Amanda Knox, Innocent or Guilty?

Is Amanda Knox...

Guilty?
4
20%
Guilty?
4
20%
Innocent?
6
30%
Innocent?
6
30%
 
Total votes: 20
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Glaucon
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Re: Amanda Knox, Innocent or Guilty?

Postby Glaucon » Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:33 am

The constitution is a body of law, as well, same as other laws, even if it 'reigns' those other laws. Just like 'the one ring to rule them all' is a ring too. (Old school nerd, here.) ;)

I know that the US constitution has taken on semi-religious aspects, though, being seen as a defining document and a moral 'source' in itself (quite different from most of the rest of the world, where it is seen more as a 'tool' on a par with other laws, even if it occupies the highest spot in the legal 'hierarchy', a body of law that most countries overhaul or rewrite fairly regularly as well).

There is also a treaty clause in the US constitution, so the obligation to honor agreements you have made, legally, agreements not ruled to be unconstitutional, agreements ratified by a qualified majority of the Senate, etc. is legally supported by the constitution as well.

And one may wonder why the USA would make such a big deal out of this whole double jeopardy thing. Because it isn't exactly true that you cannot be put on trial for the same offense, twice, after an acquittal. Maybe only once for criminal law, but there is civil law as well. It happened to OJ, who was found not guilty, and then found guilty in a civil case. I do not believe that that would be possible in Italy.
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Re: Amanda Knox, Innocent or Guilty?

Postby Leah » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:18 pm

Glaucon wrote:The constitution is a body of law, as well, same as other laws, even if it 'reigns' those other laws. Just like 'the one ring to rule them all' is a ring too. (Old school nerd, here.) ;)

I know that the US constitution has taken on semi-religious aspects, though, being seen as a defining document and a moral 'source' in itself (quite different from most of the rest of the world, where it is seen more as a 'tool' on a par with other laws, even if it occupies the highest spot in the legal 'hierarchy', a body of law that most countries overhaul or rewrite fairly regularly as well).

There is also a treaty clause in the US constitution, so the obligation to honor agreements you have made, legally, agreements not ruled to be unconstitutional, agreements ratified by a qualified majority of the Senate, etc. is legally supported by the constitution as well.

And one may wonder why the USA would make such a big deal out of this whole double jeopardy thing. Because it isn't exactly true that you cannot be put on trial for the same offense, twice, after an acquittal. Maybe only once for criminal law, but there is civil law as well. It happened to OJ, who was found not guilty, and then found guilty in a civil case. I do not believe that that would be possible in Italy.


Civil Law is separate from Criminal Law, and the Double Jeopardy clause applies only to Criminal Law.

As far as the rest goes, you're free to think it's dumb, stupid, backward, or silly, but no treaty can contravene the Constitution. Basically, anything that comes up against the Constitution either passes muster or isn't legal.

If someone doesn't like the fact that something is or isn't constitutional, they can try to change the Constitution. But that requires them getting the entire country to agree.
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Glaucon
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Re: Amanda Knox, Innocent or Guilty?

Postby Glaucon » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:32 pm

But that doesn't mean that this extradition treaty with Italy (along with most extradition treaties the USA has with the rest of the world, and I read that the USA happens to be the country making most extradition-requests to other countries, and not just Snowden) IS unconstitutional. I have seen people claim that in comments, but I haven't seen anyone make that case in more legal terms. To me, it would be surprising if this double jeopardy thing would render extradition unconstitutional. Because that would mean that nearly all extradition requests made to the USA would have to be denied because, potentially, the extradited person could face a second trial if the State appealed a not-guilty verdict. Which would mean the US should never have entered into any treaties in the first place. That would seem odd, so, maybe extraditing Knox would not be unconstitutional at all. Doesn't mean it will happen, of course.
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Re: Amanda Knox, Innocent or Guilty?

Postby Theoden » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:33 pm

Well, I had no idea that europeans sometimes fuck with the extradition treaties because they think capital punishment is inhumane.

Well no, actually I think I have heard of it before here and there but I just didn't think of it.

Thanks for bringing that up. We're keeping Amanda Knox.


Glaucon, you try to draw a line between preventing capital punishment (moral judgement) and giving up a U.S. citizen's constitutional right (which you call judicial process).

How is Double Jeopardy simply a 'judicial process' when it is in the 5th amendment, of which belongs to our Bill of Rights? The Bill of Rights constitute the 1st to 10th amendments.

If something is a constitutional 'right', and considered a right in the Bill of Rights, then can't you argue it is a moral 'right' as well? Like 'human rights'? Just as moral as say, an opposition to Capital Punishment?

I'd say they stand on equally level 'moral ground debate status'.

Now, since Amanda Knox violated laws in another country, and other reasons I've stated before, I'd be willing to throw her under the bus and let her do without her constitutional right to no Double Jeopardy.

But since europeans think they can extend their own laws and morals to how we adjudicate things here in the US via the extradition treaties, why can't we extend our constitutional 'right' to them as well?

I mean morals are in the word itself! A Right. Comes from Right and Wrong. Comes from morals.
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Re: Amanda Knox, Innocent or Guilty?

Postby Glaucon » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:10 pm

Theoden wrote:Well, I had no idea that europeans sometimes fuck with the extradition treaties because they think capital punishment is inhumane.


Many countries do that. (Ones that don't have capital punishment, mostly). The USA does it too, but not about capital punishment, but about other 'human rights'-related issues, even, with countries it has extradition treaties with. There are probably clauses in extradition treaties between individual countries that allow for these 'exceptions', so that no country is in fact breaking the treaty in the formal sense.

Glaucon, you try to draw a line between preventing capital punishment (moral judgement) and giving up a U.S. citizen's constitutional right (which you call judicial process).


I think they aren't on the same scale. (Though, again, I am AGAINST not handing someone over because they might face capital punishment). But the thing is... yes, double jeopardy is part of what is call the judicial process. In the US, it is supposed to be part of 'due process'. But, of course, 'due process' is different in every country. But just because it is different, it doesn't mean that that country doesn't have due process, with the proper safe-guards build in, etc. They are just... different safe-guards. For example, in the USA, you cannot always appeal the outcome of a trial if you are found guilty. In many European countries, you can. Not just once, but twice, usually (sometimes three times, because there is also a European court of appeals that hears some cases).

How is Double Jeopardy simply a 'judicial process' when it is in the 5th amendment, of which belongs to our Bill of Rights? The Bill of Rights constitute the 1st to 10th amendments.


The US constitution, including the Bill of Rights applies to US soil. It is US law for internal purposes. Not Chinese Law. People have the right to bear arms/form an armed militia as well, according to the US constitution. That doesn't mean that the US constitution gives them the right to do so in France.

If something is a constitutional 'right', and considered a right in the Bill of Rights, then can't you argue it is a moral 'right' as well? Like 'human rights'? Just as moral as say, an opposition to Capital Punishment?


Opinions vary, but I'd say that the general consensus opinion of people writing about ethics/morality is that a legal right may or may not equate with a moral right. Because our laws often reflect our moral intuitions (because we made/make them and because they often shape our thinking in turn), for us, looking at our own laws, the two tend to roughly coincide (especially if we have main-stream moral convictions). But, clearly, not everything in the law or even a constitution does. Is it 'immoral' for a President to have served more than two terms because the US constitution says they cannot, nowadays? Of course not. The morality is usually not about the details, but about the overall 'end' it serves and the overall means employed.

I'd say they stand on equally level 'moral ground debate status'.


I disagree, but hey.

Now, since Amanda Knox violated laws in another country, and other reasons I've stated before, I'd be willing to throw her under the bus and let her do without her constitutional right to no Double Jeopardy.

But since europeans think they can extend their own laws and morals to how we adjudicate things here in the US via the extradition treaties, why can't we extend our constitutional 'right' to them as well?


Like I said, most of these treaties will probably have caveats allowing countries to refuse extradition if specific conditions apply. But I doubt that this double jeopardy thing is one of those, probably because it only applies to the US legal system, within the USA, and isn't supposed to be a 'human rights' issue. (the 'human' pointing at the idea that it transcends borders). If the USA does take it to be a 'human right' (and not just a US constitutional right granted to the people living in the US, but a right applying to everyone, everywhere), then it would appear that the USA should never have entered into any extradition treaties with any country that doesn't have nearly the same form of judicial process (not even the UK would qualify, I think, nor Canada).

But I don't think the USA does consider double jeopardy a human right, in that sense. It is just a constitutional right afforded under US law, applying within the US legal system. I suspect that, in legal terms, it isn't really 'in play', even if it is brought up in public discussions. That public debate is important, though, perhaps more than what the laws says, if it is politicians having to decide if she is send to Italy or not.

Again, I haven't read anything from anyone saying that extradition would be illegal according to US law because of double jeopardy. I read that some Harvard Law prof said that, technically, legally, the USA is obliged to extradite Knox, but that the final decision to do so will probably lie with the federal administration.
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Re: Amanda Knox, Innocent or Guilty?

Postby Leah » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:48 pm

Glaucon wrote:But that doesn't mean that this extradition treaty with Italy (along with most extradition treaties the USA has with the rest of the world, and I read that the USA happens to be the country making most extradition-requests to other countries, and not just Snowden) IS unconstitutional. I have seen people claim that in comments, but I haven't seen anyone make that case in more legal terms. To me, it would be surprising if this double jeopardy thing would render extradition unconstitutional. Because that would mean that nearly all extradition requests made to the USA would have to be denied because, potentially, the extradited person could face a second trial if the State appealed a not-guilty verdict. Which would mean the US should never have entered into any treaties in the first place. That would seem odd, so, maybe extraditing Knox would not be unconstitutional at all. Doesn't mean it will happen, of course.


No, it doesn't mean that this treaty is unconstitutional. I didn't say that it did. I said it has to pass muster.

Thing is, there's not really a precedent here, as far as I know. I don't know of any other case where someone has been declared innocent in a court of law in Europe, released, returned to the US, and then been tried and convicted on the same charge a second time.
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Re: Amanda Knox, Innocent or Guilty?

Postby Theoden » Wed Feb 12, 2014 4:59 pm

Well, I suppose you are right, in that the Bill of Rights doesn't actually have a 100% moral backing.

Take for example the right to bear arms. Half the country doesn't believe that is an ethical right, and then try to get creative and say they 'interpret it' to mean state's National Guard rather than individual right to bear arms. Which is really just a cowardly way to go about it; if they disagree with the 2nd amendment they should just try to change the constitution rather than try to 'interpret it' in a different way to suit their own ends. It might be insanely harder to do it the proper way, but they get no respect from me trying to do it the underhanded way.

Anyway, that's off tangent. You're right, there's probably no double jeopardy clause in our extradition treaties.

I suppose there's still some merit, however, to the morality of our Double Jeopardy right. You've already noted about the revolutionary origins of the right and the need for freedom.

I haven't really read about the origins of the fifth amendment, but I have read Franz Kafka's The Trial, and really would not want to be retried over and over for the rest of my life constantly having a dark cloud over my head, powerless against the state for whenever they wish to summon me and interrupt my life.

I'm pretty sure that's universal, that one isn't really 'free' if one has to live with that cloud over your head for the rest of your life, even if you can get retrials with a guilty verdict.

I have to wonder why our legal right to no Double Jeopardy would not be considered a human right, then, and why there haven't been european adoptions of this right.
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Re: Amanda Knox, Innocent or Guilty?

Postby Glaucon » Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:30 pm

Well, you have a point in saying that the idea that a person should not be put in double jeopardy has an appeal. Then again, the idea of the legal system is that the best determination of guilt or innocence is made. There is an interest of society at large at stake as well. And an interest of the victim (even if they are dead) and their families, etc. And those do not count for less. If it is right to give someone convicted of a crime the chance to appeal the outcome of a trial, why would that not be true for 'the people'? Europe has less of a tradition of 'distrusting the State' (though we distrust the state more, these days) so I guess it makes sense for the State, representing the people, the victim, 'justice' etc. to have the same rights as the defendant when it comes to appealing.

And do keep in mind that, in Europe (can't speak for the whole of it, but I think it is true for most of it, at least) these appeals are not supposed to be just 'another shot' by the prosecution in front of a new jury. In most cases, it is judges ruling, and the 'higher court' judges do look at the verdict of the lower court before making their ruling. And they typically explain why they deviate from it or uphold (parts of) it, their considerations often being part of the record, the idea being that these more senior judges make sure that no mistake was made, that the judges 'below them' did a proper job, etc. Often, there is even a third 'tier' to have recourse to. And these 'higher level judges' are typically not stupid or impulsive or likely to make highly controversial rulings that run completely opposite of the lower level judges. The idea being that this will guarantee that all necessary effort is made to arrive at a fair and just final ruling.

Usually, the state doesn't use it's right to appeal an initial not-guilty verdict, by the way. Because it costs time and money. For them, for the state, and they might fail to make their case again and they would be fighting an uphill battle. They usually only do it when they feel that the trial went really badly for them (their own mistakes, the judges delivering an odd verdict, etc.) or when they think they have more, stronger evidence.

Does this mean that this sort of system never leads to mistakes? No. Sometimes, people are found guilty, even on appeal or even on a final appeal, and later revealed to be not guilty (sometimes due to advances in DNA research or due to confessions of other people). But that is not necessarily due to the system being wrong or stacked against the defendant. Sometimes, the evidence 'seems' to point one way (due to bad luck, false evidence & testimony, shoddy police work, police and prosecution 'tunnel vision', mistakes in the 'science' and so forth). That can happen in the US as well.

Personally, if I was innocent and accused of a major crime, I think I'd rather be tried under a European system. I'd have a few 'professionals' judge it, and, if needed, another fresh batch of more senior professionals after that, and maybe a high court or something after that. The 'risk' of being tried a second time on appeal after I was found not-guilty the first time would be low, in any case, and I'd have a chance to appeal that if that turned out the wrong way, for me. In the US, I might piss a jury off by being my pedantic self, maybe used the wrong lawyer and... well... then I'd be done, wouldn't I?

Anyway... long post, but I tried to answer your post in the top bit. I won't say that the idea that you can only face trial for a crime once is a bad idea. But the system of trial, possible appeal, another possible appeal (which, I suppose, is more practical without juries) is probably more likely to deliver a consistent and reliable kind justice, with less of the 'coin-toss' element that I think the US justice system seems to have. Both in terms of the innocent being found guilty and those that should have been found guilty walking. Think OJ.

@ Leah: I guess it is a rare case. It is not that common for the State to appeal non-guilty verdicts to begin with. However, I'd guess that there would be ample precedent for someone being extradited from the USA to a European country that could, potentially, be found not-guilty in the first trial and found guilty on an appeal. Which would, in theory, be most cases.

I am guessing that Italy was forced to release Knox after she was found not guilty on her appeal, though. They were probably legally obliged to release her at that stage. Not sure.

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