Collection: Other systems

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



Above: Still under a cloud: Jessie Misskelley, Jason Baldwin, and Damien Echols

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.



Above: the three 8-year-old victims

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.



Above: one of the documentaries

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.”

(Damien Wayne ECHOLS and Charles Jason Baldwin v. STATE of Arkansas,Supreme Court of Arkansas)



Above: Judge (now State Senator) David Burnett

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?

JESSIE: Yes

GITCHELL: In his groin area?

JESSIE: Yes

GITCHELL: Okay

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?

JESSIE: Yes

GITCHELL: Okay

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?

JESSIE: Yeah

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.



Above: the courthouse about 100 miles north of West Memphis

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?

JESSIE: Jason

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:

“Head Injuries:

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.”



Above: bridge west from Memphis; crime scene is just one mile ahead

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]

Posted on 08/25/16 at 12:32 AM by The MachineClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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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





One reason so many still follow Meredith’s case is because justice has not yet been SEEN to be done.

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.

Read for example Nicki and Commissario Montalbano for two among our numerous posts on this. 

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.

Posted on 08/09/16 at 06:52 AM by Peter QuennellClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Artificially Controversial Adnan Syed Case Adds To Tilt Against Victims Worldwide

Posted by The Machine



Victim Hae Min Lee; bottom, podcaster Sarah Koenig basking in celebrity

1. The Media Overview

Doug Preston, John Douglas, Steve Moore and Bruce Fischer are by no means the only crackpots in America perpetrating innocence fraud.

Their main distinction was to perpetrate it in English against a victim and a police and court system of other countries, using ignorance and smears and a largely complicit American media to trample hard truths in the case.

But innocence fraud is still a tiny industry in Italy as compared with the godzilla it is becoming in America - often with politically vulnerable judges and usually with naive do-gooders in compliance. 

2. The Adnan Syed/Hae Min Lee serial podcast

Much of the public seems to have developed an insatiable appetite for documentaries about people who have been convicted of murders they allegedly didn’t commit. Faux TV documentaries title American Girl, Italian Nightmare, Paradise Lost, West of Memphis, and Making of a Murderer, have all been watched by millions of people.

Podcasts are another way of reaching them. Wikipedia defines a podcast as “a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.”

High school student Hae Min Lee was the victim in this 1999 Baltimore murder case and her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was convicted in 2000 of her murder and is serving a life sentence plus 30 years. 

The serial podcast about the Adnan Syed/Hae Min Lee case has been downloaded over 80 million times now. According to Apple, it’s the fastest podcast to reach five million downloads and streams in the history of iTunes.

In the light of public sentiment inflamed by it a retrial has been ordered, a ruling which Maryland’s attorney general will now seek to overturn.

Why was this serial podcast so popular?

Natasha Vargas-Cooper and Ken Silverstein made the following observation about the success of Serial in an article about the case for The Intercept:

“The reality is that ‘Serial’ only worked if it could demonstrate that there were serious doubts about the fairness of Syed’s trial and conviction. If he were guilty, there was no story. The storytelling device was to amplify claims that favored Syed’s defense and contrast that with a watered-down version of the state’s case”

TV producers and podcast makers know full well that an innocent person being railroaded by corrupt or incompetent cops is a far more melodramatic story than a run-of-the-mill domestic violence murder.

Paul Ciolino admitted in a question and answer session about the Meredith Kercher case at Seattle University that CBS News didn’t care whether someone was innocent. The only thing they care about is the story.

“I work for CBS News. I want to tell you one thing about CBS. We don’t care if you did it. We don’t care if you’re innocent. We like a story. We want to do a story. That’s all we care about.”

CBS News produced one of the most biased and factually inaccurate documentaries about the Meredith Kercher case “American Girl, Italian Nightmare”.

The CBS documentary is an archetypal example of innocence fraud. The story is told primarily from the defence point of view, incriminating pieces of evidence are ignored and the programme contains a number of significant factual errors.

3. Faults by podcast creator Sarah Koenig

The Serial is another example of innocence fraud. Sarah Koenig, the executive producer and host of Serial, tries to be partial and objective, but fails miserably.

Instead of maintaining a professional distance from Adnan Syed, she becomes emotionally attached to him, and it’s clear she desperately wants to believe he’s innocent.

She can barely hide her disappointment when she finds out things that show Syed in a bad light. Her comments that Syed doesn’t seem like a killer are just crass. She comes across as an unwordly academic who has been sheltered from the real world in her ivory tower. 

She says she doesn’t buy the motive put forward by the prosecution i.e. Adnan Syed couldn’t deal with being dumped by Hae Min Lee and it erupted in violence.

In reality, people kill other people for the most banal and trivial reasons. She doesn’t seem to understand that there are seven billion on the planet and not everyone shares her logic and morals. There have been a number of high-profile murder cases where seemingly normal people have committed horrific and senseless murders with little or no motive.

And motive is not a required element in any common law jurisdiction.

She adopts a piecemeal cherrypicking approach to the evidence and analyses each piece of evidence in isolation from the other pieces of evidence. If there’s an alternative innocent explanation not matter how far-fetched it is, she wrongly assumes it nullifies that particular piece of evidence.

It’s no surprise she concludes there isn’t enough evidence to convict Adnan Syed of murder: “It’s not enough, to me, to send anyone to prison for life.”

She doesn’t understand the concept and application of the “beyond a reasonable doubt standard” and that all the pieces of evidence have to be considered wholly, not separately - by a jury actually present to size up all witnesses.

According to the Supreme Court of the United States in Victor. Nebraska (92-8894), 511 U.S. 1 (1994):

“…absolute or mathematical certainty is not required.”

“You may be convinced of the truth of a fact beyond a
reasonable doubt and yet be fully aware that possibly you may be mistaken.”

You put all the pieces of evidence together to see whether a picture of guilt emerges.

According to the Supreme Court of Canada in Stewart v. The Queen, [1977] 2 SCR 748:

“It may be, and such is often the case, that the facts proven by the Crown, examined separately have not a very strong probative value; but all the facts put in evidence have to be considered each one in relation to the whole, and it is all of them taken together, that may constitute a proper basis for a conviction.”






4. Main facts of the case against Adnan Syed

The key pieces of evidence in the case were the testimony of his friend Jay Wilds and the mobile phone records which destroyed Adnan Syed’s initial alibi that he was at the mosque on the evening of 13 January 1999 - the day Hae Min Lee disappeared- and corroborated Wilds’ claims that he and Adnan were in Leakin Park that evening.

This is significant because Hae Min Lee’s body was found in Leakin Park. There’s no question that Jay Wilds had inside knowledge about the murder - he led the police to Hae Min Lee’s car. He confessed to being an accessory to murder after the fact.

On 13 January 1999, Hae Min Lee was supposed to pick up her cousin from the Campfield Early Learning Center after school and take her home. She must have been abducted by her killer whilst on the way to the kindergarten.

This means the window of opportunity for her killer to abduct her was extremely narrow. It takes approximately 11 minutes to drive the 3.8 miles from Woodlawn High School to the kindergarten. 

Jay Wilds told the police that Adnan Syed’s plan was to get a lift with Hae Min Lee. Becky and Krista, who were friends with Hae and Syed, claim they heard him asking Hae for a lift on 13 January 1999. Scott Adcock, a police officer, testified that Syed had told him he had asked Hae for a lift that day.

Syed would later deny that he had asked Hae for a lift. Adnan Syed had lent Wilds his mobile phone and car that day. However, it should be pointed out that it wasn’t the first time that Syed had done this.

Kevin Urick, one of the prosecutors, acknowledged in his interview with The Intercept that the two key pieces of evidence - the mobile records and Jay Wilds’ testimony - are of weaker probative value when considered separately, but pointed out that when you put them together, they are strong pieces of evidence.

“Jay’s testimony by itself, would that have been proof beyond a reasonable doubt?” Urick asked rhetorically. “Probably not. Cellphone evidence by itself? Probably not.”

But, he said, when you put together cellphone records and Jay’s testimony, “they corroborate and feed off each other–it’s a very strong evidentiary case.”

He also pointed out that the mobile phone records destroyed Adnan Syed’s alibi that he was at the mosque on the evening of 13 January 1999. From The Intercept:

“Yes. Early on in the Syed case, the defense sent us a disclosure of about eighty names stating that these were witnesses that were going to testify that Syed was at the mosque because it was Ramadan. He was praying all evening and that’s where he was [Intercept ed’s. note: We have corrected this in the introduction].

If they called those eighty witnesses, they would’ve obviously been testifying falsely, because the cellphone records in conjunction with all the evidence we gathered about the cellphone towers, who made the calls, who received them, place him everywhere but at the mosque.

The best defense an attorney can put on is the defense the client is telling them. But attorneys still are not supposed to put on fabricated evidence. And that would’ve been fabricated evidence. And I think once Gutierrez recognized that fact, she did not put it on.”

Adnan Syed chose not to testify at both his trials. If he had, Kevin Urick would have asked him a pertinent question.

“And my very last question would be, what is your explanation for why you either received or made a call from Leakin Park the evening that Hae Min Lee disappeared, the very park that her body was found in five weeks later?”

The mobile phone records also showed there was a call from his mobile phone to his friend Nisha’s landline at 3:32pm on the day Hae disappeared. This is significant because Jay Wilds didn’t know Nisha and Adnan Syed claims he didn’t have his phone at this time as Jay Wilds had it. The phone call lasted more than two minutes.

Sarah Koening speculates that the Nisha call could have been a “butt dial”.

Dana Chivvis, one of the “Serial” producers, puts the pieces of evidence together in episode 12 and seems to have serious reservations about Adnan Syed’s innocence.

“Adnan has always said it was his idea to loan Jay the car because he wanted to get Stefanie a birthday present right. So that’s pretty crappy luck that you loaned this guy who ends up pointing the finger at you for the murder that you loaned him your car and cell phone the day you ex-girlfriend goes missing. The next thing is that it seems pretty clear to me that Adnan asked Hae for a ride after school because we’ve got at least two of their friends saying they overheard him ask for a ride from Hae.

Adnan himself tells the cop that day he asked Hae for a ride. And In Jay’s first interview with the detectives, he says to them Adnan’s plan was to get in Hae’s car by telling her that his car was broken down and asking her for a ride. Then the next piece of bad luck is the Nisha call. I mean even if the Nisha call could potentially be a butt dial… in the realm of possibility maybe it was a butt dial, but what are the chances? Like that sucks for for you that your phone butt dialled the girl that only you know and would call on this day your ex-girlfriend goes missing that you happen to loan your car and phone out to the guy who ends up pointing the finger at you. That sucks.

And the last thing that I think really sucks for him if he’s innocent is that Jay’s story and the cell phone records match up from about 6 o’clock to about 8 o’clock which is when Jay is saying that you’re burying the body and that’s the time of day when you have no memory of where you were…But you Adnan you don’t really remember where you were that evening and that blank spot in your memory that’s the window of time when Jay’s story actually does seem to be corroborated by the cell phone records.”

It’s important to put the evidence that Dana Chivvis outlines into the wider context of Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee’s deteriorating relationship.

In November 1998, two months before Hae Min Lee was murdered, she wrote a break-up note to Syed telling him to move on, accept her decision to end their relationship, and to “hate me if you will.” On the back of the note Adnan Syed wrote: “I’m going to kill.”

Is it a coincidence that two months later that Hae Min Lee was killed?

Is it a coincidence that Adnan Syed can remember very little about this day even though it wasn’t an ordinary day because the police called him to tell that Hae was missing and asked him if he knew where she was?

Ann Brocklehurst wrote a blog article criticising Sarah Koenig for consistently minimising the warning signs of intimate partner violence and noted that she overlooked that fact that Hae had asked a teacher, Hope Schab, to help her hide from Syed.




5. Doubts Sarah Koenig tries to raise

Sarah Koenig seems to think that Asia McClain is a credible witness - she claims she saw Adan Syed in the library that afternoon. However, Kevin Urick points out why the judge in the post-conviction trial didn’t take her claim seriously.

“I think the judge in the post-conviction trial does a very good job of pointing out that in the letters to Syed, she is very vague and indifferent about what she’s doing. The difficulty comes from Syed. In all his statements about his whereabouts the day of the case he says that he was at the school from 2:15pm to 3:30pm.

He never once, in any statement, at any time, made any reference about being in the public library. His defense was that he was at the school from 2:30 to 3:30. So [Asia McClain’s] reporting seeing him at the public library contradicts what he says he was doing.”

Kevin Urick also stated that Asia McClain told him she was being put under a lot of pressure from Adnan Syed’s family.

“Asia contacted me before the post-conviction hearing, she got my number and called me and expressed to me a great deal of concern about whether or not she would have to testify at the post-conviction hearing. She told me she was under a lot of pressure from Adnan’s family and to get them off her back she wrote him a couple letters.

The implication was she was trying to appease them and she didn’t want to have to stick by it at that time. And I testified to that when I appeared in the post-conviction hearing.”

Sarah Koenig also seems to think that Jay Wilds’ testimony shouldn’t have been used to convict Adnan Syed because he gave conflicting accounts. Kevin Urick explained why these inconsistencies don’t discredit him as a witness.

“Like I said, people who are engaged in criminal activity, it’s like peeling an onion. The initial thing they say is, ‘I don’t know a thing about this.’ And then ‘Well, I sort of saw this.’ You get different stories as you go along. This is the real world. We don’t pick our witnesses, we have to put them on as they are. There were a lot of inconsistencies throughout Jay’s prior statements. Almost all of them involve what we would call collateral facts.

“A material fact is something directly related to the question of guilt or innocence. A material fact would have been, ‘I was with Adnan,’ and then you’ve got the cellphone corroborating that material fact. A collateral fact would be, We were at Joe’s Sub Shop,’ but then you find out actually they were at the auto repair store. That’s a collateral fact. It’s not necessarily material to the question of guilt or innocence. So, many of the material facts were corroborated through the cellphone records including being in Leakin Park.”

Sarah Koenig is not the only person who thinks Jay Wilds’ testimony shouldn’t have been used to convict Adnan Syed.

Civil lawyer Richard Dwyer says doesn’t believe Adnan Syed and thinks he might be guilty, but he states he shouldn’t have been convicted because Jay Wilds gave conflicting statements and the timeline wasn’t proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

There seems to be a widespread misconception that the prosecution must be able to prove with absolute certainty each and every element of a second-by-second comprehensive timeline and that witness testimony must be discounted if there are any contradictions. 

The bottom line is the jury found Jay Wilds to be a credible witness and found Adnan Syed guilty of murder.

6. Some Conclusions

A biased and one-sided 12-part documentary presented by a partisan journalist doesn’t supercede a criminal trial where the jurors get to hear the defence and prosecution present their cases and watch witnesses being cross-examined in court.

Justice shouldn’t be a like a reality TV show where the public gets to decide whether someone convicted of murder should be allowed leave the big house. However, there’s no doubt that these types of documentaries do influence legal proceedings. A judge has recently ruled that Adnan Syed will be given another trial.

We can expect Adnan Syed’s supporters and a number of media organisations will try to influence the legal proceedings before and during the new trial. This couldn’t happen in the UK because of the sub judice rules which prevents the media from commenting on a case until a verdict is reached in order to prevent the jury from being swayed.

The Guardian recently published an article entitled “Adnan Syed is innocent. Now find Hae Min Lee’s real killer”, which was written by Adnan Syed’s chief advocate Rabia Chaudry. I hope the mainstream media provide balanced and factually accurate reports on the case - something they didn’t do when covering the Meredith Kercher case.

Journalists and the public should remember that a miscarriage of justices are not just cases where innocent people have been convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. They include cases where people have literally got away with murder. I can’t think of one documentary about such a case.

7. The reactions of Hae Min Lee’s family

Hae Min Lee’s family sat through the trials along with the juries and have no doubts that Adnan Syed killed her.

“It remains hard to see so many run to defend someone who committed a horrible crime, who destroyed our family, who refuses to accept responsibility, when so few are willing to speak up for Hae.”

Unlike Sarah Koenig or any of the 80 million people who downloaded the Serial podcasts, they actually attended every day of both trials, heard the arguments put forward from the defence and prosecution and saw the witnesses being cross-examined on the stand.

“unlike those who learn about this case on the internet, we sat and watched every day of both trials – so many witnesses, so much evidence”.




Some Of The Main Sources

One: Serial Season One

Two: EXCLUSIVE: PROSECUTOR IN ‘SERIAL’ CASE GOES ON THE RECORD

Three: EXCLUSIVE: SERIAL PROSECUTOR DEFENDS GUILTY VERDICT IN ADNAN SYED CASE, PART II.

Four: Serial podcast rehabilitated a schoolgirl’s murderer, so where’s the feminist outrage?

Five: Serial case: victim’s family offers rare statement before hearing resumes

Six: Adnan Syed is innocent. Now find Hae Min Lee’s real killer

Seven: Syed Of ‘Serial’ Podcast Given Retrial

Eight: Serial Podcast Locations

Nine: ‘Serial’ takes the stand: How a podcast became a character in its own narrative

Ten: Serial Finale—Why I Don’t Believe Adnan Syed

 

Posted on 07/27/16 at 07:46 AM by The MachineClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Italian Justice: Describing A Fine System And How To Improve It

Posted by Machiavelli (Yummi)

[Revered prosecutor Paolo Borsellino was assassinated 1992 with probable political connivance]

Trashing Of Justice System Gets Worse

Does this Reuters report capture Italian justice correctly?

We linked to it on 30 June and it seemed to have some key points missing. For example it omits, as English-language reports tend to, that the system as originally designed strove above all to be fair, and that crime rates in Italy are low and murder rates lower and levels of incarceration and recidivism tiny by European standards.

Also that the police and justice system remain more popular and trusted than other institutions in Italy.

Click here for more


Monday, June 20, 2016

How The Italian “Justice Tortoise” Is The Likely Winner Compared To For Example the US System

Posted by Peter Quennell



American prosecutor & jury - puzzle now over what system will make them share all evidence


Look around you.

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. 

Posted on 06/20/16 at 10:39 AM by Peter QuennellClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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Monday, April 25, 2016

Another Effective Innovation By New York Police Is Being Duplicated By Others

Posted by Peter Quennell



Police horses, up to a dozen stroked and photographed each evening in the Times Square area


In national US news any innovation of the New York police gets a lot of coverage.

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?”

Below: the Vermeer painting referred to, in the Frick Museum in New York

Posted on 04/25/16 at 04:52 PM by Peter QuennellClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Justice Systems Comparisons #5: How Appeals Differ in Italy and Common Law Countries

Posted by Chimera




1 Series And Post Overview

Meredith’s case generated enormous amounts of legal confusion and false statements around the world.

This was particularly so in the United States, and some of the confusions were by American lawyers.  We have Curt Knox and the now-defunct Marriott-Gogerty PR firm in part to thank for that. But also part of the misunderstanding comes from the differences in the Italian criminal procedures v.s. the US procedures which derive from English Common Law.

Of course, Knox/Mellas/Marriott have had a vested interested in ensuring that these differences are not made clear. Although it has antecedents in Roman law and French law, Common Law emerged distinctively in England back in 1215 when King John was made to sign the Magna Carta codifying a number of popular rights and of course reducing the king’s powers.

Note: I write this based on my experience in Appellate Court in Ontario (I’m Canadian).  However, the process is similar throughout Canadian Provinces (with minor variations), and I imagine throughout UK and US.  If anyone in other countries has some insight or experience to share, please do so.

Previously in this series: Part #1: An Overview. Part #2: Public Mischief and Perjury. Part #3: Bail, Extradition & Other Crimes. And Part #4: Canada and the U.S.A. (Part 1).

2. The Appeals Process in Common Law Countries

TERMINOLOGY:
  • Appellant—The Party that initiates the Appeal, regardless of who was who at the trial
  • Respondent—The Party that receives the Appeal, again, regardless of who was who at the trial
  • Cross Appeal—The Respondent has the right to launch their own, think of it as a counter appeal
  • Leave to Appeal—Permission to appeal, in some cases it must be granted
  • Proof of Service—Means filing an Affidavit of Service (Form 16-B), with the Appellate Court
  • Back Cover—is a back page put in all submissions (Form 4C)

The decision is handed down by the Court.  For minor criminal matters it is a Bench Trial (trial by Judge alone); for major crimes the Defendant has a choice of a Judge alone or Jury Trial.  In criminal cases, even though the Jury may vote to convict, the Judge will impose the sentence—for every crime except 2nd degree murder, the jury votes on that.  Afterwards ....

Option 1: If leave is needed, it must be granted in order to file.  This is usually for (a) 2nd level appeals; (b) To get Court Orders put in hold; (c) To Appeal prior to a final decision [Rule 62.01]

Option 2: If leave is ‘‘NOT’’ required, then just file notice.

Within the time limit—usually 30 days from the Lower Court ruling—serve a Notice of Appeal (Form 61-A), and file with the Appeal Court.  [Rule 61.04]

If the Appellant intends to submit evidence, then the Appellant’s Certificate Respecting Evidence (Form 61-C) must be served on the other side then filed with the Court.  This is actually optional.  [Rule 61.05]

[15 days after Notice of Appeal] If the Respondent intends to cross appeal, as in launch their own challenge, then Notice of Cross Appeal (Form 61-E) must be served then filed with the Court.  [Rule 61.07]

[15 days after Notice of Appeal] If the Respondent has their own evidence to submit, then the Respondent’s Certificate Respecting Evidence (Form 61-D) must be served then filed with the Court.

[30 days after Notice of Appeal] If a transcript is required, a Certificate of Ordering (proof a transcript has been ordered) must be filed with the Appellate Court [Rule 61.05(5)]

Option 1: If no transcript is required—Appellant must file appeal books within 30 days of Notice of Appeal

Option 2: If a transcript ‘‘is’’ required—Appellant must file appeal books within 60 days of Transcript being completed

In either case, the Appellant must include a Certificate of Perfection

[60 days after Certificate of Perfection Filed] Respondent must submit all books (and cross appeal if one was filed) to the Appellant and the Court

BOOKS TO BE SUBMITTED

[Rule 61.09] and [Rule 61.12] (by Both Sides):

(Mandatory) Appeal Book and Compendium—a collection of various documents and decisions related to the case   [Rule 61.10(1)]

(Mandatory) Factum—this is your ‘‘legal arguments’‘, and usually restricted in length, unless permission given   [Rule 61.11(1)]

(Optional) Exhibit Book—If there was some evidence that the Appellate Court should consider, it gets included here   [Rule 61.10.1]

(Optional) Transcript—If there was reversible error at trial, or in another hearing, it gets sent.  It can be stand alone, or included in the exhibit book

(Optional) Book of Authorities—If there is an error of law, a collection of decisions, a case book, is sent

Note: Factum and Compendium are required by both Appellant and Respondent.  The others may be included, depending on the type of appeal being argued

Note: There is flexibility with the formatting of the Authorities book, and the timing.  It may be sent much later, and cases just downloaded from the internet.

Note: The Appellate Courts are even strict about the colours of the book covers.  They are

  • (Buff)—Appellant’s Appeal Book and Compendium, Appellant’s Exhibit Book
  • (White)—Appellant’s Factum, Appellant’s Book of Authorities
  • (Buff)—Respondent’s Compendium, Respondent’s Exhibit Book
  • (Green)—Respondent’s Factum, Book of Authorities
  • (Red)—Transcript of Evidence
  • (Blue)—Motions filed in the matter
BEFORE THE APPEAL IS HEARD:

While everyone is entitled to ‘‘file’’ an appeal, there is no guarantee the appeal will actually be ‘‘heard’‘.  If the appeal is truly without merit, it will be thrown out before it is fully heard.

One such option (at least in Ontario), is to invoke Rule 2.1.01(6) and ask that the Appeal be dismissed, or grounds it is frivolous, vexing, or an abuse of process.

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/900194

AT THE ACTUAL APPEAL:

Depending on the Court, it may be a single Judge, a Panel of 3, a Panel of 5, or a Panel of 9 Judges.  These are actual Judges, with years of experience.  In the Provincial High Courts (Ontario Court of Appeals, BC Court of Appeals, Alberta Court of Appeals ....) it is usually 3 Judges who will hear the case.  The Supreme Courts (at least of Canada and the U.S.) are composed of 9 Judges.

The Appeal (and any Cross-Appeal) is restricted to the points raised in the Notice of Appeal/Cross Appeal.  Nothing else may be argued.

The Appellant goes first, explaining what was wrong with the trial, with references to various books.  The Judge (or panel of Judges) may interrupt at any time.

The Respondent goes second, countering the Appellant.  Again, the Judges may interrupt at any time.

The Appellant gets a rebuttal, not a rehash, but to refute anything the Respondent said, or to being in new points.

The Judge (or Panel) may immediately rule, but more likely will reserve its decision, and rule later.

The parties themselves do not address the Court (except for those self-representing), and no witnesses are called.

If (in criminal appeals), the Defendant does not show up, an arrest warrant would be issued, and the appeal likely dismissed out of hand.

With rare exceptions, an appeal hearing takes only a few hours.  Not weeks or months.

POSSIBLE OUTCOMES:

(1) The Appellate Court ‘‘corrects’’ the Lower Court ruling

(2) The Appellate Court ‘‘sends back down’’ the case to the Lower Court, with specific instructions

(3) The Appellate Court dismisses the Appeal

The Appellate Court has wide discretion in how long they make their ruling.  It could be a single sentence confirming the Trial Court, or up to dozens of pages explaining a decision for either side.

USEFUL LINKS:

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/900194
http://ontariocourtforms.on.ca/en/rules-of-civil-procedure-forms/
https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/divisional/Guide_to_Appeals_in_Divisional_Court_EN.html
http://www.ontariocourts.ca/coa/en/info/howto.htm

3. Contrast This with Criminal Appellate Trials in Italy

The Jury (composed of 2 Judges and 6 Lay Judges) hands down a verdict, and a sentence to go with it.  By Contrast, in Common Law, a Defendant may be convicted but not sentenced for several months.

[90 days after sentence] The Trial Court hands down a ‘‘Motivation Report’’ explaining in great detail the decision.  In serious cases, this may be hundreds of pages.

[45 days after Motivation Report] The ‘‘Losing Side’’ files an appeal with an Appellate Court

Even if the appeal grounds are extremely weak, the Appeal can still go ahead.

The Appellate Trial is then scheduled.  Like the Trial Courts, it is a panel of 2 Judges and 6 lay Judges.  Although it functions as a trial, it is not meant to be a ‘‘re-start’‘, but rather a ‘‘continuation’’ of the earlier proceedings.

The Judges decide how much (if any) of the evidence submitted by the Prosecution and Defence will be heard.  If the Prosecution has thoroughly proven its case at trial, there may be no need to submit any new evidence.  In the case of AK/RS, Prosecutors Mignini/Comodi had overwhelmingly convinced Judge Massei (2009) of guilt.

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/C443/

The Defendants may address the Court (Spontaneous Declarations), or they may agree to actual questioning (Cross Examination).  In this case, AK/RS gave several speeches at the Hellmann Appeal (2011), but neither agreed to actually be questioned.  At the Nencini Appeal (2013/2014) RS gave speeches but again refused to be questioned.  AK didn’t show up at all.

To be fair, the reason AK/RS may have refused questioning at the Hellmann or Nencini appeals may have been due to the trainwreck with Judge Massei

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/italy_shrugs_why_the_defendants_testimony_seems_to_have_been_a_real_fl
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/this_testimony_does_not_seem_to_have_gained_much_traction_here_in_ital

Neither AK nor RS were obligated to attend the Florence Appeal in 2013/2014, but they should have.  It is rude and contemptuous to skip out of the Court deciding your future.  AK hit the media circuit claiming to be afraid, while also arguing that she couldn’t afford to go back (despite a $3.8 million book deal).  RS showed up sometimes, but it interfered with his suntanning abroad.

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/questions_for_knox_how_do_you_explain
http://truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/multiple_ways_in_which_amanda_knoxs_email/
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/The_Nencini_Email_Why_This_May_Be

Although new evidence may be submitted, there are still restrictions about bringing in expert testimony, as it should properly be done at the trial level.  Cassation (2013), was highly critical the Judge Hellmann let Conti and Vecchiotti appear.  This is to say nothing of their actual reports.

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/the_hellmann_zanetti_appeal_courts_dna_consultancy_looks_even_worse

Both the Prosecution and Defence are then able to make a Summation of facts for the Appellate Court to consider.

What needs to be said is that the goal is not to ‘‘prove all over again’‘, but to determine if there were sufficient errors, and/or sufficient new evidence to overturn the trial verdict.

A verdict is handed down, either confirming or overturning the Trial Court ruling.  The Appellate Court of Hellmann/Zanetti (2011) overturned the Massei Trial Conviction (2009), while the Appellate Court of Nencini (2014) confirmed Massei’s original ruling, but with a small sentence increase.

The actual Appellate Trial may take place over several months.  With Judge Hellmann (2011) it was 20 sessions that took nearly a year, and with Judge Nencini (2014) it was 10 sessions, which took 4 months.

(90 days after verdict) The Appellate Court must submit their own Motivation Report, which will be scrutinized

4. Other TJMK Posts Of Relevance

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/first_italian_criticisms_of_the_hellmann_verdict_statement_now_startin
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/dissecting_the_hellmann_report_1
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/dissecting_the_hellmann_report_2_how_judges_zanetti_and_hellman_tilted_
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/reasonable_doubt_in_italian_law
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/weighing_the_ten_points
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/Perugias_excellent_umbria24_posts_details
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/appeal_session_1_more_results_
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/appeal_session_3_sollecito_in_court_with_family_lawyer
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/appeal_session_9_sollecito_team_concludes_prosecutor_crini_rebutts_def
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/what_we_might_read_into_sollecito_lawyer_giulia_bongiornos_final_arguments
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/defense_dirty_tricks_did_we_just_see
http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/highlights_of_the_nencini_report_1_the_attention_directed1

5. Some Final Thoughts

The ‘‘Appellate Trial’’ as known in Italy, does not have an equivalent in the Common Law Countries.  To be fair though, the Italian Supreme Court hearings (Corti di Cassazione) do resemble Common Law appeals in that they are fairly short hearings restricted to arguing various points of law.

The goal of the ‘‘Appellate Trial’’ is to give the Defendants a huge amount of rights (including re-opening the case) not afforded in Common Law Countries.  Even after going through a full trial, it is an opportunity to re-examine much of the case.

The ‘‘jury’’ of Appellate Trials not the ‘‘Panel of Judges’’ that many would think out here.

http://www.truejustice.org/ee/index.php?/tjmk/comments/rogue_juror_genny_ballerini_a_sure_sign_oggi_sees_its_conviction

The option to testify (and especially to give Spontaneous Declarations) in an Appeal is unheard of in Common Law Appeals.

However, both in Italy and in the Common Law, it is illegal to make false accusations or to sabotage the Court process.  AK doesn’t seem to have learned.

Weak appeals in the Common Law would be thrown out at the preliminary stages, in Italy the burden seems to be much lower.

The Trial and Appellate Trial Courts in Italy seem to go much more into detail about why they make their rulings.

While it is normal to have a Common Law Appeal in just 1 day, the decision may be reserved for months.  Contrast this with an Italian Appellate Trial, which takes place over months, but the verdict is handed down at the end.

This article is not meant to knock Italy in any way.  There are valid reasons for how things are done.  But without living in both regions, or having lots of exposure to both, few would know about these differences.

*****

Author’s Note: Pardon my lopsided detail when it comes to describing the process in Canada, as opposed to Italy.  If someone would like to come up with a more detailed version for Italian Appeals, it would go nicely.

Posted on 04/17/16 at 05:38 PM by ChimeraClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Case Of Russell Williams: What a ‘‘Set-Up’’ Police Interview Really Looks Like

Posted by Chimera

Russell Williams’s “Compressed” Interview 2 Hours 40 Minutes Long

1. Post Overview

This contrast’s Knox’s claimed trick “interrogation” and “confession” with one known to be real.

Russell Williams, unbelievably, was a Colonel in the Canadian Air Force, and the Commanding Officer at Trenton Air Force Base.

(From Wikipedia) From July 2009 to his arrest in February 2010, he commanded CFB Trenton, a hub for air transport operations in Canada and abroad and the country’s largest and busiest military airbase. Williams was also a decorated military pilot who had flown Canadian Forces VIP aircraft for dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, and the Governor General and Prime Minister of Canada.


2. Williams First Association With Crimes

It is early February 2010. Ontario Provincial Police are investigating 4 incidents in a region of Southern Ontario, believing they are connected.  They are, 2 unsolved sexual assaults, the sexual assault and murder a military flight commander, Marie-France Comeau, and the January 28 disappearance of a woman named Jessica Lloyd.

While Lloyd’s disappearance was still ongoing, a witness came forward and reported seeing an SUV-type vehicle nearby.  Police follow up and find tire tracks in that location.  They then go about trying to match those tracks to a particular vehicle.  Roadchecks are set up along various roads.

Williams gets caught in the checkpoint, and the police notice that the tires on his Nissan Pathfinder are identical to those tracks near Jessica Lloyd’s home.  Williams is let go, but under 24 hour surveillance at that point.

3. Narrative Of Williams Interview

It is Sunday, February 7, 2010. Williams is called into police headquarters to answer questions.  He arrives at 3pm, and stunningly, he is wearing the same boots he wore to Jessica Lloyd’s house.  Either moronic, or bold.

The interview starts off casually, though Williams is asked for evidence to prove he is not involved: DNA, fingerprints, and bootprints. 

Watch the video above, Williams is in shock when the topic of bootprints comes up.  At 6pm Det-Sergeant Smyth drops the bombshell:

(1) tire tracks near Jessica Lloyd’s home are from his vehicle;

(2) those are his bootprints behind her house;

(3) the DNA is about to be matched;

(4) the homes are being searched, and the vehicle seized.

Williams realizes at this point that he has been tricked, that it was a setup all along.

Confession “To Spare His Wife”

Williams did come clean about 5 hours into the interrogation.  The reason: to spare his wife the added trauma and humiliation of the police tearing the homes apart.

He rationalized that if he simply told the police where to find evidence, they would take it and go.  At that point, it was about all he could do.

(from Wikipedia) On October 21, 2010, Williams was sentenced to two life sentences for first-degree murder, two 10-year sentences for other sexual assaults, two 10-year sentences for forcible confinement, and 82 one-year sentences for breaking and entering, all to be served concurrently.

Civil Courts Follow-up

Williams’ wife, Mary Harriman did take control of the couple’s multiple properties in Ontario.  She sought a divorce, which has dragged on for years, and did try to get the proceedings banned from publication.

The problem, according to the victims and the families is that this transfer from him to her amounts to FRAUDULENT CONVEYANCE.

In plain English, the allegations are that Williams transferred everything to his wife in order to avoid having it seized by lawsuits.  Williams claimed he sold it (cheaply) to his wife since he was serving a life sentence and not likely to ever need it again.

Ms. Harriman is now also being forced to testify about the true nature of their marriage for civil matters.  The argument being advanced is that she either knew what was going on, and could not be that oblivious—in light of the shear volume of trophies Williams kept.

Wife of serial killer Russell Williams loses court battle

OPP detective used ‘Reid technique’ to get Russell Williams to confess

World’s Greatest Police Interrogator: Detective Jim Smyth

4. The Narrative Of Knox’s Interview

Knox showed up unexpectedly at the Questura the evening of November 5, 2007.  Sollecito had been called in—alone— to clear up inconsistencies in his stories.

Knox went anyway, and remained even when told to leave.  She was told by Inspector Ficarra that if she really wanted to help, she could put together a list of possible suspects who may have visited the house.  She agreed.

Sollecito, when shown proof in his phone records that contradicted his story, threw Knox under the bus.  He claimed that AK went out alone, he stayed inside and used the computer, and that Knox came back several hours later.  RS claims AK asked him to lie, and that he didn’t think of the inconsistencies at the time.

Knox, on the other hand, thought that RS had actually accused her of murder, not just pulled her alibi.  AK is shocked, and fakes a crying fit. 

She then responds by throwing—someone else completely—under the bus.  Not Sollecito.  Not Guede.

Of course once it turns out that PL is completely innocent, police and prosecutors don’t believe anything she says at this point.

The Knox Interrogation Hoax

#1 Overview Of The Series - The Two Version of the 5-6 Nov 2007 Events

#2 Trial Testimony From Rita Ficcara On Realities 5-6 Nov

#3 More Defense Pussyfooting Toward Rita Ficcara, Key Witness

#4 More Hard Realities From Rita Ficcara, More Nervousness From Defense

#5 Key Witness Monica Napoleoni Confirms Knox Self-Imploded 5-6 Nov

#6 Sollecito Transcript & Actions Further Damage Knox Version

#7 Full Testimony Of Witness Lorena Zugarini To Knox Conniption 5-6 Nov

#8 Testimony Of Interpreter Donnino And Central Police Officer Giobbi

#9 Officer Moscatelli’s Recap/Summary Session With Sollecito 5-6 Nov

5. Contrasts And Similarities

1-A The Williams case above is a clear instance of police luring in a suspect under the pretense of a ‘‘background interview’‘.  The Ontario Provincial Police spent days trying to put together a profile and work up a method of questioning such a suspect.  And it took Det. Sergeant Jim Smyth just 3 hours to get Williams to crack.

1-B Knox, on the other hand, showed up uninvited to the police station, most likely to keep RS on a short leash.  She not only wasn’t invited, but was told to leave.  She cracked when RS revoked her alibi.

2-A Williams says his main motivation in confessing was to spare his wife extra humiliation, and destruction to the houses.

2-B Knox, on the other hand, threw a totally innocent person, Lumumba, to the wolves.  She also has no qualms about protracting the publicity, and milking her ‘‘celebrity’‘.

3-A Williams wore the same boots to the police station

3-B Sollecito brought his knife to the police station, and had similar shoes to Guede

4-A Williams was nailed by his bootprints

4-B Knox was cast under suspicion by a shoeprint, and bare footprints nailed both AK and RS

5-A Williams wife illegally profited by taking the property in order to stave off having it seized

5-B AK and RS illegally profited by having other people (Kuhlman and Gumbel) write blood money books for them.

6. Analysis Of Williams Interview

This excellent analysis is one hour long.

 

 


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Italy Fights For Justice For A Murdered Student As The UK Government Never Did

Posted by Peter Quennell

Above: a minute’s silence in the Italian parliament for Giulio Regeni an Italian student found slain in Cairo a few days ago.

Hundreds of mourners have gathered in a village in northern Italy for the funeral of Giulio Regeni, a Cambridge PhD student found tortured and dead in a ditch on the outskirts of Cairo last week.

Flags were flying at half-mast in Fiumicello, where villagers offered spare rooms and couches for the 28-year-old’s friends and family, as the diplomatic fallout from his death continued in Rome.

The Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, warned Egypt that the health of the relationship between the two countries rested on the quality of the investigation into Regeni’s killing.

Compare with how the UK government reacted after Meredith died. Basically it looked the other way. Many in Italian justice were amazed at how totally disinterested the UK government was in the case in all the years since Meredith’s death.

The US government sprang into action to help Knox and to make sure she was treated right, though there was no proof the Italians would do anything but. They found her a Rome lawyer with good English (Carlos Dalla Vedova) and monitored all her court sessions and her four years in Capanne.

This came at a probable cost of over half a million dollars. And that is just the public support. Nobody ever said “the Federal budget cannot stand this”.

The extent of the British government in pushing justice for Meredith and her family? Exactly zero over the years.

Nothing was ever paid toward the legal costs or the very high travel costs of the Kercher family to be in court as the family finances ran into the ground. Nobody from the Foreign Office in London or the UK Embassy in Rome observed in court except in Florence, just the once.

Appalling pro-Knox Italy-bashing in the UK media based on highly inaccurate accounts was never tamped down - presumably because the Foreign Office was itself in the dark, and did not have a clue what was going on.

The ugly message this sent to the world?  If you are going to be a student in foreign trouble, be an American or Italian. Not a Brit.

However, years after four-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared in Portugal, the UK government is spending heavily to right a possible wrong there.  Back in 2007 Meredith’s case and Madeleine’s case began just a few weeks apart.

Maybe to right a possible wrong in Italy, the UK government could do likewise here.



Thursday, January 07, 2016

A Stretch Inside Not Only Protects Society: For Perps It May Be Best Shot At Coming Right

Posted by Peter Quennell

Video 1: Very good analysis by psychologist Dr Drew Pinsky on Tuesday 5 January 2016


As we posted Ethan Couch killed four and maimed a fifth for life while drunk-driving in Texas two years ago.

He is now in a Mexico City lockup for illegal immigrants seeking to avoid extradition to the US where he has violated his highly controversial probation. Many or most think this was a travesty for the families of the victims. The judge retired early. Justice was not seen to be done.

Now he is reported to have run up a $1000 tab at a Mexican strip club which his mother paid. That $1000 apparently went in part toward drinks. He had skipped out of the US mid-December because he was videoed at a party with drinks.

Sources say Ethan Couch and his mother Tonya went to a strip club called Harem in Puerto Vallarta on the night of Dec. 23. According to club employees, the pair had drinks before Tonya Couch left the club. Ethan stayed at the club and employees told ABC News that he went off to a VIP room with two women who worked at Harem. Hotel and club employees said Couch was extremely drunk.

Few if any other criminal psychologists ever came out in support of Couch’s defense’s psychologist who convinced the judge two years ago that the affluence of the family was somehow a primary cause.

In the past few days there have been various psychology panels on cable TV discussing the case. Articles too.

From them Ethan Couch did not exactly get a lot of love. A term inside to remove him from his family and choke off his dependencies is what the psychologists incline towards, as Dr Drew in the top video highly recommends.

Video 2: Dr Drew two years ago (this video was previously at the top)


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





That lead damages brains has been known for many years. That it causes murders is more recently accepted. 

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.

Numerous cases like this one now use lead poisoning as a defense.  It doesnt seem a get-out-of-jail-free card, but for some obviously mentally impaired it is proving helpful.






Posted on 01/05/16 at 02:49 PM by Peter QuennellClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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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.

And it seems Ms Boyd is not returning phone calls.


Below: Tonya Couch and Ethan Couch at the trial in 2013





Posted on 12/30/15 at 04:02 PM by Peter QuennellClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

National Justice Systems Learning From One Another Tho Far From “International Standards”

Posted by Peter Quennell



Try searching for the “international standards” for DNA testing that Hellmann/Zanetti and Marasca/Bruno claimed Italian police labs dont follow.

In fact, not only are there no international standards or even Europe-wide standards, there are not even any central mechanisms for crime-fighting research and training and standard-setting.

Hellmann/Zanetti and Marasca/Bruno were irresponsibly myth-propagating - all suckered by a pair of dishonest DNA consultants on the defense payroll.

This absence of mechanisms contrasts sharply with all the other segments of national infrastructures, for which the UN agencies run conferences and team efforts for hundreds of nations to learn from. (In them the US and UK and Italy are big players.)

One reason we give the Italian justice system so much attention is that Italy has one of the lowest crime rates and incarceration rates among high-income countries.

There is very much to be learned bilaterally from it. Part of its core model is that it has a large and glamorous and much-liked police presence - Italian police are possibly the world’s most popular.

In contrast, stories of bad policing are pouring out daily in the US.

Most in the US news for bad policing is CHICAGO right in Bruce Fischer’s backyard, where he abysmally failed to comprehend that there was an epidemic of police shootings while he foolishly gunned for Italy. Numbers dead from police guns there are up in the hundreds, and there is to be a Federal investigation.

Meanwhile the effectiveness or even comprehension of Fischer’s pretentious “network” has been at zero (perhaps one reason why the Knoxes disinvited Fischer from Knox’s talk at a Chicago law school - also he had been panhandling them). Why do we doubt the Feds will consult him?

In the news right now in the US is an attempt by jurisdictions to learn from the highly effective Scottish police practices.

Scotland has an extremely low rate of police shootings, and the few police who do carry guns are trained to handle fraught situations to an extent most American police see only a fraction of. See the video.

Here is a Daily Telegraph story, and here is a New York Times story:

Forty minutes into a Scottish police commander’s lecture on the art of firearm-free policing, American law enforcement leaders took turns talking. One after another, their questions sounded like collective head-scratching.

“Do you have a large percentage of officers that get hurt with this policing model?” asked Theresa Shortell, an assistant chief of the New York Police Department and the commanding officer of its training academy, where several hundred officers graduate each year.

“How many officers in Scotland have been killed in the last year or two years?” Chief Shortell added.

Bernard Higgins, an assistant chief constable who is Scotland’s use-of-force expert, stood and answered. Yes, his officers routinely take punches, he said, but the last time one was killed on duty through criminal violence was 1994, in a stabbing.

There is poverty, crime and a “pathological hatred of officers wearing our uniform” in pockets of Scotland, he said, but constables live where they work and embrace their role as “guardians of the community,” not warriors from a policing subculture.

“The basic fundamental principle, even in the areas where there’s high levels of crime, high levels of social deprivation, is it’s community-based policing by unarmed officers,” Constable Higgins said. “We police from an absolute position of embracing democracy.”

That model is pretty close to the Italian one.

Posted on 12/23/15 at 11:50 AM by Peter QuennellClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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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





We have often mentioned these major justice-system pluses:

(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.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Justice System Comparisons #4: How Canada And The US Shape Up Against Italy

Posted by Chimera



A joint press conference of Italian and American crimefighters in Rome

Framing This Post

A major argument of conspiracy theorists like the one dissected in James Raper’s post below is that the Italian justice system is not very good, and often cruel.

In English only (of course) Sollecito and Gumbel tried that in Sollecito’s book and maliciously and self-servingly misled Americans a lot. Doug Preston has done the same. Here we nailed some of Sollecito’s and Gumbel’s malicious claims. 

We have propagated an accurate take on Italian justice in numerous posts here. Between them they show that Italian justice IS very good, apart from occasional meddling which almost always goes nowhere. By comparison the US (which co-operates closely with both Italy and Canada) has more headaches with law enforcement and justice system (or systems) than quite a few other countries now.

My own contribution has been to show how in many ways Canadian justice resembles Italian justice and it is hard to say which is better or worse. See my past posts on this here and here and here.

This post and the next post in my series focuses on the US and Canada and some basic differences in those laws relevant to our case here.

Plus the highlighting of some notorious killers in both Canada and the United States of a kind which in fact in Italy are quite rare.

Who Makes the Laws?

One important distinction to make here:  In Canada, criminal law is the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government.  That means Ottawa makes the criminal laws, and is responsible to setting the sentences for each offence.  In a similar vein, Ottawa also can remove laws that are outdated, and amend the sentencing ranges for offences.  In the United States, murder and sexual assault are considered ‘‘state crimes’‘, and the respective states determine the laws.  This is why some states have the death penalty, and others do not.

While the American model, being state made, does in theory make the laws more closely reflect the will of the people, it makes for a very uneven set of penalties for crimes.  The Canadian model, by comparison, is uniform across all provinces and territories.

When is it First Degree Murder?

It is first degree murder when a killing is planned out.  However, many circumstances arise which are so aggravated that the government will consider them 1st degree, regardless of being intentional.  Also, depending on who the victim is, just the murder alone may result in s 1st degree charge.  This is a commonality between both Canada and the U.S.

In Canada

According to the Criminal Code of Canada Section 231(5) Irrespective of whether a murder is planned and deliberate on the part of any person, murder is first degree murder in respect of a person when the death is caused by that person while committing or attempting to commit an offence under one of the following sections:

(a) section 76 (hijacking an aircraft);
(b) section 271 (sexual assault);
(c) section 272 (sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm);
(d) section 273 (aggravated sexual assault);
(e) section 279 (kidnapping and forcible confinement); or
(f) section 279.1 (hostage taking).[12]

In The US

The individual states have differences in their laws, but they are common in that planned or premeditated killings are particularly heinous and call for severe punishment.  Most states also have what is called ‘‘felony murder’‘, which is when someone is killed during the commission of a crime, such as rape, robbery, arson or kidnapping.

Generally speaking, killing of police officers, jail guards, and court officials is also first degree murder, regardless of whether those were planned.  I am not posting the statutes for 50 states, but you get the idea.

Take the Jodi Arias case for example.  Arias, in trying to fight off premeditation allegations, claimed that she did not bring the gun (a .25 automatic) to Travis Alexander’s house to kill him.  Prosecutors allege that Arias staged a burglary in her Grandparents’ home a week before to to provide cover.

Arias claimed that the gun was actually Travis’.  However, no gun was ever recovered from the home.  So, then if it was Travis’ gun, Arias must have stolen it from his house, making it a robbery.

Prosecutor Juan Martinez argued either Arias: (a) Brought the gun to Arizona, meaning it was premeditated, and hence 1st degree, or; (b) She robbed Mr. Alexander of his gun after killing him, which makes it felony murder, hence 1st degree. 

Note: in the 2013 trial verdict, all 12 jurors thought it was premeditated, while 7 of them thought it qualified as ‘‘felony murder’’ as well.

Federal v.s. State/Provincial Prison

Under Canadian law, whether a person goes to a Provincial or Federal prison is determined by the length of the sentence.  2 years is the cutoff mark.  2 years and above, the person goes to federal prison, whereas 2 years less a day and below results in going to a provincial jail.

For federal prisoners, in Canada, they are transported to Kingston, Ontario for ‘‘classification’‘. This can take months.  Then they are usually shipped off to other prisons around the country.  For provincial prisoners serving very short sentences (3 months or less), they may just stay in the local jails, while those serving longer terms are usually sent to other provincial jails.

Under American law, the difference between state and federal prison depends on the offence.  Sexual assault, assault, and murder are state charges, while the federal system is more drug trafficking and white collar crime.  This is likely why federal prison is seen as ‘‘easier time’‘.

Death Penalty Laws

Canada currently does not have the death penalty.

Several U.S. states still do, such as California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Nevada and Virginia.  This is determined at the state level.

However, do not think that all Americans are bloodthirsty, and all Canadians too forgiving or soft.  Depending on the research poll, about 35-45% of Canadians do support capital punishment in some circumstances.  This is a significant minority.  And many Americans find the death penalty distasteful, as there is the chance to kill innocent people.

Sex Offender Registry

Both Canada and the U.S. have sex offender registries.  Concerning what happened to Meredith: Knox, Sollecito and Guede would all have to register if they were ever set free.  They would be registered for life, regardless if the crime happened locally or internationally.  The reasons are the same for both countries—namely to monitor sexual predators.

One key difference: in Canada, the S.O.R is limited to police use, while in some U.S. states, the public in general can look it up.  Without getting into a debate, I imagine the difference is which concern is more pressing: (a) Letting the public have the right to know and act; (b) Concerns about becoming a pariah, and potential acts of vigilantism.

Deportation of Foreigners

If someone came to Canada or the U.S. and committed these acts, they would be deported after serving their sentence.

There have been attempts to fight deportation, claiming the home country engages in human rights abuses, but hopefully, these will become harder to pull off.

’‘Cashing in’’ on the Notoriety, or Son-of-Sam Laws

Canadian provinces have their own laws, as do U.S. states and the federal government, but in content they are almost identical.  Notorious criminals (usually killers, but not always), cannot cash in on their ‘‘fame’’ in the form of paid interview, articles, book deals or movie deals.

Any such deal would very likely be forfeited either by a government challenge, or by a lawsuit from the victims or their families.  The proceeds from ‘‘Waiting to be Heard’’ or from ‘‘Honor Bound’’ would be seized.

Classifications of Crimes

In Canada:

Minor crimes are tried ‘‘summarily’‘
Major crimes are tried ‘‘by indictment’‘
Crimes which the prosecutor has discretion are called ‘‘hybrid offences’‘

In the U.S.

Minor crimes are called ‘‘misdemeanors’‘
Major crimes are called ‘‘felonies’’

Judge Alone v.s. Jury Trial

In Canada, a defendant has the option of choosing between a judge only trial (called a bench trial), or a jury trial if facing any offence that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years or more.  If the maximum penalty is 5 years or less, then it will be the judge only.  This cuts down on the amount of times jury notice is sent out.

In the U.S. (I don’t know all the cases), but there is usually more options to have the case heard by a jury.

Jury Deliberations

In Canada, jurors are sworn not to talk about their deliberations with their families, or with the press.  This ‘‘legal omerta’’ survives even after a decision and a sentence has been handed down.  In fact, it never expires.  Jurors who deliberated over cases 50 years ago cannot talk about it.  This works the same as with Italy.

This differs from the U.S., where (unless a specific publication ban is in place), jurors are free to talk and give interviews after the fact.  In fact, many jurors do give interviews after high profile cases are resolved.  If Genny Ballerini (who talked about the Florence appeal in 2013/2014), had been an American juror, it would have been okay to do.

Threshold to Getting an Appeal Heard

In all 3 countries: Canada, the U.S., and Italy, all defendants who are convicted have the right to pursue an appeal.  However, an important difference is made.

Canadian and American appeals are screened before the full appeal is heard.  They are checked for merit, and to review if their is any real likelihood of success.  This applies to both defendants seeking to have convictions overturned, and those merely seeking sentence reductions.  If the appeal appears to be baseless, it will be rejected, and the full panel of judges will not hear it.  If the appeal filed before Judge Chairi (later moved to Judge Hellmann), had been in a Canadian or U.S. court, the grounds would be so weak it would have been thrown out on review.

Italy, by comparison, automatically grants not 1, but 2 appeals to all defendants.  All they have to do is file for one.  Yes, a much lower burden, but it means that the appeals courts (and Cassation), are clogged by appeals, slowing everything down.

Makeup of Appellate Courts

Appeal courts in both Canada and the U.S. are comprised of a panel of judges.  This will usually be between 3 and 9 judges.  In Italy, the typical first level appeal is decided by 2 judges and 6 jurors (or lay judges).

Canadian, American and Italian Supreme Courts are decided by judges alone.

Agenda of Appellate Courts

Canadian and American courts are similar in that they are ‘‘paper courts’‘, not ‘‘evidence courts’‘.  They work from transcripts, not evidence or witnesses.  However, in Italy, at the lower appellate level, witnesses are heard, defendants can talk, and evidence can be presented.  It is more like another trial than a Common Law ‘‘appeal’‘.  But to be fair, an appeal to the Italian Supreme Court (a.k.a. Corti di Cassazione), is a brief hearing on the procedures, logic, and findings of the lower court, and is quite similar to a Common Law appeal.

Canadian and American appeals courts are not there to ‘‘retry a case’‘.  Rather, the burden falls on the appellant (the party appealing), regardless of whether it is a prosecution or a defence appeal.

For a defendant appealing a conviction, the burden is on him/her to show that there was significant error that led to the conviction, such as:
-Evidence admitted at trial that should not have been
-New evidence emerges that shows innocence, or impeaches a prosecution witness
-Wrong legal procedures were applied at trial
-There was bias or prejudice from the court

For a defendant appealing a sentence, the burden is to show that:
-The sentence was unduly harsh
-It is inconsistent with similar crimes and circumstances

Size of the Nation’s Highest Court

The Supreme Court of Canada has 9 judges.

The Supreme Court of the United States has 9 judges.

The Supreme Court of Italy has about 300 judges.

Consecutive v.s. Concurrent Sentences

Until very recently, the law in Canada was that all convictions a person received for acts, (or a series of acts), ran together, or concurrently.  This changed to exclude multiple murderers, and the so called ‘‘bulk discount’’ they were getting.  In the past, even serial killers would be eligible for parole after 25 years.  No guarantees of parole of course, but the possibility angers victims rights groups.

The U.S. judges have much more lattitude in handing out consecutive sentences.

Mandatory Sentencing

Canada has mandatory sentences for many offences, including: 1st and 2nd degree murder, crimes committed using firearms, child sex offences, trafficking in drugs, and fraud (if the value is over $1 million).  The trend in the last several years has been to push for harsher penalties.

  -For murder, multiple murder sentences now run consecutively.
  -The minimum for crimes using guns was 4 years, it is now 5, 7 or 10 depending on number of previous offences
  -Child sex offences was 90 days (if by indictment), now it is 1 year
  -Discretion has been removed in sentencing drug dealers to prison for the most part
  -Major fraud has a 2 year minimum.  It never used to.

America also has mandatory jail sentences, including for minor drug offences,  Too numerous to list here, but there has been pressure to reduce these sentences to curb the swelling prison population.  Except for the Walter Whites (Breaking Bad) out there, dealing shouldn’t carry a longer minimum sentence than manslaughter.

Knox’s drug dealer, Federico Martini, should be especially grateful to have been in Italy.  Rather than the 28 months he got for dealing, had he been in the U.S., it would likely be closer to 28 years.

Plea Bargaining

In both Canada and the U.S., plea bargaining is available, (something not available in Italy).  Not only does a defendant usually have the option of pleading for lesser time, but but a lesser charge.  This can cause a quick settlement, especially if one is accused of an offence which carries a high minimum sentence.

While prosecutors and defence counsel can make a deal, the judge ultimately accepts or refuses it.

Plea bargaining in a single defendant case is one thing, but it is much more controversial to make a deal to testify against someone else.  The reasoning is that the person’s story can’t help but be shaped in an effort to please the prosecutors, and that it is in essence ‘‘buying testimony’‘.  Though state standards differ, corroboration is required, as a person cannot be convicted solely on the testimony of an accomplice.  There is also the risk of a conviction being thrown out if lies are discovered.

Guede offered to testify against Knox and Sollecito, but Mignini/Comodi refused to let him.  They didn’t need him, and even if they let him, there was the chance it would blow up in their faces.

Incarceration Rate

Canada: 118 per 100,000
United States: 707 per 100,000

****Incidentally, Italy’s rate is 100 per 100,000

Note: Those topics: (a) consecutive sentences; (b) mandatory minimums; (c) plea bargaining; and (d) incarceration rate; are closely related.

Recording of Police Interrogations

It is not required in Canada to record suspect interrogations, nor (although I don’t know each state) in the U.S.  There is no law in either Canada or the U.S. that witness interviews must be videotaped, often they end merely in statements being written up.

However, most police agencies have a policy of recording suspect questionings.  There are several reasons for doing it: (a) To protect against any claim of being ‘‘roughed up’’ by authorities; (b) To protect against potential claims of being misinterpreted; (c) To provide a full record of what happened; (d) To review later, as a video may be mined for further information.

Knox claimed she was ‘‘interrogated’’ by Perugian Police, and that she was targeted.  Odd, how Rita Ficarra had no idea she would even be coming to the police station.  (Sollecito had been called—alone—to clear up his alibi).  Knox started to work on a list of ‘‘potential suspects’‘.  When Sollecito backed off on being her alibi, Knox was asked to explain.  She then falsely accused Lumumba, and placed herself at the scene.  At this point her legal status changed from potential witness to suspect, and the questioning stopped.  Knox waived her warnings, and signed those statements anyway.

In the media it is misrepresented as being a ‘‘long, brutal interrogation’’ or a ‘‘series of interrogations’‘, and Knox complains of it lasting over 50 hours in her December 2013 email.  She also accuses Rita Ficarra of assault (part of her current calunnia trial), and Prosecutor Mignini of illegally questioning her without counsel. 

Again, how could the Perugia Police be setting an elaborate trap for Knox?  She showed up that night completely unexpectedly.  See the 18 part ‘‘Knox Interrogation Hoax’’ series.

Double Jeopardy Law

Under the Canadian Charter of Right and Freedoms, section 11(h) says that a person who has served a sentence for an offence shall not be tried again, or a person finally acquitted shall not be tried again.  The key is ‘‘finally’‘, as in the parties don’t intend to appeal further

The 5th amendment of the U.S. Constitution says that a person shall not be put in jeopardy twice for the same offence.

The only real difference is that acquittals at trial in Canada may be appealed under very limited circumstances, such as wrong instructions at trial.  It CANNOT be a redo, but there must be a very serious legal error to redress.  Canadian prosecutors have a very high burden to meet.  Under U.S. law, a trial acquittal is the end, barring killing a witness or bribing a judge.

This does not apply to appeal courts.  In both Canada and the U.S. appellate court rulings may be appealed further.  Had Hellmann been a U.S./Canadian appeal judge, it would not be double jeopardy to challenge his ruling.

Canadian Charter v. U.S. Constitution

Italy goes out of its way to give defendants, but here is a quick comparison with the Western Hemisphere.  Sadly, as victim’s rights groups point out, criminals seem to have more rights than their victims.

The Canadian Charter, sections 7 to 14, and the U.S. Constitution, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th and 14th amendments guarantee many of the same rights to criminal defendants

Canada: illegal searches would violate section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 
America: illegal searches would violate the 4th Amendment of the Constitution

Canada: one has the right to instruct counsel without delay, and be informed of the right under Section 10(b)
America: one has the right to a lawyer under the 6 Amendment.

Canada: cruel and unusual punishment is prohibited under Section 12
America: cruel and unusual punishment is prohibited under the 14th Amendment.

Canada: one can’t be forced to be a witness against themselves under Section 11(c)
America: one can’t be forced to be a witness against themselves under the 5th Amendment (taking the 5th)

Canada: retrying for the same offence violates Section 11(h)
America: retrying for the same offence violates the 5th Amendment.

Canada: demanding unreasonable bail violates Section 11(e)
America: demanding unreasonable bail violates the 8th Amendment.

Notes:
-The police obtained warrants before getting internet records, phone records, etc ...
-AK’s first 2 statements were inadmissible because she had no lawyer (even though she refused one).
-AK/RS complain about ‘‘hellish’’ conditions now, but not when the U.S. State Department checked in.
-AK only testified regarding the ‘‘calunnia’‘, but AK/RS used their ‘‘right to not respond’‘.
-AK/RS claim their ‘‘acquittals’’ should be the end, but 11(h)/5th doesn’t apply to appeals court that get further appealed
-AK/RS got multiple attempts to apply for bail

Notorious Killers In Canada

1. Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka

Scarborough, Ontario—This case still leaves a bad taste for Canadians.  The couple murdered 3 teens, Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy, as well as Karla’s younger sister, Tammy.  Bernardo was already a prolific rapist before meeting Homolka, but no one died until they got together.

Bernardo is serving life in prison and has been classified as a ‘‘dangerous offender’‘.  Homolka served only 12 years after testifying against him, in what was called the ‘‘deal with the devil.’’  Homolka claimed that she was forced to go along to help with Bernardo’s crimes, using the ‘‘battered woman’s syndrome’‘, although it has since been shown that she was a willing and enthusiastic participant.  Police speculate that there were other victims but no more additional charges were filed.

Though claiming her innocence, Knox has tried using the ‘‘I was browbeaten’’ line against Italian authorities.

2. David Bagshaw and Melissa Todorovic

Toronto,Ontario—A 15 year old girl convinces her 17 year old (almost 18) boyfriend to murder a rival, a 14 year old girl Todorovic had never met, Stefanie Rengel.  Todorovic threatened to withhold sex from Bagshaw unless he complied, and these threats went on for months.  When Bagshaw finally did kill Stefanie, he got his reward, sex.  While Todorovic never met Stefanie, Stefanie and Bagshaw had briefly dated.

Bagshaw, 4 days short of 18 at the time, lost his bid for a youth sentence, and received a life sentence.  In custody, he helped an inmate try to kill another.  Todorovic tried to claim she never meant for this to happen.  She received an adult sentence, life with a 7 year minimum in custody.  Both lost their appeals.

Todorovic was reportedly jealous Bagshaw had once dated Stefanie.  Knox was reportedly jealous Meredith started dating Giacomo.

3. Jeremy Steinke and ‘‘Jane Doe’‘

Medicine Hat, Alberta—Steinke was the 23 year old boyfriend of ‘‘Jane Doe’‘, the 12 year old who arranged to have her brother and parents murdered.  The girl cannot be named, as an adult sentence could not be imposed (she was under 14 at the time).  Given that 23 and 12 is considered pedophilia in Canada, there were concerns that the parents would have called the police.

The parents wanting to end the relationship was the apparent motive for the murders, although it is not clear why the brother, then 8, was killed as well.  The woman is currently serving the rest of her 10 year sentence in the community, while Steinke is serving 3 concurrent terms of 25 years to life.

The parents obviously disapproved of the huge age gap.  But to be fair—Raffaele Sollecito was a ‘‘kid’’ when he was 23.

4. Russell Williams

Tweed, Ontario—Williams was a colonel in the Canadian Air-Force and Commander of the Trenton Air Base.  He has since been given a service misconduct and kicked out.  In his early 40’s, he began breaking into neighbours’ homes and stealing underwear.  He later committed 2 sexual assault, but let those victims go, but committed 2 more but killed those victims: Marie-Frances Comeau (a military officer under his command); and Jessica Lloyd.

Williams plead guilty to 2 murders, 4 sexual assaults, and 88 break-ins, but will still be eligible for parole after 25 years.

A few gruesome facts: Williams suffocated Ms. Comeau by wrapping her head with duct tape, and made a video of it. 

Also, he told Jessica’s boyfriend (at the time worked under William’s command), that he didn’t have to talk to police without a lawyer.  He also dumped Jessica’s body where he knew her boyfriend hunted.  It seems likely that Williams was trying to frame him.  Perhaps Williams wanted Jessica’s boyfriend to be the one to find her, a bit like Knox wanted Filomena or Laura to find Meredith.

5. Cody Legebokoff

Prince George, British Columbia—Termed ‘‘Canada’s Youngest Serial Killer’‘, he killed 3 women: Jill Stuchenko, Natasha Montgomery, Cynthia Maas, and a 15 year old girl Loren Leslie, all by age 20.

When originally stopped, Legebokoff claimed the blood was from a deer he was poaching and had clubbed to death.  At trial, he tried to claim that a drug dealer X, and his two associates: Y, and Z did it, and that he was an unwilling participant.  That excuse failed, and he was convicted on 4 counts of first degree murder.

An appeal is pending based on the claim that the trial should have been moved elsewhere due to the publicity.  He complains it is impossible to be judged fairly.  But to be fair, he hasn’t sought out the limelight, given TV interviews, or signed any book deals.

Author’s note: I was in Prince George while the trial went on.  Yes, the town knew about it, but people still went about their lives.

Notorious Killers In The US

1. Gerald and Charlene Gallego

This couple committed a series of murders in California and Nevada.  They kidnapped women to become sex slaves.  Their victims included: Rhonda Schleffer, Kippi Vaught, Brenda Judd, Sandra Colley, Stacey Redican, Karen Twiggs, and at least 4 others.  When caught, Charlene turned against Gerald, claiming he was abuse, controlling, and had initiated everything.

In return for testifying against Gerald, Charlene was not charged in California, and only received 16 years, 8 months in Nevada.  She has since been released.  Gerald received death sentences in both states, but died before either could be carried out.  While Charlene received much more lenient treatment, there has been speculation that the sex slavery was her idea.

Since plea bargaining is illegal in Italy, neither Knox nor Sollecito could turn on each other for a deal.  They probably would have, if it was possible.

2. Douglas Thomas and Jessica Wiseman

Virginia—14 year old Jessica Wiseman arranged to have her 17 year old boyfriend Douglas Thomas murder Wiseman’s parents.  They were shot dead in their sleep.  Thomas apparently was so desparite for love that he was willing to go along with a girl who wanted away from her controlling parents.  While pledging to be with him at first, Wiseman abandoned him once he ‘‘served his purpose’‘.

Wiseman was tried as a juvenile, and released after 7 years, since she could not be held past her 21st birthday.  Thomas was executed 2 years later, after spending 9 years on death row.  This happened even as information emerged that Jessica shot her Mom, though it was never verified.  Though she was younger, it was widely viewed as unjust.

Knox, though not living with her parents, had problems in her home with the women upstairs.  Other options were available, such as moving in with Sollecito, or ‘‘re-negotiating’’ with Federico Martini, but Knox tried to solve her problem by getting rid of it.

3. Alvin and Judith Neelley

Georgia—this couple abducted a 13 year old girl, repeatedly sexually assaulted her, and injected her with Drano, hoping to poison her.  When that didn’t work, Judith shot her in the head.  Afterwards, they abducted a couple, Janice Chatman and John Hancock, brought them to a hotel to be tortured and murdered.  John was shot and left for dead, but survived, and was able to identify the Neelleys afterwards.

Judith was sentenced to death, but it was commuted to life without parole.  Alvin is serving a similar sentence.

A sick game they played, as if they were living out a fantasy.  Who else fantasizes violence?

4. Jodi Arias

Arizona—A California resident had a long distance relationship with an Arizona resident, until he rejected her.  Arias staged a break in at her grandparents’ place to get a gun,  went out of town to rent a car, got 3 5-gallon gas cans (so she wouldn’t have to stop), and turned off her cell phone (so it couldn’t be traced).  She went to Travis Alexander’s home, had ‘‘good-bye sex’’ with him, then stabbed him 29 times, slit his throat, and shot him in the head.  She then cleaned up, and went to her new boyfriend, in Utah, as if nothing happened.

Initially Arias said she wasn’t there.  Then she said 2 masked burglars did it, but she was afraid to identify them.  Next she said she didn’t know who they were.  At trial she claimed self defence, while invoking ‘‘battered woman’s syndrome.’’  The judge and jury didn’t believe her, and while she was spared the death penalty, Arias received life without parole.

Arias didn’t take rejection by Travis well at all, and neither did Knox take being stood up on Hallowe’en by Meredith.

5. Casey Anthony

Florida—Her daughter Caylee goes missing, so Casey goes partying (a bit like Guede did after Meredith’s death).  Prosecutors claim Anthony just wanted out of the responsibilities that came with being a parent.  Casey countered that Caylee accidently drowned.  Unfortunately, coroners were never able to positively determine the cause of death.

Although eventually acquitted of Caylee’s death, Casey was convicted on 4 counts of providing false information to law enforcement.  Among other things, Anthony made up a story about ‘‘Zanny the Nanny’’ possibly being involved to divert attention.  On appeal, 2 of those counts were overturned.  She is free, but keeping out of the public eye.  Anthony still has a record for lying, as does Knox.

6 Thomasdinh Bowman

Washington State—He shot another driver, Yancy Noll, in the head several times.  Bowman tried to clean up the crimescene—his car, and had his cellphone turned off.  When arrested, he denied involvement, but later changed his story to ‘‘self-defence’‘, claiming Noll attacked him in a fit of road rage.  Prosecutors claimed that this was planned, and that he had studied on how to get away with murder.

At trial, he was observed smirking and seeming to enjoy himself.  Knox likewise enjoyed the attention of her 2009 trial.  This attitude would come back to haunt him.  He was convicted of murder, and sentenced to nearly 30 years in prison.  He never expressed remorse to the family, just that he was ‘‘sorry they [the jury] didn’t believe me.’‘

Some Further Observations

Canadian and American laws are very similar in dealing with serious crime, with the focus being on punishment and deterrence.  Both countries have a bill of rights to ensure basic defendant’s rights are met, quite similar to what Italy has, but something many nations don’t offer.  Some main differences: (1) Canadian criminal law is made federally, while the U.S. states make their own laws for murder; (2) Canada has a much lower incarceration rate; (3) Canada’s sentencing laws are getting tougher, while U.S. laws are going the other way; (4) some states have the death penalty while Canada does not.

Both countries have their fair share of wackos, (pardon the non-technical term).  This is not an American problem, or a cultural problem, but a problem of having people who should not be walking freely among us.  While both countries do have ‘‘rehabilitation’’ as part of their sentencing guidelines, murder is a crime that must be punished, both to condemn the act, and to protect the public.

When faced with the prospect of a long mandatory sentence, or multiple, consecutive sentences, there is the reaction to plead out for lesser offences.  However, pleading guilty can have major implications, especially if giving someone else up for a lighter sentence.

Falsely accusing innocent people, or at least fictional people, seems fairly common by killers.  They do not ‘‘falsely confess’’ that other people did the crime, rather they ‘‘falsely accuse’‘.

Male-female killer couples occur in both countries, but almost universally, the female killer gets a much lighter sentence.  This is likely in part due to society willing to believe that the man is primarily responsible.  Also, these women have no qualms about blaming it all on the man.  The case of Knox getting a higher sentence than Sollecito or Guede seems to be an anomaly.

*******

Acknowledgements: A thank you to Yummi, Peter Q., and Cardiol.  Your feedback has altered the direction of this series.

Posted on 08/13/15 at 08:16 AM by ChimeraClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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Monday, August 03, 2015

Melissa Todorovic Perpetrates A Grisly Jealousy-Driven Murder With Many Other Similarities

Posted by Chimera

The victim Stefanie Rengel, ambushed and killed with a knife; here her mother speaks out

1. The Jealousy Crime

Jealousy sparks a lot of crimes. This is from Toronto Life

It started as a joke. Melissa Todorovic and David Bagshaw fantasized about how they wanted to hurt and humiliate David’s ex-girlfriend. They talked about it for months and months, until the fantasy became a plan, and Melissa gave David an ultimatum: no more sex until Stefanie was dead. How two high school students became killers

On New Year’s in 2008, 14 year old Stefanie Rengel was ambushed, stabbed 6 times, and left to die in a snowbank.  She was still alive when a passer-by found her, but did not survive the night.

Her killer was David Bagshaw, 17, and in fact just 4 days shy of this 18th birthday.  It turns out that he had been pressured by his girlfriend, Melissa Todorovic, 15 at the time, to do this, or to be deprived of sex from her.  After letting Todorovic know that the ‘‘deed had been done’‘, she called Stefanie’s number 3 times to confirm.  When no one answered, she took it as proof this had been done.

Between Bagshaw and Todorovic, there were hundreds of emails and text messages on this topic, so once police suspicion fell on them and these records were pulled, it left no doubt in anyone’s mind as to what had happened.  Other evidence was gathered of course, but these messages were smoking guns by themselves.

Police believe that the topic had initially come up as a prank, and that on some level they fantasized violence against Stefanie.

2. A Very Disturbing Case

(1) Bagshaw and Stefanie had supposedly dated before (a non-sexual relationship), and it was chilling to see how viciously he could slaughter a young woman he once had feelings for.

(2) Todorovic considered Stefanie to be a rival (she had once ‘‘dated’’ her current boyfriend), but the two had never actually met.

(3) The brief, but completely savage nature of the ambush and killing.

(4) Bagshaw claimed his ‘‘prize’’ after Stefanie was dead—namely a romp with Todorovic.  Whatever ‘‘remorse’’ he may have felt with this act, he was still in the mood for sex.

(5) Bagshaw, in one of the messages, complained that he was approaching 18 years of age, and that he would be tried as an adult.  This shows that he understood in advance what the likely consequences were.

(6) Even though the messages went back and forth for months, apparently neither Bagshaw nor Todorovic ever stepped back to reflect on what they were setting in motion.

3.The Trial Outcome

At Bagshaw’s trial, his lawyer understood that he really had no defence to the murder charge.  He plead guilty to first degree murder, hoping to get a youth sentence from the judge.  Remember, he was a few days shy of 18.

It didn’t work, and the judge gave him an adult sentence of life, with a minimum of 10 years in custody.  Prosecutors argued that he ‘‘bought himself 15 years right there’‘, as he would have received a 25 year minimum had he actually been 18.  Bagshaw has confessed, and apologised to the family for doing this.

At Todorovic’s trial, her lawyer tried to claim that she never intended for Bagshaw to actually go ahead with it.  That argument failed as well, and as a 15 year old, Todorovic received a life sentence with a minimum of 7 years to be spent in custody.

4. More Background On The Case

Note: Initially, both Bagshaw and Todorvic had their identities withheld from publication, as both were considered ‘‘young offenders’‘.  The media had merely referred to them as D.B. and M.T.  However, since adult sentences have been imposed, that restriction has been lifted.

5. Comparisons Of Those Involved

  • Bagshaw was 17, Todorovic 15, Stefanie 14
  • Sollecito was 23, Knox 20, Guede 20, Meredith 21

  • Bagshaw’s lawyers (in pleading for a youth sentence), argued that he was Todorovic’s ‘‘slave’‘
  • Sollecito has been widely portrayed as Knox’s ‘‘slave’’ in the media.

  • Todorovic was jealous of a girl who had once dated her boyfriend
  • Knox was jealous that Meredith got a boy (Giacomo), whom she found attractive

  • Todorovic killed someone she had never met before
  • Knox killed a roommate that she ‘‘only knew for a month’‘.

  • Bagshaw plead guilty to 1st degree murder hoping to get a youth sentence.
  • Guede took the ‘‘fast-track’’ trial, to get 1/3 off, or at least avoid a possible life sentence.

  • Todorovic’s lawyer claimed Bagshaw did it all on his own.
  • Knox and Sollecito’s lawyers claim Guede was the ‘‘lone wolf’‘.

  • Cellphone texts and emails were used to nail Bagshaw and Todorovic
  • Lack of cellphone activity or computer activity (for Sollecito), raised red flags about the alibis of AK and RS.

  • Bagshaw claimed that Todorvic set it all in motion.
  • Guede and Sollecito have both claimed that the problems were largely caused by Knox.

  • Bagshaw, while pleading guilty, expressed remorse for the murder
  • Guede, while denying the murder, has expressed remorse.

  • Bagshaw and Todorovic had a sexual encounter as a ‘‘reward’‘, after Stefanie’s murder
  • Knox and Sollecito were still having sex after Meredith’s murder, and Knox was still trading sex-for-drugs with Federico Martini.

  • Todorvic has never expressed any real remorse for setting Stefanie’s murder in action
  • Knox, while claiming Meredith was ‘‘her friend’‘, made comments such as ‘‘shit happens’‘, and ‘‘I want to get on with my life.’‘

  • Todorovic and Bagshaw were found guilty (Bagshaw plead), and both lost their appeals at the Appeals Court in Toronto
  • Knox and Sollecito were found guilty at trial, but by judge shopping have had success in their appeals.
  • Guede was found guilty in the fast tract trial, and despite a sentence reduction, (getting 1/3 less than AK and RS), the conviction was upheld.


6. What Happened Next

Todorovic appealed her conviction to the Ontario Court of Appeals, and it was rejected.

Todorovic lost a bid to remain in youth custody for a year longer than she was to be transferred.

Bagshaw appealed his sentence (he had plead guilty) to the O.C.A., claiming it was wrong to impose an adult sentence on such an emotionally immature person.  It was rejected.

Bagshaw, while in custody, was charged with attempted murder, for helping to try to kill an inmate.  His excuse: he was pressured to do so, the same line he used in his murder trial

Posted on 08/03/15 at 11:00 AM by ChimeraClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Relevance Of The Ship Which Has Sunk In The Yangtze To National Justice System Upgrades?

Posted by Peter Quennell



Regarding the ship which just sank in the Yangtze River with a probable 400-plus deaths, and its relevance to justice systems everywhere?

Well, small inland ships (which are those most prone to a high death-rate) and their rules and regulations are outside the scope of the international body which sets rules and upgrades systems for seagoing vessels.

That is the United Nations agency in London called the International Maritime Organization or IMO. Small inland ships are unregulated unless the relevant government has unilaterally acted.

The IMO sets safety rules including design elements and it advances better rules and systems through conferences and training. It runs a big school in Sweden.

The IMO is NOT part of a world government, or a top down organization; like all of the UN development agencies it is a horizontal network, in its case of all the national maritime agencies in the world.

Their administrators and experts are incessantly heading to London to advance maritime matters in working groups. (The US is a big and enthusiastic player in all of the UN agencies via the relevant Federal departments - agriculture, health, transport, and so on.)

So in China, watch out for a bunch of systems changes with regard to those small vessels.  But watch out also for a bunch of systems changes via the IMO at the global level, to try to head off more such catastrophes and to get the best possible rescue efforts going much faster.

The relevancy here?

In justice systems also, many lives are in the balance. But as mentioned in previous posts, the UN doesnt have an agency for justice systems upgrades, or even for a static thumbnail view of each one. It only has a small public administration development unit within the “United Nations proper” in New York.

There is no way that that unit is appropriate to resolving the huge and complex problems in the videos in the post below.

A lesson learned maybe above all others in the UN is that major system change should NOT be attempted in national or local isolation. It is too costly, and way too inefficient, and participants soon tire themselves out or loose interest.

Ideally a few or many countries all set about systems upgrades in parallel processes and they watch and share with one another.

The justice-systems problems in the videos below have many things in common. They seem very ripe for a global effort on the lines of maritime systems. Maybe Italy and the US could each contribute greatly to getting that alive.

Its not beyond us to explain this and to try to push for it.  This would kinda trump calling top justice officials of this or that national system corrupt or bungling or criminal.

That is the Amanda Knox thugs’ supposed contribution to a better world - apparently their only one.


Below: the International Maritime Organization headquarters in London





Posted on 06/03/15 at 08:38 AM by Peter QuennellClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Justice System Reform Is Suddenly Everywhere On The Front Burner

Posted by Peter Quennell

1. The Justice System In The US

 

 

 


2. The Justice System In Mexico

 


3. The Justice System In China

 


4. The Justice System In Turkey

 


5. The Justice System In Britain

 

Posted on 05/28/15 at 08:31 PM by Peter QuennellClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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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





Italy is following closely the sad disarray currently obvious in the American system

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.

Posted on 05/08/15 at 08:57 PM by Peter QuennellClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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Monday, April 27, 2015

Justice System Comparisons #3: Bail, Extradition, and More Crimes Under Common Law

Posted by Chimera



First trial with camers in the court was back in 2000

1. Overview Of My Multi-Part Series

Italian justice has become very slanted toward the defendant, often at the considerable cost of the victim.

Canadian justice does not do that as much. It tries harder than most systems, including the Italian, to be equally fair to both, to balance their interests to the maximum that is possible. So it makes for a good comparison.  Although, to be fair, it is still frequently criticised as ‘‘soft on crime’‘. 

Part #1 can be read here and Part #2 can be read here. In a nutshell, what they said:

-First degree murder falls under a number of categories.  In many cases, the police and prosecutors do not even have to prove intent.  Section 231 defines first and second degree murder, and under cc 231(5)(b) (sexual assault), cc 231(5)(c) (sexual assault with a weapon), 231(5)(d) (aggravated sexual assault), and cc 231(5)(e) (kidnapping and forcible confinement), the trio would face 1st degree for either one of those circumstances.  The penalty is an automatic life sentence, with no chance of parole for 25 years.  No spontaneous declarations for defendants, lying on the witness stand is not allowed, no automatic appeals.

-There are a number of laws, including those enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to ensure fair criminal proceedings.

-Public Mischief (cc 140), is usually an indictable (felony) offence, and it is when someone falsely accuses another of committing a crime, does does something to divert attention from their own crime, or falsely reports someone has died.  Punishment can be up to 5 years.  In Italy, it is called ‘‘calunnia’‘.  It is something Knox has been convicted of, and others, including Sollecito, remain accused of.

-Perjury (cc 131), is lying under oath, or in judicial proceedings, or falsely making sworn statements.  It is an indictable (felony) offence.  Punishment can be up 14 years in prison.  Unlike in Italy, defendants CANNOT do it at their own trials.  Knox, Edda Mellas, Sollecito, and Guede, could all have been charged.

2. Some Background On The Case

Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, and (at the time Lumumba), were arrest November 6th, 2007, for the sexual assault and murder of Meredith Kercher.  They went before Judge Claudia Matteini, who saw enough probable cause to detain the 3 of them.  Lumumba was cleared and released a few weeks later, and Rudy Guede implicated instead.  See this post.  Judge Matteini, even without complete information was able to see enough cause for concern to keep them detained.

Knox and Sollecito tried to have the Italian Supreme Court (Cassation), overturn those decisions, but Italy’s High Court found that the decisions to keep AK and RS in prison, and away from house arrest.  Psychologically tested earlier, the results were disturbing enough to keep the paired detained until trial.  See here.  Also see here.

In 2008, Judge Paolo Micheli presided over Rudy Guede’s ‘‘short form’’ trial.  Guede was found guilty, and given 30 years, the maximum allowed under the ‘‘short-form trial’’ rules Judge Micheli also ruled there was enough evidence to send Knox and Sollecito to trial, as Guede’s accomplices.  Guede was denied house arrest prior to trial, and has been in custody ever since his arrest in late November 2007, and was denied day release recently.

The 2009 trial of Knox and Sollecito took almost the entire year of 2009, and was presided over by Judge Giancarlo Massei.  In December, the Massei Court found AK and RS guilty.  The pair received 24 years for murder with sexual violence, an additional year for staging a crime scene and transporting a knife, and Knox one more year for her false accusation of Patrick. The sentence was originally 30 years for murder, transport and staging, but 5 years were cut off for ‘‘mitigating factors’‘.  While AK and RS lawyers planned to appeal, the Court found no reason to let them out prior to the appeal.

The unintended consequence of the 24 years for the murder (with sexual violence), is that Guede, who took the short form trial, ended up receiving 1/3 less than AK and RS, effectively cutting his sentence in half, from 30 years to 16.

The appeal of AK and RS in 2011, before Judge Claudio Hellmann stunned Italy.  Hellmann acquitted the pair on appeal, despite the following:

-He said in his ruling, the truth may very well be otherwise
-His report only added confusion, it did not help clarify anything
-Knox still had outstanding charges for falsely accusing police officers of assault
-The appeal effectively was a new trial, but only with the defence presenting
-He said Knox’s false accusation was due to duress, not malicious intent—and then INCREASED her calunnia sentence
-The defence had cherry-picked a few pieces of evidence, but left huge amounts unchallenged
-Rudy Guede was apparently a total liar, EXCEPT for the time of death

Knox and Sollecito were released, and AK immediately returned to the U.S.  Sollecito stayed in Italy.  However, the Supreme Court annulled Hellmann’s ruling in March 2013. See here.

A new appeal was to be held in Florence, the fall of 2013. 

Knox refused to attend. 

AK did, however, send an email to Appeal Court Judge Nencini, which repeats many of the false accusations. See here.

She claimed, among other things, financial hardship, despite receiveing a $3.8 million book deal with HarperCollins. See here.

Although refusing to return to Italy, AK has repeated tried to contact the Kercher family, and creepily demanded to visit Meredith’s grave.  RS has also admitted to trying to contact the Kerchers, and claimed he has visited the grave. 

And Knox lets this bombshell out See here.

Sollecito also received a book deal, from Simon and Schuster, and it also stunk of blood money, just like Knox’s. See here.

Sollecito attended sporadically, visiting the Dominican Republic in between court dates, and apparently shopping for an American bride to help him get around extradition. See here.

January 30th, 2014, the date Nencini confirmed the Massei conviction, RS was caught near the Austrian border.  He denies he was trying to flee, but still had his passport confiscated, and was barred from leaving Italy.  Judge Nencini was also not the least bit amused by the goings on of the FOA See here.

And of course, the defence, in the spirit of fairness and sportsmanship, pulls this stunt:  See here.

AK, on the other hand, hit the talk shows, fake-crying about how scared she is, and how she’ll remain a fugitive if necessary.


3. Canadian Law on Bail

Section 11 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms deals with criminal matters and procedures

11. Any person charged with an offence has the right

  (a) to be informed without unreasonable delay of the specific offence;

  (b) to be tried within a reasonable time;

  (c) not to be compelled to be a witness in proceedings against that person in respect of the offence;

  (d) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal;

  (e) not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause;

  (f) except in the case of an offence under military law tried before a military tribunal, to the benefit of trial by jury where the maximum punishment for the offence is imprisonment for five years or a more severe punishment;

  (g) not to be found guilty on account of any act or omission unless, at the time of the act or omission, it constituted an offence under Canadian or international law or was criminal according to the general principles of law recognized by the community of nations;

  (h) if finally acquitted of the offence, not to be tried for it again and, if finally found guilty and punished for the offence, not to be tried or punished for it again; and

  (i) if found guilty of the offence and if the punishment for the offence has been varied between the time of commission and the time of sentencing, to the benefit of the lesser punishment.

Marginal note:Treatment or punishment

12. Everyone has the right not to be subjected to any cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

Marginal note:Self-crimination

13. A witness who testifies in any proceedings has the right not to have any incriminating evidence so given used to incriminate that witness in any other proceedings, except in a prosecution for perjury or for the giving of contradictory evidence.

Marginal note:Interpreter

14. A party or witness in any proceedings who does not understand or speak the language in which the proceedings are conducted or who is deaf has the right to the assistance of an interpreter.

Section 11(e) refers to the topic of bail, and states that reasonable bail should not be denied without just cause

Actually getting to trial can take a long time. Depending on the nature of the offence(s) charged, it may or may not be in the public interest.  Canada actually has pretty strict requirements about how soon an accused must be brought for a bail review.

In fact, the police don’t have to take the person into custody.  There is discretion to charge the person, and then release him/her on a promise to appear.  Here is a direct quote from cc 503(2), dealing with conditional release.

Conditional release

(2) If a peace officer or an officer in charge is satisfied that a person described in subsection (1) should be released from custody conditionally, the officer may, unless the person is detained in custody for an offence mentioned in section 522, release that person on the person’s giving a promise to appear or entering into a recognizance in accordance with paragraphs 498(1)(b) to (d) and subsection (2.1).

Here is a quote from a practicing Toronto lawyer on why you would be denied bail.  See here.

Why would I be denied bail?

Detention is justified only if deemed necessary on one or more of the following grounds:

  to ensure that you attend court; e.g., if you have a history of failing to attend court or abide by other court orders

  to protect the public; e.g., you could be detained if you have a criminal record for similar offences; in the case of an assault or threatening charge, a history of violence against the same complainant works in favor of detention

  to maintain confidence in the administration of justice; the court will consider the apparent strength of the prosecution’s case, the gravity of the offence, the circumstances surrounding its commission and the potential for a lengthy jail term

Normally, police or prosecutors have to justify why a person should remain locked up.  There are however, circumstances in which the accused has the ‘’‘reverse onus’‘.  In other words, circumstances which the person has to justify why he or she should be released.  These include circumstances like being released (while accused) of a similar offence, and certain gun, drug and gang offences.

4. Contacting Victims or Their Families

This is a quote directly from section cc 515(2) of the Canadian Criminal Code:

Undertaking

  (2.1) In addition to the conditions referred to in subsection (2), the peace officer or officer in charge may, in order to release the person, require the person to enter into an undertaking in Form 11.1 in which the person undertakes to do one or more of the following things:

      (a) to remain within a territorial jurisdiction specified in the undertaking;

      (b) to notify the peace officer or another person mentioned in the undertaking of any change in his or her address, employment or occupation;

      (c) to abstain from communicating, directly or indirectly, with any victim, witness or other person identified in the undertaking, or from going to a place specified in the undertaking, except in accordance with the conditions specified in the undertaking;

      (d) to deposit the person’s passport with the peace officer or other person mentioned in the undertaking;

      (e) to abstain from possessing a firearm and to surrender any firearm in the possession of the person and any authorization, licence or registration certificate or other document enabling that person to acquire or possess a firearm;

      (f) to report at the times specified in the undertaking to a peace officer or other person designated in the undertaking;

      (g) to abstain from

      (i) the consumption of alcohol or other intoxicating substances, or

      (ii) the consumption of drugs except in accordance with a medical prescription; or

      (h) to comply with any other condition specified in the undertaking that the peace officer or officer in charge considers necessary to ensure the safety and security of any victim of or witness to the offence.

 
Clause (c) specifically states to avoid communicating directly or indirectly with any victim or witness in the case.  This would obviously extend to avoid any contact with the Kercher family.  Also, it would include having friends and family attempt to contact a witness or victim.  This prohibition extends to telephone calls or emails, everything from asking for a private meeting, to asking to visit your alleged victim’s grave.  This would also seem to violate clause (h), which is to ensure the safety and security of any victim or witness.  There are reasons for this.

1) To avoid any possible threats or intimidation, which would cause the integrity of the system to be questioned

2) To avoid any type of underhanded tactic, such as appealing for mercy, underneath the court

3) To promote fairness in the trial process.

5. Harassing and Stalking of Victims

This is a quote directly from section cc 264 of the Canadian Criminal Code:

Criminal harassment

  264. (1) No person shall, without lawful authority and knowing that another person is harassed or recklessly as to whether the other person is harassed, engage in conduct referred to in subsection (2) that causes that other person reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them.

  Marginal note:Prohibited conduct

  (2) The conduct mentioned in subsection (1) consists of

      (a) repeatedly following from place to place the other person or anyone known to them;

      (b) repeatedly communicating with, either directly or indirectly, the other person or anyone known to them;

      (c) besetting or watching the dwelling-house, or place where the other person, or anyone known to them, resides, works, carries on business or happens to be; or

      (d) engaging in threatening conduct directed at the other person or any member of their family.

  Marginal note:Punishment

  (3) Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of

      (a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or

      (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

  Marginal note:Factors to be considered

  (4) Where a person is convicted of an offence under this section, the court imposing the sentence on the person shall consider as an aggravating factor that, at the time the offence was committed, the person contravened

      (a) the terms or conditions of an order made pursuant to section 161 or a recognizance entered into pursuant to section 810, 810.1 or 810.2; or

Not only would it be a cc 215(2)2.1(c) of the criminal code, which refers to conduct while released on an undertaking, harassment and stalking themselves are serious crimes.  Note that cc 264(4) considers it to be an aggravating factor if this harassing occurred while the subject was under a court order not to contact the person anyway.  In any Canadian proceedings, defendants would be barred from contacting family members of the victim, as well as the actual victim.

It is reasonable to assume that the Kerchers want nothing to do with Knox.  After all, this woman allegedly sexually assaulted and stabbed to death their daughter/sister, and then made a mockery of the court process, all while pretending to be the victim.  Yet Knox has repeatedly tried to make contact with them.


A court sketch, common in media back in pre-camera days

6. Contempt of Court

This is a quote directly from section cc 708 of the Canadian Criminal Code:

Contempt

  708. (1) A person who, being required by law to attend or remain in attendance for the purpose of giving evidence, fails, without lawful excuse, to attend or remain in attendance accordingly is guilty of contempt of court.

Marginal note:Punishment

  (2) A court, judge, justice or provincial court judge may deal summarily with a person who is guilty of contempt of court under this section and that person is liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ninety days or to both, and may be ordered to pay the costs that are incident to the service of any process under this Part and to his detention, if any.

Marginal note:Form

  (3) A conviction under this section may be in Form 38 and a warrant of committal in respect of a conviction under this section may be in Form 25.

Knox refused to attend her 2013/2014 appeal in Florence, the one she keeps referring to as a ‘‘new trial’‘.  This would not be tolerated under Canadian law.  Her bail would have been forfeited, and she would have been arrested. 

She would have remained in custody for the duration of the appeal.  And should the appeal have confirmed her guilt, she would most likely have remained in custody while it was being appealed further.

Skipping out on your criminal proceedings without valid grounds is contempt.  Sollecito did it as well when he took a vacation in the Dominican Republic.  Not only is it disrespectful, but it shows a lack of maturity.

Also note, from c.c. 515(2)2.1 of the Criminal Code—see section on harassing—these actions certainly would have violated clause (a), which is to remain in the jurisdiction while the proceedings are ongoing.

7. Cashing in on the Notoriety of a Crime (Son of Sam laws)

In September 2012, Simon & Schuster released Sollecito’s book, ‘‘Honor Bound: My Journey to Hell and Back With Amanda Knox’‘.  In May 2013, HarperCollins released Knox’s book ‘‘Waiting to be Heard’‘. 

What was particularly disturbing was that both Knox and Sollecito were still accused of murder when these books came out.  Knox was in the worse situation, as it came after the March 2013 Cassation ruling, which confirmed her calunnia against Patrick Lumumba, and annulled Judge Hellmann’s appeal acquittal.  However, since Cassation left the Massei trial verdict intact, their legal status was ‘‘guilty, pending further appeals’‘.

Setting aside the sheer idiocy of releasing a book while still accused, it is still illegal to do.  Right now, Canadian provinces seem to be writing their own laws.  Here are 4 of them.

This is from the website, Victimsofviolence.on.ca See here.

The Province of Alberta: See here.

The Province of Saskatchewan: See here.

The Province of Ontario: See here.

The Province of Nova Scotia:  See here.

The provinces do have some small differences in the laws, but the point to be taken here is that you can’t cash in on the notoriety of your crime.  In America, this is referred to the ‘‘Son of Sam Laws’’ after serial killer David Berkowitz, who called himself the Son-of-Sam.

8. Laundering the Proceeds of Crime

This is a quote directly from section cc 462.31 of the Canadian Criminal Code:

Laundering proceeds of crime

  462.31 (1) Every one commits an offence who uses, transfers the possession of, sends or delivers to any person or place, transports, transmits, alters, disposes of or otherwise deals with, in any manner and by any means, any property or any proceeds of any property with intent to conceal or convert that property or those proceeds, knowing or believing that all or a part of that property or of those proceeds was obtained or derived directly or indirectly as a result of

      (a) the commission in Canada of a designated offence; or

      (b) an act or omission anywhere that, if it had occurred in Canada, would have constituted a designated offence.

Marginal note:Punishment

  (2) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1)

      (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or

      (b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

Marginal note:Exception

  (3) A peace officer or a person acting under the direction of a peace officer is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) if the peace officer or person does any of the things mentioned in that subsection for the purposes of an investigation or otherwise in the execution of the peace officer’s duties.

Raffaele Sollecito and Andrew Gumbel wrote ‘‘Honor Bound’’ (although they now blame each other).  Amanda Knox wrote ‘‘Waiting to be Heard’‘, which was ghostwritten by Linda Kuhlman.  Knox claims that she used her $3.8 million advance (less the taxes), to pay her lawyers, and her family.

The problem is that the books themselves are bloodmoney, cashing in on a crime they committed.  That is illegal to do.  The million dollar advances were (if Knox is truthful here), essentially converted into legal payments for her lawyers, and to her family.

Unless Knox’s family really did spend a million or more to visit her, the money Amanda claims went to them could be seen as ‘‘gifts’’ or ways to hold onto such funds.  Even if the Knoxes/Mellas did spend that much money, Amanda is paying those debts off with illegally obtained money.

Sollecito has not been nearly as open about where his book advance went (rumoured to be $950,000).  However, he would have the same legal issues facing him as Knox.


9. Prostitution and Soliciting of Prostitution

This is a quote directly from section cc 213 of the Canadian Criminal Code:

Offences in Relation to Offering, Providing or Obtaining Sexual Services for Consideration

Marginal note:Stopping or impeding traffic

213. (1) Everyone is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction who, in a public place or in any place open to public view, for the purpose of offering, providing or obtaining sexual services for consideration,
(a) stops or attempts to stop any motor vehicle; or
(b) impedes the free flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic or ingress to or egress from premises adjacent to that place.
(c) [Repealed, 2014, c. 25, s. 15]
Marginal note:Communicating to provide sexual services for consideration

(1.1) Everyone is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction who communicates with any person — for the purpose of offering or providing sexual services for consideration  —  in a public place, or in any place open to public view, that is or is next to a school ground, playground or daycare centre.
Definition of “public place”

(2) In this section, “public place” includes any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, express or implied, and any motor vehicle located in a public place or in any place open to public view.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 213; R.S., 1985, c. 51 (1st Supp.), s. 1; 2014, c. 25, s. 15.

In Canada, the prostitution laws are constantly being challenged.  Due to lobbying efforts, the punishments are actually becoming much harsher for soliciting than for providing.

Knox met Federico Martini (the man she calls ‘‘Cristiano’’ in her book), on a train in Italy.  She had been providing sex, and getting drugs, and it kept happening up to the night she was arrested.  It had been known for years in Italy, but only released to the American media in the summer of 2014.

The thing is: this would actually be considered prostitution.  It doesn’t matter if he offered cash, or a bag of coke.  Martini, the client (a.k.a the John), was providing material goods in return for sex.  In Canada, legally speaking , Amanda Knox was prostituting herself (a.k.a. hooking).


10. Fraud Over $5,000

This is a quote directly from section cc 380 of the Canadian Criminal Code:

Fraud

380. (1) Every one who, by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means, whether or not it is a false pretence within the meaning of this Act, defrauds the public or any person, whether ascertained or not, of any property, money or valuable security or any service,
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding fourteen years, where the subject-matter of the offence is a testamentary instrument or the value of the subject-matter of the offence exceeds five thousand dollars; or
(b) is guilty
(i) of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or
(ii) of an offence punishable on summary conviction,
where the value of the subject-matter of the offence does not exceed five thousand dollars.

Marginal note:Minimum punishment

(1.1) When a person is prosecuted on indictment and convicted of one or more offences referred to in subsection (1), the court that imposes the sentence shall impose a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of two years if the total value of the subject-matter of the offences exceeds one million dollars.

Knox wrote her book ‘‘Waiting to be Heard’’ for a reported $3.8 million.  Sollecito (or was it Gumbel?) wrote ‘‘Honor Bound’’ for a reported nearly $1 million.  Problem here, is that both of these book deals were obtained under false pretences.

Due to the spike in publicity of white-collar crime, the Canadian government imposed a 2 year minimum jail term for fraud that exceeds one million dollars.  Considering that the books are fake, the payoff (at least for Knox), exceeds that amount, she would be facing at least 2 years for that.

Also, I have no idea how much money Knox or Sollecito have raised via their websites, or Twitter accounts, or via PayPal.  But they could face additional charges of either fraud over $5,000, or fraud UNDER $5,000, which carries lower maximum.


11. Carrying a Concealed Weapon

This is a quote directly from section cc 88 of the Canadian Criminal Code:

Possession of weapon for dangerous purpose

88. (1) Every person commits an offence who carries or possesses a weapon, an imitation of a weapon, a prohibited device or any ammunition or prohibited ammunition for a purpose dangerous to the public peace or for the purpose of committing an offence.
Marginal note:Punishment

(2) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1)
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

It was one of the charges Knox and Sollecito faced.  Guess what?  Can’t do it here either

12. Fabricating Evidence

This is a quote directly from section cc 137 of the Canadian Criminal Code:

Fabricating evidence

137. Every one who, with intent to mislead, fabricates anything with intent that it shall be used as evidence in a judicial proceeding, existing or proposed, by any means other than perjury or incitement to perjury is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

  R.S., c. C-34, s. 125.

Knox and Sollecito were alleged to have staged the crime scene at the house to make to look like someone had broken in through Filomena’s window, ransacked the place, killed Meredith during a bungled robbery, then fled.  The Courts (Micheli, Massei, Nencini, 2 Cassation panels), also believed that Knox and Sollecito had attempted—albeit unsuccessfully—to selectively clean the house, making it look like Rudy Guede was the sole killer. 

Knox was a resident in the upstairs part of the house, and therefore had a reason to make it look like an outsider did it.  If there were no obvious signs of a burglar, the police would immediately zero in on the other 3 women who lived in the house.

13. Jurors Speaking out During (or After) Criminal Proceedings

Quoted directly from the Canadian Criminal Code:

Disclosure of jury proceedings

649. Every member of a jury, and every person providing technical, personal, interpretative or other support services to a juror with a physical disability, who, except for the purposes of

(a) an investigation of an alleged offence under subsection 139(2) in relation to a juror, or
(b) giving evidence in criminal proceedings in relation to such an offence,
discloses any information relating to the proceedings of the jury when it was absent from the courtroom that was not subsequently disclosed in open court is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

The secrecy that jurors are sworn to survives even after the trial.  In the case of Ms. Ballerini talking to the media about the 2013/2014 Florence appeal just before the March 2015 Cassation ruling, it would not be allowed here either.  Financial need would not be considered an acceptable defence.

While summary offences carry a maximum of 2 years in prison, in reality, jurors would not see the inside of a cell.  A fine and/or probation would be much more likely.

14. Canadian Law on Extradition

Amanda Knox has made it known publicly (and idiotically) that she will never return to Italy, even if it means remaining a fugitive.  She claimed that she skipped her last appeal out of fear of a wrongful conviction, even though she claimed she had faith in the Italian Courts.  Yes, she’s a hypocrite.  Well, Italy does request extradition of convicted criminals, which is what Knox is (pending confirmation by Cassation). 

Amusingly, she claims again to have faith in the Supreme Court, while remaining in the U.S. out of fear.

However, many countries extradite both suspected and convicted criminals.  Knox’s situation is even weaker, as she will not only be ‘‘convicted’‘, but will be ‘‘convicted, with all appeals exhausted.’’  Considering she has not attended court once since Hellmann released her (she missed Cassation 1, Nencini, Cassation 2), she is not likely to garner much sympathy.

Canada both requests and complies with requests for extradition.

There are a few exceptions however:

(a) Canada generally refuses to extradite if they death penalty is sought

(b) Canada generally refuses to extradite if the person faces inhumane treatment at home.

Note: This article was originally submitted just prior to the Cassation hearing.  We will see what happens now.

Note: Almost all options to block extradition are not available if the person has received a sentence of at least 6 months.  (This was 2 years, but recently lowered).  Knox’s 28.5 years is definitely above that threshold.  See section 3 of the Extradition Act, and note 3(3) in particular.

Extraditable Conduct

Marginal note:General principle

  3. (1) A person may be extradited from Canada in accordance with this Act and a relevant extradition agreement on the request of an extradition partner for the purpose of prosecuting the person or imposing a sentence on — or enforcing a sentence imposed on — the person if

      (a) subject to a relevant extradition agreement, the offence in respect of which the extradition is requested is punishable by the extradition partner, by imprisoning or otherwise depriving the person of their liberty for a maximum term of two years or more, or by a more severe punishment; and

      (b) the conduct of the person, had it occurred in Canada, would have constituted an offence that is punishable in Canada,

        (i) in the case of a request based on a specific agreement, by imprisonment for a maximum term of five years or more, or by a more severe punishment, and

        (ii) in any other case, by imprisonment for a maximum term of two years or more, or by a more severe punishment, subject to a relevant extradition agreement.

Marginal note:Conduct determinative

  (2) For greater certainty, it is not relevant whether the conduct referred to in subsection (1) is named, defined or characterized by the extradition partner in the same way as it is in Canada.

Marginal note:Extradition of a person who has been sentenced

  (3) Subject to a relevant extradition agreement, the extradition of a person who has been sentenced to imprisonment or another deprivation of liberty may only be granted if the portion of the term remaining is at least six months long or a more severe punishment remains to be carried out.

15. What Was Allowed In Italy But Would Not Be In Canada?

Here is a section copied directly from the Law Society of Upper Canada’s website.  This is the regulatory body with licences and is able to remove lawyers in the province of Ontario.  It covers the relationship between lawyers and the administration of justice.

[Amended – October 2014]

5.1-2 When acting as an advocate, a lawyer shall not

(a) abuse the process of the tribunal by instituting or prosecuting proceedings which, although legal in themselves, are clearly motivated by malice on the part of the client and are brought solely for the purpose of injuring the other party,

(b) knowingly assist or permit the client to do anything that the lawyer considers to be dishonest or dishonourable,

(c) appear before a judicial officer when the lawyer, the lawyer’s associates or the client have business or personal relationships with the officer that give rise to or might reasonably appear to give rise to pressure, influence, or inducement affecting the impartiality of the officer, unless all parties consent and it is in the interests of justice,

(d) endeavour or allow anyone else to endeavour, directly or indirectly, to influence the decision or action of a tribunal or any of its officials in any case or matter by any means other than open persuasion as an advocate,

(e) knowingly attempt to deceive a tribunal or influence the course of justice by offering false evidence, misstating facts or law, presenting or relying upon a false or deceptive affidavit, suppressing what ought to be disclosed, or otherwise assisting in any fraud, crime, or illegal conduct,

(f) knowingly misstate the contents of a document, the testimony of a witness, the substance of an argument, or the provisions of a statute or like authority,

(g) knowingly assert as true a fact when its truth cannot reasonably be supported by the evidence or as a matter of which notice may be taken by the tribunal,

(h) make suggestions to a witness recklessly or knowing them to be false;

(i) deliberately refrain from informing the tribunal of any binding authority that the lawyer considers to be directly on point and that has not been mentioned by an opponent,

(j) improperly dissuade a witness from giving evidence or advise a witness to be absent,

(k) knowingly permit a witness or party to be presented in a false or misleading way or to impersonate another,

(l) knowingly misrepresent the client’s position in the litigation or the issues to be determined in the litigation;

(m) needlessly abuse, hector, or harass a witness,

(n) when representing a complainant or potential complainant, attempt to gain a benefit for the complainant by threatening the laying of a criminal charge or by offering to seek or to procure the withdrawal of a criminal charge,

(o) needlessly inconvenience a witness; or

(p) appear before a court or tribunal while under the influence of alcohol or a drug. [Amended – October 2014]


The problem here, is although there are rules of conduct, the rules of conduct also state that lawyers must take every avenue available to help out their clients.  So, it seems that the line between zealous advocacy and professional misconduct gets rather blurry.  While not necessarily criminal offences, these things would throw the law into disrespute, and could cause problems for lawyers.  Cases in point:

i) After the Florence Appeals Court ruled against Knox and Sollecito in January 2014, defense lawyer Guilia Bongiorno tried to have Judge Nencini disciplined for making some rather innocuous remarks to reporters.  This was baseless and vindictive.  If you lose an appeal, you don’t maliciously try to take down the lead judge.  It is a clear violation of clause (a).

ii) Judge Hellmann was installed as lead judge for Knox and Sollecito’s original first appeal.  Hellmann was a business judge, and the much more qualified Judge Chairi was forced off the case.  There was no legitimate reason for doing this—Hellmann was there as the result of ‘‘judge-shopping’‘.  He then proceeded to make a complete mess of that appeal, so much so that Cassation completely annulled it in March 2013.  Putting him on the bench in this case is a conflict of interest and violation of clause (c)

iii) Judge Hellmann also went out of his way to twist and distort much of what the prosectors had presented in the 2009 trial, including witness testimony and evidence.  Few believe this was accidental.  If intentional, it would be violations of clause (d),allowing influence other than as an advocate; and clause (f), distorting evidence and testimony.

iv) Judge Hellmann dragged out the appeal by holding it only a few times each month, which caused enormous burdens on both prosecutors, and the Kercher family.  Not only is this rude, it could be seen as a violation of clause (o).

v) Knox’s lawyers, Luciano Ghirga and Carlos Dalla Vedova allowed Knox to make many accusations on the witness stand in June 2009. Among the most serious is Knox’s claim she was physically assualted November 5th/6th.  Ghirga himself had said publicly Knox wasn’t hit.  These lawyers also passed along Knox’s false email to Judge Nencini, and Vedova filed a bogus claim to the European Court of Human Rights.  This is knowingly letting Knox do dishonest things, and repeated violations of clause (b).

vi) Knox and Sollecito’s defence has been shown to be relying many times on false facts and pretences.  Although lawyers are obligated to defend their clients, deep down they have to know that the defences they are making is true.  These are violations of clause (e), but are prime examples of duty to the court directly conflicting with duty to the clients.

vii) Ted Simon, Knox’s now (absent) U.S. lawyer, has changed his tune.  He spoke out publicly in 2008 saying that there actually was a strong case against Knox (motive notwithstanding).  However, when he came on board, he ‘‘adjusted’’ his views, and now claims that there is no evidence, never was, and never will be.  Although not present at the trial or appeals, Simon has made claims that he himself knows to be false, violating clause (g).

viii) Bob Barnett helped Knox land her book deal with HarperCollins, even though proceedings were still underway, knowing that Knox made false claims, knowing that Knox had been convicted of making false accusations, and knowing that Son-of-Sam laws prohibited such actions.  He helped Knox do something dishonourable, violating clause (b).  Or, if Mr. Barnett didn’t know, then he is far too incompetent to be a lawyer.

While lawyers are obligated to advocate on behalf of their client, the line seems rather fuzzy as to what actually constitutes ‘‘advocacy’’ and what constitutes ‘‘misconduct’‘.  I believe the examples above are all professional misconduct.  They were done with the intention of helping AK/RS, but step far, FAR over the line.  While this is quoted from the Ontario site, other Provincial and Territorial Law Societies have very similar rules.

16. Where This Series Is Headed Next:

This concludes the part of Canadian laws that would have applied to Knox, Sollecito and Guede, had they committed the crime here.  #9, which Knox bragged about to her friends, wrote about in her book, and told to police, would be considered prostitution, when you realize she got drugs for it.  And #13 was added after the juror from the Florence appeal, Genny Ballerini, decided to talk to the media.  All of the crimes listed in the first 3 parts are all crimes under Italian law, even if they are called something different.  These 3 parts were kind of a Canada v.s. Italy perspective.

The next pieces will cover other common law nations, and contrast their varying decisions.  Peter suggested giving an even wider context for crime and punishment across the globe.  The final piece will be some loose ends, and requests for content are encouraged.  If there is a topic I missed, or something that needs more depth, ask.

Complete Listings

1st post appears here:  An Overview.

2nd post appears here:  Public Mischief and Perjury

3rd post appears here:  Bail, Extradition & Other Crimes

4th post appears here:  Canada v.s. the U.S.A. (Part 1)

5th post coming soon: Canada v.s. the U.S.A. (Part 2)

6th post coming soon:  Canada and our Family

7th post coming soon:  Loose Ends, and Reader Request

Posted on 04/27/15 at 08:13 PM by ChimeraClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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Thursday, February 05, 2015

Justice System Comparisons #2: Tough Penalties In Common Law For Slander, False Accusations, Perjury

Posted by Chimera



Supreme Court Of Canada in the capital Ottawa

1. Overview Of My Multi-Part Series

My first piece on the ‘‘Canadian Perspective’’ of criminal law appears here.

That first article focused on an overview of Canadian law, and the punishments that would have been forthcoming coming for murder.  In the case of Amanda Knox, Raffaele Sollecito, and Rudy Guede, they would have been tried for first degree murder, as it happened during a sexual assault, and while the victim was restrained. 

Here are some key differences between Canada and Italy for such a murder case. In Canada:

  • First degree murder would be the charge, in this case no need to prove intent
  • The sentence for 1st degree is life, with the possibility of parole (which is for life), after 25 years
  • Unlike Italy, plea bargaining is possible, and happens frequently
  • During the trial, accused could only make statements under oath (and face cross examination)
  • An appeal to the Provincial Court of Appeals could be filed, but if baseless, would not be heard
  • A Supreme Court of Canada appeal would certainly not be heard if the first appeal was so weak
  • Skipping out on your trials (or appeals), would likely get your bail revoked
  • Leaving the country to go sunbathing, would likely get bail revoked on ‘‘risk of flight’’ grounds

And Canada would have been similar to Italy on these measures:

  • Bail, or ‘‘house-arrest’’ prior to trial would have been extremely unlikely
  • Giving interviews or media appearances while the case is open is VERY unwise
  • If convicted, they could make open statements at sentencing
  • Writing books or getting movie deals (cashing in), would not be permitted

This second post addresses all the other crimes and alleged crimes of Sollecito and Knox mostly to inflame public opinion to lean on the court.

I list first all of the crimes, then the relevant Canadian law, and finally the penalties Sollecito could have faced under that fairminded but firm law.

2. Slander, and False Accusations, and Perjury by AK and RS

1) Much has been made of the false accusation Amanda Knox made against Patrick Lumumba November 5th/6th, 2007.  The American media reported it as a false confession.  In one context they are correct, it was a confession in that it placed her at the scene, at the time of the murder.  However, since she claimed to witness someone else murdering Meredith Kercher, it was in fact a false accusation.  She knew all along Lumumba was innocent. That calunnia got Knox an additional year in prison from Judge Massei.

2) Not content with accusing a man decent enough to give her a job (despite her lack of a European work permit), Knox went further, and claimed she only said that she signed those statements because some officer (whom Knox much later names as Rita Ficarra), smacked her around.

3) In her December 2013 email to the Florence Appeal Court Judge Nencini, Knox goes so far as to refer to her mild questioning as ‘‘torture’‘.  This woman really doesn’t learn.

4) Knox still faces separate charges for the accusations against the police, operative when Judge Hellmann stunningly let AK and RS out.  Although, in a totally inexplicable move (one of many), Hellmann said the accusation was made under duress, not to mislead police—and then increased her calunnia sentence from 1 year to 3.

5) Knox and Solleito each published ‘‘memoirs’‘, Sollecito in September 2012 by Simon and Schuster, and Knox by HarperCollins in April 2013. The books made many claims of corruption, verbal and physical assault, incompetence, judicial fraud, and abuse of due process.  Too numerous to detail here, but TJMK has posted may times on them.  Again, Knox really doesn’t learn from her mistakes.

6) And her ‘‘Knife-Boy’’ drug/fuck-buddy doesn’t seem to learn either.  Both are facing new charges, and at the time of writing, Sollecito and his co-author (now mere ghost-writer??), Andrew Gumbel are facing hearings. Sollecito’s Dad Francesco admits the ‘‘deal’’ with prosecutors to turn on Knox never happened.

7) Knox appeals to the European Court of Human Rights, which will prove amusing as her own lawyers have publicly denied she was assaulted by police.  Again, does she ever learn?

8) Knox made numerous false accusations in her book, some of the worst of which were published in the Italian magazine ‘Oggi’

9) Knox made false accusations of an illegal interrogation which have zero grounding in facts.

10) Knox and Sollecito make many accusations on television interviews too.  To repeat myself: these two really don’t learn.

Although to be complete, Edda Mellas (Amanda’s Mother) doesn’t seem to learn either.

3. Canadian Law For These Kinds Of Crimes

If you level accusations against police officers, officers of the court, or prison officials, by law they must be investigated.  These types of accusations can destroy careers, but even for the ‘‘lucky’’ ones, they are never the same.  This extends to people such as teachers, who have been forced out of teaching due to malicious students.

It really doesn’t matter if you file a formal complaint, post it on the internet, write about it in a book or magazine article, or on television.  Complaints, such as the ones listed above, have to be investigated, in fact it is the same in Italy, the U.S., U.K., or Canada.

Falsely accusing someone of a crime in Italy in a court or to the police is referred to as ‘‘CALUNNIA’‘, which is not quite the same thing as slander, it is worse, with prison terms.

Falsely accusing someone as a crime in the United States is ‘‘OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE’‘.  Different name, same crime.

Guess what, Folks?  You can’t do that in Canada either.  It is called ‘‘PUBLIC MISCHIEF’‘.  Different name, same crime.

If you level accusations against police officers, officers of the court, or prison officials, by law they must be looked into.

Quoted directly from the Canadian Criminal Code:

140 Public mischief

(1) Every one commits public mischief who, with intent to mislead, causes a peace officer to enter on or continue an investigation by

    (a) making a false statement that accuses some other person of having committed an offence;
    (b) doing anything intended to cause some other person to be suspected of having committed an offence that the other person has not committed, or to divert suspicion from himself;
    (c) reporting that an offence has been committed when it has not been committed; or
    (d) reporting or in any other way making it known or causing it to be made known that he or some other person has died when he or that other person has not died.

(2) [Punishment] Every one who commits public mischief

    (a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
    (b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

    Had Amanda Knox been in Canada when she levelled her false accusation against Lumumba, she would be guilty of cc. 140.  This is something that Judge Massei (2009), Judge Hellmann (2011), and Cassation (2013), all agreed that she did.

    But look at 140.(1)(b)  ‘’ ... Doing anything to cause some other person to be suspected of having committed an offence that the other person had not commited .... ‘’‘.  Yes, all the Courts agreed that happened.  However, consider those last 6 words….

      ’‘.... OR TO DIVERT SUSPICION FROM HIMSELF….’‘

    This was a key difference between Hellmann (2011), and Cassation (2013).  Hellman said that Knox levelled the accusation against Lumumba out of duress, while Cassation said, no, it was ‘‘to divert suspicion from herself.’’  This difference is what resulted in having the aggravating factors attached to Knox’s (now final) calunnia conviction.

    While the fallout from falsely accusing police officers is not over, Knox will likely still have to face those same aggravating factors ahead.  The Courts will reasonably believe that she made up those lies (such as about Migini and Ficarra), to divert suspicion from herself, or to obstruct the process for her murder charge of Meredith Kercher.  After all, Cassation has already ruled that Knox framed Patrick Lumumba to divert suspicion.

    Regarding punishment, public mischief is a ‘‘hybrid offence’‘, meaning the Crown Prosecutors could proceed summarily (lesser) or by indictment (felony).  Since it was to cover up her involvement in a murder, the Prosecutors would certainly have gone by indictment, and Knox would be facing up to 5 years.

    Facing 5 years in Canada, or 6 years in Italy…?  Hardly a significant difference.

    And, if you don’t think that people go to jail in Canada for levelling false accusations, think again.  See the examples here:

    CanLII Website

    Bonnie Ann-Ambrose (of Alberta), 1998, received a 2 year sentence for falsely accusing a police officer of sexual assault.  On appeal, however, the sentence was reduced, she got time served plus 1 additional year in the form of a ‘‘conditional sentence.’‘

    CanLII Website

    Stacy Little (of British Columbia) in 2001, received a 9 month jail sentence for making false accusations of being sexually assaulted while in custody.  She actually got her boyfriend to call and get the investigation launched.  However, it was reduced to 3 months on appeal.

    CanLII Website

    Tina Brun (of New Brunswick), in 2004, reported that she was the victim of a robbery, and it led to 4 youths being arrested.  Brun later admitted it was all a lie.  She received a 3 month jail sentence for the false accusation, and the New Brunswick Court of Appeals confirmed the sentence.

    CanLII Website

    Steven Mankala-Proulx (of Quebec), in 2013, received a 90 day intermittent (weekend) jail sentence, for getting his mother to make a false complaint against a police officer attempting to make a routine stop.  The allegations were for following him, dangerous driving, and fleeing the scene.  The mother did not know the accusations were false, and Steven had not wanted his mother to be angry with him.  The accusations triggered a mandatory investigation, and resulted in the officer being transferred.

    CanLII Website

    Martin John Zeek (in British Columbia) was found guilty of public mischief (cc 140), and fraud (cc 380(1)).  He received 1 year in prison for reporting his refrigeration trailer stolen.  The sentence was confirmed on appeal.”>

    While these sentences are lighter than what Amanda Knox had received, none of the above falsely accused anyone of murder.

    The ‘‘Friends of Amanda’’ frequently criticise Italy’s ‘‘Stone-Age slander laws’‘, but Commonwealth countries like the U.S. and Canada do not allow people to make false criminal accusation either.  Nor does the U.K.

    Canada will not protect such people for the simple reason that we Canadians don’t tolerate such acts either. And while this article covers criminal penalties—a conviction can form the basis of a VERY expensive civil lawsuit.

    Just something to think about—it is NOT free speech.  Nor is a related action: PERJURY.

    Quoted directly from the Canadian Criminal Code:

    Misleading Justice

    [Marginal Note Perjury]

    131. (1) Subject to subsection (3), every one commits perjury who, with intent to mislead, makes before a person who is authorized by law to permit it to be made before him a false statement under oath or solemn affirmation, by affidavit, solemn declaration or deposition or orally, knowing that the statement is false.

    [Marginal Note Video links, etc.]

    (1.1) Subject to subsection (3), every person who gives evidence under subsection 46(2) of the Canada Evidence Act, or gives evidence or a statement pursuant to an order made under section 22.2 of the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, commits perjury who, with intent to mislead, makes a false statement knowing that it is false, whether or not the false statement was made under oath or solemn affirmation in accordance with subsection (1), so long as the false statement was made in accordance with any formalities required by the law of the place outside Canada in which the person is virtually present or heard.

    [Marginal Note Idem]

    (2) Subsection (1) applies, whether or not a statement referred to in that subsection is made in a judicial proceeding.

    [Marginal Note Application]

    (3) Subsections (1) and (1.1) do not apply to a statement referred to in either of those subsections that is made by a person who is not specially permitted, authorized or required by law to make that statement.

    [R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 131;  R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 17; 1999, c. 18, s. 92.]

    [Marginal note:Punishment]

    132. Every one who commits perjury is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

    R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 132; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 17; 1998, c. 35, s. 119.

    [Marginal note:Corroboration]

    133. No person shall be convicted of an offence under section 132 on the evidence of only one witness unless the evidence of that witness is corroborated in a material particular by evidence that implicates the accused.

    R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 133; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 17.

    [Marginal note:Idem]

    134. (1) Subject to subsection (2), every one who, not being specially permitted, authorized or required by law to make a statement under oath or solemn affirmation, makes such a statement, by affidavit, solemn declaration or deposition or orally before a person who is authorized by law to permit it to be made before him, knowing that the statement is false, is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

    [Marginal note:Application]

    (2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a statement referred to in that subsection that is made in the course of a criminal investigation.

    Those free statements Knox, Sollecito and Guede could stand up and make in court…. they would have to be sworn in.  Under oath.

    And if they said anything provably false, they could face a perjury charge as well.

    As these defendants would likely be lying to clear themselves of murder, it would be an indictable offence, and they could get 14 years each just for that.

    And ... Canada puts perjurers in prison as well. See the examples here:

    CanLII Website

    James John Jack (of British Columbia) in 2008 was arrested on drug charges, and convinced a female friend to lie, to get him off the hook.  When it was proven, he received a 2 year jail sentence for perjury.  The original drug charges were dealt with separately.

    CanLII Website

    Victor Akinyemi (of Ontario), in 2011, falsely reported his vehicle stolen in order to fraudulently obtain insurance money.  He signed sworn statements.  He received 3 months.  The Judge noted that the principles of denunciation would not be met with house arrest.”>

    CanLII Website

    Grant Henry Johnson (of British Columbia) received a 3 year jail sentence for falsely testifying that he had done an armed robbery in order to protect another person from being convicted.  He tried to claim Charter of Rights Protections within the Canada Evidence Act, but that defence failed.  Sentence was upheld on appeal.

    CanLII Website

    Waverly Kendall (of Newfoundland), in 2007, received a 3 month jail sentence after she signed a false statement claiming that she sold a car for $1000 (when it was actually for $6000), to lower the tax bill of the person who bought it.  She lied under oath at a judicial proceeding.



    4. Possible Penalties Under Canadian Law

    These are what Sollecito and Knox could have incurred.

    • Knox would have been charged with public mischief (cc 140) for falsely accusing Patrick of attacking Meredith.  Jail time for certain.
    • Knox would have been charged with public mischief (cc 140) for falsely accusing police of assaulting her.  Jail time very likely.
    • Given how contradictory Knox’s June 2009 testimony was, Mignini could probably have gone for perjury (cc 131). Jail time very likely.
    • Edda Mellas, if it could be proven she lied about Amanda’s phone call, could face perjury charges (cc 131). Jail time possible.
    • Sollecito, in 2011 appeal, said Amanda was at his apartment, but gave conflicting statements to police.  Perjury and jail time quite likely.
    • Rudy Guede, as his testimony changed, could have been charged with perjury (cc 131). Jail time very likely.
    • All of the claims of AK, RS and their supporters, if they sparked official investigations, could lead to additional charges of public mischief (cc 140).  Jail sentences possible for some.  Too numerous to list, but you get the idea

    Again, it really isn’t free speech ....

     

    Complete Listings

    1st post appears here:  An Overview.

    2nd post appears here:  Public Mischief and Perjury

    3rd post appears here:  Bail, Extradition & Other Crimes

    4th post appears here:  Canada v.s. the U.S.A. (Part 1)

    5th post coming soon: Canada v.s. the U.S.A. (Part 2)

    6th post coming soon:  Canada and our Family

    7th post coming soon:  Loose Ends, and Reader Request

    Posted on 02/05/15 at 08:59 AM by ChimeraClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
    Archived in Justice systemsOther systems
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    Wednesday, January 14, 2015

    Justice System Comparisons #1: If Meredith’s Murder Had Taken Place In Common-Law Countries

    Posted by Chimera



    Supreme Court Of Canada in the capital Ottawa

    Overview Of This Post

    Much has been made about the differences between the American and Italian criminal justice systems.

    This post offers some different perspectives, from the Canadian system, the one I know most about as I reside in Canada, as do many readers here. While I am not a lawyer, I do know a fair amount about the system here.  Enjoy this multi-part submission.

    I explain first the Canadian system, and then what would have happened to those accused of Meredith’s death under this system.  I am making no judgements as to which system is the best, as all have their pros and cons.  Please take this article as a source for broadening perspectives.

    Some History Of Our System

    a. Canada is part of the British Commonwealth.  Although the Queen of England is still our official head of state, and her representative, the governor general, the head of Canada’s military, the roles are largely figurative.

    b. Although most of Canada is governed by Common Law, from the British model, the province of Quebec uses its own regulations, based largely on the Civil Code from Napoleonic times. 

    c. Because of the differences in the Common Law and Civil Codes, by law, the Supreme Court of Canada MUST contain both judges from Quebec and from the other provinces.

    d. Although in the past cases settled in the Supreme Court of Canada could still be appealed to the UK, that is no longer the case.

    Is Criminal Law a Federal, Provincial, or Municipal matter?

    Criminal Law is made up, and amended exclusively by the federal government, however, administrating the courts, and trying cases is a provincial matter.  The rules spell out clearly what is a federal v.s. provincial responsibility.  Stepping outside these boundaries often leads to tension, and having the new rules struck down.

    Are prisons and probation/parole offices federal or provincial?

    It depends on the sentence.  A jail term of 2 years or more is a federal sentence, in which case federal corrections is put in charge of the person.  Naturally, these are for much more serious or repeat crimes.  A jail term (or conditional sentence) of under 2 years is a provincial sentence, and the respective province deals with the person.

    Probation and parole rules and regulations are set out differently, and it depends on what the person has received in terms of prison time.  If no prison time is given, then probation is the responsibility of the province.

    How Are Offences Classified?

    Offences in Canada are classified as such in the criminal code

    • 1. Summary Offences: Minor in nature, in America called a ‘‘misdemeanor’’
    • 2. Indictable Offences: Much more serious, in America called a ‘‘felony’‘
    • 3. Hybrid Offences: The prosecutor has discretion in how to proceed
    Who hears criminal appeals in Canada?

    The appeal will likely be heard in the province’s court of appeals, the provincal ‘‘top court’‘.  Please do not mistake ‘‘provincial supreme court’’ as being the top court, as it is not the same thing. 

    A trial court hears witnesses, while an appeals court is called a ‘paper court’.  It works from transcripts.

    1. Generally, there are 2 main trial courts, the lower court, and the higher (Superior or Supreme) court.  As the names imply, the lower courts generally take on less serious cases, while the higher courts take more serious cases, such as murder.

    2. If a case is tried summarily (a less designated case) and in the lower court, the case may be appealed to either the Provincial Court of Appeals, or to the High Court (Superior or Supreme)

    3. If a case is tried by indictment (felony), or in Superior/Supreme Court, then appeals MUST go to the Provincial Court of Appeals.

      (a) For example, a major case in Ontario will be tried in Ontario Superior Court, and if appealed, it will go to the Ontario Court of Appeals. 
      (b) For example, a major case in British Columbia will be tried in the BC Supreme Court, and if appealed, will go to the BC Court of Appeals.
      (c) Other provinces also have trial courts, then a court of appeals

    4 In any case, it may be further appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada

      For some perspective: Imagine Amanda Knox lived in Toronto, Ontario. 

      Her rock throwing riot in Seattle, if here would likely have landed her in the Ontario Court of Justice, and the prosecutors would likely have gone summarily against her, although a more serious charge (assault) would be a hybrid offence.  If she chose to appeal, the Superior Court (which is also a trial court), would likely hear her appeal.

      Her sexual assault and murder charges, if in Ontario, would automatically have been tried as indictable offences and she would be in Superior Court.  Her first appeal would be with the Ontario Court of Appeals

    5. A defendant has the right to appeal a criminal conviction to the provincial appeals court.  However, this is more like the U.S. than Italy, in that these appeals are not automatically granted.  The Court first has to determine that there is some merit to the appeal.  If it is baseless, it will be dismissed.  In the case of Knox and Sollecito, it would likely not be allowed to proceed.

    6. A defendant has the right to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada after a Provincial Court of Appeals rules.  However, the S.C.C. usually declines to intervene, unless the facts are extremely controversial, or of significance.  This is especially true if it is just a rehash of the Provincial appeal.

    What are your rights if arrested in Canada?

    Section 10 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms says that you have the right to be informed of the reason, the right to retain a lawyer without delay, and have the validity of the detention challenged by way of habeas corpus.

    Are people’s name shielded from press?

    In some circumstances

    • The person was a minor at the time of the offence (though an adult sentence annuls that protection)
    • In sexual assault cases, the victim(s) name(s) CANNOT be released publicly
    • In highly sensitive cases (like treason or terrorism)
    • If it would put someone in danger or compromise a witness
    Can you give press conferences or talk to the media if accused of a crime?

    While possible, this is not recommended.  For example, and appeals about adverse publicity or not being able to get a fair trial will not be taken seriously.  Also, contempt charges will be quite likely. 

    While the media does cover serious cases, the coverage has generally been pretty neutral in Canada.

    Can you write a book or get a movie deal?

    No these deals would be considered profit or proceeds from crime.

    Can you be forced to take the stand in Canada?

    As a defendant, no.  11(c) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects against forced self incrimination (in America, it is called ‘‘taking the 5th’‘).

    Interestingly enough, there are no real protections for witnesses who just don’t want to testify.

    Does Canada grant bail to accused criminals?

    Usually. 11(e) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that reasonable bail should not be denied without just cause.  In practice, this means unless the person is a flight risk, a threat to the public, or the offence is extremely shocking to the public, they can get bail.

    However, if a person has a prior criminal record, it becomes harder to get bail each time.

    Note: Bail hearings are usually done by J.P.s (Justices of the Peace).  They are not judges, but can make some legal decisions.  Bail decisions can usually be appealed to a judge,

    Does Canada have the ‘Double Jeopardy’ law?

    Yes and no.  Refer to 11(h) in the Charter or Rights and Freedoms.  It says that if a person is finally acquitted of the offence, or finally found guilty and punished, not to be tried again for the same offence.

    The key word here is finally, as in, all appeals have been exhausted.

    The appeal will likely be heard in the province’s court of appeals, the provincal ‘‘top court’‘.  Please do not mistake ‘‘provincial supreme court’’ as being the top court.  That is an American naming.  For example, a major case in Ontario will be tried in Ontario Superior Court, and if appealed, it will go to the Ontario Court of Appeals.

    If a person is convicted, and chooses to appeal, that case will likely be heard by the provincial court of appeals.

    Note: Notice of an appeal must generally be filed within 30 days of the verdict.  If no notice is filed, then the acquittal/conviction is considered final.

    Note: It is possible, but very rare for a prosecution to appeal an acquittal, or to appeal a Provincial Appeal Court ruling.  Basically, the prosecution must prove that the trial court (or first appeal court) made fundamental and very serious legal errors.  It cannot just be a another shot at a conviction.  The Appeal Court can then do many things, including sending it back for a retrial, amending the sentence, or throwing out a conviction.  Or it can confirm the acquittal.

    Does Canada have a plea bargaining system?

    Yes, Crown Prosecutors and defence attorneys can sign what is called a ‘‘joint submission’‘, and give it to the judge.  This is an agreement of the facts and sentence.  While judges usually accept these submissions, they are not obligated to, and can reject them if far too lenient or harsh.

    Can defendants testify or make spontaneous declarations?

    They can testify (and must be sworn in), but they cannot make the kind of challenge free remarks like in Italy.

    Does the short form trial exist in Canada?

    As in the 1/3 deduction… No.  However, judges routinely give breaks for guilty pleas, or for some kind of remorse or contrition.

    There is a diversion program, which is an alternative to going through the trial process (essentially getting treatment), but reserved for minor offences.  Sexual offences, or serious violent ones are not eligible.

    Do defendants awaiting trial get psychologically assessed?

    Sometimes, and it can happen for a few reasons

      (1) The defendant is pleading not criminally responsible (insanity)
      (2) The defence has applied for bail, but the judge has reservations about granting it
      (3) The defence wants to use it as a mitigating factor, or in sentencing
      (4) Prosecutors can request it, but this is rare
    Can an Appeals Court increase a jail sentence?

    This is extremely rare, but yes they can, if the opinion is that the trial judge simply went too soft.  A couple cases in Canada are these:

      Paul Coffin who pleaded guilty to 15 counts of fraud, related to the previous Liberal government.  He originally got house arrest, but it was overturned on appeal, and substituted for 18 months of real jail time.

      Graham James a notorious pedophile and infamous hockey coach who sexually abused his players.  He got 2 years at one trial, which the prosecution appealed, and had increased to 5 years (still very light though)

    Much more common though, is that an appeal will either be dismissed, of the judges will knock some time off the sentence.  Full reversals are not the norm.

    Do judges have to justify a conviction/acquittal and a sentence?

    Yes, in a bench trial (trial by judge), the judge does have to explain how he/she came to these conclusions.

    Yes, there are fairly rigid sentencing guidelines to follow, and (cc 718), follow these:

      (a) to denounce unlawful conduct
      (b) to deter the offender and others from committing similar conduct
      (c) to separate offenders from society, where necessary
      (d) to assist in rehabilitating offenders
      (e) to provide reparations for harm done to the victims and the community
      (f) to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgement of the harm done to victims and the community

    Note: Many serious offences have mandatory minimum jail sentences, which limit the discretion available to the judge.

    What is the punishment for killing someone in Canada?

    1. First degree murder:

    This is a premeditated murder, or happens during a sexual assault, or when the victim is restrained.

    Punishment: A life sentence, with no parole for 25 years (or 15 years under the ‘‘faint hope clause’‘)

    2. Second degree murder

    This is when the act is intentional, but not planned out

    Punishment: A life sentence, but the parole eligibility baseline ranges from 10 to 25 years.

    3. Manslaughter

    This is not an intentional killing, but happens while committing an illegal act

    Punishment: No mandatory minimum, but can get prison up to and including life.

    Note: There are other things, such as impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death, criminal negligence causing death, and the punishments are severe, but they do not apply here.

    (Quoted directly from the Canadian Criminal Code)


    Classification of murder

    231. (1) Murder is first degree murder or second degree murder.
    Marginal note:Planned and deliberate murder

    (2) Murder is first degree murder when it is planned and deliberate.
    Marginal note:Contracted murder

    (3) Without limiting the generality of subsection (2), murder is planned and deliberate when it is committed pursuant to an arrangement under which money or anything of value passes or is intended to pass from one person to another, or is promised by one person to another, as consideration for that other’s causing or assisting in causing the death of anyone or counselling another person to do any act causing or assisting in causing that death.
    Marginal note:Murder of peace officer, etc.

    (4) Irrespective of whether a murder is planned and deliberate on the part of any person, murder is first degree murder when the victim is
    (a) a police officer, police constable, constable, sheriff, deputy sheriff, sheriff’s officer or other person employed for the preservation and maintenance of the public peace, acting in the course of his duties;
    (b) a warden, deputy warden, instructor, keeper, jailer, guard or other officer or a permanent employee of a prison, acting in the course of his duties; or
    (c) a person working in a prison with the permission of the prison authorities and acting in the course of his work therein.
    Marginal note:Hijacking, sexual assault or kidnapping

    (5) Irrespective of whether a murder is planned and deliberate on the part of any person, murder is first degree murder in respect of a person when the death is caused by that person while committing or attempting to commit an offence under one of the following sections:
    (a) section 76 (hijacking an aircraft);
    (b) section 271 (sexual assault);
    (c) section 272 (sexual assault with a weapon, threats to a third party or causing bodily harm);
    (d) section 273 (aggravated sexual assault);
    (e) section 279 (kidnapping and forcible confinement); or
    (f) section 279.1 (hostage taking).

      So, without even proving intent to commit murder, Knox, Sollecito and Guede would have been guilty of first degree murder.  Meredith’s death happened under cc 231(5)(c), which is sexual assault with a weapon, cc 231(5)(d), which is aggravated sexual assault, and cc 231(5)(e), which is forcible confinement.

      Note: While in the case of AK/RS/RG, the sexual assault charge was combined with the murder charge, in Canada, aggravated sexual assault, cc 273, is an indictable offence, punishable by up to life in prison, and those convicted are registered sex offenders for life upon release.

      Other Punishments

      While Canada no longer has the death penalty, we do have something called a dangerous offender designation.  The prosecution applies for it, after a conviction, and a judge may or may not grant it.  Essentially, it is a special title, saying that the person presents a high risk to the public and should be locked up indefinitely.

      Many killers have gone received life sentences without the dangerous offender title, but many (violent) criminals have gotten the dangerous offender title without killing anyone.

      We also have ‘‘long term offender’’ designations, which are meant to keep someone on probation for a long time (up to 10 years).  These are usually reserved for sex offenders.

      So To The Probable Scenario In Canada

      If Knox, Sollecito and Guede had committed this crime in Canada, all of the following conditions would probably apply:

      • They would be arrested, would have to be informed why, and could contact an attorney as soon as they reached the police station

      • Because the murder happened during a sexual assault, while Meredith was restrained, it would be 1st degree murder

      • Because of the sexual assault and restraint, premeditation would not be necessary to prove 1st degree murder

      • They could apply for bail (before a J.P.), but under the circumstances, would likely be denied

      • They could appeal to a judge for a review of the bail, but again, would likely be denied

      • Because of the serious nature, the trial would be in the provinces Supreme/Superior Court

      • There is no fixed time before a trial would start.  Murder trials have been known to start 2-5 years after arrest

      • Defendants could testify against each other, and prosecutors could make deals with them

      • The kind of antics that went on in the 2009 trial would not be tolerated

      • The defendants could testify under oath, and be cross examined, but free statements are not allowed

      • If found guilty, all 3 would receive life sentences, and MUST serve 25 years before parole eligibilty.

      • There is ‘‘faint hope’’ which is parole after 15 years, but a murder like this would definitely not qualify

      • Because of the sexual assault component, they would be registered sex offenders for life

      • They would be prohibited from owning weapons for life

      • If any chose to appeal, it would go to the province’s Court of Appeals

      • They could apply for ‘‘Appeal Bail’‘, but it would likely be denied

      • If the Hellmann Appeal is any indicator, the appeal grounds are so weak the appeal would be dismissed

      • They could try the Supreme Court of Canada, and likely get declined


      In Conclusion

      This a brief overview of how criminal law works in Canada and how it could have worked in Meredith’s case. Quite smilar to the U.S., but then both systems are based on English Common Law.


      Complete Listings

      1st post appears here:  An Overview.

      2nd post appears here:  Public Mischief and Perjury

      3rd post appears here:  Bail, Extradition & Other Crimes

      4th post appears here:  Canada v.s. the U.S.A. (Part 1)

      5th post coming soon: Canada v.s. the U.S.A. (Part 2)

      6th post coming soon:  Canada and our Family

      7th post coming soon:  Loose Ends, and Reader Request

      Posted on 01/14/15 at 07:21 AM by ChimeraClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
      Archived in Justice systemsItalian systemOther systems
      Permalink for this postTell-a-FriendCase WikiPMF Org ForumPMF Net ForumComments here (9)

      Thursday, December 18, 2014

      The Dangers Of Not Extraditing Convicted Felons Labeled An Explosive Threat To Other People

      Posted by Peter Quennell



      Above: Sydney moslems leaving wreaths- for the non-moslems killed

      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.

      Reporting from NBC:

      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?















      Friday, November 14, 2014

      In A New Italy Case Involving A Foreign Student The UK Media Is Not Reporting The Full Facts

      Posted by Peter Quennell



      Above: Serena Bowes seen taking a selfie

      Overview Of The Case

      Rape is a devastating crime and if someone DID rape Serena Bowes in Florence he must be put away.

      Apart from this the UK media seems to be reporting her claims cautiously and unemotionally. But if they had checked with the Italian police, or even checked out Italian media reports, they would have found that Serena Bowes is leaving out key facts.

      The Claims By Serena Bowes

      The Daily Telegraph reported what Serena Bowes claims.

      The incident unfolded when Miss Bowes, who is in the second year of her fashion course, joined other students on a trip to Florence.

      She explained how she and a group of friends had been in a local nightclub when she began chatting to a man.

      She alleged that they had been heading to the VIP area when she was guided towards the unisex bathroom where the attack happened.

      Miss Bowes alerted staff from Newcastle College who accompanied her to the police station and to the local hospital.

      After returning to the UK she attempted to put the incident behind her as no one was charged in relation with the alleged offence.

      When she received a letter in Italian from the Florence Police she assumed it was an update on the case, but when she got it translated, was stunned to discover that she herself was facing charges.

      She said: “I thought it was done with and I could get on with my life. I didn’t think he was going to get prosecuted so I just wanted to get on with my life but this has brought everything back.

      “It doesn’t feel what actually happened is the problem anymore – it feels like that has actually been forgotten about.”

      The Daily Mail report additionally added this.

      ‘I will never go back to Florence because of what happened, never mind going to prison there.  ‘If I receive a prison sentence somewhere between four and 12 years my life will be over.’


      Real Facts In Italian Media

      The Italian media seems much further down the road and more fully informed.

      They have reported the details of the case the police have put before the supervising magistrate, and they have done some poking around of their own.

      The police are said to have investigated the allegations very diligently, but so far it is only his story that is holding up and not at all hers. CCTV cameras throughout the club (even apparently in the restroom) show no sign of her fighting off an attack.

      He is seen inside and exiting a restroom, but she does not appear to be in that room or at that same door with him. Many staff and customers in the club were interviewed, but none of them seem to have backed up her report.

      Medical examinations apparently showed no physical evidence on either of them of an attack.  And DNA swabs apparently showed none of his DNA on her or her DNA on him.

      Serene Bowes’s reasons for not going to a mere hearing to explain the question marks above do seem pretty lame. She has placed a big cloud over the guy who she fingered who has been in suspect status ever since.

      But now she shrugs off further help to the Italian police to nail him or clear him as being inconvenient or risky merely to her?

      “I just wanted to get on with my life.” Where have we heard that before?

      Update By Popper On The Rules

      Popper in a comment now explains this, which even more suggests that Serene Bowes would be advised to head back to Florence, that the letter she received (still not released) said nothing about 4-12 years, and that foreign press are too gullible or worse.

      On the case of Serena, we certainly need more details.  Simulation [of a crime] and calumny [accusing someone you know innocent of having committed a crime] are serious matters.

      If she is investigated magistrates have elements that obligated them to inform her of their suspects, it is an act for her protection. If video material exists I fear it must be explicitly against her version, but we do not know enough to be able to give an informed opinion.

      Version presented by some UK papers is uninformed and biased, as we have seen often in MK’s case.  Worst of all, it is exaggerated. An investigation is not a conviction, and if I were Serena [and a victim] I would certainly go there with a lawyer and explain the facts to exculpate myself and get the guilty convicted.

      In any case, the risk she ends up in jail is quite low.  It is fairly likely that, even if convicted for the above crimes [after a trial and 2 appeals], her sentence will be suspended, if statute of limitations does not kick in first.  It follows that her justification for not going back to explain herself to a judge is ridiculous.

      If she is lying and is guilty of simulation and calumny, it will be one of many cases, certainly not a surprise or uncommon.  Unfortunately many crimes are simulated every day, which makes more difficult and expensive the prosecution of real crimes.

      Posted on 11/14/14 at 01:21 PM by Peter QuennellClick here for my past posts, via link at top left.
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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.


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