Thursday, January 30, 2014

Amanda Knox convicted again, apparently under double jeopardy; extradition not in play now, seems unlikely

An Italian Court has “re-convicted” Amanda Know of the 2007 murder of Meredith Kercher.  ABC News has the detailed story by Alyssa Newcomb and Phoebe Natanson.
This was the third trial. Legal commentators said that the DNA evidence on a knife fell well below accepted standards, but the current court and jury seemed to ignore industry standards in certifying DNA tests.
Knox remained in Seattle for the trial.  The obvious question would be whether Italy would request extradition. This cannot happen until the Italian Supreme Court has reviewed the case. If the conviction stands, the US government will be likely to try to find legal arguments not to honor the extradition request.
The US may decline extradition of someone who could not have been convicted under US constitutional protections, in a manner that resembles the idea of asylum. 
In the US, a defendant can be retried after a conviction is overturned, as explained here.  But under prohibition of double jeopardy, the defendant cannot be retried if actually acquitted, however.  It seems that there is a question as to whether the acquittal was exactly that, or just an overturning of a conviction.

Commentators seem to say that it was a real acquittal. (Compare to Michael Morton and Ryan Ferguson cases in the U.S. on the TV blog under “wrongful convictions” label, also look at the Innocence Project and the film “The Exonerated”.)
The Italian appeals court had done its own forensics and had apparently decided the DNA evidence of Knox (and Sollecito’s) participation was not present. The boyfriend still gets 25 years in prison. 

Update: Sat, Feb. 1

On CNN, Richard Herman and Avery Freeman disagreed on whether the State Department would feel forced to extradite Knox if the conviction is upheld in Italy.  Herman didn't seem to give much credence to the double jeopardy argument. 

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