutor prepares a case for trial, the “thin presentation” of evidence needed for indictment “is hardly ever subjected to closer scrutiny by prosecutors, defense counsel, judges or juries.”
“The entire system loses an edge,” he added, “and I have no doubt that the quality of justice in our courthouses has suffered as a result.”
The article lists a number of resulting ill effects. Will the Knox apologists be up in arms? Dont hold your breath.
Archived in Justice systems, Italian system, Other systems, The wider contexts, Italian context, N America context
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Monday, June 20, 2016
How The Italian “Justice Tortoise” Is The Likely Winner Compared To For Example the US System
Posted by Peter Quennell
The things you do to make a living. The running of your house and your garden. The education and general development of your children. The restaurants and metro railways and bus services. The police and military and football teams - and grand opera!
All are purposeful systems.
Purposeful systems have created all we have ever built on this planet - all wealth, all structures, all machines, all culture. Typically any educated adult has within them at least 200 significant systems AKA their skill-set: cooking a meal, riding a bicycle, driving a car, using a computer, playing basketball.
You probably dont have a manual for each of them but each time you exercise a skill you probably follow the same hard-learned steps each time you want the benefit obtained previously.
One of the world’s great problems now - starkly seen in the British argument over its future in Europe, and in slow growth in the Arab world (the world’s slowest), and in China’s economy slowing and in anyone without a college degree likely to be worse off going forward - is that we are locked into whole huge arrays of these systems at various levels (family, corporate, city, country, region) that are archaic and mostly quite wrong for our needs going forward.
And few are sure which of all of them add any real value. We are flying blind on a mammoth scale.
With regard to the US as the main economic locomotive, in the 90s two very significant things happened. The East Asia economies really rocketed - because they adopted good systems pioneered by Japan, which itself had started out with many invented in America.
And for a while at least, many Americans really began to “see” systems, and corporations started a huge push toward quality control. You can see one outcome in today’s automobile ads - cars largely sell on their reliability. Their drive systems and safety systems are what sells cars now.
Latest thinking which we often touch on here is that tweaking of any systems anywhere has a short half-life, and after that the only way to get any better is to totally replace them. Go down the road and start over. Jump to the next level through complete reinvention.
After WWII Germany and Japan and Italy of necessity all did that and for most of the time since they really benefited.
But right now, most systems in most countries are archaic and nobody - at least no political leader or candidate - seems to be able to arrive at the vision and technique vital to jumping to the next level. That in fact should really be done mostly bottom-up, with national politicians playing quite a minor role.
“Path dependencies” like the myriad systems of the common market, many very old now, are today at least as deadly to our long-term future as any aliens from other planets.
Italy is working to try to update its justice system right now and we will report on that shortly. At least in theory, it has one of the easiest tasks in the world, because post WWII its legal system was redesigned from the ground up. It had already junked bad aspects, some going back centuries.
Italy already has some of the world’s smartest juries - jury service is compulsory, so smart people cannot dodge them. And the system already has some other very positive things going for it.
Mainly what is needed is some weeding. And such reforms are made easier in Italy because (1) judges and prosecutors all follow career paths and so they are not politically competing with one another; and (2) there is the Council of Magistrates (CSM) which can be very progressive in the reforms it pushes at its level.
Overarching reform in the United States is way way more difficult because power is so diffused in the political system and the political system is so vast, and so split by ideologies, and there is no CSM.
Here is an editorial in the New York Times about curbing the massive damage being done by over-zealous prosecutors - something already taken care of in the Italian system, despite the busload of idiots claiming otherwise.
And here is a blog post calling the New York Times editorial a convoluted crackpot of a column and saying the Times should get real. At least in that way, reform aint ever going to happen.
Hop on a plane, guys. Go to Italy, and learn something.
Archived in Justice systems, Italian system, Other systems, The wider contexts, Italian context, N America context
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Sunday, May 01, 2016
“Guilt” Crime Drama 13 June On US Cable TV Features An Abrasive Self-Absorbed Troublemaker
Posted by Peter Quennell
Reminiscent of? You got it. Here’s one synopsis.
“Guilt” is a soapy drama about a young American woman in London who becomes the prime suspect in the savage murder of her roommate.
As the investigation unfolds, viewers will question whether she’s a naïve, young girl whose poor decisions are being magnified under the ruthless glare of the British tabloids, or whether she’s a sociopath who brutally murdered her friend.
Even her sister, who comes to London to defend her, will question how well she knows her little sister as more and more ugly truths come out.
This mystery will twist through all layers of London society – from a posh but depraved sex club, all the way up to the Royal Family itself.
Knox did soar high for a short while. But her self-absorbed manner on TV was never helpful to her. And now she has been hung out to dry by an angry Guede, an angry Sollecito, and even a disbelieving Fifth Chambers of the Supreme Court (see the next post by Chimera).
Archived in Reporting, media, movies, Media news, Movies on case, The wider contexts, N America context
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Monday, April 25, 2016
Another Effective Innovation By New York Police Is Being Duplicated By Others
Posted by Peter Quennell
Those crowd-calming police horses seen nightly in the Times Square area go way back, and their presence was never reduced back when some other cities did so - often to their later regret.
There is endemic pressure (especially after 9/11) to keep the city as safe as possible.
From that sustained effort at systems improvement, other American police forces, some very besieged at the moment, attempt to learn something.
New York police both themselves innovate and also adopt good ideas from elsewhere - not least from the brave, popular and effective police forces of Italy.
We posted in January 2013 on New York’s adoption of an Italian approach to policing.
One approach which seems a natural for Italy with all of its art is proving successful in New York now.
Described in the NY Times today is this ongoing exercise in staring at artworks. The point being to sharpen the perceptions of investigators, and to put them all on the same page objectively.
To teach people how to notice details they might otherwise miss, Amy E. Herman, an expert in visual perception, likes to take them to museums and get them to look at the art. Recently she escorted a group of New York City police officers to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and asked them to describe some of the things they saw.
They did their best. “This seems to be a painting of some males with horses,” one officer said of Rosa Bonheur’s mid-19th-century work “The Horse Fair,” a scene of semi-chaos as horses are driven to market. He tried to abide by Ms. Herman’s admonishment to avoid words like “obviously.” “It appears to be daytime, and the horses appear to be traveling from left to right.”
Another pair of officers tackled Picasso’s 1905 “At the Lapin Agile,” which depicts a wilted-looking couple sitting at a French bar after what might have been a long night out. “They appear to have had an altercation,” one observed. The other said, “The male and female look like they’re together, but the male looks like he’ll be sleeping on the couch.”
The officers asked that their names not be used because they were not authorized to speak to reporters. They said that they did not know much about art — their jobs allow little opportunity for recreational museumgoing — and Ms. Herman said she preferred it that way.
“I’ve had people say, ‘I hate art,’ and I say, ‘That’s not relevant,’” she said. “This is not a class about Pollock versus Picasso. I’m not teaching you about art today; I’m using art as a new set of data, to help you clear the slate and use the skills you use on the job. My goal when you walk out the door is that you’re thinking differently about the job.”
A painting has many functions. It’s a cultural artifact, an aesthetic object, an insight into a time and a place, a piece of commerce. To Ms. Herman, it’s also an invaluable repository of visual detail that can help shed light on, say, how to approach a murder scene. “It’s extremely evocative and perfect for critical inquiry,” she said in an interview. “What am I seeing here? How do I attach a narrative to it?”
One of the processes:
Before unleashing the officers in the galleries, she talked to them in a classroom in the Met’s basement. She put up a slide of “Mrs. John Winthrop,” a 1773 portrait by John Singleton Copley. The painting, showing a woman sitting at a table holding little pieces of fruit, is considered a masterpiece of fine detail — the intricacy of the lace trim on the lady’s gown, the rich decorations on her hat. But there’s a detail that’s so obvious, or maybe so seemingly irrelevant, that most people fail to mention it in their description.
“Everyone sees that this is a woman with fruit, and 80 percent miss the mahogany table,” she said. (They also miss the woman’s reflection in the veneer.)
Ms. Herman also displayed a pair of slides featuring reclining nudes: Goya’s “The Nude Maja” (1797-1800) and Lucian Freud’s 1995 “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping,” who is very fat. Ms. Herman asked the group to compare the pictures. “Most cops, when I ask this question, say it shows someone before and after marriage,” she said.
Several officers raised their hands.
“Uh, the woman at the bottom is more generously proportioned,” one said.
“She is morbidly obese,” said another.
“Right!” Ms. Herman said. “Don’t make poor word choices. Think about every word in your communication.”
Ms. Herman, who has a new book out, “Visual Intelligence: Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life,” came to her vocation in a roundabout way. She worked first as a lawyer, did not like it, took a job in the development office at the Brooklyn Museum and then moved to the Frick Collection. Earning a master’s degree in art history at night at Hunter College, she eventually became head of the Frick’s education department.
There, inspired by a program in which Yale medical students studied works of art to better observe their patients, she helped devise a similar program for the Frick. Eventually she moved beyond medicine. She has been offering the courses full time as her own business since 2011; her clients include federal and local law enforcement agencies across the country, as well as medical students and business executives.
Also successful elsewhere:
Steve Dye, chief of police at the Grand Prairie Police Department in Texas, brought in Ms. Herman recently to talk to a group of officers from the region. He said her presentation was invaluable in showing the officers how to better observe and document their findings accurately and free from bias.
“Some of the works of art she showed us, we wouldn’t notice the finer details,” he said. “And we’re supposed to be professional observers.”
When forced to deconstruct paintings in group settings, people from different professions tend to respond differently.
For cops it’s a natural.
“The law enforcement community is much more forthcoming,” Ms. Herman said. “Cops will outtalk you every time. Doctors and medical students are much more inhibited. They don’t want to be wrong, and they never want to show that they are ignorant about anything.”
The New York Police Department is one of Ms. Herman’s most important clients. She tailors her presentations to her audiences, and they are on the regular training curriculum at the detective bureau and the training bureau at the Police Academy; other divisions use her services from time to time. In general, her program is voluntary rather than mandatory.
“Amy reminds officers to explore outside the box,” said Police Officer Heather Totoro, who added that the program helped officers in training because of its “uniqueness and power.”
“She taps into officers’ unique sixth sense, teaching them to tell her what they see, not what they think.”
Law enforcement officials tend to view the works through the lens of the job: Who has done what to whom? Where is the perp?
“Sometimes they’ll say, ‘We have an E.D.P. here’ — an emotionally disturbed person,” Ms. Herman said. Once she showed some officers El Greco’s “The Purification of the Temple,” which depicts Jesus expelling the traders and money-changers amid turmoil and mayhem.
“One cop said, ‘I’d collar the guy in pink’” — that would be Jesus — ‘“because it’s clear that he’s causing all the trouble.’”
Among the works she finds most interesting as a learning tool is Vermeer’s exquisitely ambiguous “Mistress and Maid,” a 1666-7 portrait of a lady seated at a table, handing over (or being handed) a mysterious piece of paper. “There are so many different narratives,” she said. “The analysts come away asking more questions than answers — ‘Who’s asking the question? Who’s doing the talking? Who’s listening?’ The cops will say, ‘It’s a servant asking for the day off.’”
She also likes “House of Fire,” a 1981 painting by James Rosenquist that has three absurdist parts: an upside-down bag of groceries, a bucket under a window shade, and a group of aggressively thrusting lipsticks. “It’s really conducive to good dialogue,” she said. “How many times do officers have to make order out of chaos? So many times in our work we come across things that don’t have a coherent narrative.”
The officers in the class seemed impressed, both by Ms. Herman and by their grand surroundings.
One officer said that she had learned “how to sit down with colleagues and deal with the fact that you can perceive things so differently from each other.” It was her first trip to the Met, or indeed to any art museum.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “It’s very Thomas Crown-ish, isn’t it?”
Archived in Justice systems, Other systems, Those officially involved, Police and CSI, The wider contexts, N America context
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Wednesday, March 02, 2016
Serial Killer Robert Pickton Tries To Cash In - Why Son-of-Sam Laws Should Be Enacted Worldwide
Posted by Chimera
Son of Sam Anti Bloodmoney Laws
We explained here why laws against blood money are called Son of Sam laws in the US.
Attempts by murderers to persuade gullible publics by way of east access to tone-deaf publishers and TV is becoming an unwelcome phenomenon worldwide and maybe luring others into crime.
Lawmakers worldwide are being prompted to set this right. There is currently no Son-of-Sam Law in the Canadian Province of British Columbia. Vancouver is the largest city in BC.
BC’s Robert Pickton Serial Killer Case
This is a Vancouver case now in the national Canadian news.
The transcription below is a jailhouse conversation between Robert Pickton, who stood accused of murder, and an undercover police officer.
[0:04] Pickton - They got me. They got me on this one.
[0:07] Undercover - No. No shit.
[0:18] Undercover - Fuck, what have they got? Fuck, there’s old carcasses. So, what have they got, you know what I’m saying?
[0:26] Pickton - DNA
[0:28] Undercover - Fuck
[0:30] Pickton - Yeah
[0:32] Undercover - Come on buddy. Fuck, that’s nothing. They can’t finalize it though if you fucking got ... if you’ve fucking got a missing person. It’s pretty hard to collect DNA on that
[0:44] Pickton - They got DNA
[0:45] Undercover - Fucking guy does it right. I find the best way to dispose of something is fucking take it to the ocean
[0:56] Pickton - Oh really?
[0:58] Undercover - Oh, fuck, you know what the fucking ocean does to things? There ain’t much left.
[1:14] Pickton - I did better than that.
[1:15] Undercover - Who?
[1:16] Pickton - Me
[1:17] Undercover - No. huh?
[1:34] Pickton - A rendering plant.
[1:36] Undercover - Hey?
[1:36] Pickton - A rendering plant.
[1:36] Undercover - Ha ha. No shit. That’s gotta be fucking pretty good, hey?
[1:44] Pickton - Mmm hmmm
[1:45] Undercover - There can’t be much fucking left?
[1:52] Pickton - Oh no, only I was kinda sloppy at the end, getting too sloppy.
Now, however, Pickton decides he doesn’t want to be just another inmate serving life. He wants some fame, money and extra publicity as well.
Robert Picton’s Attempt At A Book
With this brazen act Robert Pickton joins the ranks of other sickos who commit murder and then cash in
(1) O.J. Simpson was paid $600,000 for Pablo Fenjves and Dominick Dunn to write his book ‘’[If] I did it’‘.
(2) Raffaele Sollecito was paid $950,000 for Andrew Gumbel to write his book ‘‘Honor Bound’’
(3) Salvatore (Sammy) Gravano was paid $1.5 million for Peter Maas to write his book ‘‘Underboss’’
(4) Amanda Knox was ostensibly paid $3.8 million (possible world record) for “Waiting to be Heard’‘
Pickton, who is serving 6 life sentences at the Kent Institution in British Columbia was apparently sending his work out piece by piece to Michael Chilldres out in California. (Author’s Note: it is not clear if “Chilldres” is an alias).
Chilldres claims he only typed out the manuscript, and did not write it, and that it was being done for a friend.
The guards have long been aware of this, according to the Union. But now that publishing is a reality, it is becoming clear that no effort was made to actually stop it.
- *** Side Note *** Robert Pickton’s book, titled ‘‘Pickton: In his Own Words’’ was being sold by Barnes and Noble, who also helped Knox sell her (memoir) ‘‘Waiting to be Heard’‘.
*** Side Note *** Pickton supposedly wrote his own manuscript, unlike creative writing graduate Knox.
*** Side Note *** Pickton actually waited until his appeals were exhausted before writing a book (or having someone else do it).
A Partial Timeline
The numerous cruel murders took place more than a decade ago.
- December 2006: Jury selection takes place.
December 2007: Pickton was convicted on 6 counts of 2nd degree murder (not 1st degree) and sentenced to 6 life sentences.
February 2008: The B.C. Attorney General makes the controversial decision ‘‘not’’ to try Pickton for the additional 20 murders, if his current 6 convictions survive appeal
June 2009: The BC Court of Appeals rejects 2-1 Pickton’s appeal for a new trial, saying the errors in jury instructions were not enough to overturn the conviction.
July 2010: The Supreme Court of Canada rejects 9-0 Pickton’s appeal for a new trial.
August 2010: BC confirms that to save time, money and hardship, the other 20 murder victims will not result in additional charges.
To clear up the confusion, the police and prosecutors actually had evidence that Pickton committed 26 murders, although he was suspected in many more.
The Crown (Prosecution), chose to only prosecute the 6 strongest cases, leaving the other 20 in limbo.
The Crown argued that there wasn’t much of a difference between 6 life sentences and 26, and the time and expense had to be considered.
While this is true, it left a bad taste for the families of those victims. Justice wasn’t being pursued literally because of convenience.
Present State Of The Case
The Attorney General, Premier, and victims right’s groups are working to ensure not only that this book gets pulled, but that Pickton cannot profit from it. Some more:
- Prison guards reported book
Correctional Service warned of Pickton book
Pickton trial timeline
Premier hopes to stop sale of Robert Pickton book
Archived in Other legal processes, Those elsewhere, The wider contexts, N America context
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Friday, February 26, 2016
Surprising Similarities Between Sammy The Bull Gravano And The Ex-Perps In Meredith’s Case
Posted by Chimera
This piece is about Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano, an admitted serial killer.
He had a career in the mafia, and was the underboss and hitman for the notorious mob boss John Gotti. Although his is a case about organized crime, there are many similarities between Gotti v Gravano, and Knox v Sollecito v Guede.
Some Gotti/Gravano history
John Gotti was a captain in the Gambino crime family (named after Carlo Gambino), based in New York, NY. A serious problem emerged for him when several members of his ‘‘crew’’ were indicted for drug dealing.
These indictments included his younger brother, Gene Gotti, and Angelo Ruggiero, a childhood friend. The policy within the crime family for many years had been ‘‘deal-and-die’‘.
The upper leadership of the mob had figured that drug dealing was too high profile a crime, and that the extra police attention was not worth it. True, this was extremely hypocritical, as the bosses collected their cut of all income, knowing that a large portion of those proceeds came directly from drugs.
The drug indictments suddenly meant that John Gotti was in danger.
Though not personally implicated, he thought he might also be killed on the assumption that he approved of the alleged dealing. He decided to strike first, to save his own neck by having then boss Paul Castellano ‘‘rubbed out’‘. Gotti solicited the help of Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano, who was known as a prolific killer.
Paul Castellano had inducted Gravano into the mob in 1978. However, Gravano had no qualms about killing his ‘‘friend’’ since Gotti offered him even more: a promotion to ‘‘capo’’ or to ‘‘captain’‘.
Gravano helped Gotti set up the hit for December 16, 1985. With Castellano (and driver Tommy Billoti who was at the time underboss) dead, the family was temporarily leaderless. Gotti got himself voted in, and took over the Gambino family.
Castellano wasn’t the only ‘‘friend’’ that Gravano murdered, or would later murder. Gravano murdered Robert di Bernardo—a business partner, Louie Molito—a childhood friend, and others. He then took over any assets that they had. Some ‘‘friend’‘.
For the next several years, Gotti deliberately put himself into the spotlight. He managed to win 3 criminal trials, and seemed untouchable. However, in 1990, his mouth got him into trouble, and the FBI recorded Gotti implicating himself and other Gambino associates on murder and other crimes.
Gotti also made many nasty insults towards Gravano, now his underboss.
Gotti, Gravano, and Frank LeCasio (then the 3rd in command) were arrested December 11, 1990. All were held without bail. When Gravano finally heard the tapes of what Gotti had been saying about him, he turned and became a ‘‘mob rat’‘. Gotti and LeCasio were convicted of murder, racketeering and other crimes, and received life without parole.
Gravano, however got a deal that would put Karla Homolka to shame: 5 years for 19 murders. True, he could have served 20 for racketeering, but the judge cut it far below that.
For the complete interview, please see the YouTube video at the top here. This was shot in the 1990’s and converted to digital, so the quality is not that great. Here are a few more for background. The third one, the movie ‘‘Gotti’’ is fairly accurate, though off on some points.
Gambino family highlights
(1) Albert Anastasia (underboss to Vincent Magino) made his ‘‘friend’’ disappear. Anastasia then took over.
(2) Carlo Gambino (underboss to Albert Anastasia) had his ‘‘friend’’ shot in a barbershop. Gambino then took over.
(3) Carlo Gambino made sure the ‘‘best qualified person’’ took over when he had a heart attack. He hand picked his brother-in-law Paul Castellano to succeed him.
(4) Paul Castellano’s underboss, Neil Delacroce, died of cancer. Castellano hand picked his buddy, Tommy Bilotti, to become new underboss.
(5) John Gotti and Salvatore (Sammy) Gravano, had their ‘‘friend’’ Paul Castellano shot dead in public. Gotti took over.
(6) While in prison, John Gotti made sure the best qualified person succeeded him as boss. He hand picked his son, John Jr.
So…. murder and nepotism seem to be how the top spots get filled in the mafia.
Excerpts From the Video
2:55 (Gravano) You can relate me to a soldier in Vietnam who killed hundreds of people. I was a soldier of Cosa Nostra. I am a hitman.
No. You are just a slimeball who kills for money.
3:25 (Gravano) Here I am
3:30 (Sawyer) They have said that you are the single most important witness ever to testify against the mob.
3:36 (Gravano) I think I am.
3:39 (Sawyer) So there’s a word you use, for people who turn ...
3:42 (Gravano) Who cooperate. You trying to goat me into the word? Rat? Is that the word?
3:51 (Sawyer) That’s the word. So are you a rat?
3:53 Gravano) I look at it as ‘‘I was betrayed. I betrayed him.’‘
3:59 (Sawyer) Double crosser?
4:01 (Gravano) Loud sigh ... master double-crosser. John’s a double-crosser. I’m a master double-crosser. We played chess, and he lost.
Gravano had in the past sneered at the idea of people testifying. However, when it is his turn, he dismisses it as a game.
4:30 (Gravano) Power has a way, where you can believe for a while that you can walk on water. And I think this is what happened to him.
And people who can walk away from 19 murders? What are they thinking?
5:25 (Sawyer) Were you Gotti’s friend?
5:30 (Gravano) His pit bull. And his friend.
5:42 (Sawyer) What was the reason, the real reason you cooperated? Or was it just to save your skin?
5:48 (Gravano) I was just tired of the mob, and tired of fighting. It was a door out of the mob. You know I watched the David Karresch incident, and I would say to myself: ‘‘how could these people get so brainwashed? Are they crazy? Are they nuts?’’ And then I look at myself in the mirror and I say ‘‘brainwashed?’’ Here I am on orders, killing people left and right. And I’m calling them brainwashed.
6:18 (Sawyer) There was a book written about you that you said you had a characteristic of committing murder with the non-chalence of someone pulling open the tab on a can of beer. That was about all that it phased you, or about all it took.
6:30 (Gravano) As far as being a hitman goes, I was actually good at it.
6:36 (Sawyer) Because you were fast, and lethal?
6:39 (Gravano) And loyal. If I was on your case, I dropped everything.
6:45 (Sawyer) Look at this list. There are ... how many?
6:49 (Gravano) 19
6:51 (Sawyer) Serial killers don’t have 19.
6:53 (Gravano) We’re worse than they are.
Okay, which is it? You turned on Gotti because it was a chess game? Or you did it because you were tired of the mob and the games? It can’t be both.
7:00 (Gravano) We only kill ourselves. What are you worried about? The public seems to like what we do. Look at John Gotti. If I have 19, forget about what he has. When he wanted a hit, he wanted it done yesterday. He would sent me to supervise it, or to control it, make sure the job got done. And I obviously did. When you’re the boss, and you’re giving orders, you’re credited with all of it, even if you’re not on the street.
Gravano is pulling the ‘‘John was even worse’’ card here. And he seems somewhat proud of what he has done. Sicko.
17:55 (Gravano) I remember something that surprised me is that I had no remorse at all. None. I didn’t feel sorry for him in the least. I felt power. I felt like my adrenaline in my body was completely out of control.
18:09 (Sawyer) You were excited?
18:13 (Gravano) I guess it’s like an animal going after its prey.
18:35 (Gravano) Everything changed. .... At a club, oh, no Sammy, you don’t have to wait in line. You can come right in.
18:40 (Sawyer) You were a player?
18:45 (Gravano) I was out of the minor leagues. I was in the major leagues.
No comment needed.
Other parallels with our pair
- Gravano is of Italian-American descent.
- Knox is American.
- Sollecito is Italian.
- Gravano was paid $1.5 million for ‘‘his’’ book called Underboss.
- Knox was paid $3.8 million for ‘‘her’’ book called Waiting to be Heard.
- Sollecito was paid $950,000 for ‘‘his’’ book, called Honor Bound
- Gravano tried to ‘‘cash in’’ on his murders by admitting what he had done.
- Knox/Sollecito tried to ‘‘cash in’’ on Meredith’s murder
- ’‘Gravano’s’’ book was really written by Peter Maas.
- ’‘Knox’s’’ book was really written by Linda Kuhlman.
- ’‘Sollecito’s’’ book was really written by Andrew Gumbel.
- The families of Gravano’s victims are outraged he is cashing in on the notoriety of his crimes.
- The Kercher family is outraged AK/RS are cashing in on the notoriety of their crimes.
- Gravano got an interview from Diane Sawyer.
- Knox’s first (of many) interviews was with Diane Sawyer.
- Sollecito’s first (of several) interviews was with Katie Couric.
- Gambino boss John Gotti was referred to as ‘‘John Gotti’‘.
- Sammy Gravano was referred to as ‘‘John Gotti’s Hitman’‘.
- Amanda Knox is referred to as ‘‘Amanda Knox’‘
- Raffaele Sollecito is referred to as ‘‘Amanda Knox’s Italian Ex-Boyfriend’‘
- Gravano has no problems airing personal details about his ‘‘friend’’ John.
- Knox has no problems airing personal details about her ‘‘friend’’ Meredith.
- Gravano criticizes Gotti’s public lifestyle, then after his deal becomes a media whore.
- Knox claims she wants to live in peace, but becomes a media whore to sway public opinion, and sell ‘‘her’’ book.
- Sollecito claims he was just dragged into Knox’s case, but becomes a media whore for the same reasons as Knox.
- Gravano blames Gotti for destroying the Gambino family, even though he was the one who testified at trial.
- Knox seems to blame Meredith for her own death, even though she stuck the knife in (well, she had it coming).
- Gravano (at least he claims) to have rigged Gotti’s racketeering trial to ensure an acquittal (or at worst a hung jury)
- Knox’s and Sollecito’s case was rigged by Hellmann/Zanetti and Marsca/Bruno to ensure an acquittal.
- Gravano was psychologically evaluated before leaving prison, and the results were disturbing.
- Knox and Sollecito were psychologically evaluated in prison, and the results were disturbing.
- Gravano smeared other mob associates for getting involved with drug trafficking.
- Knox smeared others (especially in her book) for drug use.
- Gravano’s drug smears were hypocritical as he was later brought to justice for drug trafficking.
- Knox’s drug smears were hypocritical, as she was into drugs, and slept with a dealer (Federico Martini) for drugs.
- Gravano’s most depraved act (outside of murder), was marrying a woman whose brother he had killed (Nick Scibetta).
- Knox’s most depraved act (outside of murder), was continuing her sex-for-drugs deal even after Meredith’s death.
- Sollecito’s most depraved act (outside of murder), was his various bride shopping efforts to avoid extradition.
- Warning signs? Gravano murdered his business ‘‘friends’‘, so betraying Gotti was no real surprise.
- Warning signs? Knox staged a break in, wrote rape stories, and threw rocks at cars, so violence in her home was no real surprise.
- Warning signs? Sollecito had supposedly attacked a classmate with scissors, so stabbing someone was no real surprise.
- Collateral damage? Gravano was prepared to kill innocent bystanders during the December 16, 1985 hit on boss Paul Castellano.
- Collateral damage? Knox framed an innocent person (Lumumba), and tried to pin it all on accomplice Rudy Guede.
- Collateral damage? Sollecito helped to pin it all on Guede, and cost his sister Vanessa her career with the Carabinieri.
A Final Thought:
Knox liked the Beatles. Here is ‘‘Working Class Hero’’ by John Lennon.
.... There’s room at the top
They’re telling you still
.... But first you must learn how to
Smile as you kill
.... If you want to be like all
The folks on the ‘Hill
Archived in Crime hypotheses, The psychology, Those who were charged, Amanda Knox, Raff Sollecito, Other legal processes, Those elsewhere, The wider contexts, N America context
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Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Why The Peaking Of Rage And Early Deaths Of Middle-Aged Lower-Prospects Whites In The US?
Posted by Peter Quennell
Recently a study was published showing that middle-aged less-successful whites in the US are dying off unusually fast.
Approximately this same group may be behind the “radical” candidatures for president of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. No question but that those supporters have a serious unmet need.
It may also be behind a lot of the rage we encounter on the web.
In the New York Times this “reference group theory” hypothesis by Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist, has just appeared. Excerpts from a longer whole:
Why are whites overdosing or drinking themselves to death at higher rates than African-Americans and Hispanics in similar circumstances? Some observers have suggested that higher rates of chronic opioid prescriptions could be involved, along with whites’ greater pessimism about their finances.
Yet I’d like to propose a different answer: what social scientists call reference group theory. The term “reference group” was pioneered by the social psychologist Herbert H. Hyman in 1942, and the theory was developed by the Columbia sociologist Robert K. Merton in the 1950s. It tells us that to comprehend how people think and behave, it’s important to understand the standards to which they compare themselves.
How is your life going? For most of us, the answer to that question means comparing our lives to the lives our parents were able to lead. As children and adolescents, we closely observed our parents. They were our first reference group.
And here is one solution to the death-rate conundrum: It’s likely that many non-college-educated whites are comparing themselves to a generation that had more opportunities than they have, whereas many blacks and Hispanics are comparing themselves to a generation that had fewer opportunities….
In the fourth quarter of 2015, the median weekly earnings of white men aged 25 to 54 were $950, well above the same figure for black men ($703) and Hispanic men ($701). But for some whites — perhaps the ones who account for the increasing death rate — that may be beside the point.
Their main reference group is their parents’ generation, and by that standard they have little to look forward to and a lot to lament.
In a comment on a previous thread our frequent poster Grahame Rhodes described a syndrome among ex-military looking for a cause, and asked if we have any ideas.
Strange thing about the civilian mind set concerning Military personnel who have been involved in the actual horrors of warfare. Most civilians are squeamish about the necessity of eradicating an enemy by killing them. They deny the horrors of warfare by pretending that it does not exist, and yet civilians pay for the training and the arming of military personnel to keep them safe. Of course after soldiers are no longer members of any military organization they are generally ignored and even vilified for having taken part in saving any form of saving democracy.
Recently I was at a reunion quite close to Seattle, and sitting at a table among a group of perhaps thirty or so old soldiers the closes one asked me.
“What do you see?”
I said “I see a lot of old soldiers.”
The answer I got was as follows.
“Ah yes but I see far more than that. See him over there? He’s a weapons tech, or perhaps him, he used to teach unarmed combat, or those two who have served in several hot spots the world over.
There is a wealth of knowledge here from medics to drivers etc: But there is something far more important. Everybody you see, all highly trained in warfare and subversive operations are bored out of their mind. They need something to do.”
I said that was very true and very interesting. The point being that when old soldiers are put out to pasture all that training goes to waste. That is a shame and something should be done about it.
My own suggestion for what it’s worth was this.
Great story. I know many or most ex-military have a tough time. Here’s an idea that I think might provide them with a viable way forward.
You’d think from what comes out of Hollywood that all our great problems can only be solved by some perverse lone-wolf superhero maverick essentially working against great resistance and with no team or one that is very small.
In fact that is not at all how most real progress works. The two things that create all good change are (1) group-group-group and (2) “seeing” systems and how to adjust them or build new ones afresh.
Really huge and significant processes can be made to come alive, which would fit well with most purely military missions. The kind of thing totally lacking after Bush’s wonderful war in Iraq,
A massive lack throughout the world of people skilled and organized according to these two principles is the root cause of global growth slowing down. There is shockingly little of it going on though US corporations and some others are doing more than they did.
Ex military are already at least 50% down the road in each of them.
They have learned dozens of systems, including the personal skills part, and they are very used to doing things in groups.
“Civilianizing” those abilities could have them playing key roles in exciting processes in communities and corporations and so on that need to upgrade.
Do you know of any book or training that says anything like this? If not I sense a need. As to what to read first, I’d suggest this book as a “compulsory read”.
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Saturday, January 09, 2016
How A Major Media Controversy In The US Augurs Well For The Imminent Reframing Of The “Knox Case”
Posted by Peter Quennell
1. The Wisconsin Case Now In Dispute
1. The Netflix Report
In mid December a pay-per-view documentary about a murder case in Wisconsin was put online.
Millions of people in the US and elsewhere have paid up and watched the 10-hour Netflix report. Convinced that they are experts now on the whole case, hundreds of thousands of Americans have signed petitions to the President and the State Governor requesting that the convicted Steve Avery be released.
Their take seems to be of the investigators and the prosecution corruptly making many, many things up during the investigation and trial. Their supposed motive was to cover their tails in a previous case where Steve Avery was indeed wrongly convicted, for which they could now face court and loss of jobs.
Furthermore some reports claimed that a juror had said the jury felt intimidated and were never convinced of guilt.
2. Reaction Of US Media
A growing wave of reports and articles have been aired and published online in effect saying most of the hardest evidence was left out.
The lead prosecutor has been quoted as saying “90 percent of the evidence” against Avery and a relative convicted as an accomplice was not even mentioned in the report.
So a wave of fact-checking is going on.
Even though it is still early days here and here are Time Magazine. Here is the Los Angeles Times. Here is the New York Times. Here is On Milwaukee’s website. Here is the International Business Times.
And the juror has now denied that the jury was intimidated and did not do an honest job. So far, all the jurors seem to be standing by their verdict, in the face of a lot of heat.
Oh and on those petitions which Netflix stirred? President Obama’s spokesman has said it is not a Federal case so he will not intervene, and the Governor of Wisconsin has said he will not intervene either, as the state has good justice systems in place.
So they will ignore opinion that was deliberately muddled for commercial ends, and instead leave matters to the courts.
2. Parallels To Reporting Of The “Knox Case”
The parallels to the Perugia case are in fact immense.
The prosecution case in 2009 was extremely persuasive and the entire jury (panel of judges) voted for guilt. They sat through the very tough and convincing 1/4 of the trial that was held behind closed doors.
A majority of Italians still believe that Amanda Knox led a cruel pack attack on Meredith and (to Guede’s and Sollecito’s seeming considerable shock) landed the fatal stab in Meredith’s neck. They watched Knox on the stand for two days, in fact doing herself great harm.
In contrast, almost the entire American media followed the Netflix route.
Main media have struggled to report the trial for language and local-staff reasons, and the Associated Press carried by 2000 media outlets actively misled. Main media presented almost no reporting of the very painstaking judicial checking by ten judges that preceded the case ever going to court.
Main media have still not translated not even one major document (the Wiki and two PMFs and TJMK have translated hundreds of documents now and are still not done) and have left hundreds of evidence points unaddressed.
Main media have also misreported the overturning of the Hellmann outcome and the Nencini appeal. They have especially misrepresented the supposed complete Marasca-Bruno reversal for the Fifth Chambers of the Supreme Court.
As lawyers for Dr Mignini and three of our main posters (James Raper, Machiavelli and Catnip) have shown, in fact the Fifth Chambers (a) should not even have had the case; (b) broke two laws, (c) misinterpreted a few elements of the evidence, (d) left literally hundreds of evidence points out, (e) went against strongly established Italian legal precedents, and (f) even ridiculed plain hard science.
And even so, they still placed Knox right at the scene of the attack at the time, and Sollecito probably so. Accessories before or after the crime. Felons in their view in fact.
So here’s a prediction on what Americans will see in the media soon on this case.
The widespread media reaction against Netflix will be reflected in a major correction in the main media against the serious under-reporting and misreporting of the Perugia case.
We have some idea of what is already in the works. Stay tuned.
Archived in Reporting, media, movies, Media news, Other legal processes, Those elsewhere, The wider contexts, N America context
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Tuesday, January 05, 2016
Worldwide In 20th Century, Maybe Half Of All Murders May Be Attributed In Part To Lead Poisoning
Posted by Peter Quennell
The first graph below shows when the US began to move from leaded gasoline to unleaded gasoline in the mid 70s. Lead was removed altogether around 1990.
Some but not all countries followed a similar pattern.
The effects, though diminishing, are going to be with us for a long time. Maybe to mid-century? The pioneer researcher economist Nick Nevin wrote this about the murder-rate/lead correlation:
Lead exposure trends affect homicide trends with a 21-year time lag, reflecting the impact of early-childhood neurodevelopmental damage when those children reach the peak ages of homicide offending.
That suggests that anyone alive today over 25 may have had significant exposure. Roughly half the world’s population, some 3.5 billion.
Very few of those committed murders, but of those that did the research findings reflected in the second graph below suggest that half might have been lead-affected and there remain among us millions of time-bombs. This is from a recent BBC report:
Dr Bernard Gesch says the data now suggests that lead could account for as much as 90% of the changing crime rate during the 20th Century across all of the world.
Archived in Justice systems, Other systems, Crime hypotheses, The psychology, The wider contexts, N America context
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Wednesday, December 30, 2015
How American Judges Can Be Made To Feel The Heat Over Controversial Verdicts
Posted by Peter Quennell
Why American judges can envy Italian judges part deux.
As we surely all know now, most Italian judges advance along a career path. Only a few are politically appointed and none are elected. All of the time their rulings are under minute scrutiny and (as we have seen with Judges Hellmann, Marasca and Bruno) the powerful Council of Magistrates can stop their advancement in a heartbeat if any of those rulings look suspect.
American judges are mostly elected with little training requirements or qualifications testing. If they seem to have stepped out of line some of them can face political hearings and discipline boards (as Judge Heavey did) but not all do.
But the worse reaction many fear more is the media and the public turning upon them, made vastly more possible because of the Internet and happening time and time again these days.
The American judge now much in the news - and not in a good way - is Jean Boyd of Texas.
In March 2012 Jean Boyd, then a Juvenile Court judge, sentenced a 14-year-old black boy to 10 years for killing a smaller boy with one powerful punch. She was criticised for being way too harsh then.
In December 2013 she veered sharply in the other direction.
She sentenced a now notorious teenager to mere probation and rehabilitation after he had killed four people and maimed a fifth for life when drunk-driving. The psychological defense she bought into was that his family was so rich that he grew up without the right parenting.
This was apparently a unique defense and one that has never been attempted for poorer people. Judge Boyd was widely criticised for being way too light then.
The two cases dropped out of the news for a while.
But now the notorious white teenager Ethan Couch is all over the news again. A few weeks ago he was caught on video drinking - which could lead to his serving time in prison - and a couple of weeks ago he disappeared along with his mother.
Considering that he has not yet even been charged with a transgression of his probation, the size and cost of the manhunt was extraordinary. Somehow the US Federal Marshall Service pinpointed his phone in a Mexican apartment, and the Mexican police arrested him along with his mother and locked them up.
Today he is being held in an Mexican prison with his mother. It is just reported that they are fighting extradition.
Good luck with that one.
Judge Boyd actually retired a year ago in face of a petition demanding she be fired. She was given some credit by the local newspaper.
But her verdict never convinced an angry public or the families of the four dead and one maimed victims, and both he and his irresponsible mother also now seem headed for prison.
Archived in Justice systems, Other systems, The wider contexts, N America context
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Friday, December 25, 2015
Capturing Collective Memories: Of Broadway Dance And Of Family Life
Posted by Peter Quennell
The only YouTube so far, with costumes & lighting & orchestra the dances really take off
There’s an astonishing Broadway show on in NYC now.
If you are part of the million visitors in NYC at any one time (absurd, right?) it’s at the Joyce Theater, tkts are only $45 if you can get them, its a sponsored run. Its called American Dance Machine. Some 18 Broadway dancers and a fine orchestra onstage at the back.
The promotional video above gives a hint but for-real it is a terrific jolt. Its only a brief season because the dancers are some of the best and are in great demand. A couple are from the several ballet companies here.
The purpose is to capture and show again many dance routines and several songs from Broadway musicals that are mostly gone, some long gone, and wont be back again, and show just how good they were. Maybe every year there will be another brief season like this.
How did they put this together? There was an audience panel of the creators and some dancers after the show one night and they explained. They had to hunt round and find choreographers and dancers who had memories of the routines and find videos of the routines at the Arts library at Lincoln Center. The collective memory is mostly still there but its elusive and spread around and it will fade.
So. To the real point of this post, Does anyone have a family blog? The reason for having one is really the same. Collective memory, in this case of the family, while memories going back awhile are still around. Put down the family history as you know it and get some others in on it and pass it down.
It might make those who follow want to write online in a more empowering and permanent way than social media, which scrolls away fast and can have limited satisfaction and real-results effects. Best of the family videos and photos can go there.
Some 20-40-60 years hence those who come next are going to value that body of family history so much. They may not know you but they will know about you and what you did and felt and feel they are part of a great team going forward.
Archived in The wider contexts, N America context
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Wednesday, December 16, 2015
“Spotlight” Movie About Fine Example Of Investigative Journalism Is Oscar Best-Picture Favorite
Posted by Peter Quennell
Maybe not such a bad thing when media are under such internet and political pressure - and too often prone now to propagating dishonest PR and misleading their audiences, as we have seen.
“Spotlight” portrays an investigation by a Boston Globe newspaper team in 2001 and 2002 into myriad sexual abuses by priests in that very catholic city.
This was the first-ever such investigation into the sexual abuses. It started very small - less than 10 priests were initially suspected - and ran into roadblocks and was nearly shut down several times.
The pace of the film is phenomenal. There is jolt after jolt as the reporters - most of whom are themselves catholic or lapsed-catholic and take some heat - in repeated disbelief find the numbers of priests and victims growing and growing.
Pope Francis himself is reported as in favor of investigations continuing. The various support groups representing the numerous “survivors” have welcomed the film.
Some American priests have raised some objections. They dont seem to fault the movie for honesty though.
Prophet’s Prey is a similarly gripping and unflinching movie, about children abused by fundamentalists. It is a documentary, and may be nominated for an Oscar in that category.
Archived in Reporting, media, movies, Straight reporting, Media news, The wider contexts, N America context
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Monday, December 07, 2015
Counterterrorism: Another Way Italian Law Enforcement Is An Effective Model For Everywhere Else
Posted by Peter Quennell
(1) That Italy has one of the industrialized world’s lowest crime rates and that US cities have been observing its model.
(2) That it has a very prominent and much admired police presence, and a small and much admired court and penal system.
Now Thomas Williams is reporting this third big plus from Rome in Breitbart Business News
A leading military analyst is citing Italy as a model of counterterrorism done right, pointing out that despite many factors going against it, Islamic terrorists have failed to kill a single person on Italian soil.
In the most recent issue of Nikkei Asian Review, Romanian born political scientist and military analyst Edward N. Luttwak lays out a persuasive theory explaining how Italy has been so successful in thwarting Islamic terror attempts. In a word: Italy is not afraid to deport those it considers to be a threat to national security.
In his essay titled “Doing Counterterrorism Right,” Luttwak contrasts Italy with France and Belgium, noting that although Italy is much more vulnerable than they are, it has been far more effective at stopping would-be terrorists before they strike.
So where France has been “caught by surprise again and again by terrorist attacks with many lives lost” and in Belgium “terrorists have been coming and going for years, buying military weapons with remarkable ease,” Italy has remained unscathed.
It would seem that Italy doesn’t have much going for it. It has porous borders and a Muslim population that exceeds 2 million and has played an active role in military expeditions in Islamic territories. Moreover, the Vatican is the “most iconic target in Europe,” and tops the list of objectives of the Islamic State, Luttwak observes. And yet, “nobody has been killed by Muslim terrorists in Italy.”
Italian counterterrorism has been on full alert since 9/11, Luttwak says, and its combined forces “have detected and interrupted hundreds of terrorist plots large and small, at every stage from mere verbal scheming to fully ready actions.”
So where terrorists have successfully attacked in Madrid, London, Paris, Toulouse, Copenhagen, Brussels and elsewhere, in Italy they have been foiled time after time.
Luttwak suggests that Italy’s success is all a question of method, based on the insight that the only thing that can be done to stop potential terrorists is to follow those who are suspected to be truly dangerous around the clock so that they can be arrested or killed at a moment’s notice. Since the numbers of probable suspects can be astronomical, Luttwak says, their numbers must be effectively reduced if this strategy is to bear fruit. And this is exactly what Italy has done.
State intelligence agencies throughout Europe monitor suspects, filling out reports and keeping files, but they often fail to take the action needed. The Italians, however, immediately conduct an interrogation on credible suspects, and many are sent home or arrested, if their situation merits it. Italy currently has more than 180 radical imams in prison, Luttwak notes.
Employing this method, Italian authorities are able to keep numbers of suspected potential terrorists within a reasonable range and thus are able to monitor them effectively.
Earlier this month, Franco Roberti, the head of Italy’s anti-mafia and counterterrorism task force, said he intended to protect citizens from the danger of terrorism “by adopting all the preventive measures necessary,” and noted that “we must be prepared to give up some of our personal freedoms, in particular in the area of communication.”
The fact that the Italians lump together anti-mafia operations with counterterrorism is also telling. Unlike other European states, with the exception perhaps of the UK, Italy has a long history fighting serious organized crime within its borders, coming from the different branches of the Italian mafia working in various parts of the peninsula.
The Italian interior ministry has reportedly also increased its “targeted expulsions” of persons considered to be a risk to national security. So far this year, 55 individuals have been deported and the ministry has said the numbers will only grow.
According to Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, intelligence and counterterrorism units are reevaluating information gathered in recent months on some 56,000 people, scouring case files to see whether anything could have been overlooked.
Given Italy’s impressive counterterrorism track record, it may be about time for other European nations to sit up and take note.
Archived in Justice systems, Italian system, Other systems, Hoaxes against Italy, Italian justice hoax, The wider contexts, Italian context, Europe context, N America context
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Saturday, June 13, 2015
Wide Concern In US At A Killer Groupie Who Helped Dangerous Killers To Escape
Posted by Peter Quennell
We have occasionally dwelled upon what drives killer groupies. The phenomenon is widespread and it has been around a long time.
A desperation for money and new jobs and status. Perversions, chips on shoulders, previous brushes with the law - that last driver actually accounts for about half.
Sheer besottedness is one quite common cause. Some people really do love dangerous jerks.
Now a killer groupie is responsible for a huge and expensive manhunt, and for hundreds of thousands 250 miles north of New York City and up into Canada locking their doors and buying guns.
They fear an attack, even death, from two dangerous killers on the loose.
The sole cause of their breaking out of a secure prison which had seen no prior breakouts in 150 years is a killer groupie, a woman married with children employed on the prison staff, who supplied them with power tools to cut their way out. and who was to drive the getway car.
Joyce Mitchell has been arrested and charged with a felony and may face eight years inside. [She was sentenced to 7 years, in Sept 2015.]
As she failed to turn up on the night - maybe cold feet, maybe a medical emergency as she seems to claim - the two killers are believed still to be close. Bloodhounds picked up a scent in marshes near the prison only a couple of days ago.
Nice going, Joyce, do call Amanda Knox. Oh, but wait…
Archived in Crime hypotheses, The psychology, Other legal processes, Those elsewhere, The wider contexts, N America context
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Friday, May 08, 2015
Why Italy Doesnt Look For Guidance On Its Justice System From What It Sees As Foreign Smartasses
Posted by Peter Quennell
Read our numerous posts setting right for example the false claims of Michael Heavey and Steve Moore. And then read this post and this post and this post and these new stories on US justice. And then answer the question below.
Michael Schwanke: Koch behind push to overhaul criminal justice system
Each year it’s estimated the United States spends almost a $100 billion on prisons. According to Mark Holden, Senior VP at Koch Industries, that’s three to four times what the country spends on education.
Holden and Charles Koch authored a letter titled “The Overcriminalization of America” and now are behind a nationwide push to overhaul the criminal justice system.
The letter points to the many federal laws created over the years. “Congress creates, on average, more than 50 new criminal laws each year. Over time, this has translated into more than 4,500 federal criminal laws spread across 27,000 pages of the United States federal code.”
“We all agree that our system isn’t working. Whether you’re a conservative, evangelical, social liberal, progressive, or libertarian there’s something for you. I don’t think there will be a lot of negative reaction to it,” says Holden speaking to Eyewitness News after addressing the downtown Rotary.
Holden says the U.S. accounts for about five percent of the world’s population, but holds 20 percent of the prison population. Most are non-violent offenders. Holden says one in three people in the U.S. has a criminal record which leads to poverty and joblessness.
Cara Tabachnick: Poll: Young Americans have “little confidence” in justice system
Nearly half of American young adults lack confidence in the nation’s justice system or don’t trust their local police to do the right thing, though that perception is deeply divided by race, according to a national poll of 18- to 29-year-olds released by Harvard’s Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
African-American youth had the deepest distrust of the nation’s criminal justice institutions, with 79 percent of those polled expressing little to no trust in their local police department to do the “right” thing.
Hispanic youth weren’t far behind, with 62 percent of those polled expressing little or no trust in their local police force. In stark contrast, just 31 percent of the white youth polled expressed little or no trust.
More than 3,000 people were polled by the Harvard Institute of Politics between March 18-April 1, on questions of criminal justice and other issues, including politics, climate change and terrorism.
Over all, there was an even split on the U.S. judicial system’s ability to “fairly judge people without bias for race and ethnicity.” About 49 percent of those polled said they have little to no confidence that the justice system can operate without bias.
Jason Fyk: Baltimore’s Criminal Justice System Is Corrupt, I Know Because I Was Imprisoned there
n 2011, I was arrested by Baltimore City Police on charges of conspiracy to commit first degree attempted murder.
You might be asking yourself, “Why? What did he do?” I took a cell phone video of a small drunken scuffle in a downtown Baltimore parking garage. I was not a participant in the fight, nor was I an instigator. Despite what the facts of the situation presented, a personal family relationship with one of the so-called “victims” took precedence over the law. What started as a typical two-sided misdemeanor became a one-sided fight for freedom. I spent 50 days in the Baltimore City Detention Center facing two life sentences, and a host of other charges mounting to well over 200 years in prison, all for simply taking a video.
I’ve seen the corruption firsthand. I’ve seen how a law enforcement agent’s personal agenda can destroy a life. I’ve seen how charges are ramped up in order to make a lesser charge stick. I’ve seen detainees entering jail with worse injuries than the participants in the fight I captured on video, all at the hands of police. I’ve also seen the corruption that resides in BCDC on my 50-day tour of the jail.
The conditions at this facility were sub-human, in some cases. Ignoring the mice, cockroaches and decaying conditions, basic necessities of life were severely lacking. The food was nearly inedible and, in some cases, hazardous. For example, the drink flavoring had a poisonous emblem on it, eggs were often brown and rotten when served, and during my stay we even lost water for four days, which meant toilets and sinks did not work. All we had was a cooler jug that was brought in to drink from. Showers were so hot (not adjustable) you could not stand in the water. I saw a detainee drop on the floor, having a seizure from withdrawal, because drugs are not administered for close to a week after arrival. My experience in jail was that of an educated observant, and what I saw was appalling. The list goes on and on.
So Italy or the USA - which country would you pick to do a crime in? Do Heavey or Moore tell you this? How many times have Heavey and Moore found justice lacking in the US? Apparently no times at all. One-note bashing of Italian justice is all that they do.
Archived in Justice systems, Italian system, Other systems, The wider contexts, Italian context, N America context
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Monday, April 06, 2015
Columbia University Journalism School Blasts Fabricated Story - But What Of Hundreds In Our Case?
Posted by Peter Quennell
1. The Damage From False Media Reports
Once a false meme is put out there it can do immense harm and be almost impossible to turn around.
Public relations houses try to propagate memes, and if they are false that is sleazy and unethical but usually does not contravene criminal law.
But serious media spreading such memes have a very strong moral mandate and at times a legal mandate to check, double-check, and check again.
Often the real damage extends way beyond immediate victims and witnesses and families and friends. It can chill and distort right across law enforcement and the justice system and deeply affect paranoia-prone minds.
2. The Rolling Stone Article Report
What was misreported in the fortnightly Rolling Stone is described chronologically today by Rolling Stone itself here.
Essentially, an experienced reporter with a valid story did not go the extra mile to check if her highly inflammatory flagship claim was true.
There seems no question now that it was not.
A few days later Rolling Stone itself cautiously began to ‘fess up. The story was indeed untrue. Neither the reporter nor the editor had checked, double-checked, and checked again.
Its owner Jann Renner contracted with the Columbia University Graduate Journalism School to publish an in-depth report. The supposed victim was increasingly contradicted by her own friends and shown to have changed stories a lot. On 23 March local police reported that their investigation turned up no sign of a crime.
Yesterday the journalism school published their conclusions on “What Went Wrong” and they will make available and summarise the full version of their report on April 8th.
Damage has rippled on and on not least to women who have a huge interest in being taken seriously when they have a complaint.
The University of Virgina is in full damage control mode (that campus is about one hour’s drive southwest of Washington). Who could now be charged or sued is discussed here in the Washington Post. Many reputations have come out looking worse.
3. Relevance To Meredith’s Case?
On 27 June 2011 (right in the middle of the Hellmann appeal) Rolling Stone published one of the least accurate and most damaging and defamatory of literally hundreds of inaccurate reports.
Nathaniel Rich reported only in English, of course, from safely across the Atlantic, and there was zero due diligence by the editor at Rolling Stone (the same editor as today). His false claims were very widely quoted elsewhere. See here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here.
Rolling Stone inflamed public opinion through false claims. It added to the perception that an extradition battle could drop two governments in the soup. That may have impacted the Supreme Court.
Yes, this case of mass misreporting seems every bit as bad.
Archived in Reporting, media, movies, Biased reporting, The wider contexts, N America context
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Saturday, March 28, 2015
Meredith May Not See Justice (Yet) But She Will Leave At Least Three Legacies
Posted by The TJMK Main Posters
So much of human organization is messy and very hard to make better. She would have found that. But somehow, often in a terrifying lurch, systems do sometimes tend to get better.
These better systems between them benefiting millions may all be attributed to Meredith. More than 99% of humanity can achieve in a lifetime.
1) Perugia is a safer more thriving place now
This is a repeat of our post of 9 April 2010 - there has been a mayor-change, but the broad safety and economic trends continue.
Meet Wladimiro Boccali. The mayor of Perugia.
A year ago when Mr Boccali ran for office (video above) it was in the context of a city-wide desire for prosperity, public safety, support for the police and the court system, the enhancement of Perugia’s reputation, and the clamping down on drug dealing and student excesses.
A mood that very much flowed from the shock of Meredith’s passing. A sense that certain things had gone too far.
Since then, Mr Boccali has been in the Italian national news almost daily, and he is coming to be seen as the kind of political leader Italy could really use in a turbulent future.
He is in the news again right now, because there was a riot in the main piazza of the old city by some drunks late last saturday night.
In part inspired and encouraged by good town leadership, Perugia’s economy is now one of the more thriving city economies in Italy. Perugia’s median IQ is extremely high (Perugia is probably one of the smartest cities in Europe) and a lot of very advanced research goes on there.
Perugia’s town administration does many caring things, such as the special city council meeting for Sonia Marra.
And seemingly attracted by all of this, people are moving to Perugia in droves - its population is increasing at double the national growth rate.
So. Meet the new Perugia. Meredith’s own qualities, writ large.
Since that post Perugia and the university have recognised Meredith by way of a scholarship and a one-day seminar.
2) American universities acted to stop future Knoxes
Knox behaved grossly irresponsibly in heading to Perugia under-funded, intent on drug-doing, and with zero intention of seriously studying.
The University of Washington and many others realised they could have huge liabilities if they did not distance themselves a lot from such loose cannons in future.
In October 2009 we reposted this report by Andrea Vogt which described the initiation of measures many American universities have now come to implement.
Mirroring a nationwide trend, the University of Washington is overhauling how its students and professors interface with foreign countries….
The UW study abroad experience today involves much more oversight than it did two years ago when Amanda Knox left on an unsupervised European adventure that quickly degenerated into a nightmare.
When Knox, who is on trial for murder in Italy, left her familiar U-district environs in late summer 2007, she embarked on her own independent study in Umbria with very few guidelines or institutional oversight.
She arrived in the tolerant student melange of Perugia, a vibrant college town with temptation at every turn and many paradoxes (drug deals and party plans are often made on the steps of the cathedral).
A month later, the honor student’s pub-crawling, pot-smoking college shenanigans had taken a very serious turn and she was being hauled off to the Capanne penitentiary, where she remains today, pleading her innocence as the trial and controversial accusations against her plod forward.
Once her troubles began, the university tried to offer support, but had very few official guidelines to follow for responding to the kind of complicated legal-judicial matter Knox faced.
It’s different now….
In the wake of several negative overseas episodes, officials are busy raising awareness about the positive impact the UW is having worldwide and taking steps to improve communications, regulation and emergency preparedness for its students abroad.
Compared with two years ago, international education officials are more closely tracking who, where and what study-abroad programs involve. The university has new rules:. The department chair has to sign off on the program. Insurance is required. So is a cell phone. No program money can be used to buy alcohol, just for starters.
“There’s a much more formal process now,” said Taso Lagos, a UW professor who teaches international communication and manages a study-abroad program in Greece. “With administrators that are very aware, with lines of communication open and policies in place if something happens.”...
The UW’s growing commitment to international education—- even in a budget crisis—is reflected in some developments. [UW Vice Provost for Global Affairs Stephen Hanson] was named a vice provost in January, and in the spring, the UW dedicated an entire wing of the Gerberding Hall administration building to growing an international mission and profile.
This year, a travel security and information officer is coming on board to oversee emergency response and preparedness, as is Peter Moran, a new director of international programs and exchanges who previously worked at the Fulbright Commission office in Katmandu, Nepal.
New guidelines are being put in place to streamline communications, ease financial transactions and institute mandatory training for faculty taking students abroad. The Global Support Project, a rapid-response team with one person from each branch of the central administration, takes on cross-disciplinary international challenges.
Such reforms aren’t unique to UW.
Universities across the country are examining how better to organize study abroad to meet blossoming demand from students (and prospective employers) for foreign experience. Many are turning to independent service providers whose business it is to contract housing, health care or niche risk management services dealing with legal, financial or public relations crises when things go haywire abroad…..
Though the university bore no responsibility for any of the events Knox became entangled in, media across the world continued to mention the University of Washington—whether it was because of character witnesses who were her college buddies, reports of wild off-campus parties Knox attended in Seattle or her studies while in prison.
3) Italy’s justice reforms will be nudged hard
Polls have show that though Italians admire and trust their justice system and especially the brave people within it (over 100 have died fighting mafia) a majority would like some rebalancing toward victims and families.
Justice reforms are now on the national agenda. What happened in Rome yesterday to deny Meredith justice is stirring Italy and seems certain to impact them.’
Court days to flow continuously? Some backing off from automatic appeals? No juries at the second level? Prosecutors and judges to be allowed to speak out more? Maybe in lieu of some of those onerous sentencing reports? Limits to defendants talking without cross-examination in the courtroom?
These are not extreme, they are mainstream in the common-law system, and they would speed Italy’s up, make it fairer, and cost less (a lot less!).
All incredibly worthwhile. For one so young, in death Meredith may come to help millions for the better.
Archived in Concerning Meredith, Her memory, The wider contexts, Perugia context, Italian context, N America context, Italian system
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Monday, March 23, 2015
So Is James Moninger The One Moonlighting As Anonymous Spokesman For Dept Of State?
Posted by Ergon
Above: the unfavorable context which persuades Sec of State John Kerry to stick most carefully to the rules
ThIs morning’s report noted an increasing flow of anonymous claims that Knox’s extradition is not in the cards
Also there is a certain sameness in all of the news reports of secret State Department agreements and assurances alleged to save Amanda Knox from extradition. This is a very typical one.
Paul Thompson in The UK Express for Sunday 22 March 2015 2015
US officials: Amanda Knox will never go back to Italian jail
AMANDA KNOX will never be extradited from America, even if an Italian court this week upholds her conviction for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher, according to US sources.
“Lawyers for Knox, 28, are confident she will remain free even if Italy asks for her to be sent back to resume a 28-year jail sentence.
US State Department sources say the uncertainty of the case against Knox means they will not agree to any extradition request.
Knox also has a huge amount of public sympathy in the US where she is seen as a victim of a miscarriage of justice by a foreign court.
A source at the State Department said: “There is a feeling that the whole case is flawed and that a US citizen should not have to go to jail because of that. If there is an extradition request from Italy it will be denied.”
This question, who is the State Department source (Burleigh calls him ‘American diplomat’), came up in my previous post.
- Former US Ambassador David Thorne?
- Some low level employee at State or Justice?
- Completely made up by Anne Bremner and co?
So I reached out to my sources and this is what they told me informally for general background.
They considered it extremely unlikely that Ambassador Thorne or any one in Rome would pass on such assurances to Anne Bremner or even the likes of Nina Burleigh. While they could not confirm whether high level talks had taken place they did point out that John Kerry, as Secretary of State would respond differently now than when he was in the Senate and pointed to his statement “he would do his duty”.
And Italy had a new government and foreign secretary, so the latest news reports seemed entirely made up. State and Justice had been following the case quite closely and they were not going to risk offense to Italy for this case. Not to say they hadn’t been nervous when Knox went back to the US and got such heavy hitters in the media go to bat for her, but, also duly noted that public support for her was really paper thin.
This left either a made up story or some low level civil servant speaking out of turn with personal opinions … we know that The FOA lie, but also, they sometimes seize on a wisp of rumour, or some ‘source’ whose importance they tend to exaggerate.
We know about retired Justice Department lawyer J. Michael Scadron who’s been saying State and DOJ would never allow extradition. There’s even a photo of him at the Vashon Island gathering, in all his fan boy glory.
But then another person showed up on my radar. Take a look.
I’m so tired of debating with the kooks, but when some members asked me to help them out on a closed Facebook Page (275 members) Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito Roundtable which was run and overrun by FOA I joined to help out.
It turned out one of the admins was a State Department employee called James Moninger who is indeed, a ‘diplomat’, working in some role for State in Hawaii. Consular, maybe.
His Facebook friends are the entirety of the FOA it would seem (see some below), and he is an active member and admin of several other pro Knox groups. Quite the fan boy too, it seems.
He hemmed and hawed about my inclusion but within the course of a few hours I was bounced out of the group twice. He wrote to me:
“I am writing to confirm that I removed you from the Amanda Knox Roundtable group. This was my decision, and I have advised the other administrators accordingly.
Earlier in the day I received a plea from one of the group members who claimed that you have harassed her in the past and contacted her employer. I have no opinions on this issue, but as site owner I am unwilling to take on a potentially significant liability.
Please don’t feel that this action was in any way predicated on the opinions you expressed in the forum.”
Here is my reply:
“It’s your group and you’re welcome to do as you wish. That you didn’t give a chance to respond to the (false) allegation is par for the course and no loss for me. As you know, I have far bigger platforms to present my views; it was YOUR group that invited me to participate in the first place.
I already know the source of that slander from other forums and will respond appropriately.
You should also know I’d contacted the State Department previously concerning the Daily Mail and Express articles that “sources in the State Department” have said “Amanda Knox will never be extradited to Italy”.
Imagine my surprise to see you are the owner of this pro-Knox debate site, and membership in several others, which you have every right to. However, since your bio says you are a State Dept. employee, and your rather lengthy list of friends and followers have been actively advocating that Knox would never be extradited, with all sorts of references to internal department sources it is my responsibility to ask for comment:
1. Have you in any way told them the State Department would deny an extradition request?
2. Have you advised the Amanda Knox campaign in any way how to lobby the State Department or how it would respond to an extradition request?
3. Please explain the following comment on the Amanda Knox blog on February 7, 2014 at 20:38.
“Concerns about this case would more appropriately be directed to the US Department of State; not to Congress. There is little or nothing the legislative branch of the government can do to affect treaties that are already in place. (Senate hearings, etc. are not the way the federal process works.) Using profanity with senior members of Congress can never be helpful.
I am hopeful that the State Department is watching this case carefully and is prepared to choose the correct path, whatever that may eventually entail, to protect a US citizen from any further violations of human and legal rights.”
Are you, as a State Department employee, stating that Amanda Knox’s human and legal rights were violated? In a G7 country? Would you like to retract it?
I will be writing my story in 48 hours or so. Please reply at your earliest”.
He never replied, and it’s been a while though he did agree with someone else who called us “haters” ?
Conclusion: I will end with this. PMf/TJMK member Odysseus wrote to UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, expressing his concerns. He got a reply from the North America Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office:
“If the Italian authorities were to make an extradition request to the US Government, we would expect that it would be considered in accordance with US laws.”
Funny sort of a coincidence, but. I sent a list of questions three days ago to the Kerchers through an intermediary. Q. 4 was “Will they call for extradition Amanda Knox if she’s convicted?”
I know they haven’t received it yet, but, in The Sunday Times the Kercher family say Knox must be extradited
Tom Kington Rome
March 23 2015
“Amanda Knox must be extradited from the US if her conviction for murdering Meredith Kercher is upheld by Italy’s supreme court this week, the family of the British student have urged.”
“Meredith’s family hope that the sentence is upheld and the law is carried out to its fullest extent,” said Francesco Maresca, a lawyer representing the family. “If that means extradition for Knox, that’s what they want.”
Archived in Hoaxers - main people, Knox-Mellas team, Sollecito team, More hoaxers, Other legal processes, Extradition issues, The wider contexts, N America context
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Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Ten Of The Ways In Which The FOA Petition That The State Department Accepted Is Dishonest
Posted by Peter Quennell
Again and again in sharp contrast the Knox PR tries to go 180 degrees the other way. Down is up. Black is white. Instead of making one or two mistakes, it makes hundreds - and then lets them stand. Again and again, talking point are shot down - but in Marriott’s zombieland they never stay dead.
Now the Knox PR is pinning its hopes on an ill-conceived Change.org petition posted here This is just part of what Karen Pruitt and other creators get wrong.
1) There was no corruption at any point except that of the Hellmann court for which there is proof which Italy and the US have probably shared already.
2) There was no abuse of the pair, ever, and no paper trail by either the two defenses or the US Embassy vital to the credibility of this claim. In fact the defenses have invariably inclined the other way, thinking this is a foolish way to go.
3) There was no abusive interrogation of Knox on 5-6 Nov - in fact there was no interrogation at all. In great detail what happened was described at trial. Knox had insisted on being there and she merely listed some other possible perps - all of which the cops checked out. Then she herself said and wrote way too much, when she was told she had been dropped in it by RS. The cops rather hoped she’d shut up.
4) Knox herself shrugged off the need for a lawyer on that night after her statements came pouring out - even after Dr Mignini had read her her rights - as multiple witnesses testified. Knox still cant explain why she claimed she headed out alone on the night, leaving Sollecito behind.
5) RS and AK had six opportunities between November 2007 and January 2009 to get themselves freed or moved to house arrest. They failed each time. In one of those it was Cassation which turned them down. Judge Matteini and Judge Ricciarelli and Cassation listed a ton of evidence against them and believed if sprung on house arrest they could cause harm.
6) The claims about Guede in that petition are totally upside down. He didnt go gunning for them - in reality they went gunning for him!! Everybody could see that in mid 2008 as this report shows.
Claims have been made of a pact between Knox and her Italian former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, 24. It is alleged their lawyers have agreed to work together to blame the murder on Rudy Guede, 21, a part-time gardener from the Ivory Coast and the third accused.
Now, Guede’s lawyers are threatening to call for a separate trial for him alone - well away from the legal teams of the other two whom they fear could prejudice his case.
It is a pact, says Guede’s lawyer Walter Biscotti, that can be traced back to July when Sollecito sent Knox a bouquet of yellow flowers on her 21st birthday which both celebrated in prison.
‘There is a clear desire to make Rudy the guilty party, and it’s clear they will try anything,’ Biscotti said.
7. Guede did not testify at the 2009 trial, he just sat there mute and then went away. In sharp contrast the RS and AK teams introduced witnesses trying to do maximum harm to him.
- (a) The witness who said Guede was in his apartment; but he had not even reported that to the cops, and Judge Micheli concluded he was a publicity hound at best.
(b) The two lawyers who said someone broke into their office; but even they hinted it was really a work-related hit as legal documents had been gone though and some probably copied and removed in a car.
(c) The head of the pre-school in Milan; but she could not even call Guede’s presence a break-in because he must have been given a key to get in.
Neither Guede nor his lawyers were in court to cross-examine or repudiate any of those witnesses; and the prosecution took zero role - asked zero questions - so it was ONLY the RS and AK defenses and not Guede who had an unfair edge here.
8) Cassation did not say in ending Guede’s process that it must have been RS and AK along with Guede at the crime. The closed sessions at trial in 2009 showed conclusively to the judges that there had been three, which is why the defenses (not the prosecution) put Alessi and Aviello on the stand. Cassation simply agreed with this.
9) This was not a one man crime by a rapist or burglar, it was provably a 15-minute torture and humiliation pack attack fueled by rage. Knox’s trial and appeal courts both concluded that she plunged in the knife and RS and Guede have shown strong signs of not having not been pre-warned and remaining sore ever since.
10) As usual with the PR a huge amount about the case and RS and AK is simply left out. Here is a comment first posted on another thread which explains how this lies-of-omission approach works (or doesnt work).
If you watch the numerous CBS videos or read the numerous attacks on Italy on their site, do you spot a trend? CBS 48 Hours is prone to leaving an awful lot out.
Where is CBS’s translation of even one major document? Where is evidence of knowledge of even one court transcript? Where is the real reason the appeals were allowed? Where are the six opportunities RS and AK were given before trial to prove they had no role? Where are the bad times the defense had in 2009? What about the lengthy trial sessions behind closed doors? Where are the numerous conflicting alibis? Where are the numerous whacks at one another by RS and AK? Where is AK’s disastrous stint on the stand? Where is any mention of the dealer Knox screwed for drugs? Where is the current trial of RS for his book? Where is the trial of Oggi for Knox’s book? Where is the Knox interrogation hoax? Where is the Carabineri lab nailing the “science” of C&V? Where is the known corruption of the Hellmann court? Where is the downfall of defense witnesses Alessi and Aviello? Where is the Guede/lone-wolf hoax? Where is the downward spiral of Frank Sforza now on trial in Italy and wanted by US and Canadian police? Where is any fair remark about the Italian system or its staff? Where is the long overdue expose of the Preston hoaxes? Why are Spetzi’s many losses in court not there? Where is the truth about the Narducci 22? Where is Dr Mignini’s total rebound and promotion after Cassation sharply repudiated a rogue prosecutor and judge in Florence? Why does CBS feel such a need to defame so many Italians in English from so far? Where is any mention of the PR’s corrupting very big bucks?
We have no problem seeing the foolish petition remain up - but in their own best interests Knox herself and Sollecito himself should want the incriminating thing taken down. It will merely further annoy the courts.
And they really should tell the blundering Marriott to get lost.
Archived in Those who were charged, Amanda Knox, Rudy Guede, Hoaxes by Knox, Knox interrog hoax, Knox no-PR hoax, Knox book hoaxes, Hoaxers - main people, Knox-Mellas team, The wider contexts, N America context
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Sunday, March 01, 2015
Laments: Short Scripts With Inspiration From The Usual Suspects
Posted by Grahame Rhodes
1. Lament At A Dimly Lit Table
Amanda: ”Iʼm worried Michael, just because I have sex with Frederico Martini they can use it to convictorize me and then I will be transported back.”.
Michael slightly drunk…..”No worries Amanda. You donʼt know the law and I do (hic) Did you bring the money by the way plus another bottle of wine? and anyway, what do you mean by convictorize?”
Amanda: .....”Well I donʼt know. Bruce said I would be exterior-ronerated or something but Iʼve never heard of that position. I wonder if that includes being tied up? He also said when he phoned me in the middle of the night that I would have to be evacuated. That does sound exciting too, Iʼve never done that one either. Of course this was after he apologized for knocking me up so late.”
Michael: .....”Listen Amanda, the law in any case is made up of facts. Iʼm a judge and Iʼm in control of all the facts hand me the bottle….........(he takes a long swig)
Amanda: .... But they will send me to jail….... Here give the bottle back.
Michael: .... “Of course you will be extradited, but consider what this will mean Amanda. You will be famous and your family will be very wealthy including the Moores and the Fischers not to mention all the TV promotions and the commercials that tell what kind of soap you use in Capanne. Do you still wash by the way?........Here! (He takes another long swig) Did you bring another bottle?”
Amanda: .....”But Iʼll be in jail!!”
Michael:.... Ah yes but think of how wonderful your life will be in Capanne and how much money you will make for everyone including me. There will be books written about you. There will even be a reality TV series. Have you ever heard of ʻJoan of Ark?ʼ
Amanda: ..... Oh yes sheʼs a hooker that lives two floors below me.
Michael:.... Now that would be the crowning glory to your life. The hooker with the heart of gold. HEY!!! Put down that knife.”
2. Lament Of The Invisible Security Guard
Steve sat behind his desk watching his phone in the hope it would ring. It was cramped in his office which was a converted broom closet and he always had to climb over the two packing cases that passed for his desk
He covered his ears in a vain attempt to block out the screaming. Yes! His wife was trying to sing again. Finally the noise stopped and so he poured himself a water glass full of gin and took another pill.
He looked at all the photos on the wall of which he was very proud, after all they had taken a lot of his time and effort to produce. There was the one with his arms around Dick Chaney and George W, or the other photo of him and Marilyn Monroe which he had signed “To Steve with all my love Marilyn”
The photo over the door though was his pride and joy which was the picture of him being awarded the star of bravery by Queen Elizabeth. Ah thank God for photoshop. He stared at the phone again willing it to ring, willing it to be Amanda so he could save her from the evil Mignini and his Chinese Pirates. He was obsessed with crime and with Amanda as well.
Also he had told anybody who would listen that he knew the real identity of Jack the Ripper. It was that rancid milk deliveryman who called on his wife every day whenever he was out.
That thought reminded him to get rid of all the frozen yogurt and multitude diary products the deliveryman always left behind. It had puzzled him as well because his wife was on a lactose free diet.
The phone still did not ring so he looked at his prize possession which was a photoshopped picture of himself on the rear deck of the presidential limo consoling Jackie Kennedy after the assassination.
Next to it the photo of him shooting Lee Harvey Oswald. Ah so much history. He took another pill and washed it down with gin. Suddenly the thought striking him, he picked up the phone and started dialing the British Secret Service because of his true identity, that of James Bond Moore secret agent, only he couldnʼt remember the number so he put the phone back and waited again for Amanda to contact him but she never did.
Worst of all his wife had started screaming again. Not only that but he was out of pills. Douglas?
3. Lament Of A The Invisible Ex-Judge
The retired Judge’s mind was in a turmoil encased in a quandary which had was been once owned by Ringo Star.
Could it be?
He was faced with a dilemma made out of brown paper and string.
Was it possible that he had been wrong?
The ugly prospect of Amanda’s guilt stared him in the face.
He stared back trying to decide if a coat of paint would improve it but to no avail since the avail had dandruff. His mind was tossed on the horns of a dilemma that had been given to him by the famous KKK Grand Dragon David Duke.
Could he have been wrong he asked himself for the upseenth time?
He wished that he was still a judge on the bench in Camp Courageous.
People were scared of him then because he ruled his court with an iron fist, then with a wooden foot, then with a piece of string. Bailiffs were scared of his tongue lashings which he kept in a box in his desk.
He had even written a white paper on it and submitted it the judges weekly news but it had been rejected. Undeterred he had resubmitted it as a brown paper then finally an all leather one with an index made of string part three.
He emitted a long sigh, actually it was several short ones but the space between them was so short you couldnʼt tell the difference. He shook his head releasing a large colony of dust mites. Screaming they fell to the ground.
There was no avoiding it. He decided, since he had surrounded himself with questions made out of modeling clay, questions which had only one answer. It was obvious that Knox was guilty as charged.
He shook his head once more and asked a passing stranger if he had any money for a cup of coffee. With nothing else to do he sat there in the ʻslough of despondʼ and the rain wondering what the nemesis Mignini who had never heard of him was doing.
4. Lament Of An Invisible Store Salesman
Bruce Fischer was obsessed with Amanda Knox and considered her to be a fur—-fatale. He was furious for being unable to fur—-millierize himself with her fur—-brile ways and her fur—-natic need to fur—-mulate her actions.
He coughed up another fur—-ball and fur—-rowed his brow thinking about the fur—ar that Knox had caused. He thought about his fur—fathers and fur—bished himself with another drink.
How could she have been so fur—-brained as to fur—-nicate with all those fur—eners in particular the drug dealer Fur—-nando Martini when he himself “International fur—-rier to the Stars.” was available.
For this he was fur—-ious at her having wasted her fur—tiellity when he could have done it for her. But if she comes around, he thought, then I will fur—-give her.
So…....... In a fur—-y and with a fur—lourish he unfur—-led the flag while looking fur—tive . The flag which fur—-ther fur—-nished the message which had caused the fur to fly.
Guilty as charged.
5. Lament Of A Daddy Wishing there Were More
Curt felt a twinge of conscious just below his left knee but ignored it and poured himself a glass of single malt Scotch and lit a cigar.
He lamented only that the gravy train was puffing slower these days.
Still, he had been very clever having separated so much money from his daughter Amandaʼs fortune, or in this case misfortune. He livened up..
It had been such a busy time and once more, he was amazed at how easy it had been to put all the liberated money in his secret Cayman Island account.
Thank God for the stupidity of others such as the unsuspecting Chris who unwittingly had become the equivalent of his stooge. Gabby Hayes to his Roy Rodgers or Costello to Abbot or Stan Laurel to his Oliver Hardy.
He was amazed too that Edda had been fooled so easily considering his lifelong track record of never paying for anything without a fight.
He thought about the future and did an impression of Monty Burns on the Simpsons by saying, “Excellent. “ It was indeed wonderful since he knew Amanda would be extradited thereby guaranteeing all the extra money he would make from TV interviews, commercials or even a reality show.
As for his daughter, he could care less since for so many years she had been a drain on his finances plus an embarrassment.
Now of course she was a gold mine and with any luck he could keep this going for years. Ah yes! The future looked bright indeed. Now, if only I could find some more idiots such as Bruce and Steve who, thankfully, always did what his lunatic ex-wife told him to do.
He smiled once more. A smile that was just the same as his convicted daughters. A smile identical to those who have a dark secret. He laughed out loud and poured himself another drink and relit his cigar.
Archived in Those who were charged, Amanda Knox, Raff Sollecito, Rudy Guede, The wider contexts, N America context, Knox-Mellas team, Sollecito team, Michael Heavey
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Paul Ciolino Hit With A $40 Million Suit For Real Railroad Job From Hell
Posted by Peter Quennell
1. Paul Ciolino And Meredith’s Case
Investigator Paul Ciolino provides expertise for the CBS Network’s 48 Hours crime unit.
The staffing of that unit are all obsessively supportive of Amanda Knox and all unquestioningly channel the PR. Despite claims such as “16 months of investigation” they seem to have never settled down to do reality checks or due diligence of their own.
They include the talking head Peter Van Sant (from Seattle), producers Doug Longhini, Sara Ely Hulse, and Joe Halderman (fired for attempted blackmail) and the serial fabricator Doug Preston who with major CBS help has perpetrated various damaging hoaxes
In late 2008 Paul Ciolino helped to get the Perugia reporting by CBS off to a very unpromising start.
As Kermit showed Ciolino made a huge mistake in a gotcha attempt upon witness Nara Capezzali.
She had reported to the police that she heard footsteps on gravel by the house and directly below her window on the top deck of the parking facility and then clanging footsteps on the steel stairs a few yards to her right. She also reported seeing several figures on the run.
She would not talk with Ciolino, who got the locations very wrong and also ignored altogether what Madame Nara saw. His replication of the footsteps was by runners down on the bitumin street, which is about three times as far away as Madame Nara heard some steps, with a surface nothing like the gravel drive by the house. Then Ciolino reported that he couldnt hear anything. Hardly a surprise.
In 2009 Ciolino was the main speaker at the infamous Knox fundraiser at Salty’s in West Seattle. His presentation was shrill even by their standards. He was apparently the first ever to describe the case as a “railroad job from hell”.
That inspired this extended rebuttal by Kermit.
Included in Ciolino’s presentation at Salty’s was an angry demonizing rant about Dr Mignini’s sanity. This rant was widely reported, not least in Italy.
In April 2009 CBS 48 Hours with biased takes by Ciolino and Preston aired American Girl, Italian Nightmare, the most misleading major US TV report as of that point, and Peter Van Sant aired his own misleading take.
In 2011 CBS 48 Hours aired the so-called untold story of Knox. CBS 48 Hours also aired numerous other short segments (you can find them on YouTube) simply regurgitating the tales by Knox and her PR gang whole, absent any checking of facts.
CBS attempt no balance, nobody with a deep knowledge of the case ever appears. No Italians are ever interviewed. PR shills repetitively appear without being introduced as such. Almost all hard facts are simply left out; the lies by omission are huge.
CBS has done zero translation of major documents, or even reported on them in summary when released. Peter Van Sant and Doug Longhini have posted several dozen of the nastiest and least truthful analyses of the case on the CBS website. A really huge effort, simply channeling the PR.
Although quieter now, Paul Ciolino didnt quite dry up on the case. After the Nencini appeal in Florence he was quoted as saying:
Amanda is a political football, and not so much a murder suspect….They know she didn’t do it. Anyone with half a brain knows she and Raffaele weren’t involved in this thing. This is about national pride, about showing who’s boss in Italy. They are sending the message that, ‘You cannot bigfoot us. You can’t outspend us. We’re going to show you who runs this country and it’s not some little American twit from Seattle.
Italy really awoke to the Knox PR and the biased reporting of CBS etc only late in 2011 in conjunction with the highly evident hijacking of the Hellmann appeal and moreso in 2012 with the defamatory Sollecito book.
2. The $40 Million Lawsuit Against Ciolino And Protess
The news video above and this Chicago Sun-Times report explain the main thrust of the $40 million lawsuit which Ciolino along with Northwestern University’s journalism school and a former professor now faces.
Prosecutors in 2014 in releasing an innocent man after 15 years in prison blamed that group for false evidence and a false confession and for letting the real murderer walk free. Here thanks to our main poster Jools is the lawsuit document itself, an amazing read if you need more proof of how sleazy Amanda Knox’s help can be.
Here are the lawsuit’s opening paragraphs.
1. In 1999, Plaintiff Alstory Simon was wrongfully incarcerated for a double-murder he did not commit. Arrested at the age of 48, Simon spent more than 15 years in prison before he was ultimately exonerated on October 30, 2014.
2. The horrific injustice that befell Simon occurred when Defendants, Northwestern University Professor David Protess, Northwestern University private investigator Paul Ciolino, and attorney Jack Rimland, conspired to frame Simon for the murders in order to secure the release of the real killer, Anthony Porter.
3. As part of a Northwestern University Investigative Journalism class he taught in 1998, Protess instructed his students to investigate Porter’s case and develop evidence of Porter’s innocence, rather than to search for the truth. During that investigation, Northwestern, through its employees and/or agents Protess and Ciolino, intentionally manufactured false witness statements against Simon and then used the fabricated evidence, along with terrifying threats and other illegal and deceitful tactics, to coerce a knowingly false confession from Simon.
CBS is mentioned half a dozen times. It helped in the framing with nationally broadcast segments. In paragraph 85 we are told CBS got an exclusive. What a real surprise THAT is… The lawsuit document paints Ciolino’s behavior as dishonest and ruthless and possibly criminal as well.
Protess, Ciolino and Northwestern Medill students repeatedly attempted to get the eyewitness to change his testimony, with Protess offering him $250,000 and 20% in “upfront” money for his rights in a book and movie deal;
Protess also told the eyewitness that he could have sex with either of two Northwestern Medill students if he would change his testimony.
Quoted in the lawsuit is this about Ciolino. It is actually written by Protess.
On March 15, Charles McCraney’s appearance was anxiously awaited at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Kankakee, Illinois. Paul Ciolino’s hair was slicked back. The private investigator wore a sharkskin suit and white-on-white shirt with gold cuff links, his tie secured by an ornate pin. Sitting opposite him were David Protess and Rene Brown, dressed down for the occasion… Protess introduced himself [to McCraney] and then Brown. ‘And this is Jerry Bruckheimer, the Hollywood producer I was telling you about,’ said Protess as Ciolino extended his hand….
In paragraph 94 Ciolino’s alleged threatening of Simon into a confession is described as follows. .
Ciolino and a fellow private investigator “bull rushed” (in the words of Ciolino) Simon in his home with their guns drawn;
Ciolino told Simon that he was a police officer;
Ciolino showed Simon a videotape of a man, who is now known to be an actor, falsely claiming that he saw Simon commit the murders;
Ciolino threatened Simon that they could do things the “easy way or the hard way” and mentioned that he would hate to see Simon have an accident;
Ciolino showed Simon what Ciolino described as a “devastating” five minute CBS-TV broadcast of Protess and Inez claiming Simon committed the murders;
Ciolino falsely told Simon that he was facing the death penalty and that the Chicago police were on their way to Simon’s house to arrest him;
Ciolino told Simon he could avoid the death penalty by providing a statement that he shot the victims in self defense but that Simon had to act quickly because Ciolino could no longer help him once the police arrived;
Ciolino promised Simon that he would be provided a free lawyer if he agreed to give a statement;
Ciolino promised Simon that Protess would ensure he received a short prison sentence if he agreed to give a statement;
Ciolino promised Simon would receive large sums of money from book and movie deals about the case if he agreed to give a statement.
Believing he had no other viable option, and acting under extreme duress and the influence of narcotics, Simon was knowingly and intentionally coerced into providing a false statement implicating himself in the murders.
It is this supposedly forced confession that above all cost Simon 15 years.
There is so much more. This may be a very tough lawsuit for Ciolino to beat as well as a career-killer. Northwestern University is no friend of Ciolino and may choose to go hard against him.
They do have a favorable track record. The students of the journalism school had for years been questionably used by Protess’s arm of Barry Sheck’s Innocence Project to gather defense evidence slanted to getting supposed innocent prisoners released.
Protess was fired for this by the university several years ago as hangers-on tried to defend him.
The Innocence Project again… This is all too reminiscent of Greg Hampikian in Boise, Idaho, who corrupted Hellmann’s DNA consultants to try to frame people, and misrepresented hard evidence to try to allow guilty people to walk free.
And all broadcast by your local CBS station.
Archived in Reporting, media, movies, Biased reporting, Media news, Other legal processes, Those elsewhere, The wider contexts, N America context, Knox-Mellas team, More hoaxers
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Sunday, February 15, 2015
Journalist Andrea Vogt Encounters Two Case-Related Oddities Of Interest In Official Washington
Posted by Peter Quennell
1. US Freedom Of Official Information And Politics
Since 1967 the US Federal Government has had to provide certain official information to requesting citizens and organizations.
About half of all information requested is handed over fully, about 3/8 is handed over with excisions and withholdings, and about 1/8 is not handed over at all, with summary reasons for the refusal. This can then be appealed or alternately brought to the attention of someone in Congress.
If a powerful congressman or committee staffer picks up the ball then the information can flow quite magically.
If the information can embarrass the presidential administration the other party can gleefully extract the information, if necessary with the issuing of a subpoena. The news media will usually pick this up and run with it, especially if a Congressional committee decides to ask questions or hold hearings.
We reckon that our readership and the case-watchers in general extend right across the political spectrum from left to right. No easy trick and we have always been quite pleased with this. It is usually impossible to tell what the political position of any poster or emailer is.
Same with the US media. Fox News cable news is generally thought to be right-wing and MSNBC left-wing and CNN tries to make it in the middle. But all three have had left-wingers and right-wingers on their shows supporting either Italy and justice or the anti-justice anti-Italy misinformation Knox campaign.
In other words support by Americans for Italian justice or for giving Knox a pass has had nothing to do with party lines. But that could change some.
Right now the presidential administration is on its back foot, as the other party controls both the houses of Congress. The Secretary of State and the Ambassador in Rome both work for the administration, and can be called to account by that Congress.
Knox happens to live in a city and state which largely goes along with the presidential party and administration. Senator Patty Murray and Senator Maria Cantwell are in the presidential party as is Mayor Ed Murray of Seattle.
Senator Cantwell is STILL the only influential politician who has taken a public stance anti-Italy; nobody from the opposite party ever has.
In October 2013 Cantwell flashed in and out of a bizarre misinformation panel perhaps embarrassed to be associated with it.
Bottom line? The presidential administration and party does not seem in a strong position to refuse to hand over any documents, or without very strong reason to take a pro-Knox anti-Italy position.
We are not guaranteeing that this case will become a political football. But it could. If it does, the Knox gang will have only weak political allies (if any) and what the Rome Embassy reported to the State Department 2007-2015 is really going to matter.
How does all this relate to what Andrea Vogt has recently encountered?
2. Andrea Vogt And The Cables From The Rome Embassy
Andrea Vogt in effect holds a giant lever. She has long pursued her right as an American journalist to surface what the consular officers in the Rome Embassy who watchdogged the 2009 trial and 2011 and 2013 appeals and Knox’s stint in prison had been reporting back to the State Department in Washington.
There was zero official paper trail helpful to a Knox fight against extradition. That was despite a very nasty effort by Knox forces to lean on the Embassy and the State Department by complaining directly to President Obama.
Now Andrea Vogt is reporting on the Freelance Desk in “Update Feb 13 2015” on her experience with a new batch of cables.
Oddities to our eyes are that (1) in this batch, some requested cables were not released; and (2) a cable in October 2011 at the end of the Hellmann appeal wrongly declared “case closed”.
Passages of special interest have been highlighted here by us.
Many may view the cables as just routine bureaucracy, which in large part they are, but I believe they are important documents to add to the public record for two reasons.
First, they show insight into how American citizens in trouble abroad are supported (or not, depending on your viewpoint) by their government.
Second, they contribute transparently to the established written government record, clarifying diplomatic aspects of the case that until now have remained hidden while the saga played out solely in Italian courtrooms and the media.
The results of this second batch of FOIA requests were of particular importance due to the grave accusations being launched against the Italian police and members of its judiciary by members of Knox’s family, supporters and public relations team during the period of her incarceration.
The question at hand: was Amanda Knox abused, mistreated or robbed of a fair trail in Italy? How closely was the state department monitoring the case and what did embassy officials do, or not do, as it evolved?
The answer, first revealed in this first batch of embassy cables released to me in 2012 and dating back from 2007-2009, is that embassy and state department personnel actively monitored the case and provided aid from the very first days after her arrest. Other state and federal documents that I published back in 2010 ... show how Washington State’s congressional delegation, namely Sen. Maria Cantwell, was also involved.
This second batch of FOIA-requested embassy cables was released to me in late 2014 in response to another more extensive FOIA request made in 2012 (a two-year lag time is not unusual for broad requests)...
In brief, these new cables shows that the trend of close state department monitoring of the case was constant, with consular involvement up until the day (Oct 11, 2011) that the U.S. Ambassador Thorne in Rome sent a cable to the secretary of state in Washington D.C., officially declaring the matter “case closed.”
The communications are noteworthy because they bust a number of media myths about Amanda Knox’s release and immediate departure from Italy after her release in 2011, namely that the U.S. embassy did not receive her in the hours immediately post release for consular services, as she was traveling on a valid U.S. passport.
The other interesting point is that though the case was far from over in Italy, once Amanda Knox was off Italian soil, it no longer considered the case to be of interest. “With the verdict of Oct. 3 overturning Amanda Knox’s prior conviction, her immediate release from prison and her subsequent departure from Italy today, Post considers this case closed. THORNE.”
For American citizens abroad, it is a welcome reminder that the embassy works on citizens’ behalf, as are the four documents released with excisions that show Knox was regularly visited by consular officials every six weeks and brought reading materials.
It is worth noting that the only persons to publicly report to have regularly visited Knox in prison to bring her reading materials were those associated with the Fondazione Italia USA, namely Italian parliamentarian Rocco Girlanda and Corrado Maria Daclon, the two men also present with her in the car that drove Knox out of prison the night she was acquitted.
Coincidence or are these the consular visits the cables refer to?
As soon as Knox was out of the country, the embassy declared “case closed,” perhaps not expecting that her trials would continue. Those who have followed the case know that the acquittal that prompted her release was later annulled in its entirety by Italy’s Supreme Court, which called for a second appeal trial to be held in a separate venue: Florence….
For the British and Italian authorities, and family members of Meredith Kercher who have patiently waited out the Italian legal system, perhaps the “case closed” cable jumped the gun. Once an American citizen is out of the country where he or she is in trouble, what duty does the embassy have to keep following legal developments that involve an American not physically in the country?
Did the embassy re-open the case later once the Supreme Court quashed the acquittal or is it “out of sight, out of mind,” and once an American in trouble abroad is no longer abroad, the embassy in that country can effectively wash its hands of the matter? Is it still considered “Case Closed”?
As the possibility of an extradition process hangs in the balance with the upcoming March 25 supreme court decision, the documents may provide some additional material for legal scholars to consider.
As the State Department letter points out, there are still 11 documents that fall under the umbrella of my initial FOIA request that have not been released that require further coordination.
Based on the content of my 2012 request, I believe these may be documents relating to then Sen. John Kerry and the U.S. Committee on Foreign Relations, of which he was chairman from 2009-2013 [ed note: and Senator Cantwell was a committee member] and to which specific FOIA requests were made, and for which I have not yet received response.
I have scanned and uploaded the 2-page FOIA response and 5 released cables (Oct 2011, June 2011, March 2011, November 2010, September 2010) below…
Andrea Vogt included images of those six seemingly mundane documents she received below the report, praises the Embassy and State, and voices no suspicions.
Amazingly, not one other American reporter has pursued this obvious angle. Still, in a political fuss, all those many others described in Part 1 above could also choose to do so.
Archived in Those who were charged, Amanda Knox, Hoaxes against Italy, Italian justice hoax, Hoaxes by Knox, Knox persona hoax, Hoaxers - main people, Knox-Mellas team, Reporting, media, movies, Straight reporting, The wider contexts, N America context
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Thursday, December 18, 2014
The Dangers Of Not Extraditing Convicted Felons Labeled An Explosive Threat To Other People
Posted by Peter Quennell
1. Lessons From Australia
It looks like several Australian judges may have wrecked their careers for allowing Man Haron Monis to be at large even though police said he should be denied bail.
Man Haron Monis was the former Iranian who took 17 hostages in downtown Sydney and caused the death of two others and himself. Coming to light is how many times previously the Australian justice system had treated him with kid gloves for major crimes.
Iran tried to extradite the gunman behind Sydney’s deadly hostage crisis years ago, Tehran’s top cop said, amid questions over how the self-styled cleric had found his way to Australia but not onto a watch list…
Monis grew up in Iran as Mohammad Hassan Manteghi. In 1996, he established a travel agency, but took his clients’ money and fled, Iran’s police chief, Gen. Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam, told the country’s official IRNA news agency Tuesday.
Australia accepted him as a refugee around that time. The police chief said Iran tried to have Monis extradited from Australia in 2000, but that it didn’t happen because Iran and Australia don’t have an extradition agreement.
Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he wanted to know how Monis had been granted permanent residency and why he had been receiving welfare benefits for years, despite being able-bodied “if not necessarily of sound mind.”
Monis had a gun licence, a rarity in Australia - and he walked free after being charged for writing letters of hate to families of dead Australian soldiers, and for having a hand in the killing of his wife.
2. The Relevance Of This To Knox
Regardless of extradition treaty situations, countries almost universally extradite convicted murderers. They dont want dangerous people to have another chance to cause deadly havoc in their own midst.
Knox is already a felon for life. If Knox is confirmed guilty of murder next March she will be a DANGEROUS felon for life.
The Italian-US extradition treaty gives a US judge no wiggle room other than to check if the paperwork is in order and then send her on her way.
But another bent judge could again throw a spanner in the works.
How dangerous is Knox? Our psychologists generally think that, untreated, she is not good news. Not a latent serial killer, or one who sits around and plots, but one who could again explosively hit back when she imagines or exaggerates slights.
More than anyone in Perugia, Meredith tried to get along with Knox. But Knox showed no sign of a learning curve. The very heavy drug use went on, the sleeping with a drug dealer went on, the dirtiness and laziness around the house went on, and the noisy sex episodes with strangers through paper-thin walls went on.
She really was the housemate from hell.
For a month or two after Meredith died, Knox was highly erratic about her role in that death, and showed an extreme eagerness to talk with the prosecution which resulted in the long session with Dr Mignini on 17 Dec.
In a move serially misinterpreted by the dimwits of the Knox brigade, the prosecution, suspecting she was both mixed up and high on hard drugs, in effect offered Knox and her team a way to a lesser count, when they said that the murder could have been a taunting attack which spun out of control.
In her book, Knox describes how the family and lawyers worked hard on Knox to destroy all elements of trust. By the summer of 2008 she was in a mood of full-blown paranoid mistrust, and all chances of a lesser charge were gone.
At trial in 2009 Knox was daffy and uncomprehending, making irrelevant interventions and really shooting herself in the foot when she took the stand. Raffaele Sollecito and Patrick Lumumba, almost the last two in Perugia to still give her the time of day, both said she was very odd.
Knox was mentally tested in Capanne Prison and apparently scored high on the psychopathic chart. The four courts hardest on Knox all knew this - the Matteini court, the Ricciarelli court, Cassation, and the Nencini court - which was a major reason why Cassation did not allow bail in April 2008.
Assuming she killed once, in what was an exceptionally barbaric attack, Knox may or may not kill again. She is certainly inciting or condoning a massive amount of dangerous hate toward Meredith’s family and toward the Italian officials of the court.
One unhinged attack has already occured - that of the disturbed Michele Moore against Dr Mignini in the Perugia court - and the British resident David Anderson has screamed at meetings and runs an incessant campaign to stir up hate. Court officials have received messages of hate, and there is a small mountain of false and dangerous accusations against them on the web.
Left untreated and unpunished, a convicted but not extradited Knox would be a killer walking loose on American streets and could continue to condone or incite violence for the rest of her life.
If Knox killed and remains loose, could she kill again or cause others to kill? Any extradition judge needs to ask as the Australian judges did not:
Do we REALLY want to find out?
Archived in Justice systems, Italian system, Other systems, Other legal processes, Extradition issues, The wider contexts, Italian context, Europe context, N America context
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Thursday, October 30, 2014
Why Numerous American JUDGES Favor The Supremely Neutral Italian Kind Of System
Posted by Peter Quennell
See that above at the bottom of the YouTube screen? Some $280 million has been spent since the year 2000.
Can you guess what the $280 million was for?
In fact the $280 million is funds raised and spent for judges’ election campaigns in the roughly 3/4 of all American states where such judges’ elections are held - the original intention of which was good: to get judicial choices out of smoke-filled rooms.
Sitting judges and prospective judges themselves usually dont like this fundraising, because they have to take time off to raise these funds, and pressures from donors - including bad-boy donors and in some cases defense lawyers seeking a break - can become extreme.
We have posted previously on enlightened American lawyers favoring main aspects of the Italian kind of system and on American cities now doing the same. Now we see many American judges and public-interest groups inclining the same way.
Why all judges in Italy are impartial and well-trained in the extreme (like all prosecutors) and dont have to keep their paws outstretched is that they are in a merit-based system where only their performance and not their politics counts.
We described how Italian justice system officials have to jump hurdle after hurdle in getting their cases advanced. A very demanding process in which only the best succeed.
It’s the same with their careers. They have to jump hurdle after hurdle in exams and peer assessment to advance from level to level - to make it as high for example as this revered prosecutor here.
Do such serial defamers of the Italian system as Doug Preston and Steve Moore and ex-judge Michael Heavey bother to tell you this about the Italian system? Probably not. They have never been truthful about it before.
Archived in Justice systems, Italian system, Other systems, Hoaxes against Italy, Italian justice hoax, Florence MOF hoax, The wider contexts, Italian context, N America context
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