Most people have heard of Amanda Knox. In 2007 she was accused of being involved in the gruesome murder of her then roommate, Meredith Kercher. The two were both exchange students in Italy at the time, and for Knox, the following five years were spent being imprisoned, awaiting trial, being convicted and then finally being acquitted of said murder in late 2011.
The first thing Knox did upon returning to the United States was attempt to get back to normal life—the media in Seattle, her hometown, largely let her be and she was finally able to resume her studies at the University of Washington.
“Her goal is to be as normal as possible, to get on with her life, do good things and try to put this behind her,” said a friend of Ms. Knox. Since moving back to Seattle, Knox has lived a very quiet life, renting an apartment with her boyfriend, never disturbing her neighbors, studying at the UW and quietly defying the drug-obsessed party girl the media presented her as.
But now Italian courts have overturned the acquittal and are demanding a retrial—which will be the third trial for Knox and her then-boyfriend, Rafaelle Sollecito. Prosecutors have not yet demanded her return, but legal expert and top attorney Kendall Coffey says they inevitably will.
“Of course, [they are] going to demand that she return,” he told Newsmax TV. “[But] extradition is a time consuming process. It requires facilitation by the State Department and then you have a judicial right in the federal courts to fight extradition.”
Even if Knox doesn’t return to Italy, the trial will likely proceed without her, Coffey said. This third trial highlights the legal differences between countries that are sometimes easy to forget. While in the United States, Knox’s trial would remain settled, Italian law does not follow the same rules.
“She was acquitted,” Coffey said. “We would never send her back for a retrial in this country, and our public policy could be grounds to resist extradition when attempted by a foreign power.” Had Ms. Knox been tried in the U.S., she would not be able to be retried under grounds of “double jeopardy,” which makes it so that an individual may not be tried for the same crime twice.
Since Knox’s study-abroad-gone-wrong, many universities have tightened restrictions on exchange programs and worked to improve regulations. UW now requires that department chairs sign off on all programs, students have travel insurance, and alcohol not be purchased with program money. Students are also required to have cell phones to ensure easy communication if necessary.
Kendall Coffey is a former U.S. Attorney and founding member of Coffey Burlington in Miami, Florida. He worked on the Elián González case and was a member of the Al Gore legal team for the 2000 election recount.