Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Common View In Legal Circles: Knox Campaign Often Talks Legal Nonsense - As On Oprah

Posted by Peter Quennell


(1) This is the position lawyer Theodore Simon took in December 2008 on NBC Dateline as an impartial commentator then being straight with the American public.

“Theodore Simon thinks the prosecutors evidence made public so far is daunting. The defense could argue a faked robbery, and a moved body, and contamination, but eventually it could become like whack-a-mole, and all of their arguments could lose force.”

(2) This is the position Theodore Simon takes on the Oprah Winfrey show in February 2010 now that he is on the payroll and seemingly trying hard to mislead the American public. “The case makes no legal sense.”

The recent appointment of Theodore Simon as the US legal adviser to the free-Knox campaign met with some ridicule in Italy.

We certainly begin to see why.

Ted Simon’s performance on the Oprah Winfrey show sounded to us a lot like the hapless John Q Kelly. How grounded in either the very hard evidence or the very-different Italian law really is he?

The highly-respected Spokane lawyer Bill Edelblute (who we have quoted before) now weighs in forcefully on the New York Examiner website on the many claims made on the Oprah Winfrey show.

He pretty well reflects here what many other good lawyers are telling us: Don’t take any legal advice from that campaign - not if you actually want to win some…

Concerning the callous uncaring attitude to the Kerchers

Mr Edelblute starts by examining an arrogant and almost pathologically callous remark made by Curt Knox about the family of Meredith.

The parents of Amanda Knox lament the limited contact they now have with their daughter due to her imprisonment, while awaiting the upcoming appeal.  Only near the end of at least the ABC news account of the interview do they give any mention of the victim and the Kercher family. 

Here’s what they have to say in comparing their loss with that of the relatives of the murdered beautiful British student.  In commenting on the fact that they would not welcome a call from the Kerchers, Curt Knox explains it this way:

“We still have a chance with Amanda, and they don’t with their daughter,” he said, and that any such discussion might be best to take place only if the Kerchers are positive Amanda is innocent. “We still have a chance with Amanda, and they don’t with their daughter.”  No, they don’t have a chance with Meredith Kercher, because someone murdered her.  Amanda Knox has been convicted of that murder, subject to appeal.

Let’s see - - the victim’s parents are supposed to believe Amanda is innocent before they ever dare speak to the parents of Amanda Knox.  Guilty or innocent, the parents of Amanda Knox did not murder anyone, so why would they place conditions on what the Kerchers have to believe before ever speaking to them? 

Hint - the reaction of the Kerchers to the verdict was one of believing justice has been done, not of believing the trial went horribly wrong.  Don’t expect them to change their belief anytime soon. 

The Kerchers did not make Amanda Knox turn cartwheels, make out with her boyfriend a few feet from where the body was just discovered, or to change her story several times, or to say that she heard Meredith scream, and that a black individual was in the bedroom with Meredith.  It was scientifically proven with DNA that a black man, Rudy Guede, was in that room, and he said Meredith was screaming, just like Amanda said.  Who is at fault for all that?  The victim’s parents, or Amanda’s sisters?

The chances that the Kerchers feel they need to speak to anyone about the murder of their completely blameless daughter who has not been shown to have done anything other than act like a normal college student, with normal boundaries on her behavior, are nil.

The Kerchers have nothing to explain, but deserve more than an apology from anyone who has made the rights of their daughter a non-issue. And the parents of an accused also have nothing to explain, but when they decide to conduct a media campaign, do they set conditions for the parents of the victim?

Concerning Amanda Knox’s sisters

Bill Edelblute contends with a couple of the often-loose claims of Deanna Knox, well worth reading in the original, and then has a long commentary on the use of young children as sockpuppets. He concludes “When comedy fundraisers for Knox don’t do the trick, try making a kid cry.”

Concerning Oprah’s performance

Next he assesses Oprah Winfrey as host - like us, he clearly believes Oprah was under-researched and under-briefed and fell into several traps. He commends her for not simply taking an “she’s innocent” stance and for asking a few blunt questions, concluding:

  • She aired a written statement by Lyle Kercher, brother of victim Meredith Kercher, who apparently was invited to appear or speak live, but declined.  However, this was at the end of the segment when it probably belongs right smack in the middle. A photo of Meredith was flashed only very briefly.

But much of how Oprah handled the show he clearly did not like - becoming mushy over Amanda, misleading her audience on the sequestering of juries, and making an anti-Italy crack.                                                                                                                                                                                         

  • Oprah made a unequivocal statement that the jury was not sequestered, as it would have been in America.  That is not true.  Even in murder cases, juries are not routinely sequestered throughout the trial.  It is possible a judge would grant such a request upon motion by attorneys.  It is possible a jury might have been sequestered during deliberations, but not during the trial, or both, or neither….
  •  
  • When Edda Mellas told Oprah that Amanda said in a phone call to “tell Oprah I love her” Ms. Winfrey displayed what was clearly a flattered smile.  You are just told that someone who has been convicted of murder, albeit subject to appeal, likes you, and you react as though someone’s puppy has taken an immediate liking to you, or have received a much sought after complement.  We don’t know what Meredith Kercher thinks of Oprah or her show, as her life was taken and she is not here to groom and manipulate others, as is Amanda Knox even from a prison cell.  (Nor would Meredith need to do so.)
  •  
  • For the banal statement, while turning to the audience: “If you want to be tried - you want it to be in the U.S.A.!”  Sure about that?  Amanda will get two levels of appeal as a matter of right in Italy.  In her home state of Washington, she would have only one. Oprah’s statement clearly implies the Italian system is not fair compared to that of the U.S., when there is no evidence of that, and implies there are more procedural protections, when there is no evidence of that.

We could have added this one: Oprah ignored the huge money-making operation and where all the money is going - for example, the very large sums that seem to be spent to mislead the American audiences.

Concerning Elizabeth Vargas

He then takes a look at the quality of the reporting of ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas, who is notorious for repeatedly omitting key facts, muddling what the jury hears in court with what the media says outside, denigrating Italy and the Italian players, taking a very one-sided position (she is believed to have an exclusive deal with the PR campaign, one never made public on-air), and in general misinforming ABC’s viewers.

He judges her commentary as follows: “Ms. Vargas is loose with the facts.  There is almost no value of any kind in what Ms. Vargas had to offer, and negative value, when it comes to attacking a legal result with nothing to back it up, murdering the truth.” 

Concerning Theodore Simon

Bill Edelblute then has serious contention with many of the remarks of Ted Simon, again well worth reading in full.

On Knox pointing to a black man, Patrick Lumumba, now, as our post below underscores, replaced as the sole perp of choice by another black man, Rudy Guede.

Oprah asked him if the fact that Amanda “pointed at an innocent man” reflected on her integrity.  His answer: “Quite to the contrary.”  So it meant she had good integrity, being to the contrary of reflecting poorly upon it?  The tired old refrain that the police forced her to know that it was a black man in Meredith’s room does not mean Amanda was of good integrity, even if believed.  Simon’s answer just means his gun was cocked to say “to the contrary” to any evidence against Amanda.  Amanda would let an innocent man rot in prison, potentially for the 26 years she is doing, if he hadn’t been able to convince the court of his alibi. 

Yet it is “to the contrary” to suggest she has no integrity to allow Patrick to unjustly be deprived of his freedom, business, and reputation? Simon pointed out there had been no interpreter.  Knox didn’t say she had been misunderstood when accusing Lumumba.  She testified she made the false accusation only after being hit on the back of the head by a policewoman who she could not identify. What does lack of an interpreter have to do with the point of accusing an innocent man?  He was in prison two weeks.  Did Knox ever say during that time - no, he’s not involved, you’ve got an innocent man in prison?  His bar that employed Knox is now closed.  A product of Knox’s false accusations.

On Ted Simon on the physical evidence in the house.

Simon rattled off a list of things not found in the room where Meredith was found, such as Amanda’s hair, DNA, sweat, etc.  He did not mention that no murder weapon, which had to have once been in the room, was found in the room either. 

So is Meredith still alive? Simon did not mention the DNA of Amanda and the victim being on a knife where Amanda claimed at times she had spent the night of the murder.

He could have added - as our DNA experts here have often pointed out - that there was zero reason for Knox’s DNA to be in Meredith’s room if she was simply standing there with a knife, goading the men on and taunting Meredith. And that a bloody footprint of Knox’s size was found in the room, on a pillow. And that the mixed DNA of Knox and Meredith was found at five locations - and that mixed DNA had to have been deposited very recently.

And that it had to have been Knox who moved Meredith’s body - nobody else had a need to. And that Amanda Knox’s bedside lamp was found in Meredith’s locked room, presumably used in the cleaning up and rearranging of the crime scene - of which there is no doubt.

He continues on the physical evidence.

Simon does not identify any rule of law that says the sweat of the accused has to be found in the room where the the victim’s body is found.  Yet, he says the case “makes no legal sense.” 

This is a case in which there is an admission of being at the scene, of the DNA of the accused and a victim being on a knife, of knowledge that Meredith screamed while a black man was in a bedroom with Meredith. 

A black man was in a bedroom with Meredith, Rudy Guede, as shown by his DNA.  Guede, though denying murder, says he heard Meredith scream.  Knox said she screamed, before Guede was known by police to be involved.  How did she know what Guede knew?...

There is no legal element missing, it is more a question of the independent strength of certain pieces of evidence, all put together the jury was convinced, and that is their role in the system.

Hmmm. That seems to make a lot of legal sense.

And concerning Curt Knox and Edda Mellas

Finally Bill Edelblute questions many of the claims of Curt Knox and Edda Mellas of bias in the legal process and the Italian media. Please see his original post. He comments further on Curt Knox’s almost pathologically callous remark with regard to Meredith’s family.

While the comments above about the Kerchers could be construed as acknowledging their loss of their daughter, of having “no chance”, as worse than the situation of the Knoxes, I’m not so sure.  Because clearly Curt Knox then says that to speak to them, the Kerchers would have to acknowledge Amanda was innocent. 

That thinking is the product of a different kind of mind.  the Kerchers don’t have to do anything, it is not a question of why Curt Knox would not lower himself to talk to them, it is a question of why the Kerchers would bother.

In other words, why would Meredith’s family WANT to reach out to the family of a possible charming psychopath found guilty of killing their daughter, who still shows zero remorse? Especially when her family seem to display some chilling psychologies of their own.

Fine brave careful humane work by Bill Edelblute and the Examiner. which is helping to re-educate a huge component of the American public on the stark realities of the case.  Reader comments on the Examiner website and every other website we have looked at are running at least four or five to one against Oprah, Curt Knox, and Edda Mellas.

Something in their campaign must be broken. Perhaps they should just pack up and stay home.




Comments

We have our own analysis in the works, claim by claim made on the show, but here Bill Edelblute very smartly covers all the same bases.

It is actually very moving to pick up on his obvious huge sympathy for Meredith’s family. No victim’s family in recent American history has ever been remotely as abused by a defendant’s family as have the Kerchers, and Curt Knox just added to it.

Bill Edelblute is also alive to the fact that a race card is bieng played here to try to get Knox off. In all his mentions of the abuse of Patrick Lumumba and now Rudy Guede, he notes that they are in fact black.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/25/10 at 01:38 PM | #

Don’t underestimate Mr. Simon. According to the national ass’n of criminal defense lawyers site—

“Simon is a leading authority on the application of prisoner transfer treaties and the representation of Americans abroad, achieving remarkable success in obtaining the transfer of numerous foreign nationals and has successfully defended international extradition requests”

I’m wondering if he will be either overseeing the appeal or more ostensible trying to get amanda transferred to an american prison.

Posted by mojo on 02/25/10 at 07:04 PM | #

Hi Mojo. Ted Simon should seriously tone it down if he wants to win any favors from Italy. He was sounding pretty shrill on Oprah which surprised at least one person who knows him. He directly contradicted things he himself has said about the case on-air in the past.

This is what we posted on Ted Simon back in December 2008 when he was pro-prosecution on NBC Dateline “Theodore Simon thinks the prosecutors evidence made public so far is daunting. The defense could argue a faked robbery, and a moved body, and contamination, but eventually it could become like whack-a-mole, and all of their arguments could lose force.”

We are hearing that the judges sentencing report due out next Tuesday and appearing here on TJMK in English shortly thereafter will be a pretty formidable document. The slight possibility of Knox’s transfer may all that is left to them and perhaps Simon is not even boning up on the case any more. It sounded like it.

By the way, those familiar with both legal systems and both penal systems such as our poster Commisario think that on the whole Knox would be better off where she is, if she can do without the family visits. Tough call!!

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/25/10 at 07:35 PM | #

“Don’t underestimate Mr. Simon. According to the national ass’n of criminal defense lawyers site—

“Simon is a leading authority on the application of prisoner transfer treaties and the representation of Americans abroad, achieving remarkable success in obtaining the transfer of numerous foreign nationals and has successfully defended international extradition requests”

I’m wondering if he will be either overseeing the appeal or more ostensible trying to get amanda transferred to an american prison.”

That is interesting.

It seems that the Knox/Mellases in fact do realise how hopeless it is to get Amanda acquitted in the appeal process. They already organised someone to arrange the transfer.

Posted by Nell on 02/25/10 at 11:58 PM | #

I don’t know if this is true or not, but I read that if they agreed on a transfer to an American prison, (once the appeals are done), that she would have to spend the full sentence in jail, where as if she stayed in an Italian prison, she would be eligible for parole. Anyone know if this is true.

Posted by John on 02/26/10 at 03:12 AM | #

Neil & John,

that seems to be the consensus, that Simon’s primary role is to negotiate a transfer to Seattle.

This would be very convenient for Knox; the residing Judge there is none other than Heavy, the same Judge that felt compelled to direct the italian judiciary what to do.

I would doubt that she would serve more than a year let alone the full sentence.

The irony is that if the love-couple had confessed and fast-tracked their trial the maximum sentence would have been 21 years.

For the sweet faced kids, first-time, under he influence of drugs, unintentional, a moment gone terribly wrong, showing remorse - the likely sentence would have been say 18 years.

they would have gotten 1/3 discount to 12 years. A few sad interviews, lots of tears, mea-culpa, mea-culpa and they would have been out in 9 !

It’s going to take longer for them to exhaust all of their appeals.

See, the truth does set you free.

Posted by Chan on 02/27/10 at 07:54 PM | #

It’s really depressing, isn’t it, that Edda and Curt can’t see the distinction between expressing sympathy and admitting guilt. A bereavement usually makes people set aside any dispute at least long enough to acknowledge that terrible grief; that we all share this sad experience (both our own death and loss of another) and is something that transcends other earthly concerns. In normal people.

Posted by bucketoftea on 03/02/10 at 06:45 AM | #

It’s really depressing, isn’t it, that Edda and Curt can’t see the distinction between expressing sympathy and admitting guilt. A bereavement usually makes people set aside any dispute at least long enough to acknowledge that terrible grief; that we all share this sad experience (both our own death and loss of another) and is something that transcends other earthly concerns. In normal people.

Posted by bucketoftea on 03/02/10 at 08:29 AM | #


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