I don’t have an opinion one way or the other on Amanda Knox, the American college student who was sentenced to 26 years in an Italian jail after a court in Pergia, Italy convicted her of murdering Meredith Kercher, a fellow student and roommate.
But I am struck by how many American commentators I’ve heard say that the evidence was very weak, and that “If Amanda Knox had been tried in an American court, she would not have been convicted.” I think a lot of these people have not been in American courts, where there is reason to believe that something like 10 to 20 percent of criminal defendants who are convicted were not guilty, in fact, of the crimes they were convicted of committing.
There’s reason to be proud of the American justice system, namely the “jury of peers” aspect. But it would be a serious mistake to assume that the American justice system is perfect or even close to perfect.
UPDATE: Amanda Knox has since been found not guilty of the charges and released from Italian custody. (2011)