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.


you call them young people? They are just kids! Not like the vagabond black man what is the name!

Better call them “just delivered”- see how uncomfortable they feel in their clothes!

“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations.  They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.”
    —Abraham Lincoln

Posted by chami on 02/17/12 at 10:55 PM | #

In any court in the US Knox and Sollecito could be found guilty without any of the knife and bra clasp DNA evidence that is in dispute. They are just red herrings. Viewing the aggregate of evidence, the lies, failed alibis, forensics,fingering an innocent person that she would have gladly put away for life,etc., the witnesses, phone records, guilt was established beyond any reasonable doubt. If Judge Hellman and others on the appeals court were bribed by defense agents, how would it look any different than the way they decided it.

Posted by jennifer on 02/17/12 at 11:59 PM | #

I’m feeling better about this book deal. Although I doubt she’d ever be extradited back to Italy, I feel like anything she publishes will ultimately be a disservice to herself and RS.

Posted by Jeff Friend on 02/18/12 at 01:18 AM | #

Thank you for the informative post Peter.  Can you inform us as to the next steps?  I do not quite understand what will happen now that the appeal was filed.

Posted by believing on 02/18/12 at 02:00 AM | #

Can you tell us more abut the “pretty grim portrait of Amanda, while she was in prison.” What’s that about?

Posted by NCKat on 02/18/12 at 04:33 AM | #

Hi Believing.

The next main move is by the Supreme Court. This is at least the third time they have come in contact with the case and there are staff and judges there who know it pretty well. They also know Alessi’s and his wife’s cases well. With Dr Galati involved they might move this along faster than normal - the Supreme Court has a huge workload - but weecant say when they will next speak up.

A lot will happen this year on other fronts. The book on “Meredith” will be out soon, which will give us more to post about her. There are more than half a dozen associated trials, including those mentioned above.

On our own front we have to get the Hellman Report translation in final shape (it is on PMF) and translate the Galati report. We have several new pages half done for TJMK and could use some help if anyone offers. One new page is to list with photographs the “useful idiots” who are duped true believers and go overboard without ever stopping to check. Here is an example, Peter Van Sant:

Another new page will list the wrong claims made which keeps growing and is up over 30 Word Doc pages. We hope to get more original stuff from Italy and to further build our list of contacts there, already good.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/18/12 at 04:54 AM | #

Hi NCKat.

Not many people who knew her in Seattle speak up but after news of her confessed involvement in Meredith’s murder came through not all were surprised. We know things about her life away from home in Seattle that suggest she may have been a full blown addict by the time she left Seattle.

We have often referred to what people around her in Perugia were thinking about Knox before Meredith died and some of the books already touch on this. Nobody in Perugia knew her for more than a few weeks but that was enough to turn almost everybody off. She grated and she was noisy, classless and dirty. She had a very light workload (only 1/3 that of Meredith), was unsupervised, rudderless and lazy, tearing through her savings with her main spending believed to be on cocaine, and was turning her house into a tense angry place.

Her raw prison behavior is described in the interviews the UK reporter Sharon Feinstein did with her cellmate. The least popular person in Capanne?  Among other things her hygiene was awful and she seemingly sometimes smelled. Read all the posts on Feinstein’s website here: and

We have this confirmed. We also know of more and so do some reporters so descriptions adding to that should keep coming out this year. The police know about her cocaine dealer and more on that front could also come out.

Also read and watch (new video interview) what Patrick says about her. He gave her a good job at some risk to himself (she had no work permit) and she wasted time in the bar, knifed him in the back, had him end up in prison and then caused his business to come crashing down. He knew her well and seems to regard her as the soulless devil incarnate.

it is worth noting that the ONE person in Perugia who hoped to turn her around and pull her through was MEREDITH! If Knox hadn’t met up with Sollecito Meredith might have made it work. Instead Meredith became the one that had to go.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/18/12 at 05:18 AM | #

I found the interviews disturbing, but not exactly surprising. The picture that emerges is very similar to the one painted by her former housemates and by Meredith’s friends.

The hygiene issue coming up again is something I can’t explain.  It doesn’t fit at all with the regimented lifestyle she seems to have been leading otherwise.  I can’t accept that it was a way to upset her cellmates or repel possible advances, because it’s something that also occurred when she had a normal life.  I hope someone understands this, because I don’t. 

One separate thing:

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

This is something I’d like to know more about.  I’d definitely be interested in reading what some of the publishers who declined had to say, even if it’s presented anonymously.

Posted by Vivianna on 02/18/12 at 08:35 AM | #

Hi Vivianna.

Yes I also dont think Ak was aggressively dirty. Its something on which she maybe could use help. The hygiene is typical of certain mental conditions. I hesitate to mention them, they are quite common in varying degrees, but you know them or can easily find out. One syndrome tries to emulate good behavior and can grow a deep anger at finding this very hard and losing people around them.

Publishers who passed are already publicly quoted but its really not much more than that they know very little about her and dont think the book can be made to fly and HarperCollins overpaid. They might have bid $1 million. She is not brilliant as Peter van Sant claims in that video above and she has difficulty writing in an adult way. They have been chatting about this over on PMF. .

Posted by Peter Quennell on 02/18/12 at 12:59 PM | #


Interesting article on the Telegraph today, that has rapidly disappeared from the UK homepage.

Posted by TruthWillOut on 02/18/12 at 02:12 PM | #


Quoting Andrew Gumble from your Telegraph article—“a respected British journalist based in America” who is to ghost-write Sollecito’s tale:

“The book [Sollecito’s book] will be a lot of things: a love story, a harrowing description of an innocent young man in prison, a full-blooded Italian family drama, and a legal thriller… but these are not the only reasons I got involved: what happened to Raffaele and Amanda was inexcusable and unconscionable, and my intention is to get to the bottom of exactly why they were targeted.”

Astonishing remarks on the part of a respected journalist in view of what we know, but getting to the bottom of “exactly why they were targeted” will be the focus of any wide interest in either one of these books.

To suppose that Amanda can arouse & hold people’s interest by drawing on her prison diaries misses this crucial point.  “How on earth did it happen, Amanda, that you, so clearly innocent, could have been targeted at all?  Why were you involved in any way whatever—if you were not even there?”

But the deepest interest of all (nowhere presently in sight) will prove the only lasting interest when all this has blown over: To what extent does Amanda Knox propose to invent a fictitious narrative?  How completely does she mean to enclose herself in a deliberate lie which she must then live out for the rest of her life? And can any such enclosure serve her own well-being if the potent psychopath lurking deeply if unconsciously within her psyche is to be henceforth suffocated, unacknowledged, unappeased, frustrated?—which I think to be out of the question.

Or in a word: the unacknowledged festering potency within cannot be henceforth, for very long, restrained.

Posted by Ernest Werner on 02/18/12 at 05:59 PM | #

Some strange things in that article. Take this one, for example:

“On Thursday she agreed the inevitable publishing deal to write a “full and unflinching” account of the events that led up to her incarceration in an Italian jail for almost four years.”

Somehow, I doubt it.  Wasn’t the deal that the story would start with her incarceration?

“Even Peter Kercher, Meredith’s father, a freelance journalist who has repeatedly spoken with dignity of the pain caused by Knox’s celebrity status… “

They can’t even get John Kercher’s name right? 

There were some sensible parts sprinkled in, to be fair, but I don’t think he was asking the right questions.

Posted by Vivianna on 02/19/12 at 12:53 AM | #

Very interesting posts above.  This is the first time I have heard anything about a cocaine dealer.  As well I was completely shocked by the interviews with her cellmate and guard.  They contrast so much with the media’s portrayal of her being best of friends with all her prison-mates, and so popular there in prison that they all cheered when she was set free.  In these interviews they describe on-going behavior which was so similar to the negative aspects of her behavior in the brief time she lived at the house in Perugia.  It shows clearly that her odd behavior at the house as well as at the police station was characteristic and usual for her, rather than a reaction to a shock as has been loudly shouted out by her supporters.  What did the guard or cellmate have to gain by lying in these interviews? 

The lack of hygiene thing could be a sign of depression but it does not appear that she was depressed, at least not obviously to anyone else. Something is going on with her which a psychologist might be able to figure out if he or she got a chance.  Why wouldn’t her parents pay for a psychologist to visit her in jail rather than just a priest, even for the emotional support it could offer?  If they were already spending a million + on her defense it would not have cost much more.  Maybe they were afraid she would confess something then.  Or maybe it was not allowed but I find it hard to believe that a psychologist or social worker or counselor would not be allowed to meet with inmates who could pay for these services.  I think everyone told her that she would be able to write a book and she was caught up in that excitement.  I really wonder how much of her book is going to be pure fiction (I mean the part about her stay in prison) and who might comment on that being full of lies (i.e. the prison guard, the cellmate who was freed?)  I think it must be like what Raphael said, that she lives her life as if in a dream, detached from reality. I wonder if the Kerchers will sue for wrongful death in light of this book deal.

Posted by believing on 02/19/12 at 03:54 AM | #

While we wait for more news on this case, I was wondering what had happened with the murder of Melania Rea so I looked up some articles and it seems that the husband is going to be tried on March 12th, and that the defense asked for him to be allowed house arrest rather than staying in jail but the prosecutors blocked it, because he might tamper with evidence?  It seems like he is the main suspect.  I had to translate them into imperfect English so someone who reads Italian could let us know.

Posted by believing on 02/19/12 at 04:04 AM | #

Hey, have you heard the latest ? Amanda is back in school!
So will she finally be able to finish her lousy degree in such demanding subjects as Italian , German,I think it was and oh yes Creative Writing ?
There´s one thing I have learnt during my own time at university and that is that students of Creative Writing are always the laziest, noisiest, prone to suffering from the greatest amount of unwarranted self-importance and fattest of all . When I told my Creative Writing class about that they became so offended that I got banned from the English department but I have graduated anyway so who cares . Time to move on to better and greater things!
It´s a pity Meredith never had the chance to complete her studies , she at least would have accomplished something wothwhile by now, I am sure.I suppose that AK represents the worst type of long-term student!

Posted by aethelred23 on 02/19/12 at 05:17 AM | #

Hi Guys

Thanks for the link to Karen Fonstein’s site it is very enlightening, we were led to believe that she had the support of all of the prisoners and that they cheered when she was set free, it turns out the cheer could well have been a ‘good riddance’ reaction. Apparently the Priest believed her, but they never discussed Meredith’s death so I don’t understand how he could’ve been so sure.

@believing, even if a counsellor had been allowed in she wouldn’t have spoken to him/her, she would’ve been concerned that she was being recorded. Remember Edda’s meldown ‘hello, hello, can anybody hear me?’

@Peter, if I remember correctly witnesses on the stand in Italian trials are required to swear an oath to tell the truth, whereas the person on trial doesn’t. That mean if Knox and Sollecito takes the stand to defend their families they will have to take an oath for the first time. I wonder if they’ll honour that? One part of me thinks she’ll be too scared to return to Italy for the trial [her parents trial that is] another thinks she’ll be too nosey to stay away [curiousity killed the cat].

Very enlightening posts, I’m feeling positively upbeat about upcoming events. During the run up to the appeal verdict I had a sense of foreboding which actually kept me awake some nights, I’m sleeping like a baby these days!

Happy Monday everyone;)


Posted by Melanie on 02/20/12 at 11:38 AM | #

Hi believing,

I’m not at all shocked by the interviews with Amanda Knox’s cellmate and guard. The media’s portrayal of Amanda Knox is based almost exclusively on comments by her family, friends and supporters. I think most American journalists assumed that Knox was innocent because she is American and felt it was their patriotic duty to openly and ardently support her. You only a need to need to do a little digging to realise that all innocenisti articles were absolutely riddled with factual errors. Most of the writers of these articles clearly hadn’t read any official court documents or bothered to interview anyone who thinks Knox is guilty. I’m sure PR creep David Marriott made sure that these journalists were completely unaware of Knox’s previous brush with the police and her excessive drug use in Perugia because these inconvenient facts are at odds with the wholesome girl-next-door image he is trying to sell to the American public.

Posted by The Machine on 02/21/12 at 09:45 PM | #
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Where next:

Click here to return to The Top Of The Front Page

Or to next entry HarperCollins: A Commendably Balanced Report By The UK Daily Telegraph’s Iain Hollingshead

Or to previous entry Weighing The Ten Points On Which The Perugia Chief Prosecutor’s Supreme Court Appeal Is Based