Headsup: Copies of the book are on their way to booksellers throughout Italy, and thereafter wiil come the Italian media push.
Category: More hoaxers

Thursday, March 22, 2012

No, Book Agent Sharlene Martin, Your Client Raffaele Sollecito Really IS A Hot Potato

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above and below: Verona in north Italy where Sollecito is accepted by the university for a masters degree]


Los Angeles book agent Sharlene Martin posted this gung-ho comment on a Daily Telegraph thread (presently page seven) late Sunday night UK time.

I couldn’t be happier for Amanda Knox getting $4M for a book deal.  What happened to her and Raffaele is a sin.  BTW, I represent Raffaele for his book that we’re working on. 

There is no restitution for wrongful conviction and both families incurred absorbent costs to help exonerate them so good for them if they help recoup the lost monies.  They’ll never recoup the lost time of 4 years in prison.

She posted that at just about the same time we posted (post below) on the various hot-potato qualities of Raffaele Sollecito.  Since then… no further word.

In terms of the book’s sale to a publisher she may not have much to worry about.

For this reason the deal is probably set in stone: Simon and Schuster are a fully owned subsidiary of CBS Broadcasting, which has gone to eye-popping lengths (post on this soon) to remain in bed with the Knox-Mellases.

The content of this ill-considered book might be a lot more problematic. Sharlene Martin might still believe that there are just a few open questions, easily accommodated to by the FOA talking points. In actual fact there are hundreds.

And the FOA have studiously stayed away from creating the alternate-universe scenario that Sollecito and Andrew Gumbel must now create, if they don’t want to end up as the laughing-stock of the western world.

This is a road-map of the Sharlene Martin-Andrew Gumbel-Simon & Schuster minefield.

Hmmm. Lotta questions to be answered in a hurry, if the book is to stir a wave of sympathy or outrage to stop the Italian Supreme Court punting the case back to Perugia to get it right this time around.

Above and below are images of the northern Italian city of Verona. It has the largest and best preserved intact Roman ampitheater in the world. It also has a very good university.

Possibly legitimately or possibly by way of strings pulled by his father, Raffaele Sollecito had gained a place in a graduate class at the university there for the Department of Computer Science’s masters degree in computer engineering. 

In January Sollecitos father made several statements from Bari to the effect that Raffaele really was done with Amanda and dreams of visiting Seattle and would soon be headed for Verona to complete that postgraduate degree.

Rather suddenly, less than two months later, Raffaele is headed for Seattle, with his father and sister seemingly in hot and unexplained pursuit. Microsoft is suddenly mentioned as a firm which will interview him, masters degree or no masters.

So what happened? Well possible one explanation might be found in the comments area of every recent Italian report which allows them, which suggests that just about 100 percent of those posting don’t really like him.

That Italians dont really like him and are even inclined to physically take after him is also well illustrated in this story which we posted 18 months ago.

Sollecito was in the very modern solar-heated Terni prison for most of last year.  He was moved back to Capanne this year just before the trial, amidst his loud complaints that Capanne lacks the internet connections for his computer-science homework.

Sollecito has just received word that he failed the virtual-reality entrance exam that he took at Verona University last March.

When he was being transported there in a police van for the exam, he was yelled at by an angry crowd when the van stopped at an autostrada rest-stop for what Americans call a bathroom break.

He was bundled back in, and the police van took off in a hurry. No bathroom break? That must have rattled his exam-taking composure, that is for sure.

Another possible explanation is that Sollecito is putting half a world between himself and Italy, because the Sollecito-Knox-Mellases realize that in light of Dr Galati’s formidable appeal that legally they are cooked.

Lots of good interview questions for Microsoft above. And a suggested new subtitle for “Presumed Guilty: My Journey to Hell and Back with Amanda Knox” ?

“Oops. This book idea really wasn’t very smart.”


[Below: A Verona audience waits in ampitheater for Sollecito to be fed to the lions, if they’ll have him]


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sollecito Ghost Writer Andrew Gumbel Reveals To MedaBistro How Ill-Informed He Is About His Client

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above left: Sollecito ghost writer Andrew Gumbel; above right, Sollecito agent Sharlene Martin]


Right now Sollecito ghost writer Andrew Gumbel is making loud, silly claims like many other writers who came upon the case and first fired from the hip.

And then “mysteriously” went silent and have not been heard from again.  We have helped to edge back from the brink several dozen such reporters. Perhaps they ought to thank us - oh, actually in several instances they did.

Here on Media Bistro Andrew Gumbel gives a shoot-from-the-hip interview in which he seems to display a terrible batting average on the hard truths. The interview is being smartly ridiculed in the comments below it by among others TJMK’s own well-informed pro-Meredith campaigner Bucket Of Tea.

Here, to help set Mr Gumbel straight before it is too late, is our own informed commentary on what he said.

A: It’s a rule of thumb that prosecutors dictate media coverage in a criminal trial. They are the ones who bring the charges, and are either vindicated or successfully challenged in court; the texture and the substance of the defendants’ stories tend to get lost. And so it was here. The media coverage focused largely on the yes/no question of whether Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were guilty.

Untrue.

The mechanics of the case from the inside “” how they were interrogated, why they were prosecuted even after the most obvious perpetrator, Rudy Guede, was caught and convicted, the behind-the-scenes haggling between lawyers, defendants, expert witnesses, court officials and others “” have been revealed only in glimpses, if at all.

Untrue.

Both Amanda’s book and Raffaele’s book are sure to shed light on how and why this grotesque miscarriage of justice arose. I would venture to say Raffaele’s story is even more absorbing than Amanda’s, because it was his family which orchestrated the detective work that made it possible to dismantle the case against both of them piece by piece. It was a high-wire act from beginning to end, and it’s a thrilling tale.

Untrue.

Amanda and Raffaele can’t bring Meredith back, but they can give everyone the benefit of the truth. It’s an important story to tell. And after all they have gone through “” including the huge hit their families took to their reputations and their pocket books “” they certainly deserve both vindication and compensation….

Untrue.

Not only will the book leave no doubt about Raffaele’s innocence; everything Raffaele and his family have to tell, backed by previously unpublished documents in the case, suggests that his incarceration had almost nothing to do with the actual evidence but had another motivation entirely “” to be revealed when the book comes out…..

And untrue.Absurdly so.

Thirty plus judges who reviewed the case had no “other motivation entirely”. Please drop the smears of Italy and Italian justice. It isn’t becoming and there are already enough calunnia suits for felony defamation in the works.

And Sollecito’s family orchestrated no amazing detective work that showed that all the evidence was at fault. The defenses had every opportunity to do so in 2009 at trial and they did a truly terrible job. The Supreme Court already knows this so in what way exactly have they won?

In fact the main thing the Sollecito family is famous for right now is that they all face a trial in Bari. The charges are (1) illegally releasing video evidence to a TV network and (2) illegally attempting to subvert the police and prosecution by political means.

Now that’s true. Its seems two serious laws may have been broken. Andrew, read up about your Dear Clients here and especially here. They haven’t even attempted to “explain” all that as yet, and are almost certainly going to go down at trial.

And by the way, the evidence that the Sollecito family leaked to Italian TV? Video images of the naked body of Meredith. Very nice clients? You’ve been conned.


Monday, February 20, 2012

HarperCollins: Perhaps This Explains Why Jonathan Burnham Was Inspired To Take Such A Seeming Risk

Posted by Peter Quennell





HarperCollin’s parent company News Corp itself continues to be a major news items, especially in the UK.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp vehicles have had a history of racy reporting and and right-wing-party support, and now both are rather on the outer. The investigations in London into phone tapping and bribing of police for stories seem only to be getting worse.

As a result NYC-based News Corp and its minions, perhaps including HarperCollins (Jonathan Burnham is one of Rupert’s talented British imports to New York) might be making some risky or unwise moves.

Okay. Back to the stock charts once again to see what the collective voting wisdom of informed investors may be telling us about this.

News Corp cannot be compared directly to Lagadere the parent company of Hachette which is soon to publish John Kercher’s “Meredith” as the Paris-based Lagadere is not listed on the New York exchange,

So here above we show the stock for Penguin Publishing’s parent company Pearson instead. It is a good surrogate as Lagadere and Pearson are the world’s two most successful and fastest-growing publishing groups.

What does the chart above tell us? (Click it for a larger version.) The green curve is the Dow Jones index, which is the stock exchange’s large-company average.

  • Over the five years shown Penguin’s parent Pearson (red curve) is UP around 20% compared to the average.
  • Meanwhile HarperCollins’s parent News Corp (blue curve) is DOWN an amazing 30 percent compared to the average.

That 30 percent down represents a drop of over FIFTEEN BILLION DOLLARS in five years in the market value of the parent company. Very worrisome for the hard-pressed Mr Murdoch and the increasingly edgy News Corp stock holders.

And who knows? Maybe it helped inspired Mr Burnham in his office a few blocks away (he surely owns the News Corps stock and wants the whole company to gain) to go for broke on the Knox book with $4 million down.

Did any of the main media reporting on the book (over 200 hits on Google News) happen to mention this?!


Friday, February 17, 2012

Were Prospective Knox Publishers Given The Full Score On The Likely Legal Future Of This Case?

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: the seemingly hornswoggled Jonathan Burnham and Claire Wachtell of the HarperCollins house]


One publisher who passed on the Amanda Knox book then came here to read and told us he was rather shocked.

All the publishers going in to the auction were apparently not briefed by the Knox huckster team about the legal minefield this case still continues to represent. It may not have mattered to HarperCollins of course. It was HarperCollins that published OJ Simpson’s notorious “If I Did It” and they seem to have come out ahead.

One of the quirky outcomes of the Simpson venture the Amanda Knox team might like to draw a lesson from is that the “If I Did It” book (written by a ghost writer for Simpson, and as one Amazon reviewer said “chock full of omissions”) directly fueled the public anger that helped to put Simpson behind bars for a long time.

Typical of the hyper-cautious Italian system, this case is passing through three automatic phases like a three-act play.  The Knox team can beef now about harassment and double jeopardy, but they have filed their own Supreme Court appeal, and it is written into the Italian constitution that no verdicts and sentences that are appealed are final until the Supreme Court signs off.

Act One

Act One started early in 2009 three months after Guede’s trial and we all saw as reported here on TJMK a very speedy and precise presentation of the prosecutions’ case. This was followed by the spectacle of Amanda Knox doing herself considerable harm in her two days on the stand. Thereafter through autumn and well into winter 2009, a weak and faltering defense was presented, with several court days simply cancelled because the defense could think of nothing more to say.

Judge Massei’s jury then quickly came to a unanimous verdict and he wrote up the reasons for it in an excellent 425-page report. He differed in only one major respect from Judge Micheli who in October 2008 concluded that Amanda Knox had organized and led the pack against Meredith and that Rudy Guede was unwittingly or accidentally drawn in to her torture and murder. (He still handed Guede 30 years.)

Judge Massei didnt cover the Rudy Guede evidence in nearly the same depth as Judge Micheli (Guede was only briefly in the Massei courtroom, and because Mr Mignini would not do a deal he barely spoke). In rather a stretch, Judge Massei argued that Guede set the escalation in motion which resulted in Meredith’s death. Few of us believe that.

UK and US lawyers have told us that under US and UK rules it is very unlikely that any judge would have then allowed the case to go to appeal. Knox and Sollecito would have served out their time and possibly emerged much better off for it - you can see the ugliness flowing back into them now..

Act Two

Act Two in 2010-11 saw the playing field becoming increasingly tilted. Mr Mignini happened to catch on tape a Florence prosecutor lamenting that the Monster of Florence cabal for which Doug Preston is such an eager beaver was tying his hands. The Florence prosecutor then sought to get his own back by taking Mr Mignini to court.

All sorts of amateur second-guessers on the evidence now got into the act, and few outside Italy any more had a firm command of the actual hard facts. It is rumored that Judge Hellman may have had a bias even before he ever got involved with the case. Mention of Meredith was almost nowhere to be found, and there was a constant drumbeat for Sollecito and Knox kept alive by their families and the US media and the MP Rocco Girlanda.

Helping the defenses was that soon after Meredith’s death the defenses played one huge trick. They failed to show up when Dr Stefanoni did her DNA tests. That then allowed them to impugn and slur her and her work with no hard evidence to hand. This rose to a crescendo when Judge Hellman’s two under-qualified consultants reported at appeal.

Amanda Knox still ended up being handed three years in prison, but with time served Judge Hellman released the two “young people” which was a verdict that to very few informed Italians made sense. 

Act Three

Act Three starts with legal terrain that looks very different. Dr Galati has set the stage for a very, very tough third act, and he is making quite sure this time that the playing field is not tilted by any further monkey tricks. No wonder the publisher mentioned up top is surprised though. .

  • NOT ONE non-Italian media source has made it clear that the Umbria regional prosecution office has a very special and prestigious status in Italy as the prosecution office that takes on cases against officials and politicians in the Rome government, so that the Rome police and prosecutors avoid conflicts of interest..
  • NOT ONE non-Italian media source has explained who Dr Giovanni Galati really is. He could rightly be described as the most experienced and respected and capable of all Italy’s 24 regional chief prosecutors. He was a Deputy Attorney General with the Surpreme Court in Rome before his assignment just over a year ago to Umbria, and unlike the main Knox and Sollecito lawyers he knows the internecine Supreme Court rules and ways of addressing Italian law like the back of his hand.
  • NOT ONE non-Italian media source has explained what we have reported in the four posts just below: that Dr Galati is stating that Judge Hellman BROKE ITALIAN LAW in two make-or-break respects. Judge Hellman is seen to have extended the appeals court’s terms of reference in ways that he is forbidden to do.  And he introduced the DNA consultants which (as Mr Mignini several times argued) he was also forbidden to do.

Amanda Knox and Raffaele Solecito now face the fights of their lives. The last thing they need in this shark tank is a couple of biased self serving books “chock full of omissions” and anti-Italy smears.

They will almost certainly have to get up on the stand under oath and cross-examination and try to explain their scenario in a context where they each have contradicted and even accused one another. Their lawyers may be okay at trial or first appeal level but they are very outclassed by Dr Galati at this third level and it would seem the Knoxes, Mellases and Sollecitos would be best served to find new (very expensive) Supreme Court teams

Italians on the whole are angry and humiliated at the ill-argued first-appeal outcome. Judge Hellman seemed to show biases that he really should not have. Dr Mignini is back to being in the clear in his case as it was ruled (rightly) that the Florence prosecutors did not have jurisdiction over him. The Supreme Court took a very firm position in December 2010 that Rudy Guede did not act alone. The defense star witnesses Alessi and Aviello that might help accomodate to this have imploded, and both may face trials of their own.

A pretty grim portrait of Amanda Knox both prior to Meredith’s murder and while Knox was in Capanne prison is not hard to find in Perugia from multiple sources. If a devastating “Real Amanda Knox” book is not inspired by the HarperCollins book, we will be surprised, and it could sell more than hers. And if the slightest defamation about anyone in Perugia appears in the AK book, then HarperCollins will have the great joy of finding out what “calunnia” means.

President Obama and Senator Cantwell both have tough elections on their hands and Hillary Clinton and the Rome Ambassador David Thorne (an Obama political appointee) will need to be in ultra-careful mode this time around. Amanda Knox and her parents and Sollecito’s parents all face separate trials coming up. Rabid books will not help any of them there.

And in April the likeable book “Meredith” by her father John will be published - by a global publisher (Hachette) five times HarperCollins’s size.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Why The Analysis Of Evidence, Open Questions, Scenarios, And Bigger Issues Won’t Go Away At All Soon

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Raffaele Sollecito, facing Meredith, giving his weak best shot at explaining what “really” happened]


Poor David Marriott. He seems to be embarked on some mind-numbing attempts to try to correct a real mess that is very largely of his own making.

The campaign’s demonization of Italy and the police and prosecution and objective media and internet supporters of justice seem to have painted Knox and Sollecito into an impossible corner. Media sources are telling us that a large minority in the US and UK and a large majority in Italy believe RS and AK still have explaining to do, and that the open questions are far from going away. And that new people have begun digging. 

Innocent people when freed from prison are expected to be putting themselves out there brightly on TV almost daily, showing us how seriously attractive and compelling they are, and putting to bed the many open questions. And their online buddies would be presumed to be equally warm and compelling.

Instead, Sollecito’s major appearance on Italian TV last week consisted of a narcissistic hour-long whine which answered none of the tough questions and seems to have won him no new converts. And Knox is giving the appearance of remaining very tightly chaperoned and deeply tongue-tied while the weeks before she actually speaks out turn into months.

Both families seem extremely jittery about what bad things could happen if the two ever connect up again. Perhaps especially if unscrupulous media arranged for the conversations to be bugged. And their online supporters seem as over-the-top as ever - perhaps more-so if they feel they deserve some quality time with Amanda. 

The hard evidence and open questions and scenarios we continue to explore on PMF and TJMK are not driven by a hatred of AK or RS.

No very popular websites flourish for years based mostly or entirely on hate. Here on TJMK we very rarely post exclusively on either AK or RS and we post far more often on the much more exceptional person that was Meredith. All of us think the slamming of Italy has been unfair, and the huge majority of our posts concentrate directly on the hard evidence and scenarios and open questions and wider contexts affecting the case.

Our takes on possible motive and psychology continue to presume that Judge Micheli essentially got it right (and Judge Massei who may have blinked rather less-so): that what culminated in Meredith’s cruel death started out as a vicious hazing, for any of various possible reasons: jealousy and competitive rage, fear of being displaced as a waitress, an argument over drug-dealing in the house, use of skunk cannabis or cocaine which causes psychotic episodes, an argument over theft of money, an assumed Halloween night snub, untreated mental illness, and so on. And that the forced-sex aspects were most likely to pour on the humiliation and to aid the cover-up.

Lawyers posting on PMF and TJMK and some others who don’t but talk with us are suspecting that Judge Hellman, in his blunt refusal to allow the prosecution any DNA re-testing, in his jury briefing, in his garbled announcement of the appeal verdict, and in his contradictory comments in the next several days, may have made enough legal mistakes for a 75% probability that the Supreme Court will insist on a major revisiting of the case or even a complete new appeal trial.

We now have on PMF and TJMK over 1,000 pages of translation which is absolutely vital for people in the US and UK to understand the case as Italians have always seen it. That includes both the Micheli and Massei sentencing reports. The massive hard evidence and massive suspicious behavior and highly contradictory alibis and literally hundreds of open questions are described under the various headings in our right column.

And the many scenarios in which prosecutors, judges and our own posters have sought to create a complete narrative to explain what resulted in Meredith’s death are all set out here. In the last few days, many of our members have been doing a terrific job in the comments, filling out some of those scenarios.

Yesterday one of our commenters, Martin, added a post-liberation scenario as his take on what is really going on, and he okayed us to post it here.

I’d like to take a brief moment to parse the present situation and the reports that come to us from various sources, and to consider the message behind the headlines and beneath the surface. We have photos and abundant reports of the Defendant with her latest victim in Seattle. Both her absence of moral restraint and her familiar pattern of seeking immediate gratification remain unchanged. The familiar pattern is aptly described by Sollecito:

“She lived her life like a dream, she was detached from reality, she couldn’t distinguish dream from reality. Her life seemed to be pure pleasure; she had a contact with reality that was almost non-existent.”

The message that she sends to Sollecito is “stay away”; or, if you do come for a brief visit, I am not interested in anything romantic because I already am with someone else; so sorry. There briefly was the possibility that she would fake the continuing romance with Sollecito for the purpose of a TV appearance and profit, but those offers never came in.

And why is she so eager to get out of the houses of her parents? While they attained some form of victory, it is pyrrhic in nature. Though they have the admiration of many, the bankers who have loaned them money for their PR firm, their legal dream team, and for other purposes, are not all smiles; they are, after all, businessmen who have made loans and now want a return on their loans, and they want it now. Pressures have been rising within the households, money is low, and offers are not pouring in as expected. She wants out of the houses.

So, what of her new lover? Beyond sending a message to Sollecito and escaping from the unpleasantness of her home life, she is with him to ride out the pending legal appeal and quite possibly is considering having a child with him, although she will tire of him quickly; if he has a friend on the face of the earth, he should advise him to get away, and fast. She may want a child because in her mind she may think it would make it more difficult for the US to agree to deport her if she has a child, in the event that her conviction is reinstated. However, if the present verdict of not guilty is sustained on appeal, the present boyfriend will become history.

There are yet more reasons for these events. Even among some of her supporters, it’s beginning to sink in that she does not have clean hands. She has kept a low profile among the Cult in Seattle. Among the hundreds of supporters who dug deep into threadbare pockets and worked hard for her, at least a few of them have begun to ask questions. Why hasn’t she come clean with them as to exactly what was her role, how did things actually unfold, what really happened?

And some of them have begun to figure things out and now are feeling taken advantage of. Watch out for the wrath of a man or woman who discovers that their bona fides have been taken for a chump. There are a few of these people out there, and if they ever hook up with one another, or even decide to come out singly, there will be serious trouble. Foxy already knows that she must do what she can to avoid this eventuality, and so she is doing all that she can to stay away from them, to lay low, and to pretend she’s very, very busy. And this means that the best option for her is the safety of a familiar romance, back to school and, I think, the real possibility of surreptitious planning for a child.

There is a reasonably good chance that her conviction will be reinstated on appeal, and she knows it. The evidence remains, hard blood evidence, and overwhelming circumstantial evidence remains, evidence proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.  And now the DNA may be able to be retested with newer and more accurate methods. If the criminal conviction is not reinstated, there may be civil claims with a good chance of succeeding, in one forum or another, that will drag on for years. There is no statute of limits on murder, and, there may be no double jeopardy in Italy.

The sharp sting of the photos of Foxy with her newest Boy Toy alone won’t push Sollecito to do it, but there are purely practical reasons that may make it compelling for him to confess. At some point, Sollecito may find it in his best interest to come clean and to cut a deal with prosecutors to spend 3 or 4 more years in prison so as to be able to pay his penalty and to lead a clean life thereafter. If he doesn’t confess, this will drag him under for the rest of his life. Italy is a much smaller fishbowl than the US, and Italians overwhelmingly feel there is culpability; he may come to see that he will be unable to escape without a just penalty.

If Sollecito confesses, which logic and evidence suggest that he and his family would be wise to consider, he will be seen as an honorable man and will be able to hold his head high.



Saturday, October 22, 2011

Knox PR Manager’s Premature Crowing, Years Before Judicial Process Ends

Posted by Skeptical Bystander




Fake News By Marriott™

At bottom here, please read the fine report by Heidi Dietrich on the lies-filled world of David Marriott.

Now that the supertanker has pulled into port, the story about the creation of the narrative can finally begin to be told. We live in a world that needs an endless supply of stories. Just ask Scheherazade - whatever gets you through the night is alright.

In the world of Marriott as this opinion writer notes the media operates on the assumption that the American Public can’t remember further than the day before yesterday.

And in the business journal treatment of the Marriott PR Triumph (aka The Snow White Job), someone has forgotten that the script a month ago stated that there was no PR campaign and anyone who believed there was one was nothing but a guilter and a hater.

But now all that is swept aside.

Now Mr. Marriott, who looks like a cross between Colonel Sanders and a dumpling, can lumber up to the stage and accept kudos from one and all. After all, he was hired three days after Knox was arrested, for financial terms neither side will disclose.

See below for how the business journal spins the yarn:

Like I said, if you have the right publicist, anything is possible! The right publicist can make water flow uphill and, once that has happened, can advise you on the best way to make the money you will need to pay more for his services.

That’s the phase we’re in now, folks. If you ever get in trouble, this is the guy you want working for you, feeding chicken shit to the masses and calling it chicken delight.

 

Puget Sound Business Journal
Seattle PR firm reveals efforts to free Amanda Knox
By Heidi Dietrich – Contributing Writer
Oct 21, 2011, 8:00am

David Marriott never visited Amanda Knox during her four years in an Italian prison. He met her this month, when she stepped off a plane in Seattle.

Yet for Knox and her family, Marriott was as important a player in her ordeal as anyone in the courtroom. As Knox’s publicist, beginning three days after her arrest, Marriott worked to convince the international public that she did not murder her British roommate while studying in Perugia.

“Hiring him was one of the smartest things we ever did,” said Curt Knox, Amanda’s father. The partnership between the Knox family and Marriott illustrates the potential of a public relations campaign to shift sentiment — and possibly even influence a verdict. With Amanda Knox safely back on American soil, Marriott and the family can now provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what went into the campaign.

Marriott, principal in the Seattle PR firm Gogerty Marriott, took on Knox in the face of a global onslaught of negative press. Once Italian authorities arrested the University of Washington exchange student on suspicion of killing Meredith Kercher, Knox was labeled a vicious “she-devil” and sex-crazed “Foxy Knoxy” in media around the world.

By enlisting her friends and family, and targeting specific news organizations to tell the family’s story, Marriott eventually helped reshape how the world saw the young American. And now, with Amanda safely back home in West Seattle, Marriott turns to a new set of challenges.

Tabloid photographers snap Amanda’s errands and walks. Marriott said he and the family don’t
try to hide her from the paparazzi, as that would just make her home another prison.

Then, there’s the need for money. Curt Knox and Amanda’s mother, Edda Mellas — they are not
married to each other — have each said they’ve drained their retirement funds, taken out second mortgages and accrued credit card debt to pay for Amanda’s defense. So, in this new phase, lucrative media deals will be a consideration.

At Marriott’s downtown Seattle office, he fields inquiries from book agents, screenwriters, news shows and movie studios. All want the Amanda Knox saga for their own. Some are offering big bucks. Marriott and the Knox family will be considering the offers, Marriott said — likely in a couple of weeks.

“There will be financial opportunities,” Marriott said. “I’ll be there to walk them through the opportunities.”

Both Marriott and Curt Knox say that Amanda wants to tell her story.

“Amanda will speak for herself,” Marriott said. “There are a bunch of options available to her, and the question is which will give her the chance to tell her story with dignity and class.”

Desperate for help

Though Marriott didn’t know it when he took on the project, the Amanda Knox trial was to
become the longest and most difficult project of his career.

After Amanda’s arrest on Nov. 6, 2007, family members were bombarded with media requests.
Nobody knew how to handle them.

Curt Knox reached out to an executive at the Macy’s Northwest regional office in Seattle, where he was employed. He asked for advice on a publicist who could handle a case of such magnitude, and the exec recommended Marriott. The PR veteran had made a name for himself in crisis management situations, such as the Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crash in 2000 that killed all 88 passengers and crew.

Marriott signed on with the Knox family three days after Amanda’s arrest, for financial terms
neither side will disclose. Marriott immediately put out a press release directing all media and interview requests to him. It was, Curt Knox says, instant relief.

Beyond giving the family breathing room, Marriott needed to develop a long-term media
strategy. The initial negative press reports on Amanda happened so quickly, Marriott was left
trying to redefine her persona. Many stories painted her as promiscuous and irresponsible.

“Our job was to try to correct the misconceptions out there about who Amanda Knox was,”
Marriott said. “The British and Italian tabloids created this horrible person, and I felt it was our responsibility to tell the truth.”

Anne Bremner, counsel for Friends of Amanda Knox, said Marriott faced an uphill challenge
when he took on the case. (Friends of Amanda Knox, a group of supporters, formed in 2008 to
run social media campaigns and raise money for her case. Marriott was not directly involved with the group.)

“The initial perceptions were that it was a slam-dunk case against her,” Bremner said. “The most important thing for Dave was to shine light on the fact that there was no evidence.”

Initially, the Knox lawyers asked her parents to not give interviews, as they didn’t want it to seem as though the family was trying to prejudice the judge and jury.

And so, Marriott turned to Amanda’s friends from the UW and Seattle Prep. He enlisted them to
talk to the media about the diligent student and loving friend they knew. In the process, Marriott began to truly believe in Amanda Knox himself.

“I really came to strongly believe her innocence,” Marriott said. “Kids don’t do a 180 on you
when they leave home. The stuff in the tabloids simply didn’t make logical sense.”

Then, in early 2008, Marriott took the publicity campaign one step further by persuading
Amanda’s lawyers to allow the Knox family to give interviews.

“I said, ‘We are getting killed here,’ ” Marriott said. “We need to have Mom and Dad.”
The lawyers consented, but cautioned Amanda’s parents against talking about case specifics.
They should instead focus on their daughter’s true personality. The Knox family, who’d felt
silenced for months, couldn’t wait to begin.

“There was absolute character assassination,” Curt Knox said. “The only thing we could do as
parents was get the truth out there.”

Amanda’s sister told a story about Amanda carrying a spider outside because she didn’t even
want to hurt an insect. Both parents gave interviews — starting with ABC — about their
daughter’s achievements in the classroom and soccer field.

“Amanda’s mom and dad were untiring in their willingness to do whatever I recommended,”
Marriott said.

Early on, Marriott decided that the national TV news magazine shows would be the best vehicle.

The format allowed for in-depth investigations and brought credibility to the family’s case.
“The news magazines were key to getting the story out on who Amanda really was,” Curt Knox
said. “That was a very smart maneuver on David’s part.”

Marriott believes the turning point in public perception came in February 2008, when “20/20”
aired a program on Amanda Knox. ABC had sent its own expert to Perugia to examine the
evidence, and the resulting show raised serious doubts about the case against her. Several months later, “48 Hours” did the same thing.

“‘48 Hours’ and ‘20/20’ were better partners for David Marriott and the Knox family than many
other media outlets,” said Barry Mitzman, professor of communication at Seattle University.

“You can’t put the family through hundreds of interviews, so you need to make good choices.”
Marriott continued to deal with all media surrounding the case, but he never thought it would last as long as it did. In December 2009, an Italian court found Amanda Knox guilty of Kercher’s murder. Marriott believed the closing arguments of her lawyers were strong, and felt as shocked as her family at the verdict.

“You can’t help but feel sunk,” Marriott said.

Marriott didn’t dwell on the disappointment. He continued to enlist supporters to rebut the
verdict.

Finally, early this year, the court allowed an independent review of the DNA evidence used to
convict Amanda Knox. As testimony began to emerge on mistakes made in collecting and
analyzing the evidence, news stories began to shift significantly in her favor.

On Oct. 3, the guilty verdict was overturned, allowing Amanda Knox to fly home to Seattle.

“The truth was my mission,” Marriott said. “The DNA review got us there.”

Whether Marriott’s efforts, and shifting public sentiment, influenced the Italian courts is up for debate. Marriott says it’s very hard to say if the mission to correct misconceptions about Amanda made a direct impact on the outcome. He noted, though, that the judge in the appeals trial opened with the remark, “The only thing we know for sure in this case is that Meredith Kercher is dead.”

“That signaled that he wasn’t buying into a lot of what had happened in the earlier trial,” Marriott said.

Coming home

When Amanda and her family arrived the next day at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a
huge crowd greeted her. Bremner marvels at the fact that many broke into applause when
Amanda walked into the room.

“They were clapping for her, and they were all press,” Bremner said. “What a change from four
years ago.”

The Amanda Knox story may remain the most consuming case of Marriott’s career. It’s rare,
Marriott said, to have this kind of public interest over such an extended period of time. As a result of the attention, Marriott has received inquiries from several other potential clients.

Marriott counts more than 6,700 Google News alerts for “Amanda Knox” that arrived over the
four years. Most of those alerts contained links to three or more stories. And those are just the English language articles.

“There’s just so much hunger for information with this thing,” Marriott said. Marriott has formulated a media plan for the days going forward, but he won’t discuss details. He plans to be ready if the prosecution appeals the acquittal. He also wants to help Amanda find the best vehicle to tell her story, and advise her on when to do so.

David Domke, who chairs the UW communication department, said there’s every chance to
make a positive impression when Amanda chooses to speak out.

“My sense is that they have the opportunity for a lot of goodwill toward Amanda,” Domke said.
“The fact that that’s there after the incredibly negative coverage she initially received is just remarkable to me.”

And Kathleen Fearn-Banks, who teaches crisis communications at the UW, believes Knox could
impart what she learned during her ordeal. For example, Marriott spoke to Fearn-Banks’ class
about the risk of online postings that could be misconstrued. In Amanda Knox’s case, media
people culled photos and writings from her MySpace account, including the “Foxy Knoxy”
nickname.

“I’m hoping that the lessons our students learned may be taught by Amanda now in media
appearances and perhaps writings she may do,” Fearn-Banks said.

And then there’s the curiosity factor. “People around the world really want to know her story,” Bremner said.

If it’s up to Curt Knox, the 68-year-old Marriott will remain part of that effort until his daughter has followed this saga to the end.

“He’s not retiring,” Curt Knox said, “until he’s done with this.”

Amanda Knox timeline

Nov. 2, 2007: Meredith Kercher’s body found in Perugia apartment shared with Amanda Knox.
Nov. 6, 2007: Knox arrested.
Nov. 9, 2007: David Marriott hired.
Feb. 1, 2008: “20/20” story.
April 10, 2008: “48 Hours” story.
Jan. 16, 2009: Trial begins.
Dec. 4, 2009: Knox found guilty of murder and sexual assault; sentenced to 26 years.
Nov. 24, 2010: Appeal trial begins.
June 29, 2011: Expert discredits DNA evidence.
Oct. 3, 2011: Court clears Knox.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A New Book Explains The Unfruitful Emergence Of More And More Conspiracy Theories

Posted by Peter Quennell


Conspiracy theorists have dismally failed to come up with a plausible alternative theory of how Meredith died.

However, they do keep trying. So do the proponents of literally hundreds of other conspiracy theories, constituting vast amounts of effort probably better spent elsewhere - conspiracy theorists very rarely achieve very much, or do well economically, or rise to the top jobs.

The articles here and here look with skepticism on the 9/11 conspiracy theories which on the tenth anniversary of the twin towers coming down have been pushed hard by the various factions.

Now a new book “The Believing Brain” explains the mental makeup that disposes people to so eagerly believe the worst of our fellow man or our governments: One review in the Wall Street Journal..

In Mr. Shermer’s view, the brain is a belief engine, predisposed to see patterns where none exist and to attribute them to knowing agents rather than to chance””the better to make sense of the world. Then, having formed a belief, each of us tends to seek out evidence that confirms it, thus reinforcing the belief.

This is why, on the foundation of some tiny flaw in the evidence””the supposed lack of roof holes to admit poison-gas cans in one of the Auschwitz-Birkenau gas chambers for Holocaust deniers, the expectant faces on the grassy knoll for JFK plotters, the melting point of steel for 9/11 truthers””we go on to build a great edifice of mistaken conviction….

Mr. Shermer offers a handy guide for those who are confused. Conspiracy theories are usually bunk when they are too complex, require too many people to be involved, ratchet up from small events to grand effects, assign portentous meanings to innocuous events, express strong suspicion of either governments or companies, attribute too much power to individuals or generate no further evidence as time goes by.

The increasingly shrill posts appearing daily on the website Ground Report seem to mark pretty high against that list. Could the Evil Mignini have engineered even this?

Oops. Another conspiracy theory in play.


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Twelfth Appeal Session: Prosecution Start To Undermine The Independent Experts’ More Tenuous Claims

Posted by Peter Quennell



[Above: Dr Stefanoni head of the Scientific Police’s Rome DNA labs with her prosecution interrogator Ms Comodi]


Monday’s Italian reporting suggests that Dr Stefanoni is coming across as highly competent and very objective.

Her team’s DNA handling and testing seems to have cut no corners. Her testimony will spill over into Tuesday.  The AGI News Service describes Dr Stefanoni on Monday running through her procedures and precuaions and denying that contamination could have taken place.

She hit point by point on all the complaints made by the consultants of the Assize Court of Appeal at Perugia about the police work in the context of scientific investigations into the murder of Meredith Kercher. She strongly defended the specialist work done by her laboratory. Stefanoni has categorically ruled out a possible contamination of the findings, pointing out that “the contamination is not ‘a thing that comes out of something abstract.”

The expert then recalled that the DNA of each operator that operates within the laboratories of the scientific police is ‘duly filed and that any possibility of contamination, whether by a person or from sample to sample, is tested on a regular basis. Dr Stefanoni also described how the “wet samples” collected on the first day of the murder investigation were kept in the refrigerator of the house and then brought to Rome.

And La Nazione in describing the same testimony adds that the defenses are taking quite a gamble in their all-or-nothing approach where a full acquittal seems increasingly unlikely and where the prosecution are asking for tougher sentences for Knox and Sollecito based on a waiver of Judge Massei’s mitigating circumstances.

The huge volume of evidence not being re-examined in the current appeal (about 95% of all evidence including a majority of the forensic evidence) is highlighted in many of the reports. Rudy Guede’s direct accusation of Knox and Sollecito to their faces in one appeal session is also recalled.

No mention of the position of the no-nonsense Supreme Court of Cassation position but that gorilla has to loom large in Judge Hellman’s mind. Judge Hellman does not have the final word on this appeal in Italian law, and a final outcome may take another 18 months. And if there is any funny business suspected, appeals can always be made to Cassation instantly.

In light of these two circumstances, the defense teams are still much more pussyfooting in Italian in the appeal court than the shrill PR claims in English-language media, while still not making the smartest move in Italian courts when defendants seem cooked and evoking some sympathy for them.

Knox’s best chances seem to be falling between those two stools.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Donald Trump Seems To Have Moved On After Fleetingly Fervent On Italy Framing Knox

Posted by Peter Quennell


Twenty months ago Donald Trump was sounding very very very anti-Italy.

His strident beef with Italy (his former wife Ivana Trump who he ditched for a showgirl lives there) seemed the real reason for his brief fling with the pro-Knox bandwagon, rather than any deep knowledge of the case.

Recently he made a contribution of a golf-related freebie to the Knox campaign.  Otherwise he seems to have retreated to the sideline.

Normally he is seen as aimiable enough, if something of a lightweight having fun. His very successful father bankrolled him into property development. His properties and casino businesses fell on hard times several times. He lost control of all his casinos in Atlantic City and a very large development on Manhattan’s Upper West Side - even though all still bear his name.

He briefly thought of running for president as a Republican in 2012, but it seems the financial disclosures and fiery competition would have been altogether too much. Hollywood notables, who overall tend to be liberal, revealed for the occasion how much they hate him. 

He still continues to snipe at President Obama from the sidelines and the latest is that he may run as a Ross Perot style independent for president in 2012.

To his credit, he has just done one thing that the country really needs.

He has joined billionaire Warren Buffet in saying that billionaires need to pay more taxes. Watch Harvard professor Robert Reich in the video below for the reasoning behind this.  Robert Reich and Donald Trump may not start a billionaire’s stampede, but Trump should win some popular respect.

He may win more votes this way than by bashing Italy for murky reasons that most simply dont understand.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 08/18/11 at 07:57 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in Hoaxers from 2007More hoaxersComments here (10)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Is the Conti-Vecchiotti DNA Review Defamatory? Stefanoni Believes So and May Sue

Posted by Peter Quennell


This looks like really bad news for Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollecito. The last straw.

TJMK main poster Fly By Night already described in great detail how suspect and heavily biased is the Conti-Vecchiotti report.

He predicted fireworks by the Scientific Police and prosecution expert witnesses who were seriously and without proper bases impugned. He predicted the fireworks would start tomorrow in court. 

But already the fireworks have begun. The Guardian’s Tom Kington (who himself has often seemed to show a pro-Knox bias) reports quoting the UK’s Sunday paper The Observer: 

A prominent forensic scientist, whose DNA evidence helped to convict the US student and her former boyfriend, has vowed to overturn the findings of an independent report that says much of her work in the case was unreliable.

Written by two independent experts from Rome’s Sapienza University, the 145-page DNA review rubbishes the work of Patrizia Stefanoni, the police forensic scientist who found Knox’s and Kercher’s DNA on a kitchen knife at Sollecito’s house and identified DNA belonging to Sollecito on a torn bra clasp found beside Kercher’s semi-naked body.

The report claims Stefanoni ignored international DNA protocols, made basic errors and gave evidence in court that was not backed up by her laboratory work, rendering the knife and bra strap worthless as evidence. But Stefanoni has vowed to fight back during three hearings devoted to the DNA reviews.

“I am angry about the false statements in this report and ready to come to court to highlight the past record of these experts,” she told the Observer. “I am also looking into taking legal action against them. What international DNA protocols are they talking about? The Italian police is a member of the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI), while they are not.”...

After discovering there was no DNA left to check on the knife or the bra clasp, the experts retraced the steps taken by Stefanoni, concluding that the DNA trace of Kercher on the blade was so weak it could not be reliably matched ““ or was at best the result of contamination ““ and quoted Stefanoni admitting in court she should have double-tested her result to be more convincing.

Stefanoni claimed she had no need to repeat tests since the experts for the defence were on hand to witness her work. “And it was good enough to show it was Kercher’s DNA,” she said. “A small amount, but good quality.”...

The experts quote numerous US police and FBI experts on the risk of low DNA results and poor evidence handling, prompting one Italian police source to claim they were being fed information by Knox’s defence team. (Emphasis added.)

More attempted manipulation behind the scenes that now turns out to be heavy-handed overreach? Good luck to Judge Hellman tomorrow. He appointed the two “independent experts.” And he already almost lost control of his court once.

He will already be getting anxious to protect his good name before the Supreme Court. Unlikely now to buck any trends.



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Analysis Suggests The Conti-Vecchiotti DNA Review Is Weak, Tendentious, Cites Non-Existent Standards

Posted by Fly By Night


Background

In light of the huge fanfare two weeks ago over the release of the court-ordered independent expert review by Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti (image above, more in post below) on the forensic science methods and findings of Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni as part of the Knox/Sollecito appeal, we start this analysis of that report by summarizing a few hard facts:

  • The DNA samples currently under review by the court are NOT the only DNA samples used to convict Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito.  In fact, the five mixed samples (not just DNA ““ there was the fresh blood of both women in four of them) of Amanda Knox and Meredith Kercher constitute the strongest, most damning physical evidence of the case. This is why they have not been subjected to independent review during the appeal, along with the great majority of the evidence Judge Massei and the jury considered in convicting Knox and Sollecito of the murder of Meredith Kercher.

  • In reviewing the findings of Dr. Stefanoni, Technical Director/Principal Biologist with the Polizia Scientifica in Rome (image below), the expert report is also critiquing the findings and opinions of an entire well-regarded forensics agency along with the personal views of many prominent forensics experts. They include Dr. Renato Biondo, Professor Francesca Torricelli, and the nationally prominent General Luciano Garofano who in support of Dr. Stefanoni’s own open descriptions have provided lengthy statements describing in great detail their reasons for agreeing with Stefanoni’s methods and findings.

  • The use and acceptance of LCN DNA analysis techniques in the USA lags behind that of other countries in the world, as documented in the numerous publications on the topic now seen in US professional journals.  Enhanced typing methods for LCN DNA are routinely relied upon in forensic DNA laboratories across Europe to provide sound evidence for courtroom arguments.  So the expert report’s overbearing reliance upon AMERICAN sources including the controversial opinions of Bruce Budowle (image below) of the University of North Texas, in questioning Stefanoni’s LCN DNA testing techniques, is highly questionable. Budowle has been strongly criticized by a number of distinguished researchers including Theresa Caragine and John Buckleton for his non-scientific opinions and for allegedly engaging in unethical practices and maintaining serious conflicts of interest.

  • Claudio Pratillo Hellman, the judge presiding over the Knox and Sollecito appeal trial, appointed Vecchioti and Conti to provide an independent assessment for the court regarding the handling and analysis of several pieces of evidence that played a role in the conviction of Knox and Sollecito.  Using the expert report as a focus, on Monday July 25th these independent experts will appear in court along with various expert witnesses for the prosecution, the defense teams, and the Kercher family to discuss the only pieces of DNA-related evidence that have been subjected to review in the appeal trial. They are (1) the DNA on the kitchen knife accepted by the Massei court to be the murder weapon, and (2) the DNA on a bra clasp torn from Meredith’s body.

The findings of the expert report itself in all their 145 pages of depth appear to boil down to two primary debates: (1) Issues surrounding the Low Copy Number (LCN) DNA analysis techniques employed by Dr. Stefanoni, and (2) Issues surrounding the probability of excluding all possible sources of contamination from the evidence.

The Expert Report

When the supposed findings of the independent expert report were first leaked, international media ballyhooed them as a sure sign that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito would soon be cleared of murder charges, claiming that the prosecution’s DNA arguments had now been shown to be based upon substandard DNA testing practices, and that the evidence might have been contaminated.  Knox herself was said to have sung and danced with joy upon hearing the news.

But a closer look at actual contents of the report, and its supporting documents, suggests that such celebrations are premature and ill-advised.  The expert report exists to serve only as the focal point for upcoming courtroom arguments, including arguments over the validity of Dr. Stefanoni’s claim to have identified Meredith Kercher’s DNA on the blade of the kitchen knife.  The report explains why a complete repeat of the testing Stefanoni performed on both the knife and bra clasp was not possible and how DNA on the bra clasp had deteriorated beyond testability. 

The expert’s attempts to perform repeat tests on the knife were unsuccessful in identifying cellular material on the blade. This was not a surprise, considering that Stefanoni had previously reported that additional testing would be impossible due to the minimal amount of DNA originally found there.  The expert’s testing did, however, firmly conclude that Amanda Knox’s DNA was located on the handle of the knife.

The expert report will steer upcoming courtroom debates towards a complete review of Stefanoni’s crime scene management practices, the DNA analysis methods she employed, and the reasoning and protocols she used to reach her conclusions.  The expert report provides one of several frames of reference for these debates and in part focuses upon criticisms not only of Stefanoni’s use of LCN DNA testing techniques to identify Kercher’s DNA on the knife blade but the entire LCN DNA analysis methodology itself.  As noted above, Vecchioti and Conti confirmed the presence of Amanda Knox’s DNA on the handle of the knife but suggest that the very small sample of Meredith’s DNA located on the blade, identified by LCN DNA testing, is the result of contamination.

The Potential For Contamination

Contamination of evidence might occur in the evidence collection phase of an investigation, or it might occur as the result of improper laboratory testing procedures once a sample has arrived securely at the forensic laboratory.  Before digging deeper into laboratory contamination potential, including associated LCN DNA analysis issues, we first take a look at the expert report’s evaluation of evidence collection protocols and the potential for contamination in that phase of the criminal investigation.

The expert report attempts to establish that international standards for crime scene management practices exist. However, their approach raises the same question raised by the assignment of Bruce Budowle, a controversial and opinionated LCN DNA commenter, as the foundation for their DNA analysis critiques.  Namely, why does the expert report find it necessary to over-rely upon inappropriate and highly questionable American resources to support its most critical arguments?

As strange as it may seem, the Italian expert report references quite a few relatively obscure, and often outdated, editions of American resources. They include the State of Wisconsin Crime Laboratory Manual, the Missouri State Highway Patrol Handbook, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation Evidence Guide, the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory Manual, the New Jersey State Police Evidence Manual, and even introductory college textbooks covering criminal investigations at the level of “please wash your hands.”

If the intent of the expert report was to establish that a standard set of international protocols exists, and then to compare that set of protocols to protocols used in the Meredith Kercher murder case, then why not cite the international body that establishes and upholds such standards, if that body actually exists?

Instead, the approach taken by the expert report only serves to underscore the notion that there may, in fact, be no such thing as international standards for evidence collection and handling.  What the report actually establishes is that they are citing from a selected list of extremely diverse regional “best practices” manuals in support of theoretical and abstract concepts or points.  In doing so the expert report authors its own set of ad hoc “international standards” as it moves along. 

It would have been far more effective to put the focus on creating an objective and fair analysis of the real-world crime scene management procedures employed in this case, and then comparing and contrasting those findings with the successful, or unsuccessful, management practices of other similar case-study investigations providing appropriate citations from relevant literature along the way.

As a result of the independent experts’ approach, the contamination risk concerns cited in the expert report during the evidence collection phase appear to be largely a rehash of arguments over protocol that were thoroughly vetted during the course of the trial itself, such as how often investigators changed their gloves.

What we are left with is a report that only theoretically suggests that contamination cannot be ruled out, while completely failing to provide concrete examples of precisely when and how contamination could have entered into the evidence management chain.  For the appeal, this will result in a repeat of the same attacks upon investigative methods and processes, and all of the related arguments, that the court entertained during the trial, albeit this time with a new judge and jury.

The expert report apparently confirms that Raffaele Sollecito’s DNA was found on the bra clasp in an amount that would be difficult to attribute to contamination.  Dr. Stefanoni found about 4 nanograms of Sollecito’s DNA on the bra clasp, which is a substantial amount of DNA considering that research suggests that contaminated samples usually contain sub-picogram amounts of DNA, or around 1000 to 10,000 times less DNA than attributed to Sollecito on the bra clasp.

That fact that Raffaele’s DNA on the clasp appears to be mixed with additional DNA should NOT lead to conclusions that his profile cannot be effectively isolated and identified, or must be the result of contamination.  In fact, Italy’s premiere forensic science expert Luciano Garofano testified that Stefanoni’s analysis of the bra clasp was “perfect.”  It is also not plausible to suggest that contamination is the source for Sollecito’s abundant DNA on the bra clasp in the absence of significant environmental traces for Sollecito anywhere else in or around Meredith’s home, or in the Rome laboratory for that matter.


LCN DNA Testing

LCN is a DNA profiling technique employed when available DNA is limited to very small quantities.  A DNA sample might be as small as a millionth the size of a grain of salt, amounting to only a few cells of skin or sweat left in a fingerprint.

Using LCN testing techniques the small sample can be successfully evaluated and attributed to an individual.  LCN DNA testing has been in use since 1999 and is rapidly gaining worldwide acceptance in both legal and forensic science communities.  For example it has now been used in more than 21,000 cases in the UK since being approved for use in criminal cases in 2008, following a period of stringent testing and evaluation.

The increased sensitivity of LCN testing techniques does increase the potential of contamination to impact analyses of small DNA samples in the laboratory.  Since LCN techniques can accurately amplify DNA samples having as little as just a few cells it has been suggested that even breathing on such a small sample has the potential to render the resulting profile useless.  Contamination is particularly problematic for LCN samples because both sample and contaminant DNA are amplified, resulting in a complex mixed profile with related stochastic effect impacts. 

But, as evidenced in the expert report itself, Dr. Stefanoni is well-versed in the appropriate methods for dealing with these concerns, since she is quoted as already having admonished the court experts Vecchioti and Conti for not making use of a fume hood to ensure the absence of contamination as they conducted their retests on the evidence.

In recent years numerous professional publications have addressed the scientific, technical, and legal issues surrounding LCN DNA sample testing, outlining the stochastic effects and artifacts such as peak imbalances between alleles and loci, as well as allele and locus drop-out, or allele drop-in, along with making a variety of suggestions for both avoiding contamination and making error-free evaluations of stochastic effects. 

On the basis of these publications, including the proceedings of the biannual world congresses of the International Society of Forensic Genetics, it is clear that enhanced typing methods for LCN DNA are now routinely in use in forensic DNA laboratories across Europe.  This is strong evidence that the scientific community is now actively engaged in an effort to document all LCN DNA methods in use and is working towards developing standard biostatistical tools for evaluating LCN DNA typing results. 

It also appears as though the USA is lagging behind other regions in research, practice, and acceptance in this discipline.

In this relatively new field of study it is not surprising that researchers have yet to establish anything approaching standards for LCN DNA testing and analysis.  Even so, this has not prevented the results of LCN DNA testing from being successfully and routinely introduced as viable evidence in courtroom arguments. 

For example, on February 8, 2010, Judge Robert Hanophy of the Supreme Court of Queens County, New York ruled that results of LCN DNA testing, as performed by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in New York City, is now generally accepted as reliable in the forensic scientific community, it consistently yields reliable results, it is not a novel scientific procedure, and it is therefore admissible at trial (People v. Megnath, Supreme Court of New York, Queens County, 2010 NY).

Although the current Wikipedia article on the topic maintains that LCN DNA has only been adopted for evidential purposes in the UK, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, this unreferenced claim stands in ignorance of the fact that inquisitorial court systems in numerous European countries do not typically require formal publication and peer review of analytical methods in scientific journals as a justification for their methods. 

And as we have seen in the current Knox/Sollecito trial, in Europe it has become customary to have independent experts attempt to convince the court of the validity, or invalidity, of the LCN typing results that have been presented in a trial.  To be successful, it is essential that an independent expert provide the court with evidence of expertly-conducted retests of available evidence, relevant citations of appropriate research, and meaningful evaluations of protocols employed in outlining their objective and balanced set of opinions for the court. 

In this regard, it appears that the independent expert report for the Knox/Sollecito appeal has completely missed the mark.

Their report gives the strong impression that Carla Vecchioti and Stefano Conti were overtly attempting to invalidate the findings of Dr. Patrizia Stefanoni, the Polizia Scientifica in Rome, and the wealth of supportive testimony provided in court during the trial.  The tone of their report strongly indicates that they have lined up with Sollecito defense experts Adriano Tagliabracci and Valerio Onofri of the Institute for Forensic Medicine in Ancona, and Knox defense experts Sara Gino, Walter Patumi and Carlo Torre from the University of Turin.

We will see in court on the 25th if they are really across the figurative aisle from the prosecution witnesses Dr. Stefanoni and Dr. Giuseppe Novelli, a highly esteemed professor of biomedicine at Tor Vergata in Rome who is considered to be the “father of police forensics” in Italy, along with the expert witnesses for the Kercher family Professor Torricelli, and Dr. Emiliano Giardina, who is a colleague of Professor Novelli at Tor Vergata University.

This appears to establish grounds for a formidable courtroom battle if all experts can provide solid grounds for their opinions. However, the Kercher’s lawyer Francesco Maresca was already quick to point out that those on the prosecution’s side of the aisle have substantially more practical experience and years of work in the forensic science field.

An in depth reading of the expert report uncovers allegations that Dr. Stefanoni has not followed internationally established forensic science management standards and that in doing so she has committed analytical errors, such as the misattribution of peaks in her bra clasp DNA analysis.  What the report fails to mention, however, is that no such standards exist and that there are currently multiple perspectives from which a scientist might argue their case regarding the proper interpretation of DNA data, as evidenced in any sampling of current forensic science journal articles. 

For example, the expert report cites a 2006 International Society for Forensic Genetics (ISFG) publication as an example of a standard for determining which stutters should be considered as alleles in the assessment of mixed DNA samples.  But this alleged “standard” stands in contrast to direct testimony from Dr. Stefanoni while defending her lab protocols in comparison to the ISFG “recommendations” which she claims in no way qualify as authoritative standards.  The difference between recommendations and standards is a critical distinction in scientific fields.

A closer look at this discrepancy reveals that in 2007 Dr. Stefanoni and her immediate supervisor, Dr. Renato Biondo, hosted a meeting in Rome of the European DNA Profiling Group (EDNAP) in which these same 2006 ISFG recommendations were discussed.  At that meeting papers were presented from the UK and Germany that contested a number of the ISFG recommendations that the expert report now attempts to establish as mandatory standards. 

In the midst of this ongoing debate over ISFG recommendations, it is quite remarkable that the expert report, citing that 2006 ISFG document, chooses to assert that Stefanoni made erroneous interpretations of chart peaks simply because her interpretation of the data did not respect the controversial ISFG recommendations. 

The experts report consequently admits that they confirmed Stefanoni’s awareness of the ISFG recommendations, and that she expressed a personal view that they should simply be viewed as “guidelines.”  Yet they STILL insist on continuing to label her conclusions as erroneous since she did not “correctly” and “explicitly” adhere to the ISFG “recommendations.”

In light of all this, it is highly unlikely that Judge Hellman will dismiss Dr. Stefanoni’s knowledge and expertise on this matter as readily as Vecchioti and Conti have in their expert report.

An in depth analysis of the expert report also indicates that the citations from scientific journals are incomplete and often “cherry-picked” to directly support specific criticisms brought against Dr. Stefanoni’s methods. 


For example, the expert report appears to base its entire argument against Stefanoni’s reliance upon LCN DNA analysis techniques upon one paper, authored by Bruce Budowle et al entitled “Low Copy Number Typing Has Yet to Achieve General Acceptance.”  The expert report then goes on to cite a paper by Gill and Buckleton where these authors appear to support a few claims made by Budowle (image above) in his article, but the report completely ignores the fact that Gill and Buckleton then go on to air strong criticisms of many other claims made by Budowle.

In fact, in 2010 John Buckleton and Peter Gill authored a scathing criticism of Bruce Budowle’s entire “Low Copy Number Typing Has Yet to Achieve General Acceptance” article; the very article that the expert report relies exclusively upon in bringing Dr. Stefanoni’s methods into question.  In their article, published in Forensic Science, Buckleton and Gill state:

[Budowle’s] article is not peer reviewed. The proceedings of the ISFG Congress are prefaced by the message: “the manuscripts were neither reviewed nor edited in detail.  The articles reflect the opinions of the authors.”

It contains neither new data nor any novel scientific findings. Rather it represents public advocacy and is an expression of alternative opinion by the three authors concerning observations that are largely common ground. There is a place in the scientific literature for advocacy but it must be soundly based on proven facts.

We have some considerable difficulty in actually determining just exactly what the authors are indeed advocating. This is because of their inconsistent use of terminology and inconsistent recommendations. In our opinion, the views presented are inadequately precise, demonstrate a lack of appreciation of underlying principles and are not aligned with broader scientific opinion.

The title of the paper appeared to have one eye on future Frye or Daubert hearings and again we question whether such a title has a place in the learned literature. It takes upon itself, inappropriately, the role of gatekeeper of what constitutes “general acceptance” (The Frye test).

The article itself appears to be a rather inappropriate continuation of a debate arising from a court case in New York (People v. Megnath). Again we would question whether this journal is the correct forum to air this debate.

In other words, Buckleton and Gill are suggesting that Bruce Budowle acted unethically by publishing his non-peer reviewed opinions in a professional journal for the purpose of using the article to support his work as a paid consultant, and as an expert witness in court cases such as People v. Megnath in New York. 

Incidentally, Budowle was unsuccessful in advocating his opinions as an expert witness for the defense in People v. Megnath in his battle with Theresa Caragine of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York over her submission in court of data obtained using LCN DNA testing techniques.

Theresa Caragine herself authored a powerful rebuttal of Budowle’s article claiming that when Budowle’s “opinions” were published he failed to disclose that he had, in fact, been retained by the defense counsel for Mr. Megnath, and that he had already testified as a paid expert witness regarding the opinions he expresses in the journal article that the expert report relies heavily upon in attempting to substantiate its points.  And even though Bruce Budowle’s opinions had previously been delivered as a paid expert witness in a judicial setting, he made the claim of “˜No Conflict of Interest’ when applying to publish this non-peer reviewed article.

Caragine’s remarks go even further in criticizing the Budowle et al LCN DNA article by pointing out that it is not even a research article, but a non-peer reviewed submission that had purportedly been presented in the context of the 23rd Biennial Worldwide Conference of the International Society of Forensic Genetics, 2009 in Buenos Aires. 

Caragine claims that, while Budowle had in fact submitted a similar paper at that meeting, it was not under its current title, nor did it have the same the list of authors, and the abstract submitted to the conference organizers for their selection process does not align with the content of the paper now cited in the Italian experts’ report submitted to the court in the Knox/Sollecito appeal.  In her rebuttal, Caragine strongly questions whether or not such a circumvention of all standard principles of scientific publishing is in any way acceptable or appropriate.

Conclusions

In light of all of the above, the upcoming July 25th court hearing in the Knox/Sollecito trial should be considered as anything but a foregone conclusion.  The rationale behind the exuberant remarks noted in recent press releases regarding content allegedly favorable to defense efforts and anticipated impacts appears to be baseless. 

For an Italian report, it gives the appearance of being remarkably Amero-centric, and we find it ugly and unprofessional that the expert report chooses to attack Dr. Stefanoni and her colleagues by citing nonexistent international standards and by relying upon extraordinarily questionable resources in doing so. 

The report’s final conclusion that contamination cannot be completely ruled out is remarkably weak considering that there are relatively few real-world cases in which contamination of evidence might be completely ruled out.

It becomes clear, then, that well informed prosecution interrogators will have no problem in identifying and attacking the report’s multiple weaknesses.  We should expect Dr. Stefanoni and the prosecution’s team of experts to present precise counter arguments for the challenges expressed in the expert report, strongly defending the forensic science capabilities of Stefanoni and her team.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Today’s New York Times Headline: Why Most US Main Media Should Be Disbelieved And Ignored

Posted by Peter Quennell


But (1) this is an appeal, not a trial, and (2) the first session was back in November 2010. It stands uncorrected still. But (as Fly By Night observes in a comment) this weird correction appears down below.



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Conspiracy Theorists Attempt A Hijacking Of Rachel Sterne’s “Ground Report” And Readership Plummets

Posted by Peter Quennell





Rachel Sterne is attempting to help Mayor Bloomberg of New York to put the city government’s business across online in a neutral, credible and well-informed way.

Her own website, Ground Report, is an increasingly poor advertisement for her management skills. See the Alexa figures below. Readership of Ground Report is right now less than 100,000 in the world.

TJMk has several times beaten that ranking, and it may soon do so again. That is dangerously far away from being commercially viable, which for this kind of site means being in at least the top 10,000.

Worse, as the chart below shows, Ground Report’s readership has dropped FIFTY PERCENT since the Knox conspiracy theorists started targeting it with inaccurate, misleading and personally vicious posts daily.

Ground Report competes for the same eyeballs as the Huffington Post (70th in the world), Technorati (948) and Gather (2,231). Those smart and well-managed sites minimize attempted hijackings, ensure some sort of balance, and encourage robust commenting by readers who know raw truth when they see it.

Here on Ground Report are loopy new articles by Grace Moore and Bruce Fisher which should never have appeared. They are highly misleading and wildly at variance with the real facts. The Huffington Post would never have accepted such crap.

Bruce Fisher, a real Knoxaholic, is famously at sea on the hard evidence, and he is subjected to almost daily ridicule on the PMF forum for his pretentious wrong-headedness. He was previously kicked off both Technorati and Gather for defamatory posts against any messengers who objectively explain the hard realities of the case. Smart moves by Technorati and Gather.

Grace Moore flatly claims that Rudy Guede did it alone. Really?! How laughable.

The Micheli court and Massei court and Supreme Court of Italy have ALL already ruled that this was quite impossible. Two others were definitely there too.  That is precisely why the defenses were putting convicted perps on the stand last Saturday - to try to prove Knox and Sollecito were not those two others.

Conspiracists are rather like sucker fish, which always cause the death of their hosts. Withstanding conspiracists desperate for an online home and existing audience when their own websites tank really is Group Blogging 101.

So. Good luck in withstanding the attempted hijacking of your website, Rachel Sterne. Truth in governance and accurate reporting do count.



Wednesday, June 08, 2011

It Seems Mignini Demonizer + Knox Fawner Judy Bachrach Learned Nothing In The Past Year

Posted by The Machine

 


Bachrach again. She never learns. Here is my post of a year ago showing how she misleads



Hmmm. Isn’t Mr Mignini already suing people for hurtful claims about him not unlike those made very dogmatically in the video above?

And the similar hurtful claims made very dogmatically in the two videos down below here? Certainly Mr Mignini would seem to have what you might call a not-unstrong case.

  • First, the numbers of police, investigators and judges hoodwinked would have to have been truly huge. This case has a VAST cast of characters in Italy seeking true justice for Meredith - a jury, for example, and twenty judges by present count, and a nationally known and respected co-prosecutor.

  • And second, nothing in the judges’ sentencing report, which PMF and TJMK are in the final laps of translating into English, appears to back up her claims. Judge Micheli’s report a year ago, which explained Guede’s conviction and the reasons for sending Knox and Sollecito to trial, was already an almost unassailably tough document. And the report by Judges Giancarlo Massei and Beatrice Cristiani? It is even tougher.

Judy Bachrach has popped up repeatedly to straighten out us lesser beings on the case. For her, it appears to be almost a small industry. She is perhaps the most vehement and impervious of all the proponents of the notion that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito are somehow being railroaded, by a corrupt prosecutor, Mr Mignini, and an incompetent legal system.

Wouldn’t you expect Judy Bachrach, as a professional journalist and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair,  to research her articles more meticulously? And to verify every single one of her claimed facts? In the same way that the Italy-based reporters we like to quote have incessantly managed to do - really quite brilliantly?

We have been analyzing Judy Bachrach’s many, many articles and TV commentaries about the case, and they all seem to point to the following conclusions. 

  • That she hasn’t ever read the Micheli report and doesn’t seem to have actually ever mentioned it.

  • That she hasn’t had full access to the prosecution’s 10,000-plus pages file of evidence, and maybe she has had no access at all.

  • That she didn’t attend the key court sessions in which highly incriminating forensic and circumstantial evidence was presented.

  • That she hasn’t absorbed the numerous factual newspaper and magazine reports about the key forensic and circumstantial evidence.

  • That she seems to rely either a lot or totally on sources with vested interests who feed her wrong theories and false information.

  • And that she comes across to us as the reporter most often showing on US media outlets the most complete ignorance of the case.

Quite a track record. We wonder if she is really very proud of it. She seems to sound so. Now to examine the details of some of her small jungle of wrong claims.

False Claim #1

Judy Bachrach made the following claims in an article entitled “Perugia’s Prime Suspect” for for Vanity Fair.

Rudy Guede’s DNA would be found all over her dead body the next day….“His DNA was found not only all over the British girl’s body but also in his bloody fingerprint staining one of her cushions and on the straps of the bra she wore the night of her death.

Judy Bachrach’s claims that Rudy Guede’s DNA was all over Meredith’s body have long been demonstrably false. According to the Micheli report here quickly translated here there was only ONE instance of Rudy Guede’s DNA on Meredith.

Where exactly did Judy Bachrach get that false information from? It clearly wasn’t from the DNA results from the tests carried out by Dr. Stefanoni and her team, or any official court documents, or the Micheli report.

And why exactly did she propagate it? Was she perhaps deliberately trying to exaggerate the evidence against Rudy Guede? Whilst playing down or completely ignoring the forensic and circumstantial evidence against Knox and Sollecito?

False Claim #2

In the same Vanity Fair article, Judy Bachrach makes the claim that “Amanda had tried three times to reach Meredith by cell phone, without success.”

If Judy Bachrach had examined the mobile phone records which are part of the prosecution’s 10,000 page report, as the court did and as we have done, she might have concluded otherwise - that Amanda Knox never ever made even one genuine attempt to contact Meredith.

Two of Knox’s phone calls lasted only 3 seconds and 4 seconds.

Judy Bachrach would have also realised that Knox’s claim that Meredith’s Italian phone “just kept ringing, no answer” was in fact a lie. And that Knox’s e-mail version of events at the house on 2 November is totally contradicted by what is in those mobile phone records.

Our poster Finn MacCool rather brilliantly drew attention a year ago now in this post here to how very, very incriminating those phone records are. (They also seem to incriminate Amanda Knox’s mother. Why doesn’t a good reporter actually ask her about this?)

Judge Massei and Judge Cristiani certainly don’t believe that Knox made a genuine attempt to contact Meredith. And they provide a very detailed explanation of why they don’t, in the sentencing report we are now translating.

And as you will soon see in that report, they also pull totally apart Knox’s email version of the events on 2 November to her friends and family in Seattle.

 


False Claim #3

Judy Bachrach has claimed that the bra clasp in Meredith’s bedroom was “discovered” only in January 2008.

But to complicate matters, a forensics team took a second look around the House of Horrors in January; this time they discovered a clasp that had been cut off the same bra. On that clasp they found Raffaele’s DNA.

House of Horrors? A callous way to refer to the sad place where a remarkable girl with a grieving family and many grieving friends was tortured and then deliberately left to die.

And in actual fact, Dr. Stefanoni was fully aware that the bra clasp was missing from the time she reviewed in the Rome labs the evidence collected from the crime scene - early in November. The clasp couldn’t be collected until the defense experts had agreed upon a date.

There was no other cause to the delay, and the bar clasp was never simply “discovered” at the second evidence visit in January. The forensic team went there specifically to get it. And it was actually recovered on 18 December 2007.

False Claim #4

Perhaps the reason why Judy Bachrach gets so many of the basic facts like those above wrong is that she seems to rely very heavily on sources who feed her false information. One example:

But three legal sources in Perugia (two unfriendly to Amanda) tell me the injuries sustained by Meredith were inconsistent with the blade of that knife.

All of Judy Bachrach’s “three legal sources”  provided her with wrong facts.

The double DNA knife found in Sollecito’s apartment is fully compatible with the deep puncture wound on Meredith’s neck. This has been widely reported by a number of journalists in the British and American media. For example “According to multiple witnesses for the defense, the knife is compatible with at least one of the three wounds on Kercher’s neck, but it was likely too large for the other two.” (Barbie Nadeau in Newsweek).

The sentencing report of Judges Giancarlo Massei and Beatrice Cristiani also now confirms that the knife is absolutely compatible with the large wound on Meredith’s neck.

False Claim #5

Judy Bachrach claims that when Knox and Sollecito changed their versions of events they did so because things got rough.

Simultaneously, in a separate room, Raffaele, too, was questioned by police. Like Amanda’s, his version of events seemed to change whenever things got rough.

Raffaele Sollecito actually changed his version of events most dramatically on 5 November 2007 when he was confronted with the telephone records that proved that he and Knox had lied. It was then that he in effect threw Knox under the bus, and he has never really backed her versions of events on the night fully ever since.

And Amanda Knox in turn changed her version of events most dramatically when she was informed that Sollecito had admitted that they had both lied, that he was wrong to go along with her version, and that he was in effect no longer providing her with any alibi.

Knox and Sollecito’s multiple conflicting alibis did NOT happen because “things got rough”. They actually happened because Sollecito and Knox were both repeatedly caught lying. And they changed their stories periodically merely to fit the new information as it became known - and at pretty well no time after they were first caught out in their lies did the stories of the two ever match. .

By the way, wait for something of a bombshell. Judges Giancarlo Massei and Beatrice Cristiani in their sentencing report expose more lies and contradictions by Knox and Sollecito which haven’t as yet been reported in any of the English-language the media.

False Claim #6

Judy Bachrach wrote an article about the case for the website Women on the Web headlined Amanda Knox’s Abusive Prosecutor.. (Hmmm. Smart title.)

Amanda was also told if she didn’t confess she would get the maximum ““ 30 years in prison. And ““ oh yes ““ at a time when, having just arrived in Italy, she spoke pitifully little Italian, she wasn’t provided with a translator.

Judy Bachrach clearly wasn’t in the courtroom when Amanda Knox’s interpreter, Dr. Anna Donnino, gave her evidence as to all the work she did on the night of the interrogations. And Judy Bachrach clearly hasn’t read the numerous articles that actually describe the interpreter’s testimony.

False Claim #7

Judy Bachrach claims that an Italian reporter was thrown into prison for being critical of Mignini. She is clearly referring to Mario Spezi.

Mignini is no special friend to journalists. One Italian reporter who especially upset the prosecutor a while back was thrown into prison “” in isolation. An American journalist who was that reporter’s friend was interrogated so harshly that, fearing incarceration himself, he hopped the next plane back to the United States, where he started a campaign (ultimately successful) to free his friend. Their crime? They were critical of Mignini.

Spezi is currently on trial for disrupting the investigation into the Narducci case. He has NOT been charged with criticising Mr Mignini.

Judy Bachrach has made a number of television appearances on CNN and other networks in which she was scathing towards Mr Mignini and the Italian legal system. As with her articles, Judy Bachrach makes many wild and inaccurate claims.

False Claim #8

She incorrectly asserts that the defence teams weren’t allowed to produce evidence of their own DNA experts - despite the fact that the Knox and Sollecito defenses each had large teams of DNA experts testify. From the videos in this post:

The defence wasn’t even allowed to produce evidence of their own DNA experts.

Gino Professor, Carlo Torre and Walter Patumi were some of the DNA experts who testified at the trial on behalf of Amanda Knox. Professor Vinci, Adriano Tagliabracci and Francesco Introna were some of the DNA experts who defended Raffaele Sollecito.

False Claim #9

Judy Bachrach has repeatedly claimed (you can see her do so in these videos) that Amanda Knox was kept in prison for two years before her trial.

They kept her in jail for two years even before trial [although] there isn’t an ounce of real hard evidence against her” And “It was decided to keep Amanda Knox in jail for two years prior to her trial.

If Knox and Sollecito had been kept in prison for two years before their trial as someone “decided” their trial would have started in November 2009. The reality is that their trial started in January 2009 and it was originally scheduled for December 2008, just two months after Guede’s. 

Judy Bachrach is not the only American journalist who is ignorant of the basic facts of the case, and responsible for some of the serious misinforming of the American public, both about the crime and about Italy.

But she sure does seem to be the only one to have made it into a little industry..

By the way, we sure look forward to the YouTubes of Candace Dempsey and Nina Burleigh propagating their own books on the case when those books are released. Will they now finally be describing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but?

Don’t hold your breath.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Questions For Knox and Sollecito: Address These Several Hundred On The Hard Evidence

Posted by Our Main Posters





These questions were first addressed to Rocco Girlanda, the pro-Knox Member of Parliament. who came up empty-handed.

This Open Letter to Rocco Girlanda was first posted and sent to him in English on 9 November 2010. Six-plus months later, no response. We are now reposting it and mailing it in Italian, as Italian media and opposition MPs are interested in asking him these same questions.

Mr. Rocco Girlanda
Parliamentarian for Gubbio in Umbria
Chamber of Deputies
Parliament of Italy
Rome, Italy


Dear Mr. Girlanda:

Questions Concerning Your Hurtful Behavior Toward The Family and Friends Of Meredith Kercher

And Also Concerning Your Ethics, Your Politics, Your Legal Behavior, And Your Personal Behavior

Your book Take Me With You ““ Talks With Amanda Knox In Prison” is leaving readers with a number of disturbing questions as to your motives, timing and interests in writing the book and publishing it at this time.

These questions concern whether your book - or at least its publication right now, directly before the important first level of appeal - is in fact very unethical, and they also concern the appropriateness of the nature of your relationship with Miss Knox.

In order to put these these questions to rest, we are sure that you will be eager to know what they are, and to respond to them in your best way possible. We’d be pleased if you would reply to us through our return address, or - given the public nature of this discussion - email it for posting directly on the TJMK website.

Here are the questions we have assembled. Again, we thank you in advance for your replies:

  • Do you believe in the separation of the executive, parliamentary and judicial branches of government? Since you are a parliamentarian (and, in particular, a member of the judiciary committee), do you think that the publishing of your book at this time could be seen as being inappropriate, given the calendar of Amanda’s appeal for her murder conviction, as well as the ongoing trial for slander (for having accused the Perugian police of hitting her during questioning)?

  • When you visit prisons in your role as a parliamentarian, what is your main objective: perform an independent check and control over prison conditions, or befriend prisoners? After how many visits to Capanne prison did you realise that you had established a friendship with Miss Knox? How often do you visit prisons in Italy? Which other prisons have you recently visited? Do you visit men’s prisons? Do you regularly give gifts to prisoners, like the books or the computer you gave to Amanda? If you consider that the computer was not a personal gift but rather from the Italy-USA Foundation of which you are president, which other American prisoners in Italian prisons have received such gifts? Which criteria does the Foundation follow in deciding who receives gifts? (for example, prisoners who have expressed repentance, or prisoners who have to use free legal aid due to financial penury, or prisoners who contribute to awareness programs to help others avoid similar crimes in the future ....).

  • As president of the Italy-USA Foundation, you have expressed concern that this case has strained relations between the two countries. Have you spoken with the US Embassy in Rome about your concern?  Within the framework of Italian-US relations, are there any other issues which you think come close to your-perceived significance of Amanda’s involvement in murdering Meredith Kercher? (for example:  Italy’s middle east policy concerning talks with Palestinian organisations, or discussions about the acceptance by Italy of Guantanamo inmates, or the ongoing state of Fiat-Chrysler relations and investments, or the rooting out of organised crime, or even Berlusconi’s joke about Obama being handsome and suntanned?)



[Above: the village of Gubbio to the north-east of Perugia which Rocco Girlanda currently represents]

  • In your over 20 parliamentary privilege meetings with Amanda Knox, did she ever act in a bizarre manner, like performing cartwheels for you? Why didn’t you ever ask her about her murdered roommate, Meredith Kercher or in general about the crime? Can your book really be of any interest to anyone if it only contains bits and pieces of poetry and banal conversation, without linking Amanda to the case which has put her into jail? How can your book come close to one of its supposed objectives - that of trying to understand how a young person could be involved in a violent crime such as that of Meredith Kercher’s murder - it you make no reference to the crime?

  • You have stated that you have daughters similar to Amanda Knox. In what ways are your daughters comparable to Amanda? Studies? Personal life and use of drugs, or social habits with the opposite sex? Some other way?

  • Amanda wrote you a letter (amongst others) on 7 August 2010, where she tells you in Italian, “The only thing I can show you is my gratitude for your friendship and your support.” What is the extent and what are the characteristics of this friendship and support? Is Amanda’s gratitude one-sided, from the perspective of an emotionally weak prisoner who becomes dependent on any stranger who shows her the slightest kindness, or do you mutually share this friendship which she describes, between the two of you? Do you know if Amanda’s Italian legal team are aware of the extent of your friendship? Do you think that your friendship may actually somehow complicate her legal situation and strategy?

  • You describe an affectionate hug between you and Knox: “I blush. She holds me, I hold her. It’s a never ending embrace, without a word. If I said I didn’t feel any emotion I would be lying. Maybe my face reveals that.” is what was quoted in the Daily Mail. Have you ever told a priest, psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, drinking buddy or your wife about your physical contact with Amanda and your nocturnal dreams which involve her? If so, what advice have they given you?

  • Did you attend any of the Knox-Sollecito trial sessions over the course of the year that it was held? (it would have been easy: you could have taken advantage of visits to your parliamentary constituency, just as you have found it easy to visit Amanda in jail). Are you familiar with the evidence? Are you aware that there are two other persons convicted for the same crime together with Amanda? Do you know if - like her - they write poetry and want to be parents when they are freed from prison (a number of years from now)? Do such desires for life under regained freedom make any convicted prisoner less guilty of the crimes they have committed?

  • Do you feel that there were any specific errors or problems with the investigation in this case which you believe may contribute to an incorrect verdict and sentence for the three suspects? Did Amanda get a fair trial compared to any other similar crime investigation and legal process in Italy?

  • Are you able to offer an explanation as to why not once have the Kerchers and their lawyer, Francesco Maresca, ever been worried about the trial outcome? After three years, why is it that Francesco Maresca still has no worries and is confident that the convicted will lose their appeals?


[Above: Mr Girlanda with images of herself by Amanda Knox released about simultaneously with his book]

  • Do you believe that any of the investigation or judicial officials involved in this case are corrupt, or that any type of corruption played a role in their activities? Don’t be shy, please identify those who did wrong amongst Prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, Prosecutor Manuela Comodi, Judge Claudia Matteini, Judge Paolo Micheli, Judge Giancarlo Massei, Judge Beatrice Cristiani, the six lay judges, Appeals Judge Emanuele Medoro, Homicide Chief Monica Napoleoni, Inspector Rita Ficarrra, DNA expert Patrizia Stefanoni, or any other person involved in this complex case. Was there a conspiracy of corrupt officials who directed an evil campaign against an obviously innocent girl with no real evidence against her?

  • As a followup to the prior question, do you know that not one credible international attorney or professor of comparative criminal law and procedure has taken the defense of Amanda Knox, claiming injustice in the Italian judicial system? Do you agree that the Italian criminal system is fair, balanced and completely pro-defendant?

  • Do you know that Italian citizens constantly complain of their relaxed criminal laws and that criminals are constantly set free even after being sentenced on appeal while waiting for the confirmation of the Cassation Court? For example, little Tommy would still be alive if Mario Alessi had been kept in prison after being convicted on appeal for raping a minor. As a politician, don’t you think the law should be changed by keeping violent criminals in jail after being convicted on appeal, in order to guarantee the security of the citizens of the country you represent?

  • Do you know that the Italian attorneys of Amanda Knox don’t approve of this media propaganda perpetuated by the Knox-Mellas clan, that seems intent on spreading falsehoods and misinformation, while at the same time blaming an entire country (the one you represent in parliament) for an alleged “wrongful conviction”?

  • In promoting your book, you have stated that during your more than 20 meetings with convicted murderer Amanda Knox, a “friendship” has grown. Would you classify that as a friendship of convenience or a friendship based on caring for the interests of the other? We ask that because it truly shocks us that Knox’s Italian legal team was humiliated, and Knox herself was deprived professional legal advice and support through the publication of your book without it being vetted by her lawyers.  “She is very worried,” said Knox’s lawyer Luciano Ghirga, declining to comment on the book which he said he has not seen. “She is not at her best. She is very worried” ahead of the appeal, he added. Although the book will likely change little in Knox’s legal predicament, I would have thought that a “friend” who was also a law-maker would realise the importance of consulting the other friend’s lawyers concerning the possible fallout of a personal literary initiative such as yours.

  • Do you know that the American Embassy has followed this case from day one and reported to the State Department? Do you know that the Embassy stated that the trial was fair? Do you know that the State Department never expressed concerns about the outcome of the trial?

  • Do you know that the only American politician that once spoke out regarding this trial was Mrs. Maria Cantwell from Seattle when she asked Mrs. Clinton to verify if Italy is a third-world country with a barbarian criminal system and if Amanda Knox was sentenced only because she is an American citizen?

  • How did you and your associate Corrado Maria Daclon prepare his list of contacts that he met with in his trip to Seattle when you were writing your book? Did some person or persons arrange for meeting with these contacts? Was this person associated with the Knox-Mellas Entourage?

  • Have you ever read the 430-page Sentence Motivation Report (“Dispositivo Della Sentenza Di Condanna”) written by Judge Massei who presided over the Knox-Sollecito trial?  Do you know that there is overwhelming evidence against Amanda Knox and that the information spread out by the expensive PR team, hired by the Knox family, is neither a complete nor trustworthy story?


[Above: Giulia Bongiorno. Concern that Rocco Girlanda has gone way beyond what is appropriate to his parliamentary privilege to visit prisons “to inspect conditions” is further inflamed by his presence on the Italian parliament’s Judicial Committee. This committee, amazingly, is presided over by Raffaele Sollecito’s lead defense lawyer: Giulia Bongiorno. Is Giulia Bongiorno turning a blind eye to Mr Girlanda’s extraordinary number of visits, which seem highly abusive of his privilege, and exceed the quota of any family member?]

  • Do you know that the vast majority of Americans have no idea of who Amanda Knox is? For example, if you look at the number of hits on videos posted by the Knox clan on YouTube, you would discover that few hundred people have visited the site. Also, do you know that the vast majority of Americans that have heard about this case think she’s guilty?

  • Do you know who Steve Moore is? As President of the of the Italy-USA Foundation, do you, Mr. Girlanda, approve the insulting assertions of Mr. Moore when he says that the Italian police questioning of Amanda is typical of a “third world country”? That is was “something close to water-boarding”? Do you know that Steve Moore said that Amanda’s accusation of Patrick Lumumba, an innocent man, was “recanted by Amanda as soon as she had gotten some food”? Do you know that this weird individual said that “the court of final appeal is going to be the press. It’s going to be the public”?

  • Have you ever read or seen Steve Moore on American national television? Do you know that he has been interview by all major American television news stations, spreading falsehoods and misinformation? Do you know that Mr. Moore has been accusing Italy as a whole as been responsible for what he calls a “wrongful conviction”, in a “railroad job” by a “psychopathic prosecutor”? Do you agree with him?

  • Of the crime scene, Steve Moore said that “there was blood everywhere. There were foot prints, fingerprints, palm prints, hair, fluid samples, DNA of just one person: Rudy Guede”. Do you know that Rudy Guede left very little evidence for someone who has admitted been there and touching everything? Do you know that Guede left no hairs, no saliva, no sweat, no blood, and no other bodily fluid at the scene of the crime? Do you know that Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito left plenty of DNA evidence and footprints all over the crime scene? Do you know that Steve Moore is telling falsehoods? Do you know that the motivation report clearly explains, without a minimal doubt, that more than one person was present during the murder of poor Meredith? (Please do read Judge Massei’s report)

  • Steve Moore says that the interrogation of Amanda Knox at the police station “was the most coercive interrogation I have ever seen admitted into a court in the last 20 years”. Do you know that the interrogation at the police station on the evening of November 5, 2007, before the arrival of the prosecutor, was just 1 hour and 45 minutes and that Amanda was treated like any other witness that had just been caught lying?

  • Have you ever visited Raffaele Sollecito or Rudy Guede in jail and are you planning to write a book on them as well?

  • We have just heard that the bound edition of your Amanda Knox book has been pushed by the conservative publisher at least as far away as next spring. Could this be cold feet on the part of your publisher, who may not want to be associated with the public relations campaign of a convicted killer? Or of a disaster in terms of predicted sales? Your agent Patrick King seems in a furious rush now to get the book out one way or another for Christmas .... who on earth would want to give a Christmas gift to a friend or loved one which is composed of bizarre sweet talk with a convicted murderess?

  • Are you even slightly aware of the deep hurt which you have caused to the Kercher family and Meredith’s many friends with your book? Do you know that some persons with great sympathy for them have words for you like “a pretty cruel heartless bastard”?

Finally, Mr. Girlanda - and we thank you for your patience in responding to these questions, which many concerned Americans and non-Americans have helped us compile - you have indicated that the proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the U.S.A.-Italy Foundation of which you are president.

If this budget injection is not used to make gifts of additional computers for more American prisoners in Italian jails beyond Amanda Knox, would you please consider applying part of the book proceeds to the new scholarship that the Perugia city council has established together with the University for Foreigners, in memory of Meredith Kercher?

It would be a wonderful gesture which would respond positively to those many Americans and non-Americans who are concerned that Amanda Knox’s conviction for the murder of Meredith should not be spinned into a money-grubbing show-business performance, where the only victim of this case - Meredith - is forgotten, and instead through some sort of twisted publicity campaign, one of the guilty parties is converted into a sympathetic Mother Theresa who escapes fully responding for her crimes.

The original of this letter in English and Italian has been emailed and sent in hard copy to your office in Rome. We greatly look forward to your various responses and will be happy to post them in Italian and English here. 


Very many thanks in advance from people all over the world who are seeking true justice for Meredith

Signed in the original for the Main Posters Of TJMK
Who include a number of American and Italian lawyers


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Now The Grandstanding Junior Politician Girlanda Attempts Political Interference In Judicial Process

Posted by Peter Quennell




1. The Context

Rocco Girlanda is an Umbrian politician and father of five with a long and suspect history of inserting himself in this case.

He first rose to prominence when he dragged a parliamentary team into Capanne Prison right after the trial to make sure that Amanda Knox was quite comfortable. He emerged to make grinning self-congratulatory statements in front of every camera in sight.

Then he extended this privilege of politicians being allowed to inspect prisoner conditions into many more visits to Knox in Capanne, and a distinctly kinky book of Knox’s thoughts and his reflections emerged. That time-consuming process took him extensively away from the duties which Italy actually pays him for.

He also presided over two ill-attended panels for the Italy-USA Foundation of which he is the president (see here and here) and although he seemed to try very hard to insert emotional bias into the proceedings,  both the panels equivocated and he emerged essentially empty-handed.

Girlanda is notorious for seeming to be unable to grasp even the simplest details of the evidence and repeatedly mischaracterizing it. Six months ago we posted an open letter addressed to him with an extremely comprehensive series of questions to try to finally make him think straight.
.
Apparently no such luck.

2. Girlanda’s Political Strongarming

Here is Girlanda yet again raising grave but essentially spurious questions about Italian justice in this case, which in fact has been very well handled and which Italy can show to the world with real pride. 

The letter is addressed to the president of the Italian republic and a similar letter went to the minister of justice signed by a dozen Berlusconi-party MPs. Translation is kindly provided by our main poster Clander who also attended and reported on the second panel.

Girlanda’s nasty charges play strongly into the overtones of xenophobia toward Italy which have repeatedly dogged the case. Nice move, Girlanda. Mission achieved?!

The President of Italy-USA Foundation, Hon. Rocco Girlanda, sent the following letter to the President of Italian Republic, Hon. Giorgio Napolitano, regarding the case of Amanda Knox.

Illustrious President,

I address you as President of the Italy-USA Foundation - that as you know is an international bipartisan institution to which dozens of parliamentarians belong, together with Italian scientists, journalists, diplomats, politicians - and as a parliamentary member of the Judiciary Committee in the Chamber of Deputies.

The event of the American student Amanda Knox’s detainment has provoked many discussions and debates, above all in the United States where even members of Congress and other influential institutional personalities are involved. I have been working personally for over a year to try to alleviate the tensions, both in Italy and in the United States, that this case has generated.

Also, in full respect of the trial process and of the role of the judicial magistrates, we must make note that the appellate trial has objectively opened more wide and resounding doubts on what was considered clear evidence in the first phase, in which further expertise and examination of testimony were not admitted, limiting the debate in fact to the only reasons of accusation.

After all, the same president of the Court of Appeals has opened the second level of trial with an eloquent clarification: “The respect of article 533 of the Penal Procedure Code (pronunciation of sentence only if the accused is guilty of the offense contested beyond any reasonable doubt) does not consent to share totally the decision of the Criminal Court from the first level”.

The question that I ask myself is who will compensate two young twenty-year olds, in the hoped for case that the appellate trial recognizes their innocence, of the four years of life and freedom that they have been unjustly depraved and for which no economic compensation could ever reimburse.

The use of preventative incarceration will unfortunately with time characterize our country. Even in the United States such measures are difficult to comprehend in so far as the varying rules from state to state. In the U.S. one can be detained from 48 to 72 hours, after which they are officially charged or are released.

Trials like that of Perugia could be celebrated with the charged in conditions of freedom, eventually with the restrictive measures about the ex-patriot regarding a foreign citizen. Still, the magistrate has adopted the possible reiteration of the offense as a reason for the detention in jail, a motivation that I limit myself to define as surreal for those like me whom for over a year in these parts have had the chance to get to know Amanda Knox.

I have in fact felt the obligation to write a book on Amanda Knox filled with many talks that I had with her in prison, in order to bring her justice and to explain to the world’s public opinion that the true Amanda is a girl completely different from the image that, with the contributions of the media, has emerged from the trials.

All of the Penitentiary Police personnel of the prison of Perugia, that have come to know her in the past three years, have confirmed her exemplary behaviour done with respect and kindness towards all of the other detainees and towards the personnel. Amanda is a girl of which today I am proud to call a great friend. She is an ideal girl with which I would send my five children on vacation.

Yet from the beginning, this case has pointed out some of the forceful and disturbing rule of law. During the investigation, a television and internet interview was conducted with a State Police officer that showed the corridor of the Roman Police offices, where there are framed photographs of such figures like the leaders of organized crime, serial killers, and other criminals convicted with severe crimes.

The officer in question also showed some of the successes of the Central Operating Services, and right after the portrait of Bernardo Provenzano, head of the mafia, there was a framed portrait of Amanda Knox. This portrait was displayed in the State Police offices even before the first trial, and it was accompanied by very serious declarations to the press of that ruling (which has never been sanctioned) where he argues that a “psychological” investigation without the help of science and technology has, “allowed us to arrive very quickly to identify the culprits”.

Is it not necessary to recall here that according to the legal principles of our country a defendant can only be found guilty at the end of three sets of hearings by the judiciary and not at the end of police interviews. It seems indeed rather curious and disturbing that in a democratic and liberal state, despite what is required by the Code of Criminal Procedure about the need for absolute and unambiguous evidence, it is possible to judge a citizen convicted only on “psychological” bases after a police interrogation.

Through the light findings from the appeal process, the so-called evidence and testimonies of the prosecution have proved to be at best considered contradictory and unreliable. All of these distortions have occurred in the various phases of the investigation by the out of place statements from the police and during the first trial; they been widely reported and distributed throughout United States, even in talk shows with tens of million viewers.

These distortions, not without reason, are fueling accusations against the administration of justice in our country. As Martin Luther King wrote in a letter from the Birmingham, Alabama prison, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… Justice too long delayed is justice denied”.

In this light and with the hope of a different ruling on the Amanda Knox trial taking place in Perugia, I’m well aware of the feelings you have towards the American nation and towards the excellent, historic friendship between the two countries. I would make an appeal, Mr. President, because your authoritative intervention will help to reconcile and mitigate the many controversies that this incident has generated on both sides of the Atlantic.

In expressing my deepest gratitude, to the many citizens of Italy and America that the Italy-USA Foundation is honoured to represent, I take this time to express my utmost respects. 

Rocco Girlanda

Pro-prosecution claims on talk shows in front of tens of millions? Really? All we have noticed 24/7/365 for over three years in the US is invented and seemingly libelous anti-police and anti-prosecution charges on the lines Girlanda is making.

No mention of course of Meredith, about whom, Girlanda doesn’t seem to give a damn.

3. New Development

New development reported by Italian poster ncountryside

MP Rocco Girlanda’s Parliamentary Question about Perugia police incompetennce or corruption can be now monitored here:

http://banchedati.camera.it/sindacatoispettivo_16/showXhtml.Asp?idAtto=39725&stile=6&highLight=1

The complaint to the President as head of the justice system can be read in full in Comments below in Italian.

The other lawmakers who signed the question are:

Lucio Barani, born in Aulla (Massa-Carrara) on May 27th, 1953;
degree in medicine;
constituency: XII ““ Tuscany.

Francesco De Luca, born in Naples on May 31st, 1961;
degree in law;
constituency: VII ““ Veneto 1.

Carla Castellani, born in Rieti on January 13th, 1944;
degree in medicine;
constituency: XVII ““ Abruzzo.

Mariella Bocciardo, born in Genoa on August 21st, 1949;
high school in foreign languages;
constituency: III ““ Lombardy 1.

Gian Carlo Abelli, born in Broni (Pavia) on May, 11th, 1941;
high school;
constituency: V ““ Lombardy 3.

Gianni Mancuso, born in S. Pellegrino Terme (Bergamo) on July 24th, 1957;
degree in veterinary medicine;
constituency: II ““ Piemonte 2.

Domenico Di Virgilio, born in Montefino (Teramo) on June 23rd, 1939;
degree in medicine;
constituency: XV ““ Lazio 1.

Agostino Ghiglia, born in Turin on July 4th, 1965;
high school ““ lyceum;
constituency: I ““ Piemonte 1.

Tommaso Foti, born in Piacenza on April 28th, 1960;
high school ““ lyceum;
constituency: XI ““ Emilia Romagna.

Gabriella Carlucci, (”¦ yes !! her “¦) born in Alghero (Sassari) on February 28th, 1959;
degree in literatures and art hystory, journalist (... vabbe’);
constituency: XXI ““ Puglia.

 


Thursday, May 12, 2011

It Looks Like Joel Simon And Nina Ognianova May Have Been Set Up In Their New Attack On Mignini

Posted by Peter Quennell


Kermit below lists all the open questions about the claimed closing of Perugia Shock on a judical order that CPJ did’t seem to have bothered to ask.

Now a new Perugia Shock  is up and running in a test phase with a simple change in the host and different free software.

NO WAY that site would be going live if a judge in Florence had said to shut it down. Or if Frank’s legal troubles were because of it. Or if Mignini really were gunning for him.

It looks like all the Google Blogger hullaballoo yesterday was to simply set CPJ up for another anti-Mignini attack, and to add to Frank’s martyrdom and jump his usually very small audience.

The website tracker Whois is showing that the domain name PerugiaShock[dot]com was registered by proxy only yesterday 11 May.

Registered through: Automattic
Domain Name: PERUGIASHOCK.COM
Created on: 11-May-11
Expires on: 11-May-12
Last Updated on: 11-May-11

Administrative Contact:
Private, Registration PERUGIASHOCK.COM]at]domainsbyproxy.com
Domains by Proxy, Inc.
DomainsByProxy.com
15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
United States
(480) 624-2599 Fax—(480) 624-2598

We are familiar with sites registered via Domains By Proxy.

The FOA sites amandadefensefund.org and Friendsofamanda.org were both registered by proxy there. At a guess, Frank’s new site is being created right now by a current temporary resident of Perugia who is an American computer specialist and a relative of Aamda Knox. There is some evidence of his developing the whole FOA network for the Marriott PR operation..

Very tough situation for CPJ now having stuck their necks out so far.

Their new claims against Mignini quoted by Kermit below would seem to go way too far. Is another semi-partial retraction, on their obscure corporate CPJ blog, now in the works?

Posted by Peter Quennell on 05/12/11 at 03:50 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in The wider contextsMore hoaxersComments here (2)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Today An Obsessional Group Rant About “No Evidence” By A Stacked Panel At Seattle University?!

Posted by Peter Quennell


Seattle University is a small Jesuit college just this side of Seattle’s downtown.

Today at 4:00 pm in the Pigott Auditorium, in what seems to us a seriously dopey and un-academic exercise, some of the most obsessed of the conspiracy theorists will assemble to peddle their illusions.

Two of the panelists, Paul Ciolino and Steve Moore, have been exhaustively debunked on TJMK in the past, and sooner or later we will probably turn our attention to debunking the other two: Mark Waterbury, and Candace Dempsey.

Our posts on the hotheaded faux detective Paul Ciolino are here, here, and here, and our posts on the hotheaded faux FBI murder investigator Steve Moore are here, here, here, and here.

The other two panelists, Mark Waterbury and Candace Dempsey, have authored slow-selling books which studiously ignore 95 percent of the evidence and mis-state the other 5 percent. Tom Wright of the Friends of Amanda Knox group will be presiding.

Would you like to attend, well-equipped with some questions? Ask these questions and these questions and these questions. Around 400 in all. Any reports would be appreciated.

Below: Seattle University President Father Steve Sundborg. Does he know what his film department is getting up to?



Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Evolution Of The Wikipedia Article On The Murder Of Meredith Kercher

Posted by Gwaendar





It’s been mentioned by several Seattle media outlets - but none nationally - that the Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales (above) was considering somehow intervening to tilt the article on Meredith after “Bruce Fisher” started an online petition.

This post looks at how articles evolve under various checks and balances and the prospects for Jimmy Wales if he can indeed have any effect on the editing process - set up so that even he essentially can’t. 

1) The principles of Wikipedia

Wikipedia, the online Encyclopedia that anyone can edit, is and has always been a fascinating case study on the strengths and weaknesses of Crowd Sourcing.

Its arcane and often byzantine rules that have evolved over a decade are often difficult to follow, and have produced an environment with a steep learning curve, one that renders submission of new articles very difficult for novices - a situation often commented upon in the media.

For all their complexity, Wikipedia’s core rules provide a framework sustaining over 3 million articles today just for its English edition. It has its flaws, but in the grand scheme of things it works out quite well for the majority of articles.

Wikipedia’s English language website is right now the eighth most visited in the world and there are various versions in other languages.

2) How Wikipedia articles are built

Any article must stand on two core concepts, neutrality and verifiability.

  • Neutrality implies that the topic is described in as objective manner as possible, covering the relevant aspects while giving each the due weight they deserve.
  • Verifiability is the embodiment of an implicit compact between Wikipedia and its readers, the assurance that we aren’t just making things up. This is illustrated by the statement “Wikipedia is about Verifiability, not Truth”.  To that effect, any claims in an article must be verifiable through external reliable sources - If nobody made a claim before it appeared on Wikipedia, it will eventually be removed as “Original Research”.

For a source to be considered reliable, it must be either peer-reviewed or reported by a media outlet with a solid track record for fact checking and accuracy. In the final section of this piece, we will look at the shortcomings of that policy.

The three core content policies, “Neutral Point of View”, “Verifiability through Reliable Sources” and “No Original Research” are summed up in another guideline, the often misunderstood and maligned concept of Notability.

In Wikipedia-speak, Notability isn’t an indication of fame or importance, but refers to the notion that an article’s subject has been noted by others - that is, commented upon by multiple third party reliable sources in a non-trivial manner so that it is possible to verify that a Neutral Point of View is being maintained and no Original Research finds its way into the article.

Last but not least, articles involving living people are subject to particular considerations, called “BLP”  (Biographies of Living Persons), here to ensure Wikipedia is particularly careful to avoid libel. The smearing of the prosecutor, or the portrayal of Guede as a lone wolf when the judicial truth established by the Italian courts makes him one among three participants are both violations of the BLP policy.

3) Consensus: How conflicts are ironed out

As appears evident, those policies are put to the test everytime an article addresses a contentious issue.

Quite often, the available reliable sources present multiple sides of a same story. The requirement of Neutrality is often confused with the notion of balance (the simple representation of all sides of an issue). The challenge arises when it becomes necessary to determine what weight to give to a specific point of view.

For example, the population’s sentiment regarding nuclear power generators today can be presented in two different manners by a news organization interviewing people in the street: presenting three persons extremely worried about nuclear power, and three persons expressing confidence in the technology.

It is a balanced presentation, but if 90%  of the population is actually worried, the presentation doesn’t give the appropriate weighting to the issue, whereas interviewing 5 worried people and one unworried would have been closer to the reality.

In order to determine what an article should contain and to what extent, volunteers will often discuss matters and reach a consensus on an article’s talk (or discussion) page.

The English Wikipedia is home to a multitude of regular and occasional contributors hailing from every single country and culture of the globe. For this extraordinary melting pot to work out, participants in any discussions are expected to, first, assume that other participants are acting in good faith, second, treat each other with respect, and third, to accept that a compromise will have to be found that may not match their personal convictions.

The blogosphere and comment forms of newspaper reporting on the Murder of Meredith Kercher are packed full with contributors who believe that bullying and intimidation, outlasting and outshouting the opposition will win over other people.

Needless to say, this attitude is frowned upon in Wikipedia, and it is the reason why several contributors sympathetic to the Knox cause have been blocked from editing over the past two years.

In determining consensus, Wikipedia operates in a manner combining civil law and adversarial prosecution: arguments are heard based on established policies and guidelines, and prior decisions on similar situations are not taken into consideration.

The final call is usually made by an uninvolved editor who will review all arguments and try to determine what the strongest arguments representing the existing policies. This is also transient, as it is accepted that consensus can change and prior decisions can be revisited later on.

4) A little history of the Murder of Meredith Kercher article

Originally created as an article on Amanda Knox in late 2007, it was swiftly renamed to its present title and started to grow. And as the controversy around the case grew, more and more editors turned up trying to ensure that it presented “the Truth” as they understood it.

The FOA core arguments are familiar to readers of TJMK, of course: Amanda Knox was railroaded by the kangaroo courts of a third world country, a victim of rampant anti-americanism, by a corrupt and insane prosecutor and a brutal police force who convicted her out of thin air.

During early 2010 in particular, the regular Wikipedians trying to maintain a neutral coverage were subjected to heaps of abuse from some particularly aggressive Knox supporters.

After numerous reports on the administrative noticeboards, uninvolved admins stepped in, tried to get these users to conform to the acceptable norms of discourse, and eventually blocked them after they demonstrated their inability to do so.

At that stage, the FOA crowd started organizing their activity: a certain PhanuelB showed up and started arguing, supported by a string of new users who had never edited on anything else before.

This lasted for another three months, until PhanuelB got himself banned for the same atrocious behaviour, along with several of his supporters, while the others vanished without a trace at the same point. They all came back once, when a discussion was started around some content PhanuelB had intended to turn into an article before he got banned.

Through all this, the article has undergone several stages. In Spring 2010, it was a long laundry list of prosecution arguments countered by defense arguments - balanced certainly, but essentially useless. In early Summer, the article underwent a rewrite that almost halved its size and tried to prune much of those arguments.

At regular intervals, the article had to be protected due to excessive edit-wars, and is currently still “semi- protected”, that is, locked off to new accounts and anonymous contributors.

From the point of view of a Wikipedian without direct stakes in the case (I am an editor) the article was certainly perfectible,  but did a reasonable job at presenting the main facts of the case, the judicial situation at present, and the nature of the controversies surrounding the case.

5) The FOA appeal to Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales has abandoned most of his leadership functions over the course of the years, but still carries the prestige attached to his name.

The Open Letter published by “Bruce Fisher” was swallowed line, hook and sinker, and Wales entered the Murder of Meredith Kercher article rather like an elephant in a china shop,  essentially accusing established editors who had laboured for years to try and maintain the article of having conspired to suppress and censor other points of view.

His point is aided, obviously, by the scores of media coverage generated by the Knox PR campaign, in publications and reports matching the letter of a “Reliable Sources”. See, there is a loophole in the policy in the sense that anything appearing on, say, CNN, is considered Reliable because CNN is a network with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy.

As CNN’s own disclaimers state, though, opinions offered by people appearing on their talk shows are explicitly not endorsed by CNN. But the loophole in policy doesn’t address this nuance, and this is mostly where Wales is trying to give much more prominence to the Knox story.

Fortunately, Jimbo is also increasingly seen as out of touch with the rest of the Wikipedia community, and in practice enjoys no particular privileges. Concerns have been raised on his manner of refusing to hear to the other side of the story.

The article’s talk page is unlikely to quiet down for a while.

But while the FOA perspective is given additional weight at present, the aspect that Wales hasn’t acknowledged is that the article, at the time of this writing, has not just minimized certain aspects of the arguments presented by the Knox PR campaign, but conversely toned down much of the debunking of those same claims.

At this stage, neutrality can be preserved or even improved by providing additional sources.

The sentencing reports for instance are what is qualified as a primary source and can only serve to verify the letter of the courts’  decision. More valuable are media reports or scholarly works (in any language, by the way) that analyze and comment on Massei and its critics.

It is important however to remember that polite discourse is required. If a contributor is subjected to personal attacks, it is better to request politely but firmly that the attack be struck or redacted and move on. Treading lightly and arguing on content with conviction rather than condescension will help guarantee that any contributor can at least be heard.

***********

Gwaendar has been a wikipedia editor for several years.

 

Posted by Gwaendar on 03/29/11 at 03:36 PM • Permalink for this post • Archived in News media & moviesMore hoaxersComments here (24)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Giuliano Mignini’s Trumped-Up Conviction For Guessing Right In The MOF Case

Posted by TomM





We previously posted on the case here and here and here.

Giuliano Mignini became involved in the Monster of Florence case only years after many people had already come to believe a satanic sect in Florence might be behind the MOF murders. But he pursued it with a vengeance when a body that in 1985 mysteriously washed up on the shore of a lake in his jurisdiction showed signs of murder.

And when the crime fiction writer Doug Preston injected himself into the case under a pseudonym and appeared to be planting evidence, Mignini gave him a very brief shaking up and Preston timidly removed himself from the case and from Italy - to turn to inventing a whole lot of fiction about it from safely across the Atlantic. 

Here now is the fine Italian journalist Adriano Lorenzoni, describing The Strange Conviction of PM Giuliano Mignini by the prosecutor whose frustrated conversation was captured (the recording seemed to prove there was indeed a satanic sect in Florence) in objective terms that prove sympathetic to Mr Mignini.

Translation here is with the kind help of my fellow poster Clander.

The Perugian investigation of the instigators of the crimes of the Monster of Florence has, in effect, been stopped.

In January of 2010 the Public Prosecutor of Perugia, Giuliano Mignini, and the former head of the flying squad of Florence, Michele Giuttari, were sentenced by the Court of Florence on the charge of abuse of office in an investigation into some Perugians connected to the “instigators” of the crimes of the Monster of Florence. According to the prosecution’s theory, Mignini and Giuttari illegally wiretapped and investigated journalists and law enforcement officials to influence their activities.

These are abnormal proceedings, since the Public Prosecutor Mignini had been properly authorized by the Investigating Magistrate of Perugia to use wiretaps for his investigation, actions that he had the duty to carry out. Abnormal proceedings also because leading the investigation against Mignini and Giuttari was the same Public Prosecutor’s Office [Procura] that Mignini [PM di Perugia], had investigated the head of, Ubaldo Nanucci. Not by chance did Dr Mignini object to the jurisdiction of that Office [Procura] to carry out the investigation and raise objections of the legitimacy of the judgment. The Court of Appeal of Florence will hear the appeal next November 22 [2011].

This all springs from a recording made by Michele Giuttari of one of his conversations with a Deputy Prosecutor of Florence, Paolo Canessa, in which Canessa states that his boss was not a free man and admits to having been hindered by the then Prosecutor General, Ubaldo Nannucci, regarding the requests of Dr Giuttari into the investigation of the crimes of the Monster of Florence.

Giuttari [then] sent the recording to Mignini, who turned it over to the Prosecutor’s Office of Genoa which had been authorized to investigate the magistrates of Florence. Prosecutor Nannucci was then investigated [verrà  inquisito] for having slowed down, or rather obstructed, the investigation of the Monster of Florence. Genoa promptly dismissed [archivierà ] it.

Giuttari continued to complain to Mignini about the conduct of the police commissioner of Florence, De Donno who, as ordered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, should have set up a new wire tapping room for the GIDES (serial crimes investigative unit) where Giuttari and his men were working [si erano sistemati]. De Donno never set up the new room [cosa che non fa]. Mignini charged him and sent the file to Florence.

A question comes to mind: where is the abuse of office in all of this?

It is also puzzling why there was such an apparent lack of interest in the investigations conducted by Michele Giuttari, even when they are not being obstructed. “The instigators must not be investigated because there are only conjectures, a fruitless waste of time,” Giuttari is told.

Astonishing. As long as the [lowlife] “snack buddies” are being investigated [for the MOF , all is well. It’s fine to investigate Pacciani, Lotti and Vanni; but when the investigation tries to produce greater results [si alza il tiro], problems start to arise. Michele Giuttari was even relieved of his post and transferred.

Prosecutor Mignini’s office is searched and documents from an ongoing investigation into the death of the Perugian doctor Fransesco Narducci are seized, documents which Mignini had without success objected were secret.

Another question comes to mind: why so much fear (in Florence and in Perugia) about the investigation of the death of Francesco Narducci?

According to the Perugian Public Prosecutor [Mignini], Francesco Narducci was connected in some way to the Monster of Florence case.  Giancarlo Lotti, one of the [lowlife] snack buddies, asserted that some doctor was given the amputated parts of a female body, in exchange for money.

Crimes, therefore, on commission [i.e. murder or mayhem for hire] by a doctor. A real doctor, not the mere pharmacist, Francesco Calamandrei, of San Casciano val di Pesa. Among other things, during the investigation it emerged that Calamandrei and Narducci knew one another. Narducci then died in unclear circumstances on October 13, 1985. Drowned in the waters of Lake Trasimeno. One month after the last murder committed by the Monster of Florence.

Suicide was claimed at that time. A truth considerably less than believable. So much so that while the Preliminary Investigations Judge [GIP], Marina De Robertis, dismissed the case for lack of enough evidence [con formula dubitativa] the hypothetical murder case against certain suspects (the journalist Mario Spezi, the pharmacist from San Casciano, Calamandrei, and others) and declared it time-barred, still, evidence exists of other crimes committed at the time: the concealment and abduction of a corpse and the falsification of numerous public records.

Moreover, since last April, we have been waiting to learn the reasoning with which, for different reasons, including claimed lack of evidence, the Preliminary Hearing Judge, Paolo Micheli, acquitted twenty people (including Narducci’s father and brother) of charges of forgery, criminal conspiracy, dereliction of duty, and concealment of a corpse.

Against this decision of the Preliminary Hearing Judge, Public Prosecutor Mignini will most likely file an appeal as soon as the sentencing reports are lodged which should have been lodged last July 20 [2010].

Mignini and Giutarri were acquitted of the charges of abuse of office (and Mignini also of aiding and abetting Giuttari) because it was not proven that any crimes were committed [i fatti non sussistono] (and the Florence Prosecutor’s Office did not appeal).

[The abuse of office charges] related to their so-called parallel investigations to those of the Genoa Prosecutor’s Office, which was investigating the former head of the flying squad of Florence for false acts [falso] due to the recording of the conversation with the deputy [Prosecutor] Canessa (of which we have spoken above) which, according to the indictment, had been tampered with. This investigation then led to the search of the office of the Public Prosecutor of Perugia [Mignini’s office] and the seizure of numerous investigation documents.

Needless to add that the proceedings against Giuttari and the two police officers concluded with a judgment of non-suit for absolute lack of foundation of fact, as proclaimed by the Genoan Preliminary Hearing Judge Roberto Fenizia. The “aberrant” conviction of Giuliano Mignini does not have immediate disciplinary consequences of any kind. The disciplinary proceeding is in fact suspended until the resolution of the criminal case on which it depends.

And Public Prosecutor Mignini is able to continue to carry out his functions, in trials of great importance and of international interest, such as that relating to the death of the English student, Meredith Kercher.


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