Justice for Amanda Knox?Book Report

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Italian vs. American Justice System

Inside any society, justice is a concept which is continually evolving. This is because political events and social norms will determine what attitudes are applied. At the heart of these transformations, is the use of technology. This is designed to provide avenues to enable the system to become more responsive to the needs of stakeholders. The result is that a variety of organizations are utilizing these avenues to deal with critical challenges.

In the book Murder in Italy, Candace Dempsey examines the case of Amanda Knox. She is an American student, who was on trial with her boyfriend (Rudy Guede) for the murder of her roommate (Meredith Kercher). This caused an international incident surrounding the evidence and motives of the defendants. To fully understand what happened requires examining the case in comparison with the Italian and American criminal justice systems. This will be accomplished by focusing on the role of forensic psychologists and the way it influences diversity / ethics / research / scientific method. Together, these elements will illustrate the impact it is having on stakeholders. (Dempsey, 2010)

Background Murder in Italy

Amanda Knox was in Italy on a foreign exchange program through the University of Washington. In 2007, her roommate was found dead with both Knox and Guede having questionable motives. This created the possibility that both were involved in the murder and cover up. The result is that two were found guilty of murder and served four years in jail. However, an Italian Appeals Court ordered their release based upon questionable evidence surrounding their involvement. The prosecution appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. They overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial. Both Knox and Guede were found guilty in absentia and sentenced to 28 1/2 years. The case is currently going through appeals. These events are significant, as they are showing how the Italian criminal justice system is influenced by factors which could affect the verdict of the case. The result is that the two could be forced to serve out the full sentence, once the appeals process is exhausted. Yet, Italy will have to make a formal request for Knox and there is the possibility the U.S. government will not cooperate. This is showing the differences between the American and Italian criminal justice systems. (Dempsey, 2010)

The Italian vs. American Criminal Justice Systems

The Italian criminal justice system is focused on embracing the inquisitorial approach. This is when the judge will influence the outcome of the case by setting guidelines for the gathering and presentation of evidence. In this system, the prosecution and defense attorneys will play a passive role in representing their clients. (Dempsey, 2010)

The American system is emphasizing the adversarial approach. This is when the judge and jury are unaware of the facts. The two opposing sides will gather evidence and present their cases. They will use various interpretations of the law to determine the guilt or innocence of the suspect. (Dempsey, 2010)

During the investigation, there are many different kinds of evidence collected by law enforcement. The most notable include: physical, eyewitness and impressions. Physical evidence is when there is a focus on finding anything that can materially tie a particular individual to the crime scene and the victim. Some different examples include: finger prints, blood, saliva and seaman. Eyewitness evidence is concentrating on individuals who may have seen a particular activity taking place (as the crime was being committed). Impression evidence is when there is some type of physical indentation or mark around the crime scene. (Dempsey, 2010)

The way that they are collected is through: interviewing witnesses / neighbors / friends / relatives, photographing / video recording key information, collecting samples and the utilization of ultra violet lights. This is showing how there are a variety of tools to gather different pieces of evidence. The techniques and approaches that are utilized will have an effect on the underlying amounts of quality. (Dempsey, 2010)

In the American system, the way that any kind of evidence should be examined is through taking an approach that is focused on: the facts and where they will lead investigators. This means that there must be a certain degree of objectivity, which is supported by: all of the proof corroborating or refuting different theories. When this happens, investigators will be more effective in understanding who committed the crime and identifying a motive. It is at this point that these findings can be shown to prosecutors. They will determine if there is enough evidence to indict an individual based on: the data and analysis of the facts. This is different from Italy, as there are two judges who will severe on the jury. Their job is to correct any overemphasis on specific pieces of evidence. As a result, this will set the rules for discovery and what evidence can be included in a criminal case. (Dempsey, 2010)

Evidence can provide investigators with detailed information about the identity of the perpetrator and the kinds of tools / techniques that were used to commit the crime. This helps to determine the motive and the time that these events were occurring. Moreover, the kind of information that is collected will quickly eliminate and isolate various criminal suspects. When this happens, the different facts will help law enforcement officials to determine what took place and how a series of events unfolded. It is at this point that the data will support or refute particular theories introduced about the crime. In this case, evidence was collected from the crime scene. However, there was nothing that clearly tied Knox and Guede to the murders (i.e. foot / fingerprints, clothing or the murder weapon). Instead, prosecutors relied on the psychological profile (that was created by the police) and circumstantial evidence. This was used to establish a motive for the crime and prosecute the two for the murder. (Dempsey, 2010)

Potential contamination issues with the collection of evidence include: environmental and human factors. Environmental contamination occurs when heat, humidity and related elements will damage any kind of clues that are at the scene of the crime. While human factors, are when investigators, emergency personnel and the family could touch something (effectively contaminating the crime scene). Once this happens, is the point that it is more difficult for investigators to establish that a particular individual was at the location. (Dempsey, 2010)

To address possible contamination issues a number of tools must be used in conjunction with each other to include:

Having everyone wearing protective gear: A common challenge that will occur at any crime scene is human contamination. To prevent this from happening, everyone must wear protective gear to include: rubber gloves, suits and shoes. This will ensure that any kind of evidence is focused on: the perpetrators and victims. (Dempsey, 2010)

Isolating the crime scene: This will occur by having law enforcement officials move onlookers away from the area and begin talking with close confidants about the incident. When this happens, all evidence is protected from being inadvertently damaged. At the same time, this is forcing investigators to focus on key events (which is: improving the accuracy of the information collected).

Collecting any kind of samples in a timely manner: Weather related factors could have an impact on the quality of physical and impression evidence. When this happens, it will make it difficult for investigators to amass key data from the crime scene (such as: DNA). As a result, law enforcement officials must be prepared to quickly collect all samples within a few of hours of the crime being committed. (Dempsey, 2010)

These areas are showing how the biggest contamination issues will occur through: physical and impression evidence. This is because human and environmental factors will have an effect on the quality that is collected. When this happens, it will make it difficult for investigators to show that someone was at the crime scene. This increases the chances that key evidence will be thrown out based on these factors. To prevent this from happening, select procedures must be utilized at all times to address these challenges. (Dempsey, 2010)

In the Knox case, the DNA from the two suspects was found under her bra. This is a single piece that was used with testimony from a homeless man (who saw them nearby the apartment before the murder). However, the defense will argue that the evidence did not support the theory of prosecutors by not corroborating the with any other parts Kercher's body. The most notable include: no shoe prints, clothing fibers, hairs, fingerprints, skin cells or DNA of Knox were found on Kercher's body, clothes, handbag or anywhere in the bedroom. (Dempsey, 2010)

Moreover, Guede's DNA was found in numerous areas. The most notable include: shoe prints, fingerprints, DNA was found in Kercher's bedroom, the strap of her bra and his DNA was on a vaginal swab taken from Kercher's body. This evidence is tying Guede to the crime scene. Yet, everything that was collected Knox is circumstantial at… [END OF PREVIEW]

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