Amanda Knox Appeal: “Foxy-Knoxy” may just be “Lucky-Knoxy”

(Update 1/30/2014: Another twist. On re-trial, the Italian Court just found Amanda guilty of murdering Ms. Kercher. Ms. Knox faces 28 years in an Italian prison if the United States grants her extradition back to Italy. More news to follow.)

On Monday, Amanda Knox “Foxy-Knoxy”, a 25-year-old Seattle woman, convicted in Italy of murdering, Meredith Kercher, her 21-year-old housemate in 2007, may well become “Lucky-Knoxy” if Italy’s Appellate Court overturns her conviction and grants her freedom or even reduces her 26 year sentence.

“Lucky”, not because she hired Casey Anthony’s Jose Baez or OJ Simpson’s Johnnie Cochran. But, because, she was convicted in Italy where the appeal process gives the defendant a new trial, a trial “do-over”, a second trial, if you will. A second chance to prove her innocence. Another chance to prove the prosecution is wrong. Not in the United States. The defendant only gets one trial before an appeal is heard. And, an appeal in the US is based on what happened at the defendant’s trial. For instance, did the defense attorney fall short? Incompetent? Or, prosecutorial misconduct? Or, did the judge fall short? Mis-instruct on the law? Wrong ruling? Or, did the jury fall short? Was the verdict not supported by the evidence? Juror misconduct? It is not a trial. It is a review of the defendant’s trial.

An appeal in the US is based on the “battle of the briefs”, the written arguments filed by the attorneys, with a review of the trial transcript and typically, an appeal hearing where the attorneys argue why the conviction should be overturned and respond to the judges questions. It is a court of review, not a trial court. There is no trial. No jury. No testimony. No new evidence (unless the basis of the appeal). No new Opening Statements. No new Cross Examination. No testing of DNA evidence that wasn’t done at the “first trial”. And, not even a court-appointed panel of forensic experts to re-test the evidence from the “first trial”, which, in Amanda Knox’s case now appears problematic. Apparently, in a retest of  the “DNA” found on the murder weapon, the knife, the “convicting” DNA now appears to be rye bread.

An appeal is the United States is a long, arduous and expensive process in which most defendant’s convictions are not overturned to afford a new trial. And, if a new trial is granted, the trial does not take place in the appeals court, it takes place in the lower court, the trial court. Certainly, we would never see Amanda Knox or any defendant stand before a US appeal court to plead their innocence.

Meredith Kercher’s death is a horrible tragedy. And, Amanda Knox’s guilt or innocence will be decided by the Italian Appellate Court’s jury, but, Ms. Knox simply could be “Lucky Knoxy” because she was convicted in Italy where the appellate process gives her a new trial, which some may say, is a more efficient and just justice system.


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