Thursday, June 11, 2015

Why This Offer Of Legal Funding To Amanda Knox May Not Be Such A Good Idea

Posted by Peter Quennell

Report on how hard it is in the US to get compensation - that could inspire a search for new markets

Wrongful convictions in Italy are extremely rare because of the multi-step process to final verdict mandated by law. 

In the United States and other countries they are more common. It is not a given though for those innocents who do get released to be given a payment by the state. See the case in the video above.

Cavalli Legal Finance is a large and respected group which helps people pay their legal bills.

Somebody on the staff - maybe Andrew Braithwaite - has issued this press release presumably aimed at a share of any proceeds. It does raises question in our minds about whether any due diligence was done, though it may be early days for that yet.

Press Release

Cavalli Legal Finance Reports a Possible Wrongful Imprisonment Lawsuit

This press release was orginally distributed by ReleaseWire

Hamilton, NJ—(ReleaseWire)—05/28/2015—Settlement loans are now made available and applicable to wrongful imprisonment cases through Cavalli Legal Finance.

The Italian lawyer of Amanda Knox said a lawsuit is possible to be filed, although not certain, against Italy due to the wrongful detention of Knox, following her 7-year-old legal battle in Meredith Kercher’s murder.

In an email, Knox’s attorney Carlo Dalla Vedova said a lawsuit is possible, but they are not interested to make such move at the moment, and that he and his client have no discussion about it. Their option for a settlement loan was not also disclosed.

Italy’s highest court exonerated Amanda Knox, along with her Italian, former boyfriend Rafaelle Sollecito in the November 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher, Amanda’s British roommate.

Initially, both suspects were convicted in 2009. Sollecito was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment, while Knox received 26 years. In 2011, the convictions were overturned and Amanda returned to Seattle immediately. Under the personal injury cases, Amanda can file for a compensation claim, if the lawsuit has a good merit to win such legal battle, considering the incurred damages such as pain and suffering.

In 2013, their acquittals were both overturned, and just last year, their convictions were reinstated by a Florence court. Knox’s sentence was increased to 28 and half years. The recent ruling to exonerate both suspects was the criminal case’s final decision. Thus, a settlement funding could be availed by the convicts if they wish to.

According to the lawyer, the Italian Supreme Court should issue a written motivation by June 27, and if Knox pursues a lawsuit, the Italian law could provide a maximum of 517,000 euros as compensation, which is equivalent to $556,317. Knox can avail a lawsuit funding to pursue with the case.

Fortunately, Cavalli Legal Finance provides these services so as to help plaintiffs reach settled cases and compensation claims such as Knox’s case. The firm supports not only simple case, but also complex litigation like construction accidents and large complex litigation cases.

As they seem to have been blown some smoke, here are a few comments on the summary above of Knox’s legal history which Cavalli Legal Finance may find of help.

(1) Knox was released possibly illegally as her process was not done yet late in 2011 after an appeal trial which the Supreme Court in 2013 pretty well said straight-out was bent. The lead appeal judge was edged out and an investigation process still goes on. 

(2) Knox was in prison for approximately four years. For three of those years she was imprisoned for the felony crime of calunnia for the false accusation of murder against Patrick Lumumba whose career she has pretty well destroyed. She still owes him approximately $100,000 in damages awarded him which she has still not paid.

(3) That sentence was signed-off on by ALL the courts - see the trial court ruling, the 2011 appeal court confirmation (which adjusted the sentence to three years), and the 2013 Supreme Court confirmation. End of the road. A felon for life. The 2015 Supreme Court ruling did not include this in its scope. No further route to appeal.

(4) That leaves one year in prison which in theory could be considered a candidate for a wrongful imprisonment suit. However the Italian Republic has a lot going for its side. For example, very careful process steps were followed and pre-trial Knox was given six opportunities to get the charges dropped. She failed at them all. The US Embassy in Rome had an observer in all courts and cables to Washington DC released reflect no complaints.

(5) The Italian Republic also has going for it that the terse Fifth Chambers verdict (which it still has to explain) actually can still be overturned if a fix was in or if it did not follow the law on what its role at final appeal should be. Questions about sufficient evidence are invariably referred back down to the appeal court; but that did not happen here. See explanations here and here.

(6) Knox is back on trial right now on a second calunnia charge which in theory, as a repeat offender, could carry a six-year term. This relates to her false accusations of crimes by interrogators which she made on the stand at trial in mid 2009 when trying to argue her way out of the first calunnia charge. Three court dates are in September of this year.

(7) Knox has a very dishonest book out in the US, and now Italy and the UK, for which she was said to have been paid millions, which is currently getting a very careful legal read in Italy. The book Waiting To Be Heard (an absurd title given how much she was heard - she has a long history of people trying to shut her up) actually repeats the same false accusations of crimes, with bells and whistles, which are the subject of the current calunnia trial #2. Excerpts from it in the Italian weekly Oggi already have that weekly publication on trial.

We could go on. After the Supreme Court ruling in March there was buzz, perhaps from the hard-pressed families, that lawsuits for false imprisonment would follow soon.

The Italian lawyers tamped that talk down fast, and Sollecito’s lawyers (one of whom is himself to go on trial)  pretty well ruled it out entirely. They are said to see it as a slippery slope, an aggressive action, which could bring the castle of cards down fast.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/11/15 at 04:45 PM in Defendants in courtAmanda KnoxHoaxers from 2007Knox-Marriott PR


Odd. I dont see any other press releases out there making public offers of loans to lawyers of ex-perps.

Do Cavalli know of the US lawyers Ted Simon and Bob Barnett? And why not go straight to Knox or to her family or PR instead of the call to Italy which seems to have not revealed all the elephants in the wings.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/11/15 at 06:50 PM | #

It’s altogether unfathomable, that press release. Surely it was not originated in English? It has the look of a translation from Italian, to me.

Okay, the name of the outfit looks Italian, but one would hope they had a decent English speaker in their stable.

Posted by Sallyoo on 06/11/15 at 09:09 PM | #


Well Cavalli is an Italian name but I tried for an hour and could not track down the man himself in the US.

You did see the link to Amazon Italy repeated just above? Do capture any local reactions, send them along? This should go from pan to fire in a hurry now, time that book drew some reactions by those hurt.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/11/15 at 09:41 PM | #

Peter, nice review here.  Nope, no due diligence was done here.  You bring up 7 pretty damn important things that anyone looking to ‘‘fund’’ Knox should know.  Here are some more:

(8) Cassation, in 2013, not only annulled Hellmann, but attached the ‘‘aggravating factors’’ to Knox’s calunnia when they made it a final conviction.  Bottom line: Knox framed Lumumba to divert attention from herself.  And that ruling stands.

(9) No matter how much ‘‘contamination’’ is screamed, it doesn’t make all those false alibis go away, and they give any police force in the world cause to detain them.

(10) Contrary to claims in the American media, it was Sollecito himself who set the accusation of Lumumba in motion, when he pulled Knox’s alibi.’s_Nov_5th_2007_Statement_to_the_Police

(11) Even her own lawyers admit Knox wasn’t assaulted by the police.  Funny how that never came up in her 25-30 media interviews.

(12) Knox claims over and over again that she was with Sollecito at his apartment.  RS, her alibi witness, refutes this again and again.  Knox still can’t give a straight answer as to where she was.

Posted by Chimera on 06/11/15 at 11:02 PM | #

Pete,thank you.

I read (in a translation of an Italian news article?) that neither Knox nor Sollecito could get compensation if they lied to police before they were arrested.  If true, they certainly lied and could not get compensation. I’m not 100% sure about the accuracy (nor the detail) of this but it might be another reason for their lawyers to leave it alone.

Posted by JohnQ on 06/12/15 at 02:46 AM | #

Terrific, Chimera and JohnQ. That makes, hmmm, thirteen. We will spread that around.

If I google cavalli + “amanda knox” this post already shows up as the second hit. Is everyone seeing the same?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/12/15 at 01:12 PM | #


Posted by JohnQ on 06/12/15 at 01:27 PM | #

Commenting on your no. 8, chimera.  IIRC Hellmann said the calunnia was a stand alone crime not connected to any participation in the murder.  He of course declared Knox innocent of it [the murder].

Nencini AIUI disagreed and added a further aggravating clause to the crime, that she did act so, to extricate herself from a murder she was guilty of. 

Excerpt Nencini report: Thus, the penalty to be imposed on Amanda Marie Knox for the crime of calunnia with multiple aggravations must be established in 3 years and 6 months of imprisonment (base penalty [336] of 2 years and 6 months increased to 3 years of prison for the aggravating factor under second paragraph of article 368 of the Criminal Code, and further increased to the above mentioned final penalty for the aggravation under article 61 no. 2 Criminal Code).

In other words, he added two point five years to the sentence, from 26 years to 28.5.

As we know, the Marasca/Bruno ISC panel acquitted the pair of murder and reduced the calunnia back to the original sentence, now served.

The way I read it, is that one set of aggravating factors remain (accusing an innocent man causing him to serve time), but the other was set aside.

The pro-Knoxers are arguing that the acquittal proves Knox was coerced into the calunnia and that ISC some how forgot to overturn it.

However, as you state, it legally stands and it will be interesting to read the motivation report on this issue.

Posted by Slow Jane on 06/12/15 at 03:21 PM | #

Hi Slow Jane

Good question on mitigating factors. As the comment is for Chimera, just ad-interim:

1. We will get and post the most recent solid translation of the Marasca/Bruno statement of 26 March.

2. The FOA may be arguing that about calunnia #1 (could you post some quotes?) but its irrelevant if Ghirga and Dalla Vedova dont argue it. They have a very big problem because they never associated with Knox’s Interrogation Hoax claims in court or public statements - in fact they distanced themselves. 

3. As your first para about what they were innocent of (nb Casssation used a code article it should not have, reserved for lower courts) is perhaps confusing, here are the Hellmann findings.


The Court of Assizes of Appeal of Perugia In accordance with Article 605 of the Criminal Procedure Code, in partial modification of the sentence pronounced on the date of December 4‐5, 2009 by the Court of Assizes of first instance of Perugia in the matter of Amanda Marie Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, appealed by the same and crossappealed by the Prosecutor’s Office of Perugia,


Amanda Marie Knox, guilty of the offence under count F, ruling out the aggravation under Article 61(2) of the Criminal Code, and deeming [riconosciute] the generic mitigating circumstances [as] equivalent to the aggravating [circumstance] under the second paragraph of Article 368 of the Criminal Code, sentences her to the penalty of three years of imprisonment; confirms, with regard to this count alone, the civil decrees of the ruling under appeal and orders Amanda Marie Knox, to pay the court costs and the attorney fees of the civil party expended in the present proceedings by Patrick Diya Lumumba, liquidating in total to 22,170 euros for rights and further orders reimbursement general costs and miscellaneous expenses according to law;


both the accused of the crimes charged against them under counts A, B, C, D for not having committed the deed, and of the crime under count E because of the fact did not occur, rejecting the request made against them by the civil party Tattanelli, Aldalia;


the immediate release of Amanda Marie Knox, and Raffaele Sollecito, if not detained for other cause.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/12/15 at 05:20 PM | #

Hi Slow Jane,

As I understood it (I may be wrong)

-In the 2009 trial, Judge Massei gave 25 years for murder and related offences to Knox and Sollecito, and 1 additional year to Knox for calunnia against Lumumba.

-In the 2011 appeal, Judge Hellmann threw out the murder conviction and related offences.  However, he increased the calunnia to 3 years.  It seemed bizarre, especially as he said Knox did it out of duress, not to divert attention, hence refusing to add aggravating factors.  As Knox had served 3 years, 11 months, she essentially got ‘‘time served’‘.

-In the 2013 I.S.C. appeal, Cassation completely annulled the appeal acquittals on the murder and related offences, while leaving the 2009 Massei trial verdict intact.  Yes, it was frequently reported in the U.S. media Knox was ‘‘forced back for another trial’‘.  However, since the Massei trial verdict was left, Knox was appealing again.  On the calunnia, Cassation partially reversed Hellmann, and did add ‘‘aggravating factors’‘, as they deemed that it was done for the purpose of diverting attention.  But it still was basically ‘‘time served’’ for Knox.

Note: There is a world of difference between, ‘‘presumed innoncent, forced back for a new trial’‘, Knox claimed, and ‘‘guilty, pending further appeals’‘, which was in fact Knox’s legal status after 2013 Cassation

-In 2013/2014 Florence appeal, the aggravated calunnia was considered as evidence, and was part of the reason Knox had her sentence increased.  Judge Nencini did not touch the calunnia sentence, as Cassation had already ruled on it.  Nencini had no authority to amend a top court ruling, he is a lower level appellate judge.

-In 2015 I.S.C appeal, the murder conviction and related offences were thrown out by the Marasca/Bruno panel.  It reduced the calunnia back to non-aggravated, which made no difference.  Knox still pretty much got ‘‘time served’‘.

Posted by Chimera on 06/12/15 at 05:25 PM | #

Chimera, thanks for the clarification.

Pete, your point 1.  Here is one place of many where FOA discuss getting the calunnia [conviction] kicked out.  As you know, most posters on the International Skeptics Forum are members of IIP.

Posted by Slow Jane on 06/12/15 at 09:02 PM | #

Hi Slow Jane and Chimera

Here is the Dispositivo of 30 March with an English translation, saying that the ruling (not to our knowledge announced on 26 March) is that the calunnia reverts to being non-aggravated. So Nencini was over-ruled.






If he sticks to his word, Judge Marasca’s full report is just two weeks away.  He had promised it in 90 days. Thanks for the link to the old FOA discussion on appealing the calunnia.

What I would really like is anything new after 26 March 2015, as the discussion I see at ISF only relates to the ECHR appeal which we always considered (and still do) dead on arrival.


Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/12/15 at 10:23 PM | #

Hi, Slow Jane. Yes, many of the (remaining) ISF posters on the case are IIP though perhaps with different monikers; anglolawyer is Clive Wismayer, London Supporter is Nigel Scott, and “Bill Williams” is the not very Christian Screech loving reverend with the love that “dare not speak its name” for Frank Sfarzo and Raffaele Sollecito.

Still, as I said here I should perhaps not be picking on him any more, but he’s the one calling for MORE outing of personal details. They’ve now opened a separate sub thread on IIP called ISF/JREF moderation where they can go kvetch. Amanda Knox spokesperson Charlie Wilkes is calling for Google View of the (female) editor’s street address and I would take that seriously even if they hadn’t posted MY address on Bruce Fischer’s site and asked people to Google View that back in 2012.

But as of last week, 18 members were suspended from ISF for outing and posting personal details of an ISF member who helped edit Nick van der Leek’s book on the case Deceit. They’re calling it the ‘Saturday Night Massacre’, LOL, and vowing ‘not to ever go back’. Promise? 😊

Posted by Ergon on 06/13/15 at 12:39 AM | #

Terrific, Ergon, could these be a draft for a main post?!

I really have a lot of time for Ergon. He is a great investigator and very sharp and he pushes hard. He has done a dozen main posts, among them these which relate to his post above:

Posted by Peter Quennell on 06/13/15 at 07:04 PM | #

Hi Pete.

Thanks. We’ll soon discover how Judge Marasca argues it in the report.

The IIP ramblings about the Calunnia being overturned by the Fifth Bench, or if not, by the ECHR is pure hokum-pokum, not worth the dignity of further discussion.

Ergon, this Charlie Wilkes, is he American or British?  Does the US have a similar law against Malicious Communications?  If so, we should report it.

Posted by Slow Jane on 06/13/15 at 09:01 PM | #

Apparently, Charlie Wilkes is aka Jim Lovering.

Posted by Slow Jane on 06/13/15 at 09:07 PM | #

My understanding of the callunia charge and sentence. It’s complicated.

Massei gave her one year (for aggravated calunnia), Hellmann increased it to three (while removing the aggravation), the (first) cassazione ratified this three year sentence, and ratified the conviction for callunia.

Nencini was directed (by the first cassazione) to consider whether the ESTABLISHED FACT of her calunnia had been adequately integrated into Hellmann’s decision to acquit her of the murder charge. He was also asked to look at whether Hellmann had been correct in removing the aggravation from the callunia charge. (Page 102 of Nencini motivation report explains).

Nencini, pages 339-341, goes on to explain that he’s adding another 6 months to the sentence for callunia, because he considered it very aggravated.

And finally, you are correct that the recent cassazione did decide that the callunia wasn’t aggravated.

So the sentence reverts to the three years which Hellmann imposed (for non aggravated callunia) and which the first cassazione ratified.


My apologies: the page numbering above (for the Nencini report) may be misleading (they are the PDF numbers from the Italian version).

If you want to look at them in English, the page numbers to look for are [97] and [334 - 336]

Posted by Sallyoo on 06/13/15 at 10:25 PM | #

Ergon, the IIP mob are still going at it hammer and tongs.

They believe their suspensions from ISF - including a vicar, a lawyer and an ISF mod! - to be a sinister conspiracy by ISF moderators, one of whom has now been labelled by them as “a guilter”.

Nothing at all to do with their own behaviour.

Sallyoo, thanks re the Calunnia; that’s much clearer now.  My feeling is Hellmann only increased the sentence to three years, because that’s how long she had served with a year to spare, to limit any imprisonment compensation due.

Posted by Slow Jane on 06/14/15 at 12:03 AM | #

Slow Jane, Charlie Wilkes/Jim Lovering is a friend of Chris Mellas and used by him to selectively leak case files to the media. There’s a picture of him, Greg Hampikian and Chris Mellas in Perugia.

Posted by Ergon on 06/14/15 at 04:51 AM | #

Thanks, Peter, I look at the antics of the FOA on IIP/ISF/JREF with amusement, maybe one day I will write about?

Currently working on some big projects. If anything, I might write about The Rock 😊

Posted by Ergon on 06/14/15 at 05:04 AM | #
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