Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Real Catastrophe For The Defenses That Was The Chieffi Supreme Court Ruling

Posted by Machiavelli

1. Overview

On Tuesday March 26, nine judges of the Rome Supreme Court of Cassation led by the respected Dr Chieffi quashed the previous acquittals of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito for the murder of Meredith Kercher.

The Supreme Court annulled almost the entirety of the 2011 Hellmann-Zanetti appeal verdicts, declaring the appeal outcome completely invalid on five of the six charges. The Court only upheld the sixth charge which made definitive Knox’s conviction for calunnia for which she had been sentenced to three years.

Calunnia is the crime of maliciously placing false evidence or testimony against an innocent person, something the Italian Criminal Code considers not as criminal defamation but as a form of obstruction of justice, a more serious offence. 

Worse for Knox, the Court annulled a part of the appeal verdict which had dropped the aggravation known as continuance, the aggravation that acknowledges a logical link between the obstruction of justice and the murder charge.   

2. First reactions

Once the dust has settled, the defendants and pro-Knox and pro-Sollecito supporters and defences may finally realize how severe a defeat has been dealt to their side. 

Most American journalists were completely unprepared for and very surprised at the outcome. But most Italian commenters and a very few others elsewhere considered the outcome quite predictable (the criminologist Roberta Bruzzone for example hinted so in written articles, so did Judge Simonetta Matone, as well as John Kercher in his book, and many others too).

This really is a catastrophe for the defences. A complete annulment of an acquittal verdict is just not frequent at all. They do occasionally occur, though, and this one appeared easily predictable because of the extremely low quality of the appeal verdict report. 

For myself I could hardly imagine a survival of the Pratillo Hellmann-Zanetti outcome as being realistic.

I previously posted at length on the Galati-Costagliola recourse (that is an important read if you want to understand all angles of the annulment). I argued there that a Supreme Court acceptance of the verdict would have so jeopardized the Italian jurisprudence precedents on circumstantial evidence that it would have become impossible to convict anyone in Italy at all. 

The previous appeal trial obviously violated the Judicial Code as it was based on illegitimate moves such the appointing of new DNA experts for unacceptable reasons.  It contained patent violations of jurisprudence such as the unjustified dismissal of Rudy Guede’s verdict on a subset of the circumstantial evidence. Hellmann-Zanetti even “interpreted” the Constitution instead of quoting Constitutional Court jurisprudence.

They omitted a number of pieces of evidence, literally “forgetting” them or dismissing them without providing an argument (they should have, being an appellate trial based on the previous findings and arguments of the lower court). The appeal trial had obvious illogical contradictions on a macro level, such as the contradictory putting together of the conviction for calunnia and the acquittal on the murder charge (ignoring a logical link required by statute without introducing any reason at all). 

The Hellmann-Zanetti verdict was also based on an illogical processing of all pieces of evidence (such as the dismissal of Nara Capezzali’s evidence without logical reason, even after calling her “credible,” and that of Quintavalle; and attributing the bloody footprint to Rudy Guede on the basis of some ludicrous reasoning).

The appeal verdict basically ignored the concept of “a contrario” evidence, like concluding that the luminol footprints are probably not in blood but in some other substance and not related to the murder (despite failure to indicate any alternative substance nor any reasonable scenario).

The verdict was also biased with open prejudice in favor of two of the suspects in assuming they would be unlikely to even socialize or hang out together with the third, based on social or racial discrimination (two whites from good-looking families are called “good fellows” while the third is “different”). 

Beyond the glaring, major faux pas in procedure, the verdict’s low quality, unlawfulnesses, and hypocrisy in its reasoning tended to be pervasive and obvious through all its paragraphs, and possibly this also could have caused an aura of distrust toward the work of the Hellmann-Zanetti court. 

One could assess the strikingly low quality of the appeal verdict especially by comparing it to a sophisticated recourse such as the 100-page Galati-Costagliola Supreme Court appeal. While nobody could anticipate with total certainty the Supreme Court decision between the Galati-Costagliola appeal and the Pratillo Hellmann-Zanetti appeal verdict, to good legal eyes the outcome would be as uncertain as the result of an England versus San Marino football game!

EACH of the eleven single mistakes, plus EACH of the six “method” mistakes pointed out in the Galati-Costagliola recourse could by itself have been a sufficient cause for the annulment of the acquittals.

The redundancy of reasons and remarks by Cassation sheds light on the judgment shortcomings from many different angles, and all the reasons presented for the recourse were certainly assessed by the Supreme Court. 

But on the practical side, most probably the Hellmann-Zanetti verdict did not even survive beyond the first mistake. The appeal verdict most likely crumbled completely from the very beginning on reason #1, the illegitimate appointing of new experts by Hellmann-Zanetti to re-examine the DNA.   

But even given that the defences’ defeat could be foreseen, I never expected the defeat to pervade to this extent.

I thought the appeal verdict might be quashed entirely and a new appeal would start from scratch. But the Supreme Court went further and decided to “save” only the parts of the verdict that were unfavorable to Knox, and declared her conviction for calunnia definitive.

Meanwhile, the Court accepted the Calati-Costagliola reason #10, and quashed the part that denied a logical link between calunnia and murder.
The Supreme Court thus sends Raffaele Solecito and Amanda Knox back to appeal trial, but this time Amanda Knox will enter the trial as a felony convict with a definitive criminal record, which ““ the Supreme Court hints ““ is to be considered logically linked with the charge of murder. 

Moreover, judges in the appeal that will come next in Florence will have to follow the decisions set by the Supreme Court. Since the Supreme Court’s motivations report has not been issued yet, we still don’t know what points exactly Cassazione will make. But we can expect that several arguments used by Pratillo Hellmann-Zanetti that were “needed” to acquit Knox and Sollecito will be now declared illegitimate. 

This might mean that we will not see for a second time such faulty reasoning as “Knox’s statement can’t be used as evidence of lying because it is not true.” It may not be possible to dismiss the verdict that found Guede guilty of concurring in murder “with others” from the set of evidence just because it was “weak.” It may not be possible to deduce the time of death based only on declarations of Rudy Guede. 

We also may not have a chance to again see an expert declaring that contamination is “likely” on the sole basis that “everything is possible.” We also may not have another judge attributing footprints without talking about any measurements.

The Supreme Court session began on March 25, and it is only a rare event that a Cassazione session extends over into two days.

The first criminal division of the Supreme Court ““ scheduled to decide on this case ““ was a five-judge panel presided over by Dr Severo Chieffi. His name never did sound like a particularly favorable omen for Knox and Sollecito. Dr Chieffi is a 70-year-old judge, known for being the author of a famous 2008 verdict which definitively closed a notorious criminal case (“the first time a Cassazione hearing attracted massive live media attention”), a verdict among the most quoted in jurisprudence which is known as that “on reasonable doubt.” 

Dr Chieffi and his nine-judge panel explained reasonable doubt as to be intended as an “a contrario” concept, the concept used to formulate a logical reasonable alternative. That verdict pointed out the concept of “reasonable” and also stressed that the nature of evidence is “logical”. “Reasonable” depends only on the plausibility of alternatives, not on how conclusive or reliable single pieces of circumstantial evidence are, and a piece of evidence does not require any specific “physical” element or conclusive quality.   

The rapporteur judge was Dr Piera Maria Severina Caprioglio. The rapporteur judge goes through the papers of the whole trial and summarizes their content to the other panel judges; the rapporteur and the president are the two who physically write the report (it may sound like irony that both judges have the adjective “severe” in their name). I was told Dr Caprioglio was a rather stiff judge, known for her scrupulosity in procedure matters, and she is also a specialist “and hard liner“ about sexual crime (maybe that’s why she was chosen by Dr Chieffi as the one to do the research on this case). 

At the Supreme Court there is also an office known as the Office of Procurator General, which has more than 50 magistrates. The Procurator General appoints a magistrate (normally called the “PG”) to study cases and to make arguments on all cases dealt with in Supreme Court sessions. The PG is considered “neutral” in the sense that their office represents no party only the “precedents” of the court. While the rapporteur makes a description of the case, the procurator makes arguments about the recourses submitted by the parties. 

At 10:30 am on Monday, Judge Caprioglio begun her 90-minute speech summarizing the case. She detailed legal events that led to the first Massei-Cristiani verdict, and then the appeal trial led by Hellmann-Zanetti and their verdict. 

She sounded rather neutral; hers was a sheer summary with no comment attached. Nevertheless, it sounded most ominous for the defences: right from Dr Caprioglio’s speech, in fact, Knox and Sollecito’s attorneys understood that they were going to lose. 

This is because Dr Caprioglio devoted half of her rapporteur time or more to detailing Massei’s first degree trial and verdict, explaining the arguments and evidence used by the Massei court. Such attention was itself ominous to the defences. 

A main basis of the Pratillo Hellmann-Zanetti verdict is in fact a series of denials about the work of the lower court, in which plenty of evidence was simply ignored or dismissed without dealing with the first degree conclusions; while the strategy of Giulia Bongiorno was to entirely “replace” the details of the evidence set with a self-made narrative, quite unattached to actual trial events, which somewhat “worked” as rhetoric and in the media.

Yet Dr Caprioglio was not yet the biggest problem facing Knox and Sollecito. The defence was about to face a pincer front, because the Procurator General’s offices did not appreciate the appeal verdict at all.

A bomb went off with the speech of Procurator Riello which followed next. 

Dr Riello recalled the points of recourse submitted by Galati-Costagliola, which may sound technical or subtle to those unaccustomed to them. Dr Riello endorsed the radical censures made by Galati-Costagliola and made clear his own view in an overview of the whole verdict. His arguments had the subtlety of an anvil. 

To summarize, he basically maintained the appeal judges had conducted an appeal trial as if they were idiots, and followed the paths of logic, procedure and law like sailors without a compass.
Seen from the point of view of the Procurator General, their way of conducting the appeal trial itself was like a journey through a dreadful series of unlawful steps, decisions informally taken without deliberation, and arbitrary and unjustified ordinances. The court simply “lost their way.”

In the body of their findings, it seems they understood almost nothing about the evidence ““ in particular about how circumstantial evidence works. They did not deal with the findings and arguments of the first instance court as they should have, as if they didn’t exist, and they trivialized the previous legal material. 

In fact Dr Riello sounded almost sarcastic; outraged by the incredibly amateurish work of this appeal court, he tended to detail the merit of questions and was interrupted by the president asking him to stick to the discussion on the table. 

At the close of his speech, he called the appeal verdict “a rare concentration of law violation, a monument to illogicality.” He said “the judge of merit lost their way in this trial.” Dr Riello noted “they fragmented, they parceled out the pieces of circumstantial evidence.”

He implied not only incompetence but a kind of disingenuous attitude: “The Court employed a fair dose of snobbism for trivializing the first degree verdict, reducing it to four elements. A very imprecise and superficial synthesis.”

He went beyond the criticism expressed in the Galati-Costagliola appeal when he described an obvious bias of the appeal court “not in just a few passages of the second instance verdict ““ it’s as if the defendants should benefit from a kind of anthropological and cultural immunity, in relation to the events.”

He criticized Pratillo Hellmann’s dismissal of Amanda Knox’s handwritten memoir, and recommended that a new appeal trial must in part be based on that statement as “it is a usable document”; and he stressed that in his opinion “the scream heard by Amanda is a significant datum, of great importance.” The behavior claimed by Knox on the morning of November 2, 2007 in his view was “chilling” and her taking a shower in a cold bathroom is a “chilling detail.” 

Dr Riello concludes by saying: “These are all conditions for not letting the curtains close on an upsetting and extremely serious crime for which the only culprit found up to the present day is Rudy Hermann Guede, who has been addressed through a Lombroso-style assessment, either calling him a thief, a criminal or a drifter. He didn’t confess and he was not convicted by another court for concurring in a crime together with others, maybe with ‘ectoplasms.’” (A reference to Cassation’s previous decision that he did commit the crime with others, but Hellmann-Zanetti identified no other people; hence ‘ectoplasms.’)

The Prosecutor General also dealt with the DNA experts’ report which defined the previous results as “unreliable.” He implied that the report and its language were used as a pretext by the defences “as a tombstone, while in fact it is not.” It was used as a tool to focus the trial on the DNA and steer it away from the whole evidence set, to “bury the set of pieces of circumstantial evidence which all have their vital value.”

The rhetoric of the defences aimed to “blame everything on those involved in the scientific police who are almost depicted as bunglers; however they are not brigadiers playing with toy chemical sets, they are in fact a highly qualified department and they do employ cutting-edge technologies.”

A severe legal bashing like the Riello speech is not at all common at the Cassazione. As I heard the news on the radio, law experts commented that the event was unusually serious, and they hinted that its consequences may lead to the setting of a historic jurisprudence precedent.

Francesco Maresca ““ who brought his mentor Vieri Fabiani with him ““ endorsed the recourse points and made points similar to Dr Riello’s. He pointed out that a major flaw of the appeal trial was to focus on two DNA instances as if the case was based on them. The court appointed experts to review items with no legitimate basis, they provided an inconsistent explanation for their steps, and then they refused to analyze and introduce further evidence, totally contradicting themselves and also violating the code.

Their criteria for choosing which piece of evidence to discuss or review were totally contradictory, and their series of steps egregiously violated a series of procedural conditions that any court is supposed to follow.

The analyzing of the knife DNA sample and bra clasp sample as pieces in isolation is a sort of device that serves a defence made-up narrative; the focus on “disputed” items and the re-make of a narrative about legal events is simply a defence strategy which is aimed at the media rather than official court proceedings. For the Kercher family, the evidence points to the guilt of Knox and Sollecito beyond reasonable doubt. 

The evidence, explained Maresca, consisted of numerous pieces of evidence and reasoning, that were simply not dealt with by the appeal court. The whole process was “non-transparent” and the result is also contradictory given that Knox is indicted by her own words on the crime of calunnia.

Maresca explained that the appeal verdict is riddled with many flaws and errors in the merit of the facts which cannot be assessed by the Cassazione court, but there are also patent violations of law which are “strong and obvious” and of the most serious kind.

Then it was the defence attorneys’ turn. Giulia Bongiorno knew she would need to apply the full power of her best rhetorical skills: she pointed out a factual error in the recalling of Prosecutor Riello and threw herself head-first into the merit of the evidence. 

She even made FOA-style overstatements on the number of Guede’s DNA instances: “So many genetic traces of Rudy Guede were found in the bedroom of the murder, Amanda and Raffaele’s DNA would have been found too if they had been there.” (Her claim is false: in fact, only four samples yielding Guede’s DNA were found in the bedroom, and some were very scant.)
Bongiorno focused on investigation mistakes and complained that Raffaele Sollecito “was put in jail because of a shoe print found beyond the duvet which covered the body, a print that was attributed to Guede.” She also commented on Knox’s handwritten memoir and again put forward the claim ““ already rejected by all the judges of all instances ““ that the statement should be “not usable” because there was a “blackout” of defendant guarantees. Apparently, Bongiorno did understand that the most dangerous threat, and the actual battleground, would be about the danger of having Knox now definitively convicted for calunnia. 

Bongiorno said “we do not want to put the scientific police on trial” but then said the point defence demonstrated was that they made “an infinite series of errors.” In fact, Bongiorno’s speech largely consisted of the well-known defense stance of pointing the finger at a list of supposed wrong-doings by the police.

Bongiorno’s argument of pointing out supposed “police mistakes” would probably ring true to Knox’s Amarican supporters, who may find these arguments convincing and effective. 

In fact, it was obvious that Bongiorno’s position was extremely weak, and that her arguments were not going to have any effect. The weakness of Bongiorno’s arguments was obvious from the start because she backed into arguing the case only on the merit of investigation techniques. 

Her arguments would maybe resonate effectively with uninformed spectators, but they had already failed in those courts that were legitimate, and they have no consequence from a legal standpoint. Talking about supposed mistakes during the investigation and supposed bad behavior of police are good to build a narrative for journalists, but they would have zero effect on expert judges. 

I think she knew she was going to lose, but besides being a lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno is also a smart public person, and she plays in the public arena as well as in a court of law at the same time. Her technical stances are all wrong, but she knows she will be remembered well for her good-looking performance. 

The president did not interrupt her, showing due politeness toward the defence attorneys. But no attorney would convince the Supreme Court by simply saying “we demonstrated that the investigators made mistakes.”

In order to seek to obtain some positive effect, she should have argued in favor of the Pratillo Hellmann-Zanetti appeal verdict on points of law, and put forward arguments for their legitimacy; for example, an argument in response to point #1 of Galati’s recourse claiming that the appointing of DNA experts was unmotivated.

Luciano Ghirga and Carlo Dalla Vedova had to take care of their own recourse against the conviction for calunnia on the false accusation of Patrick Lumumba. Their line of defence on this point was the same ““ and could be nothing else ““ than what they maintained though all the previous instances. Dalla Vedova deals with the handwritten note where he understands “Amanda says she is confused, she does not care about what she said.”

They reintroduced the myth that “she had been interrogated by the investigators for 54 hours.” They explain ““ almost a paradoxical argument ““ that the document was “a defensive paper” while then becoming one of the elements on which the charge of calunnia was built. They stressed that “she wanted to cooperate” with the investigation and that “she was a friend of Meredith.” 

A failure of their arguments was easily predictable because their recourse was built on points that had already failed at lower instances. Some time ago before this appeal, I posted this criticism of the Ghirga-Dalla Vedova recourse on Knox’s calunnia conviction to the Supreme Court:

Pages 3-11: The first argument is about the non-usability of the evidence for the crime of calunnia.

Such an argument is basically the re-proposal of the same argument that had been already dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2008, and subsequently by Massei-Cristiani in 2009 and also by Pratillo Hellmann-Zanetti. Therefore, it is an especially weak argument. Ghirga-Dalla Vedova do attempt to use it again at the Supreme Court because it is what they have.

Just like Giulia Bongiorno will likely recall it too, just like she attempted to request of nullification of Stefanoni’s testimony on procedure grounds before Massei, which was rejected again by Hellmann-Zanetti (the Knox supporters have such a spun perception of the proceedings, they apparently don’t see how some basic defensive claims were rejected by all judges).

Pages 11-14 complete the first argument, addressing the further requirements of the crime of calunnia (maliciousness and voluntarity). 

Basically, this point contends that the false accusation was not voluntary or not malicious. The only usable point in my opinion in this reasoning consists of one line, which recalls that Hellmann-Zanetti did not acknowledge the aggravation of continuance for the crime of calunnia. But this point has no consequence because it is a weak point in Hellmann’s verdict itself which violates jurisprudence and logic itself.

The other claims at this point are basically useless; they attack the Hellmann verdict in a way peculiar to the prosecution appeal with an opposite stance. But in fact “not knowing” that someone is factually innocent obviously cannot be extended to an absolute meaning; Hellmann is illogical on that, because he dismisses the logical link with the murder without explanation. 

Pages 14-18 speak about the alleged “extreme exhaustion” of Knox in order to exculpate her of her confusion and falsehood.

This argument tends to be a stronger attempt to use some of the contradiction in Pratillo Hellmann-Zanetti, using as a starting point the fact that H-Z did state that Knox was allegedly under excessive pressure. They convicted her for calunnia nonetheless. I think this argument won’t go too far, for two reasons.

First, because it’s basically on the merits; it quotes the whole writing of Knox and requests the SC to directly re-assess the sincerity of her words, something which the SC are unlikely to do.

Second, because while on the one hand there is a contradiction in H-Z as they accuse her of calunnia but do not use her writings as an evidence of lying on the other crime, and they reject the continuance despite the obvious link between the calunnia and the murder, on the other hand the contradiction addressed by Ghirga is weaker. There was in fact no factual finding about “excessive pressure,” neither in the H-Z appeal trial nor in previous Massei testimonies.

As for jurisprudence, pressure and “psychological alteration” itself is not enough to cause a loss of mental faculties to understand and will. Basically, most crimes are committed in a state of psychological stress or alteration, and people are responsible for themselves notwithstanding. The faculty to understand and will is not a psychological condition; it is something that affects the cognitive and decisional functioning of the brain on more basic functions, and requires a medical assessment.

So there is no way the argument of Ghirga-Dalla Vedova can overturn a conviction for calunnia based on an argument of psychological conditions: they have no basis; and there is no consistent ground to assert “excessive pressure” either. 

Pages 19-20 is a very short argument about two articles of the code that Ghirga puts in in relation to a case of defensive rights. 

This is an argument I am unable to assess clearly. This point basically claims Knox is somehow protected by the law because of an extension of her rights of defence. I have the feeling this point is wrong, because the boundaries of the right to defend oneself are already fixed and limited by a SC ruling of 2008, and because Article 51 only applies to what she declared as a defendant, but not to what she declared as a witness.

Pages 20-22 is only about the sentencing and not about innocence; it claims that, anyway, even if Amanda is guilty of calunnia, the punishment was too stiff and this severity was not logically motivated by Hellmann. This point is the only that could stand, in my opinion.

After the hearing of March 25 ““ which was the ninth case the Supreme Court panel dealt with that day ““ the panel deliberated for six hours, then adjourned the hearing and scheduled the final decision for the following morning.

The question whether to annul the verdict entirely, or to confirm the calunnia conviction, might have been the cause of some of the extra time needed. 

When the Supreme Court has to deal with scheduled cases the relator puts a mark ““ between 1 and 8 ““ indicating the difficulty of the case: 1 is the easiest and 8 is very complex. 

Almost all recourses are below 3, while a case like the one on the Narducci investigation a week earlier, involving Mignini, could have been closer to 8. The difficulty of this case is unknown. But because of some sensitive jurisprudence involved and because of the articulation of the recourses, this could have been around 6 or higher.

After retirement of the court, and adjournment to the subsequent day, at 10 am on March 26, the court’s dispositivo was the following:


Thus, Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are sent back to appeal trial in Florence on all charges related to the rape and murder of Meredith Kercher (a, b, c, d, e). And Knox is definitively declared guilty of the obstruction of justice charge known as calunnia, while the argument denying any logical link between the calunnia and the murder is quashed.

Resources used

The article above draws in part upon a translation into English of news information published by various Italian press sources, which our readers may like to look at directly. A good coverage of the case ““ including Riello’s speech ““ was broadcast by RaiNews 24 and they also have a lot of information on the website. Online updates were provided by Televideo. Commentaries and discussions were hosted on Radio1 - GR Rai. Dr Riello’s comments were reported by Il Fatto Quotidiano and There were reports on Libero Also details and chronicles were reported at the end of the day by Il Giornale dell’Umbria. Coverage and the quotes for March 25 were provided by AGI. The dispositivo official document was obtained and published by Andrea Vogt.



We have a case roadmap in the works but we’d like to jump the gun and credit posters who worked hard to demonstrate that this appeal overturn was very strongly in the cards. 

Due credit to Yummi for his very demanding analysis of the Galati appeal which he posted in August 2012.

Due credit to James Raper and Kermit for the jumbo Powerpoint which shows what the case really looks like.

Due credit to James Raper for his posts questioning whether Hellmann-Galati got it right.

Due credit to Cardiol for his posts questioning whether Hellmann-Galati got it right.

Due credit to Fly By Night for showing how the DNA consultants did incompetent work.

Due credit to the Machine for showing how the PR campaign was putting forward dishonest experts to support the H-Z report.

Due credit to brmull for posting a first analysis of Galati and showing the PR campaign was putting forward dishonest experts to support the H-Z report..

And due credit to many in other posts in this rea, and in hundreds of reader comments.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/04/13 at 07:00 AM | #

This is an incredibly comprehensive, intelligent analysis of the state of play. Thank you, Yummi.

Posted by Skeptical Bystander on 04/04/13 at 07:29 AM | #

I’m just hopeful that the media will read through that post in its entirety before they do any more reporting.

It’s just shameful how wrong so much of the mainstream reporting has been - and all because reporters got attached to a narrative spun by people who were paid to obscure the truth.

The fact that the trial was in Italian should have meant that English-speaking reporters would put more emphasis on source documents, but in a weird way, I think it caused them to listen harder to the spinners.

Hopefully, they’ll learn. 

Meanwhile, Gogerty-Marriott is bragging about the work they’ve done in a way that to me borders on PR malpractice (if only) and certainly has put their client in a terrible position. 

Blowback is really, really hard to recover from and the people who fell for the Innocent Abroad narrative are likely to start feeling burned.

This always should have been a story about an inexplicable crime and strong evidence, and what the PR folks failed to communicate is that there is a LOT of evidence.

Posted by Media Watcher on 04/04/13 at 08:35 AM | #

Wow!! This is one of the most comprehensive explanations I have read on the process and it really helped me understand the complexities of the case. I have absolutely no understanding of the legal world but even to me, it was pretty obvious that Hellman’s logic did not make any sense. This article has given me a good understanding of all that was wrong. I am going to read it a few more times. Thank you Yummi.

Posted by Sara on 04/04/13 at 09:00 AM | #

Just read this fantastic article by Ann Coulter on dailycaller:

I notice that the media coverage is becoming less and less positive about AK and RS. Most of the outlets are now either neutral or unsupportive of them, given that it is no longer possible to ignore the truth.

The only articles still bleating about innocence and evil prosecution are the ones on GroundReport which does not count as anything other than trash anyway.

Posted by Sara on 04/04/13 at 09:13 AM | #

Thank you Yummi for your brilliant account of the correction of an historic miscarriage of justice.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 04/04/13 at 09:58 AM | #

Kudos, Yummi.  You’d been writing this all along on various sites but it finally all comes together.

I doubt the people supporting Knox and Sollecito understand the gravity of the calunnia conviction or the emphasis on the hand-written note of 06-NOV-2007. 

The appeal court at Florence will likely be better equipped to assess all the evidence that convicted Knox and Sollecito at the first trial.

Posted by Stilicho on 04/04/13 at 11:03 AM | #

Thanks Yummi!  You’re awesome!

Posted by zinnia on 04/04/13 at 11:11 AM | #

@Sara’s Ann Coulter article

Once again thanks to Sara for this post. Ann Coulter has a comprehensive grasp of the case. She is attacking a CNN report carelessly supportive of Amanda & shreds it piece by piece.

Journalism like this & recent remarks by Alan Dershowitz, whom she mentions in closing, may augur a shift in American reporting.

Posted by Ernest Werner on 04/04/13 at 12:14 PM | #

Thank you Yummi great piece.

Very informative and easy to follow also very damming for the two defendants.

Posted by Jeffski1 on 04/04/13 at 03:40 PM | #

Outstanding summary by Yummi. Knox will not escape this time, given the linking between calunnia conviction and murder charges.


Posted by Smacker on 04/04/13 at 03:45 PM | #

Outstanding piece! I’m hopeful this will help correct the misunderstanding the media have about this case.

Posted by louiehaha on 04/04/13 at 05:54 PM | #

An epic overview, but when will we be discussing “saving face” and the “satanic cult witch hunts” that form the foundation of the Italian legal system - according to some observers?

Posted by Fly By Night on 04/04/13 at 06:13 PM | #

Great work. Yummi spots the same futile traces here of the destructive mingling of the PR and the law that we posted upon just below.

A note for Curt Knox and David Marriott:  It. Just. Doesnt. Work.

Not in Italy at least. It confuses the defense lawyers and debases the very arguments which they need to convince hard-nosed judges in court.

The Hellmann Zanetti appeal didnt HAVE to take a whole year.

That was very hurtful to the Kerchers who could hardly fly to Italy every second or third Saturday, and it allowed time for conspiracy theories to fester and the perps and their families to build up false hopes.

The first appeal could have been over in a few days. The Kerchers could have been there the whole time. Cassation could have concluded the process in mid 2011, and Knox and Sollecito would not have written their damaging books which might incur them extra time.

Now they seem worse off in every possible way - they are back even beyond Square One, and now their lawyers are sounding like FOA clowns. If they dont attend the appeal there will be no warmth for them in the room - they should consider the exact opposite: confess, and try to show real contrition to Meredith’s family and the court.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/04/13 at 06:22 PM | #

I would like to ask a question about the decision: What (if any) is the significance of absorbing the sexual assault charge into to murder charge?

Posted by louiehaha on 04/04/13 at 06:43 PM | #

WOW!!!...what an article, you have got to read this….....

Posted by starsdad on 04/04/13 at 07:11 PM | #

@starsdad thanks for posting. Powerful stuff and incredible to see the change in the media.

Posted by TruthWillOut on 04/04/13 at 07:47 PM | #

Thank you Yummi for taking the time to lay it all out in such a clear way.

Powerful stuff! And thank you too to Kermit and James Raper and Cardiol and Peter and Skeptical Bystander and Media Watcher (and all who contribute) for your informative and clarifying posts about the facts of this case, Italian jurisprudence and this horrifying PR campaign that takes an evil, distorts it then magnifies it by perpetuating the lies ad nauseam.

In gratitude, Carlos.

Posted by carlos on 04/04/13 at 07:51 PM | #

Thank you, Yummi, for such a comprehensive explanation of the Supreme Court process and decision.  Extremely informative, and I do hope that journalists decide to read it before they write any more misinformed “innocent abroad” stories.

Posted by Vivianna on 04/04/13 at 08:31 PM | #

Very interesting article from 2009

Posted by TruthWillOut on 04/04/13 at 08:38 PM | #

and great credit to you Peter for your untiring effort, bringing us all back time and again in the belief that justice will prevail.

Posted by shavournia on 04/04/13 at 10:06 PM | #

Much of it, it seems to me, would need to turn on Judge Micheli’s report.  We hear Massei but how is Micheli’s report regarded?  Because in itself, it would almost convict the two.

Posted by James Higham on 04/04/13 at 10:21 PM | #

True, James

The 4 sections of “Understanding Micheli”, who was Guede’s Trial-Judge, incriminates all 3 perps.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 04/04/13 at 10:31 PM | #

Thank you so much Yummi for providing such an excellent article. Great work!

This post is a must read for those people who at best have been relying solely on the poor reporting of the US media or at worst on the constant supply of fantasy tales by the Amanda Knox PR agency and the nasty nonsense spread by her weird Groupies.

Anyone with common sense ought to understand the suspects own families, a paid up PR agent, their Fans and in particular those whose main objective was to take sides with the accused in order to profit by publishing some biased book based on falsehoods or somehow, in hope of that’s how their 15 minutes of fame must come…

Well, for obvious reasons, nothing these people write or say should ever be used as a point of reference or be considered as a good source of factual information on the case. Shame on those lazy reporters that all they do is copy-paste the pro-suspects spun nonsense.

Why does a suspect if innocent needs to have costly PR from almost day one? Spin Spin Spin!

Bravo Yummi!

Posted by jools. on 04/04/13 at 10:42 PM | #

Bravo!  Thanks Yummi,

Posted by Miriam on 04/04/13 at 11:17 PM | #

Thanks Yummi for this brilliant article. It’s essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the reasons why the judges at the Italian Supreme Court annulled Hellmann’s verdict.

Perhaps someone should send it to him as he still seems completely ignorant of the Italian Criminal Procedure Code and the concept of reasonable doubt.

Posted by The Machine on 04/04/13 at 11:32 PM | #

Excellent work Yummi, thank you!

Posted by Spencer on 04/04/13 at 11:40 PM | #

@ louiehaha

it has no significance, here the dispositivo is just repeateing the previous set of charges. The absorbing of charge c) into a) means that c) is counted in as an aggravating circumstance of a),

This is an automatic technical thing that has to do only with the determination of penalty, and it is not a Supreme Court decision. It was already so, it was set by the preliminary Judge Micheli in 2008 when he formulated the charges

Posted by Yummi on 04/04/13 at 11:56 PM | #

Incredible article and analysis.  I don’t know how you put all of that together so quickly and so well.  I understand much better now what happened at the Supreme Court level.

Posted by believing on 04/05/13 at 04:19 AM | #

Yummi A thousand thanks for this. If more lawyers would take the time to read this or something as concise then I content there would be better lawyers. Once again thank you

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 04/05/13 at 04:55 AM | #

A quick addendum from me.

If the Knox Sollecito apologists had someone like Yummi as apposed to the Fischer/Preston/Dempsey/Moore whomsoever. then they would be better equipped and further along and taken more seriously.

Of course that would be impossible considering the information they have to work with. Finally, given that observation, and to quote an old Royal Navy toast “confusion to our enemies”

Posted by Grahame Rhodes on 04/05/13 at 05:24 AM | #


“Engage the Enemy more closely,”

Posted by Cardiol MD on 04/05/13 at 06:05 AM | #

“He (Dr Riello) went beyond the criticism expressed in the Galati-Costagliola appeal when he described an obvious bias of the appeal court “not in just a few passages of the second instance verdict – it’s as if the defendants should benefit from a kind of anthropological and cultural immunity, in relation to the events.”

Very true. This remark encapsulates the belief I think we have all shared that the appeal judges had indeed been exposed to the effects of the relentless Knox PR campaign and that their objectivity as regards the evidence had been compromised.

This will not happen again. The PR campaign has all been for nothing and the supertanker, though still thrashing through the water, is charging around rudderless and will not make port again.

It is all at sea.

Posted by James Raper on 04/05/13 at 12:00 PM | #

May I just echo the praise of Yummi and Peter but let’s not forget the Machine and the other main writers.  Just saw a piece at PMF which shows the Knoxers’ disregard for the facts.  Pity [for them] the Supreme Court deals in facts.

Posted by James Higham on 04/05/13 at 12:40 PM | #

Hi James Higham. Other posters in this very complex area do deserve great credit. Take a look at the first comment above? They are named there.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/05/13 at 03:41 PM | #

Today, April 5, is the anniversary of another, still unresolved miscarriage of justice event that promoted the foundation of TJMK, and inspired many to become TJMK members.

On April 5, 2006, the Duke Lacrosse coach was forced to resign under threat by athletics director and Duke President canceled the remainder of the 2006 season.

This was Duke’s response to the false accusations that three Duke University students, members of the Duke men’s lacrosse team, had raped a stripper.

Although the students were eventually declared innocent, and won some restitution from Duke for improperly smearing them, other affected Duke students whose reputations were also eternally smeared by the false accusations, are still, 7 years later, being stonewalled by Duke.

Her family, irreversibly anguished 6 years ago, now have more hope that Meredith’s stonewalling killers will not escape.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 04/05/13 at 04:25 PM | #

More hope for Meredith’s family?

Apparently Duke has stopped brazening it out - finally?:

“Ex-Duke Lacrosse Players End Lawsuit Against School
By Andrew Harris - Mar 1, 2013

Thirty-eight former Duke University lacrosse players ended a 2008 lawsuit alleging that the institution lent its credibility to rape allegations against three other team members who were later vindicated.

An agreement to drop the case against the university, President Richard Brodhead and other officials was filed Feb. 27 in federal court in Durham, North Carolina. That document referenced a Feb. 20 accord that doesn’t appear on the court’s electronic docket.

“My clients settled their lawsuit with Duke,” plaintiffs’ attorney David H. Thompson said today in a telephone interview. The terms of that agreement are confidential, he said.”

However, Durham is still stalling:

The 38 settling players will continue to press claims against the city of Durham, public officials and police for “inappropriate and illegal conduct,” Thompson said today.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 04/05/13 at 05:18 PM | #

Yummi, wow just wow! This is a painstaking and thorough elucidation of the Supreme Court ruling. I applaud your surpassing excellence on this report, such hard work and diligence.

Thanks for explaining about Dr. Chiello overseeing the panel and the job of Judge Caprioglio. She must have spent a lot of time and labor to describe the case to the panel of judges. I’m glad she is an expert on sex crimes and a no-nonsense judge. You elaborated on her major role and also on Judge Riello’s “anvil” of arguments with which he squashed the weak reasoning of the appeal.

You drew a clear picture of Bongiorno railing on about insignificances and Dalla Vedova standing with Ghirgha on their rickety planks. Contrast that to the powerful Maresca who brought his mentor Fabiani. Maresca (long live the astute Maresca) pointed out major flaws in the defense appeal.

Thank you for your detailed report of the Supreme Court proceedings. It’s a marvel that puts the reader right in the courtroom.

Appreciation to Dr. Chieffi, Caprioglio, Riello, and the undaunted Maresca. The fog and smoke of Amanda Knox lies and spin vanished over the last year. This time the simple truth shone out. Your article is like a moving sonata.

Posted by Hopeful on 04/05/13 at 06:36 PM | #

@ James Raper

Sir, your comment on Dr Riello’s claim of an obvioius bias in the appeal court which conferred a sort of implicit immunity on the defendants (“anthropological & cultural”) tells me something I hadn’t known but which strikes me as important.

But I offer comment on another of your remarks when you say: “The PR campaign has all been for nothing and the supertanker, though still thrashing through the water, is charging around rudderless and will not make port again.”

We may wonder about that. It was certainly noticeable that in the spacious interval between, say, the Harper’s book deal & the Supreme Court, almost nothing surfaced of the contrived “news” (as I see it) so often published in The Mail, for instance.  A long surprising silence, even there.  And nothing to speak of in the Seattle Papers.

But now & no doubt in conjunction with Harper’s we have new releases & photos. Harper’s will be calling the shots, thanks to the rumored $4,000,000. advance.

If as Peter has suggested, Harper’s may now withhold or again delay publication of Amanda’s Waiting to be Heard, your supertanker might indeed remain at see.  But Harper’s, long in business, will know how to sell books & when a launching is timely.

The end of the month is not far off. Is that time enough for the anticipated change in publicity news which some of us expect? If publication goes ahead just now & the book sells, I think that event may bolster the case for Amanda’s staying home, regardless.

I could wish that Amanda will be sent back to Italy (& Italian justice) & it would please me if that happened. It would also be one more surprise for me in this long, long trial.

Posted by Ernest Werner on 04/05/13 at 06:43 PM | #

Cardiol is right. The direct inspiration for TJMK was a blog called Durham in Wonderland.

It was created by a law professor called KC Johnson (Harvard trained) who teaches at Brooklyn College.

He had zero to do with Duke University or the North Carolina town of Durham, but he sensed an enormous injustice by the city and university against some lacrosse players who were indeed falsely accused of rape.

Media were all 100% on the side of the school and town. NOBODY was supporting the boys in their claim of innocence.

But the persistence of that blog was extraordinary. It helped materially to reverse public opinion, yank the case against the boys, and run the rogue district attorney Mike Nifong out of town.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/05/13 at 09:22 PM | #

Interesting, Cardiol and Pete, I didn’t know about that history behind the origins of this site. Thanks for bringing it to light!

Posted by Earthling on 04/05/13 at 11:25 PM | #

So this was one of those rare cases where police and prosecutors actually did go wrong.

Posted by aethelred23 on 04/05/13 at 11:35 PM | #

I always look forward to reading Yummis posts because we simply dont know all this stuff, in fact few people ever bother to drill down on anything these days and spot what are the prime movers we are all so hungry for that. Same in the MOF domain.

Only one great mystery might remain. The FOA got a real break in Chief Judge De Nuncio appointing Hellmann and Zanetti, and freezing out the vastly smarter and more experienced Judge Chiari. There were even protests but De Nuncio was absolutely adamant.

I really want us to continue poking away at that. It cost the Kerchers 2-3 years without relief, and De Nuncio and Hellmann dont seem to have given a damn.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/06/13 at 01:41 AM | #

Wladimiro De Nunzio is a riddle.

He did not have the power to remove Sergio Matteini Chiari, but he was able to force him to step back through a machiavellian chess move, which we can say included a practice of ostracism and blackmail; and it was totally unjustified and unexplainable (to me).

The simple problem is, I don’t have evidence on Wladimiro De Nunzio. He is not an outsider and a discredited small fish like Hellmann and Zanetti.

Moreover, Manuela Comodi had arrested - while in Spoleto - a right-wing politician, a very close friend of Hellmann. They all knew about his resentment, de Nunzio too.  The fact that De Nunzio’s role remains in the dark is probably partly a consequence of a Galati’s mistake.

Comodi (and Mignini) understood the trap and wanted to impeach Hellmann and Zanetti on their first wild words at the beginning, but Galati - who as a newcomer had just arrived from Rome - was probably afraid, as he understood the gravity of the situation, about waging a total war against the head of the appeal courts as a first step.

So he did not impeach Hellmann and his court; thus De Nunzio remained in the shadow. This reluctance or caution by Galati was the mistake.

Posted by Yummi on 04/06/13 at 04:21 AM | #

Hi aethelred23

“So this was one of those rare cases where police and prosecutors actually did go wrong.”

I think our focus is on miscarriages of justice - whichever way they cut.

Posted by Cardiol MD on 04/06/13 at 05:53 AM | #

Hi aethelred23 and Cardiol. Hardline prosecutors are not too rare here - many are elected - and there are occasional tales of them making things up. Periodically someone is let out of prison who should not have been there.

But most do a tough and not very well paid job well. Nifong was almost unique. And in Italy where every justice offical is on a career track and there are no elections or political appointments I’d say the average is even higher.

This has been one huge problem of the conspiracy theory nuts: no motive for it. Mignini had none, and all the others involved up to Cassation had none. Oh, it was an American? Well, Sollecito is not American, why frame him?

The fact is, there were hundreds of evidence point in this crime, and all US and UK courts need is ONE. One mixed trace of Meredith’s blood and Knox’s blood? Case closed.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 04/06/13 at 07:06 AM | #

Just re-read this report and it’s truly outstanding, not just as coverage of the facts but in its clarity.  It stands out more to me now, having re-read Massei.

One aspect which might not be able to be used is Natalie Hayward’s testimony which, in conjunction with Micheli and the DNA in Filomena’s room, really does seal it for me.  Seems to me that testimony is important.

Posted by James Higham on 04/28/13 at 11:40 PM | #
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