Sunday, June 14, 2020

Global Justice Systems Lurch? Bottom Up?  What Italy Has Taught Us #1

Posted by Peter Quennell

Our Dog In This Fight

We long ago suggested that Meredith’s legacy could be some invaluable systems change.

And now sweeping justice systems change is in the air in the US, and to some extent elsewhere. As we have long documented in comparing Italy favorably with the US: it is really not before time.

Just about every TJMK post since mid 2008 has had as text or sub-text how investigators, prosecutors, courts and media have performed.

We learned a thing or two. For example windows of opportunity are periodic, Italy saw one after 1945, and the US is seeing a big one right now.

And though the job isn’t finished yet, Italy has refined its systems more than most and is already a global model. 

And especially, good change wont ever be created and sustained if the systems are not addressed directly.

The systems (which go under many other names too: playbook, protocol, procedure, process, app, skill, technique) should never simply be an afterthought of legislation or left to somebody else.

They really need help from all of us, in myriad teams, and they really are The Heavy Lift.

These are some of our many past posts checking out and comparing systems which have “system” or “systems” right in their headers.

Click for Post:  Impressive Public Push In Italy, Anti Crime, Pro Stronger Justice System

Click for Post:  Harvard Political Review Writer Alex Koenig Reproaches The Sliming of Italy’s Justice System

Click for Post:  Another US-Italian Case Shows The Utter Futility Of Trying To Strongarm The Italian Justice System

Click for Post:  Barbara Benedettelli: Campaigner For Victims And Families Says Italian System Denies Them Justice

Click for Post:  Italian Justice System Efficient And Uncontroversial In Other Prominent International Cases #1

Click for Post:  Italian Justice System Efficient And Uncontroversial In Other Prominent International Cases #2

Click for Post:  US Kidnapping Victim Gets Justice After 8 Years Despite Defense + Perp Groupies Gaming The System

Click for Post:  A Token Balance In The Italian System: The Voice In The Court For The Victim

Click for Post:  The Terrible Weight On The Victim’s Family Because The Italian System Is So Pro Defendant

Click for Post:  Italy’s Advanced, Effective, Humane Law & Order System Also Adopted By City Of New York

Click for Post:  Italy’s Unpopular Politicians And Mafia Fellow Travelers Against Italy’s Popular Justice System

Click for Post:  Why Numerous American JUDGES Favor The Supremely Neutral Italian Kind Of System

Click for Post:  PM Renzi’s Justice Reforms: One System-Change Need Strongly Suggested By Meredith’s Case

Click for Post:  Justice System Comparisons #1: If Meredith’s Murder Had Taken Place In Common-Law Countries (1 of 7 posts)

Click for Post:  Why Italy Doesnt Look For Guidance On Justice System From Foreign Smartasses

Click for Post:  Justice System Reform Is Suddenly Everywhere On The Front Burner

Click for Post:  Relevance Of The Ship Which Has Sunk In The Yangtze To National Justice System Upgrades?

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

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

Click for Post:  How Too Often Nobody Tunes In On A Faulty System Before It Spectacularly Goes Wrong

Click for Post:  Most-Watched COVID YouTube Explains The Many Rickety Systems That Have Let Us Down

Italian systems are among the global best. Crime and incarceration and recidivism are all very low. Opinion polls consistently show that the police and courts are trusted and well-liked. 

Ironically in Meredith’s case though the unique tilt toward extreme fairness helped to allow Sollecito and Knox to walk.

No other countries would have allowed automatic appeals on grounds so broad. The defense appeal case before the Fifth Chambers was huge and consisted very largely of innuendo and outright lies, which you can see reflected in the Fifth Chambers report.

Italy learns fast as explained in this post and the corrupt means the Knox and Sollecito teams used have already been made impossible going forward.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/14/20 at 08:25 PM in


Honor to brave Judge Falcone. He paid with his life to stop mafia criminal bullies and punks.

Another brave Italian judge was murdered, too, trying to stamp out these brutal unjust people: Cosa Nostra.

It takes the best to fight the worst.

Posted by Hopeful on 06/16/20 at 09:15 PM | #

Hi Hopeful. Yes a well deserved tribute. The story of the mafia assassination of Judge Falcone is briefly told in the YouTube here:

Over 100 police, prosecutors and judges have been assassinated in past decades to try to keep Italian justice at bay.

The good news is that they did not die in vain. Some mob systems are on the ropes. The Republic of Italy has to some extent won.

Within Italy the main three - Sicilian (Cosa Nostra), Calabrian (Ndranheta), and Neapolitan (Commora) - are shadows of their former selves, and have expanded abroad instead.

In the US the Italian mafias are history now, and in Canada, Sollecito’s uncle Rocco biting the dust in Montreal was the beginning of the end of the large and dangerous Rizutto family.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/16/20 at 11:26 PM | #

Malcolm Gladwell appeared on Newsnight being interviewed by Emily Maitlis last night.

Nothing to do with this case but a chance for him to talk about “Talking to Strangers”. I now get (I think) why he included a section on Knox in his book. He was asked by Emily whether he saw any link between today’s current popular movements i.e MeToo, Black Lives Matter etc and the themes about which he talked in his book. Yes he said. It was about Being Heard and the anger that is generated by not being listened to and not being taken seriously. For instance the civil rights struggle in Northern Ireland had been going on for decades but had been ignored, and that was the cause of the Troubles.

Yes, but a rather obvious and pedantic point.

Quite how this links to the section on Knox in his book remains somewhat opaque, but maybe he just liked the title to the book “Waiting to be Heard”?

Maybe he also identified with some of the anger issues in the book and amongst her supporters with whom he had obviously been in communication?

Posted by James Raper on 06/17/20 at 07:43 AM | #


The mafia have become more sophisticated and have found other ways to exert influence. They may be a shadow of their former brutish selves but that shadow is a long one and the mention of consequences can be enough to send shivers down the spine.

An eye-opening read I would recommend, is “Mafia Republic” by John Dickie.

From Wikipedia –

“Corruption in Italy is a major problem. In Transparency International’s annual surveys, Italy has consistently been regarded as one of the most corrupt countries in the Eurozone. Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perception Index ranks the country 54th place out of 180 countries.”

Maybe it is the manifestation of an over-fertile mind that I should consider the hiring of Bongiorno to represent his son by Francesco Sollecito with some suspicion, bearing in mind what may be family links with the Ndrangheta which, in Italy, is based in the Calabria region, in the toe of the country and next to Sicily, and the fact that Bongiorno is a native of Sicily, educated at Palermo University, and who eventually successfully represented the disgraced former Prime Minister Andreotti through multiple appeals against his conviction for mafia links and for conspiracy to murder

Posted by James Raper on 06/17/20 at 07:53 AM | #

Hi James, on Gladwell, good catch, and very interesting.

As you know, that book wasn’t really about being heard, it was about how one should not trust what one hears, which is sort of opposite.

Maybe after quite a lot of criticism for that theme, see the one-star Amazon reviews, he is opportunistically re-tooling on BBC TV?!

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/17/20 at 08:07 AM | #

Hi James,

Yes it’s widely perceived in Italy that the mafias had several fingers in the pie in Meredith’s case, as did the US Department of State.

Quite separate from that, though, Sollecito has managed to get across that he had no motive, was not the instigator of the attack, did not wield the final blow, and was an accidental murderer at most. So his unsavory relatives were actually a force for justice here.

In victimology he could teach Knox a thing or two. Her reputation in Italy is mostly one of opportunistic trash, and increasingly that’s the case here too.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/17/20 at 08:16 AM | #

@James Raper: Bongiorno proudly currently occupies Andreotti’s old office.  He is her hero.

Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t really deal with facts, he is more of an intuitive sort of writer, although I haven’t read his latest.  Problem with ‘good writers’ is that ‘good writers’ tend to be outspoken, or rather, provocative (for example Susan Sontag or Camille Paglia).  I never much agree with Christopher Hitchens but enjoy his books as he is so funny.

I haven’t read Talking With Strangers but I dare say it’ll be food for thought.

Posted by KrissyG on 06/17/20 at 09:04 AM | #

Hi KrissyG

“Bongiorno proudly currently occupies Andreotti’s old office.  He is her hero.”

Of course Bongiorno and the others on Andreotti’s team LOST his case (by extreme coincidence in Perugia where Rome corruption cases are often tried).

She lost to then prosecutor Chiari who, it is believed, she manipulated off Meredith’s case as the lead appeal judge, in favor of Hellman, in 2010.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/17/20 at 09:40 AM | #

How did the mafias first arise? One new theory is this.

First, a slow decline in wealth over 2000 years as southern Italy dried out sure helped.

Which then created a great climate and terrain for growing oranges and lemons. In southern Italy you see them everywhere.

Which in turn created a new source of wealth as vitamin C deficiency - scurvy - afflicted many or most ships.

Which created cutthroat growing monopolies - and so the first of the mafias were born. 

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/17/20 at 10:32 AM | #

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