Thursday, August 09, 2012

How America’s Premier Justice College Misrepresents Italian Justice - To Global Audience

Posted by brmull

Conflicts between Kassin’s academic and court personas

Saul Kassin is a psychologist with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. He tries to advance the notion academically and in court that many confessions are coerced by the police and thus false.

In writing about American cases of confessions, Kassin would normally be very sure to interview all the parties to the confession. Police would not simply be sidelined, and the confessor’s tale would not be the only narrative he pays attention to. His academic pieces would normally be peer-reviewed and any claims which were questionable would be examined by the academic peers or the readership.  False claims by Kassin could result in criminal complaints and civil lawsuits.

It is quite clear from online postings that Saul Kassin was taken on as a hired gun for the Knox defense in the Knox/Sollecito trial in Perugia. He was being paid NOT to simply be academic and objective, he was being paid to give the police witnesses and prosecution as hard a time as possible.

Although he seems to have flown to Perugia at one point he definitely did not encounter let alone interview even one police officer, even one prosecutor or even one judge. He made no visit to the questura where the Knox questioning took place. He doesnt speak or read Italian so he would not be able to get to grip with original evidence.

He does not reveal if and when he interviewed Amanda Knox herself. She makes no mention of any meeting with Kassin in her book. Kassin was definitely not in court in mid-2009 when Amanda Knox was cross-examined for two days on the witness stand about her false allegations against Patrick Lumumba. Her stint on the stand was regarded as a disaster for her by most of those present.

Conflicts consequentially plaguing Kassin’s academic judgments

During the Hellmann appeal in 2011 [subsequently annulled by the Supreme Court in 2013] Kassin started to use his academic standing and ostensible objectivity to propagate to American and later global audiences his hired-gun take for the defense. He had still not interviewed anyone in the Perugia police or prosecution.

He never made clear that his description of Knox’s interrogation was already UNIVERSALLY discredited in Italy - and that even Knox had admitted that the police treated her fairly. He never explained what peer review process his many pieces went through. Not one police officer or prosecutor in Perugia was contacted by any peer reviewer seeking confirmations. This suggests either that there was no peer review or it was unethically cooked in some way.

Our own peer reviews of Kassins proliferating claims

One month ago my fellow poster the Machine took apart ten claims which Saul Kassin made last year in a Seattle radio interview. As the Machine showed, every one of those claims fall apart once one refers to official documents and the more objective case books and websites. 

Another post one month ago by my fellow poster Fuji showed that Amanda Knox is NOT likely to issue false confessions in the heat of an interrogation moment.

That is Kassin’s key claim here, and in effect Fuji used Kassin’s own “science” against him.

Then we were warned by a John Jay colleague critical of Kassin that he had repeated these same spurious claims live on television - and that Kassin had made even more wrong claims in a keynote speech to a conference of the elite John Jay College in June in New York, in front of an influential international audience.

And he did so again in a paper, possibly peer-reviewed, which the respected journal American Psychologist has placed online. This post provides the truth on the Knox-related claims at the front and back ends of that American Psychologist paper.

Saul Kassin still appears to want to argue that Amanda Knox was convicted ONLY based on a false confession (as the Machine and numerous posts on TJMK show, she wasn’t - and in fact, Knox didn’t even confess) and he now makes almost 50 erroneous assertions about the case.

You can see highlighted in the first box-quote below those misleading and erroneous passages of PR shill Kassin which I correct in the second box-quote below.


As illustrated by the story of Amanda Knox and many others wrongfully convicted, false confessions often trump factual innocence. Focusing on consequences, recent research suggests that confessions are powerfully persuasive as a matter of logic and common sense; that many false confessions contain richly detailed narratives and accurate crime facts that appear to betray guilty knowledge; and that confessions in general can corrupt other evidence from lay witnesses and forensic experts””producing an illusion of false support. This latter phenomenon, termed “corroboration inflation,” suggests that pretrial corroboration requirements as well as the concept of “harmless error” on appeal are based on an erroneous presumption of independence among items of evidence. In addition to previously suggested reforms to police practices that are designed to curb the risk of false confessions, measures should be taken as well to minimize the rippling consequences of those confessions…. 

Meredith Kercher was found raped and murdered in Perugia, Italy. Almost immediately,  police suspected 20-year-old Amanda Knox, an American student and one of Kercher’s roommates””the only one who stayed in Perugia after the murder. Knox had no history of crime or violence and no motive. But something about her demeanor””such as an apparent lack of affect, an outburst of sobbing, or her girlish and immature behavior”” led police to believe she was involved and lying when she claimed she was with Raffaele Sollecito, her new Italian boyfriend, that night. 

Armed with a prejudgment of Knox’s guilt, several police officials interrogated the girl on and off for four days. Her final interrogation started on November 5 at 10 p.m. and lasted until November 6 at 6 a.m., during which time she was alone, without an attorney, tag-teamed by a dozen police, and did not break for food or sleep. In many ways, Knox was a vulnerable suspect””young, far from home, without family, and forced to speak in a language in which she was not fluent. Knox says she was repeatedly threatened and called a liar. She was told,  falsely, that Sollecito, her boyfriend, disavowed her alibi and that physical evidence placed her at the scene. She was encouraged to shut her eyes and imagine how the gruesome crime had occurred, a trauma, she was told, that she had obviously repressed. Eventually she broke down crying,  screaming, and hitting herself in the head. Despite a law that mandates the recording of interrogations, police and prosecutors maintain that these sessions were not recorded. 

Two “confessions” were produced in this last session,  detailing what Knox called a dreamlike “vision.” Both were typed by police””one at 1:45 a.m., the second at 5:45 a.m. She retracted the statements in a handwritten letter as soon as she was left alone (“In regards to this “˜confession’  that I made last night, I want to make it clear that I’m very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock, and extreme exhaustion.”). Notably, nothing in the confessions indicated that she had guilty knowledge. In fact, the statements attributed to Knox were factually incorrect on significant core details (e.g., she named as an accomplice a man whom police had suspected but who later proved to have an ironclad alibi; she failed to name another man, unknown to police at the time, whose DNA was later identified on the victim). Nevertheless, Knox, Sollecito, and the innocent man she implicated were all immediately arrested. In a media-filled room, the chief of police announced: Caso chiuso (case closed). 

Police had failed to provide Knox with an attorney or record the interrogations, so the confessions attributed to her were ruled inadmissible in court. Still, the damage was done. The confession set into motion a hypothesis-confirming investigation, prosecution, and conviction. The man whose DNA was found on the victim, after specifically stating that Knox was not present, changed his story and implicated her while being prosecuted. Police forensic experts concluded that Knox’s DNA on the handle of a knife found in her boyfriend’s apartment also contained Kercher’s blood on the blade and that the boyfriend’s DNA was on the victim’s bra clasp. Several eyewitnesses came forward.  An elderly woman said she was awakened by a scream followed by the sound of two people running; a homeless drug addict said he saw Knox and Sollecito in the vicinity that night; a convicted drug dealer said he saw all three suspects together; a grocery store owner said he saw Knox the next morning looking for cleaning products; one witness said he saw Knox wielding a knife. 

On December 5, 2009, an eight-person jury convicted Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito of murder. The two were sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison, respectively. Finally, on October 3, 2011, after having been granted a new trial, they were acquitted. [Actually they still stand accused - and facing a tough fact-based prosecution appeal] Ten weeks later, the Italian appeals court released a strongly worded 143-page opinion in which it criticized the prosecution and concluded that there was no credible evidence, motive, or plausible theory of guilt. For the four years of their imprisonment, this story drew international attention (for comprehensive overviews of the case, see Dempsey, 2010, and Burleigh, 2011).1

It is now clear that the proverbial mountain of discredited evidence used to convict Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito was nothing but a house of cards built upon a false confession. The question posed by this case, and so many others like it, is this: Why do confessions so often trump innocence? ...

Third, it is important to realize that not all evidence is equally malleable or subject to corroboration inflation. Paralleling classic research indicating that expectations can color judgments of people, objects, and other stimuli that are ambiguous as opposed to those that compel a particular perception, forensic research indicates that ambiguity is a moderating condition. Asked to report on an event or make an identification decision on the basis of a memory trace that cannot be recovered, eyewitnesses are particularly malleable when confronted with evidence of a confession (Hasel & Kassin, 2009). This phenomenon was illustrated in the case against Amanda Knox. When police first interviewed Knox’s British roommates, not one reported that there was bad blood between Knox and the victim. After Knox’s highly publicized confession, however, the girls brought forth new “memories,” telling police that Kercher was uncomfortable with Knox and the boys she would bring home (Burleigh, 2011). ... 

In recent years, psychologists have been critical of the problems with accuracy, error, subjectivity, and bias in various types of criminal evidence””prominently including eyewitness identification procedures, police interrogation practices, and the so-called forensic identification sciences,  all leading Saks and Koehler (2005) to predict a “coming paradigm shift.” With regard to confessions, it now appears that this shift should encompass not only reforms that serve to minimize the risk of false confessions but measures designed to minimize the rippling consequences of those confessions””as in the case of Amanda Knox and others who are wrongfully convicted.


On November 2, 2007, British exchange student Meredith Kercher was found sexually attacked and murdered in Perugia, Italy. The next day, 20-year-old Amanda Knox, an American student and one of Kercher’s roommates, became a person of interest, along with Meredith’s downstairs neighbors and several of her other acquaintances. Interviewing close contacts is a cornerstone of police work. Two of Meredith’s close English friends, who were so scared they couldn’t sleep alone, left Perugia in the immediate aftermath of the murder. Everyone else stayed on.

Months before arriving in Perugia, Knox received a citation for a noise violation when a going-away party she’d thrown for herself in Seattle got out of hand. One of the officers described it as a “scene from Baghdad.” Within about three weeks of moving into the cottage in Perugia, Knox was ejected from a nightclub for pouring her glass on the head of a disc jockey.

It’s often said that Knox had no motive to kill Meredith, but it was Knox’s claim of drug use which indicated a possible motive: a drug-fuelled assault. There are various others, though a motive is not actually required for conviction. In crime scene videos from the day Meredith’s body was discovered, Knox can be seen outside the cottage glancing furtively around. Still, it was not this and other odd behavior, but rather the many conflicting witness statements by Knox and her new Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, that led police to believe Knox was involved and lying when she claimed she was with Sollecito at his home continuously on the night of November 1.

Police interviewed dozens of witnesses in the days after the murder, some more than once. All witness statements were written down and signed for, not recorded. The police interviewed Sollecito for the third time beginning at 10:40pm on November 5. Knox later testified that she voluntarily accompanied her boyfriend to the station, because she didn’t want to be alone. The police did not summon her. To the interviewers’ surprise, Sollecito repudiated his earlier alibi when shown phone records, and now said Knox had left his apartment for much of the evening. Some time after 11:00pm the police asked if they might interview Knox. An interpreter was called and by 1:45am Knox had given a signed statement that she had witnessed the sounds of her employer, bar owner Patrick Lumumba, murdering Meredith at the cottage.

In that statement she acknowledged that she had been given an interpreter, and that she herself was now officially a suspect. Knox later testified that she was treated well. She was offered snacks and drinks during the interview and afterward. Made aware that she could not be interrogated without a lawyer, but still anxious to put out as much information as possible, she then requested a chance to make a spontaneous statement without any questioning. Dr Mignini, the magistrate on duty, was called from his home, and she gave a statement in front of him very similar to her witness statement from hours earlier. He asked no questions.

Knox and the police gave different accounts of how the 11:00 to 1:45 am interview was conducted. Police said Knox was told Sollecito now no longer confirmed her alibi and he had called her a liar. She now had no alibi. Sympathetic to her because Knox was freaking out, the interpreter urged her to try to remember at least something.  Shown a text she had sent to Lumumba at 8:35pm saying “See you later. Have a good evening!” she was asked to explain this. The police describe how Knox started to cry and burst out, “It’s him! It’s him!”

Both Knox’s witness statement at 1:45 a.m and her voluntary suspect statement at 5:45am were written out in Italian and translated back to her before she signed. After Knox was formally taken into custody at midday on November 6, she asked for paper and wrote a slight modification of her earlier statements, adding: “In regards to this “˜confession’ that I made last night, I want to make it clear that I’m very doubtful of the verity of my statements because they were made under the pressures of stress, shock, and extreme exhaustion.”

Lumumba was arrested along with Knox and Sollecito. Knox and her mother held out on his non-involvement for weeks, but he was eventually determined to have a solid alibi. Another man, Rudy Guede, was identified through a hand print in Meredith’s bedroom. Knox appeared to have substituted Lumumba for Guede in her statements, and several details of the crime in her so-called confession were later corroborated by witnesses.

Because police had not needed to provide Knox with an attorney at the impromptu witness interview after 11:00, the Supreme Court ruled that statement inadmissible in the murder case against her. However both statements were ruled admissible in court for the purpose of establishing the crime of defamation against Patrick Lumumba. Knox’s November 6 letter was also ruled admissible.

Guede, the man whose DNA was found on the victim, told a friend while he was still on the run that he had found Meredith stabbed and that Knox had nothing to do with the murder. However, in the same conversation, which was recorded by police, he speculated that Knox and Sollecito might have been at the cottage. In a letter dated March 7, 2010, while his sentence was awaiting final confirmation by the Supreme Court, Guede wrote that Knox and Sollecito murdered Meredith. He reiterated this claim as a witness during Knox and Sollecito’s appeal.

Forensic police from Rome concluded that a kitchen knife found in Sollecito’s apartment had Knox’s DNA on the handle and Meredith’s DNA on the blade. Sollecito’s DNA was on the victim’s bra clasp in Meredith’s locked bedroom.

Several eyewitnesses came forward. Three neighbors testified that they heard a disturbance around 11:30pm in the vicinity of the cottage. A homeless man who at appeal admitted heroin use was reading a newsmagazine at the basketball court near the cottage. He testified that he saw Knox and Sollecito four or five times that night. An Albanian, a possible drug dealer. who the Massei court deemed unreliable after the Micheli court accepted him, said he had seen all three suspects together, and that Knox had accosted him with a knife. A grocery store owner testified he saw Knox at his shop early on the morning after the murder.

The conflicting alibis of the two were never resolved during trial. On December 4, 2009, an eight-person panel consisting of two professional judges and six lay judges found Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito guilty of murder aggravated by sexual assault, simulation of a burglary, unlawful carrying of a knife and, in Knox’s case, criminal defamation of Patrick Lumumba. The two were sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison, respectively….

Knox’s mother later described her daughter as “oblivious to the dark side of the world.” Knox herself wrote that, on the night of the murder, she and Sollecito were talking about his mother’s suicide. She told him her philosophy was “life is full of choices and that these choices are not necessarily between good and evil, but between what’s better and what’s worse.”...

Results of our own peer-group analysis

Kassin asserted that the witnesses in this case imagined “new memories” unfavorable to Knox because of her highly-publicized confession. He referenced an experiment in which an unknown actor walked into a classroom and stole a laptop. The students were asked to try to identify the thief from a line-up. Two days later, the students were told which person in the line-up had confessed. Many changed their minds when told of the confession, although in truth the thief was never in the line-up at all.

Obviously this contrived scenario has nothing at all to do with Amanda Knox or people who had met her.

In his book, Meredith, the victim’s father John Kercher recalls his daughter complaining about Knox’s poor hygiene and how she brought home strange men several weeks before the murder. Numerous witnesses recounted specific anecdotes of Knox’s sharp-elbowed and offputting behavior. Her circle of friends quickly diminished only to Sollecito.

Really, could all these be “new memories”?

Psychologists studying eyewitness testimony, interrogation techniques and false confessions need to be circumspect. Even DNA testing, considered the best of the forensic sciences, requires a thorough understanding of circumstances in order to be interpreted correctly.

Kassin’s continued stonewalling and legal risks

I really wonder who agreed to publish him. I work in a science-based field. When I first learned Kassin had been recruited by Curt Knox’s hatchet men as a PR shill, had been put directly in touch with Knox herself, and had been provided with pre-selected reading materials, I wrote to ask him why he hadn’t disclosed all this to his readers.

Still no reply.

It’s true that numerous talking heads have exaggerated their qualifications and concealed their conflicts of interest and financial stakes when speaking in support of the defense. Judge Mike Heavey abused his oath of office to try to sway the process.

What’s different about Kassin is that, using his John Jay College aura, he has corrupted the scientific record with misinformation.

And he has done this, at least in part, with the goal of misleading an Italian court.  These dirty tricks are especially dangerous because most people, including judges, expect that what’s stated as fact in prominent academic journals is objective and true.

Kassin looks to us nothing like an academic here. He looks instead like a defense hired gun who (only in English and only in America) has repeatedly falsely accused police officers of serious felonies in how they questioned Knox as a witness.

If even a single complaint is lodged in Italy and Kassin cannot prove his 50 or so seemingly-spurious and very damaging claims, he could find himself facing years in an Italian prison for attempted obstruction of justice.

Kassin’s peers need to press him for the truth once and for all, and to stop him using his academic mantle illegally and academically unethically as a cloak for a sleazy defense campaign.

[Everything in this post applies equally to the ludicrously inaccurate claims of ex FBI “mindhunter” John Douglas in his books and lobbying at the State Department.]


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In his experiments, Kassin also discards actual confessions (where the subject <u>had</u> been determined to have accidentally depressed a key) and does not run blind tests:  the experimenter leading the ‘interrogation’ knows with certainty whether the subject is guilty or innocent.

Those are only two errors I’ve found in his methods and that’s after reading just two of his papers.

Add to this the fact that Kassin’s own colleagues have established a profile of those susceptible to false memories or false confessions.  Knox doesn’t fit any of them.  Even today her admirers describe her above all as intelligent.  Kassin and his colleagues generally describe victims of false memories/confessions as of below average intelligence and frequently as mentally handicapped.

Knox also willingly led the police through three full days of distraction and evasion without suffering any of these alleged false memories.  She willingly arrived uninvited at the Questura on 05-NOV-2007 and was in such a state of self-assured relaxation that she took to turning cartwheels until being told it was inappropriate.  It was only after being told that her alibi no longer stood that she changed her story from one of complete detachment from the crime to one of involvement including vivid details that matched what was later to have been proven by the medical examiner and other forensic specialists.

Great article, brmull.  Kassin nor his office ever responded to me either.

Posted by Stilicho on 08/09/12 at 09:05 PM | #

The biggest problem with Kassin’s work, apart from having wrong facts, is that there is a tautology to his reasoning.

He is provided background material about Knox’s interrogation which assumes that she was falsely interrogated. He then concludes that she was falsely interrogated.

Or, he reviews the files of people exonerated by the Innocence Project and finds that of those who confessed, all gave false confessions.

How can Kassin’s colleagues have failed to act in the face of such brazen incompetence, if not frank disingenuousness? Where are the checks and balances?

Posted by brmull on 08/09/12 at 11:03 PM | #

Money? Did either of you perhaps ask him if money helped to spring his revelation about Knox?  Court experts for the most part get paid to stick their necks out (or in this case maybe keep his head down).

It appears his submission may have made it “privately” to Judge Hellman to avoid prosecution “nitpicking” about his science, track record or credentials. There are one or two signs in the Hellman report that Hellman bought in.

If the Knoxes could afford to fly all the PR campaign hotheads to Seattle a few days ago, they could certainly afford tp pay for this.  Let’s just hope for their sake that Kassin doesnt pull an Aviello.

Aviello of course wanted to be able to pay for a sex change operation. Et tu, Kassin? Could you testify in high heels?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/10/12 at 12:13 AM | #

Kassin typically charges about $15,000 to “consult for the defense,” in other words to pompously declare a confession coerced. It’s not clear in this case if he was paid by FOA or the Melloxes (it wouldn’t surprise me), or if he just did it for the publicity. More publicity = more consulting work, more paid speaking engagements, more book sales, etc. A classic carpetbagger.

Posted by brmull on 08/10/12 at 01:13 AM | #

Can anyone translate, sentence by sentence, those last two paragraphs of Kassin’s article for me? I was almost brain dead by the end of this. Why can’t he speak in simple english instead of serving up this skip full of pseudo-scientic drivel?

Yea, I get the point that people’s perceptions and recollections can be altered, not by rational persuasion, or hard fact, but subconsciously in an indeterminate way.

Perhaps it is true that a witness does feel relieved of a certain degree of pressure by knowledge of a confession. That does not mean they go on to make things up.

Sophie Purton commented that she was reluctant at first to say anything that would get Amanda into trouble but she was also anxious to assist the police in any way possible. A natural and loyal hesitation but in fact, contrary to Kassin’s assertion, most of what she and the english girls had to tell the police about Amanda and Meredith, was said before the so-called confession.

Interesting metaphor: the “rippling consequences of confessions”. As if this is some law of physics. See what I mean by pseudo-scientific?

Posted by James Raper on 08/10/12 at 01:39 AM | #

Splendid work, brmull.

Posted by Hopeful on 08/10/12 at 02:04 AM | #


Kassin refers cryptically to his unpublished work that supposedly found a reality-distorting “ripple effect” from false confessions. We have no idea what this research showed, or whether it even exists outside of his big mouth.

I have observed that people who don’t know much about Meredith’s case give too much weight to reports that DNA evidence was deemed unreliable. They feel like it’s all they need to know to make a decision about guilt or innocence. Unlike Kassin’s theory, the problem of overreliance on DNA has been widely debated in legal circles and is agreed to be a real problem.

Still, no one thinks that when C-V deemed this DNA evidence unreliable, millions of people’s perceptions of reality were suddenly distorted such that they forgot contrary facts and “remembered” things that didn’t happen in order to support their new understanding.

An assertion like this requires strong proof, not some guy vaguely alluding projects that he and his students may or may not be working on.

Posted by brmull on 08/10/12 at 02:54 AM | #

Under his most recent post on Hellman, Cardiol posted this comment below on competency hearings for expert witnesses. It applied to the dubious DNA pair C&V, one of whom is friends with Judge Zanetti and so they got a free pass.

As an expert witness Kassin would seem to be making himself very vulnerable to interrogation by opposing counsel in future paid gigs - if any. Lets hope his PR gig as a shill for Knox pays a lot more than $15,000 (repeating).


Conti and Vecchiotti now have no credibility.

If Conti and Vecchiotti were ever to appear as expert-opinion witnesses in the U.S., they would be crucified.

Such witnesses, in the U.S., are first submitted to a Hearing to determine their competency.

Hellmann/Zanetti shielded them from such competency questions in Italy.

At that U.S. Hearing, using their performances with Hellmann/Zanetti in Italy, opposing counsel would impeach them as witnesses, destroying their credibility in front of that Court and Jury.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/10/12 at 10:00 PM | #

I can’t find it either, brmull, in spite of my well-honed Google-Fu techniques.  I did find another Kassin study.  In this one he also discards an actual confession and moreover explains to the remainder of the test subjects that so much is to be lost from telling the truth that they absolutely must maintain innocence.  A voucher for a free lunch was added to the tab as an incentive if the ‘interrogator’ found them to be innocent even if they were guilty.

None of these tests are remotely similar to what happened to Knox.  She was freely manipulating the police for a full three days after Meredith’s body was discovered and embellishing each detail as she went. 

It’s equally plausible that Kassin simply doesn’t know that Sophie was also being questioned in the same interval, that Knox had already done a ‘test run’ using Hicham Khiri (“Shaky” in her 04-NOV-2007 alibi email), and that the first tangible evidence they had of a lie was Sollecito’s phone records and not anything supplied by Sophie Purton or Amanda Knox.

Posted by Stilicho on 08/10/12 at 10:06 PM | #

Our psychologists are seeing some grim humor in the huge mess Kassin has got himself in.

One remarked that he wont even have to leave his own office in future to study “corroboration inflation”. Is he entitled yet to that voucher for the free lunch?

And there seems a certain irony too in the PR shill Saul Kassin quoting only the PR shill Candace Dempsey and the PR shill Nina Burleigh and the PR shill Nathaniel Rich as all of his primary sources?

Especially as they too were mainly quoting one another.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/11/12 at 04:02 AM | #

Hi BRMull and Stilicho

Interesting, your research into Kassin’s science.

Now that you are on top of it, can you explain for us Kassin’s theory for Sollecito?

Were his brains fried as well, or precisely how did this work?

After all he “confessed” before Amanda Knox did. She was only the second domino.

And what about each of them later accusing the other?

Who had fried whose brains at that point?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/11/12 at 04:33 AM | #

This excerpt from Kassin reads like a FOA pamphlet.  I wonder if he was fed a comprehensive list of points he was to incorporate in his article and asked to preserve the wording wherever possible.  The concentration of distortions, misrepresentations or outright lies is egregious, to the point where I find it difficult to believe that it was produced by someone who reached these conclusions independently.

From the first time I read about him, I thought that he was being paid to write this nonsense, since it’s inconceivable to me that anyone with his education would not have researched the case before committing to a position.  I wonder if anyone has received a response from his department or university; I’d like to know how they officially feel about this.

This is nit-picky, since Brmull was wonderfully comprehensive in translating that drivel into accurate facts, but there was something that got my attention.  Kassin says, at some point, that the police had suspected Lumumba prior to Amanda’s confession, if I understand him correctly: “she named as an accomplice a man whom police had suspected but who later proved to have an ironclad alibi.”  This really angered me.  She didn’t name Lumumba as an “accomplice” - she fingered him as THE murderer. And maybe I don’t remember this correctly, but I didn’t think that the police had much interest in Lumumba before Amanda started guiding their questions and feeding them suppositions.

What Kassin (knowingly) fails to explain is that this wasn’t a false confession in which the person fully incriminated herself.  More than a false confession, this was a false accusation of someone else as the main culprit, obviously meant to detract attention from her own involvement. 

He also doesn’t explain why she chose to remain silent about Lumumba’s lack of involvement, even after she’d privately admitted that he had nothing to do with it.  She was un-shocked enough to admit it to others, but not to the police?

Kassin could have at least had the decency to refer to Lumumba by name.  If there was another victim in this case, aside from Meredith and her loved ones, it was Lumumba.  Knox stole his life in a different way than she likely stole Meredith’s.  I’d like to know how much of her supposedly large book deal cheque she’s set aside to pay her debts to him.

Posted by Vivianna on 08/11/12 at 11:29 AM | #

“She didn’t name Lumumba as an “accomplice” - she fingered him as THE murderer. And maybe I don’t remember this correctly, but I didn’t think that the police had much interest in Lumumba before Amanda started guiding their questions and feeding them suppositions.”

False accusation is right. Not confession. As Stilicho has been pointing out on PMF the duo were sending police all over the map from day one. Her hinting at the Moroccan Hicham Khiri as a dangerous guy the police should maybe check out for Meredith’s murder seems to have been a dry run for Patrick Lumumba. She did this in a “private” chat with Sollecito that had things in it that showed she knew the room was bugged.

In true psychopathic style AK and RS dropped signs that they thought the police were very very stupid and could be taunted and sent running around at a whim. RS actually sneered at the “stupid policemen” in a chat with his father that those same policemen were smart enough to catch on tape. This mocking of the cops is what was going on in the four days prior to their nailing.

Not Kassin’s invented four days of tag teams, sleeplessness, mental torture, and food and drink deprivation

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/11/12 at 07:11 PM | #

Hi Vivianna.  Quite.

It was not a confession but a false incrimination of Lumumba as the murderer.

It is arguable that it was even an admission that she was there. I am of the opinion that it is not an admission.

The point, however, is why she would say she was, if she were not. On the face of it the only plausible explanation (as Massei so held) was that she was seeking to stop the questioning and divert attention away from her real role in Meredith’s murder. This is so obvious a conclusion that the Groupies make every attempt to undermine it with their wild and unproven allegations about police behaviour and interrogation tactics.

Incidentally I have often wondered about Knox’s claim that the police said they had “hard evidence” against her. Well I guess sometimes the police might say something like that just to gauge the response. If they did that here, it seems from Knox’s account that the nature of that “hard evidence” was left unspecified. I don’t know about you but if I was innocent (and unless this hard evidence was a reference to her broken alibi) then the moment I heard this I would have spent every moment of the interrogation demanding to know what this was.

Posted by James Raper on 08/11/12 at 08:34 PM | #

I rather think that people imagine that Knox was “charged” at the time of or shortly after her arrest. This is because we are used to time limits by which the police have to charge or release a suspect although of course the fact that a suspect is so charged does not mean that the police investigation is over.

It is probably only natural for a lot of people to think that a charge means that the police have got the guilty man, or woman, as the case may be.  Witnesses who are hesitant before might conceivably come forward now with their recollections modified and fortified by the perception.

Actually Knox wasn’t charged for many months, until Mignini had completed his investigation, and there were no further witnesses to come forward if recollection serves me right. The system over there is different.

Posted by James Raper on 08/11/12 at 09:53 PM | #

Right. Follow the link to see all the hoops that Italian prosecutors have to jump through. Italy would be down around Country #200 in the world on a list of countries rating how much justice is perverted. At least by the police and prosecutors.

It is not a country where Amnesty International and the Innocence Project are fighting huge waves of rogue prosecutors. There are in fact… none! Joel Simon’s Committee to Protect Journalists has had precisely ONE case in Italy in all its history - and it was of the anonymous Knox PR shill calling himself “Frank Sfarzo”!! They were tricked into that by Doug Preston.

With regard to the time taken before charging which James mentions, this was in the hands of the magistrates. One year for a murder is about average. In the Melania Rea murder case east of Perugia her husband is not charged after 18 months, though the evidence is as compelling as it was here. It was the prosecuting magistrate Matteini that decided to keep Knox and Sollecito locked up during 2008 instead of free on bail or in house arrest, and not the “meanie” Mignini.

Matteini based that in part on the pair’s many conflicting alibis, in part on the dangers of their fleeing, and in part on a chilling psychological assessment of Knox and Sollecito in Capanne, concluding that they might be a further danger to the community. Most Italians saw them (and still do) as very scary people. That was not a tabloid media creation - Italian media is tame by UK and US standards. It was the perps that managed to create this off-putting impression, all by their sweet selves.

They are not disliked, as PR shill Nina Burleigh absurdly thinks, because they were beautiful. Most Italian men would look down on the short frog Sollecito, and most would prefer Meredith, a cool head turner, rather than the sweaty frantic little Knox.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/11/12 at 10:10 PM | #

Thanks for those links Peter.

Kassin concludes - “...this [paradigm] shift should encompass not only reforms that serve to minimize the risk of false confessions but measures designed to minimize the rippling consequences of those confessions - as in the case of Amanda Knox and others who are wrongly convicted.”

Some observations :-

1. There is as yet no definitive judgement on whether Knox was wrongly convicted. That is a matter for the Italian Supreme Court, not Kassin or anyone else.

2. No one doubts that false confessions do occur but as has been observed Knox’ statement is not so much a confession as a premise from which one can logically infer her guilt.

3. As Stilicho and others have observed people who make false confessions are usually mentally unstable or have borderline cognitive functions or some similar disibility which makes them vulnerable in this respect. Knox, even if she is a psychopath, does not fit into any of these categories.

4. Being an expert in the field Kassin is ideally placed to consider what reforms would help to minimize the risk of false confessions and the “rippling consequences”. I look forward to this as his next big project. This would of course require him to understand, in depth, comparative law pertaining to police investigative procedures and the judicial restraints and safeguards, of his own country and Italy.

Given that he seems to have an inadequate understanding of the former and none at all of the latter, this should keep him quiet for many years to come. I look forward to reading his recommendations in due course.

Posted by James Raper on 08/12/12 at 02:19 AM | #

PMF is reporting that Antonio Curatolo has died in prison. RIP

Posted by James Raper on 08/12/12 at 11:20 AM | #

Thanks James.

Cardiol’s post 10 days ago analyses how Judge Hellman and Judge Zanetti trashed Curatolo and his evidence after he was treated kindly by Judge Massei and the trial court.

In the same way as it is suspicious that two civil-law judges ended up presiding over a murder trial, it is suspicious that Curatolo was imprisoned for some very minor drug trading eight years before.

One of our lawyers actually met him and assessed him a decent brave man.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/12/12 at 01:59 PM | #

Sorry to hear the death of the tramp: Antonio Curatolo. May you find peace in heaven.

I think he was imprisoned because of “straight talk” - such people can be dangerous and need to be protected!

Although a drug-addict, he is in a different class from the others, e.g., AK and RS. I consider him an intellectual (based on the very few I have read about him).

Truth can wait: he is used to it.

Posted by chami on 08/12/12 at 05:39 PM | #

Next post in a while. BRMull’s eye-opening post seems to have gone viral and merits a little more time at the top. The real Italy and its real justice system and its real officials and its real checks and balances all look pretty good.

Anyone less hotheaded than Curt Knox might not have chained himself to a career disaster desperate for approval like Bruce Fischer. He should have seen Fischer coming - or did he think he was “Bruce Fisher of New York”?!

He might have seen the danger they were all getting in, piling exaggeration upon exaggeration upon exaggeration. Bad fact upon bad fact. Wrong theory upon wrong theory. Defamation upon defamation. Risk upon risk.

This has to be incredibly tough now for the AK and RS books, which were seemingly intended to be much more of the same. What of the ghost writers now? Do they think we cannot run rings around them?

Where was good public relations advice when all this was going on? Good PR people say a good PR campaign should never wanders more than 1 or 2 degrees from the truth. This 180 degrees opposite position looks insane.

For that matter, where were the good cool-headed lawyers? Did Ted Simon and Robert Barnett never take a look? Have Dalla Vedova and Ghirga and Bongiorno come off their highs and have they looked?

Was it a good idea for Curt Knox to host so many of the defamatory hotheads in Seattle just a few days ago? Tying himself very publicly to them in a way he seemed to always avoid doing before?

And what about Saul Kassin?

He has really shot himself in both feet. Is he actually smart in any area of psychology? What about BPD and NPD? Has he never encountered them? They are probably 1000 times as common as genuine false confessions seem to be.

And did Kassin do the right thing for Amanda Knox? She almost certainly has some mental condition growing worse since early childhood.  Not enough to get her off, but professional recognition might have saved us the trial and PR campaign.

What a bunch of amateur nuts.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/14/12 at 04:36 PM | #

I was sorry to hear of Curatola’s death in prison - how did he happen to die so soon after arriving in prison after living for years (decades) on the cold and lonely streets of Perugia??  Was there anything fishy about his death?  Could it be from drug withdrawal?

I was glad to reread the post about SomeAlibi’s meeting with him as my impression had become distorted by all the talk about him being a heroine addict.  It’s incredible how some people do survive while being homeless. As far as him dealing drugs, I don’t know how else he could make a little money living on the streets for so long, other than by begging for a handout.  Not that I approve/agree with drug dealing, but it seems to have been small amounts and probably to other homeless people, and it does seem odd that suddenly he would be arrested after the trial when he had been no doubt doing that for years beforehand without anyone noticing.

Is there any negative outcome of his death on the case, in terms of him being a witness but now being gone?

Posted by believing on 08/14/12 at 05:42 PM | #

Curt Knox’s rabid hatchet man Bruce Fischer has been flooding the NYC blog Ground Report (owned by an aide of the mayor) with false accusations of crimes against Mignini.

I mentioned to the editors that they were painting a big target on there backs. Nigel Scott’s delirous rant is still up but a new one just came - and quickly went.

“Amanda Knox, Mignini, witchcraft and tunnel vision – a postscript”  We’ll keep an eye out to see if it reappears. This link swhos where it was.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/21/12 at 06:36 PM | #

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