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Passport and Justice

Amanda Knox was an American student in her early 20s studying abroad at a university in Perugia, Italy. In November, 2007 she was arrested, later charged and in 2009 she was found guilty of the murder of her roommate Meredith Kercher.

This case received exclusive media attention all over the world. Much discussion has been had over the murder and the police and the forensic investigations, the statements and confessions of the parties involved, the trial and the appeal, prison conditions and also about the judicial pretrial publicity and the impact on the trial.

In 3-5-pages, and using APA style formatting, analyze this case in detail in terms of how it was handled in the Italian court system. You must use external and supporting sources and make sure to properly cite any outside sources that you use. Discuss whether or not the U.S. police and court systems would have handled the case differently and, if so, how would it have been handled. Would the outcome have likely been different in the United States? Would the prison sentence have been different? What does this case say about prison conditions?
Finally, address the four major legal systems in the world: Civil law, socialist law, Islamic law, and common law. Suppose that you are advising an individual travelling to a county which follows each of these different systems - what advice would you give this individual in terms of how these systems differ and why?

Solution Preview

When discussing the Amanda Knox case it's imperative for YOU to understand that the Italian Justice system is inherently fraught with many flaws according to researchers who have analyzed the system both after and prior to the Knox case. Until 1990 the penal code in Italy was predicated upon an inquisitor system that was steeped in medieval doctrine allowing for those who were arrested to be considered guilty until proven innocence. This changed in 1990 into a system 'similar' to a certain extent to systems within common-law countries such as America but serious differences exist between Italy's version of justice and those within traditional common-law countries.

To begin with, regarding the Knox case or any other criminal case in Italy, the accused have no legal right to see a lawyer after being arrested for a crime. Therefore, you may be interrogated without the right to have a lawyer present, but the caveat is that you do not have to answer any questions and may remain silent aside from providing a person's name, date, and place of birth. You have the right to notify your local consulate; that can provide the names of lawyers who speak your language and must provide information on whether you've been arrested in Italy before. Under this paradigm, Knox was arrested in a foreign country with laws that are foreign to American standards when she was questioned.

I will now focus on the actual questioning as a person may be held for a maximum of three days before a hearing before any judge, and at this hearing you must be represented by a lawyer who will be provided by the court if you cannot afford one. The caveat is that if a person feels pressured, intimidated, or coerced to talk within the three day time frame in which they are held without a lawyer present, this could obviously result in someone making statements that they could implicate them in a crime. This is particularly true under circumstances that are alleged to have occurred with Knox, who was a young student, and reportedly was questioned for 10 hours straight without sleep and without her lawyer present. In addition to these fallacies in the Italian justice system a person who is deemed a danger to society by the judicial system or in a serious case such as Knox's may be held for up to three years without a trial or without receiving bail.

The inherit flaws within the Italian justice system aren't relegated to the criminal justice system alone but are a result of meritocracy in its entire legal system as a whole. This system is predicated upon judicial appointments and other important legal positions are made through nepotism rather than competence resulting in unqualified individuals in positions that determine the guilt or innocence of people - and whether or not they will lose their freedom. Juries under the vernacular that would be akin to America do not exist, which leaves the trial to be decided by the judges who are products of the meritocratic system aforementioned in the ...

Solution Summary

The following posting discusses major legal systems across the world.