Scales of Justice: Assessing Italian Criminal Procedure Through the Amanda Knox Trial

32 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2012 Last revised: 25 Apr 2012

Date Written: January 5, 2012


The Italian criminal procedure code of 1989 reformed Italy’s criminal procedure system from an inquisitorial model into a hybrid scheme that draws inspiration from the United States’ adversarial system. However, despite including adversarial processes into its criminal procedure code, Italy’s inquisitorial foundations have continued to exert considerable influence over trial procedures. In the wake of the Amanda Knox case Italian criminal procedure has increasingly come under fire.

The purpose of this note is to explore the changes made to the Italian criminal procedure code, to assess the current state of Italian criminal proceedings and to consider whether proper comparative methodologies have been used in assessing how Italian criminal procedure relates to traditional adversarial systems.

In the United States, Italian criminal procedure had not received much consideration until the details of the Amanda Knox trial became a national sensation. Using the Knox case as a foundation, this note will explore whether the vehement American critique of the Italian system has merit. The analysis suggests that the criticism may stem from a misunderstanding of how the system works, from a basic disconnect between concepts of 'truth' in common law and civil law systems, and from an imperfect comparison of fundamentally different systems of criminal procedure.

Suggested Citation

Mirabella, Julia Grace, Scales of Justice: Assessing Italian Criminal Procedure Through the Amanda Knox Trial (January 5, 2012). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2012. Available at SSRN:

Julia Grace Mirabella (Contact Author)

Boston University School of Law ( email )

765 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States

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