Today, Amanda Knox was found not guilty of murdering and sexually assaulting her roommate by an Italian appeals court.
As a lawyer, I find the differences between the Italian criminal defense system and the American system fascinating. (In Italy, they review all the evidence at the appeal level in front of a jury that includes judges). As someone who has worked as credentialed media, I find much of the coverage of the Knox trial repulsive.
After years of exploitive media coverage, the case has been described in many American news sources today as "Character assassination versus evidence." Lurid, irrelevant personal details about the defendant leaked. Every action of the defendant, even ones with innocent explanations, characterized in the worst light. I don't know. Sounds like most TV coverage of trials in the United States.
Can't blame media for that. Television is about ratings not justice. Many parts of criminal cases are boring. If you have a choice of flashy video or audio versus subtle details, guess what TV is going to choose?
For background on the Amanda Knox case, I suggest reading this fascinating opinion piece in the New York Times entitled,"An Innocent Abroad." In it, the author, Timothy Egan quotes someone talking about the differences between the Italian and American systems of justice:
“In Italy, the general assumption is that someone is guilty until proven innocent. Trials – in the press and in the courts – are more often about defending personal honor than establishing facts, which are easily manipulated.”
As I've mentioned before relating to the NFL Personal Conduct Policy, I think public opinion in America already has already evolved to presumption of guilt.