Anything New York

Differences between the American legal system and the Italian legal system

by on Dec.10, 2009, under Posts>Opinions>Society>Crimes

The following about the differences between the American legal system and the Italian legal system is taken fromĀ the article “`Foxy Knoxy`: Innocent coed or manipulative murderer?” by Wendy Murphy, a law professor, a famous victims rights advocate and television legal analyst, and an ex-prosecutor who specialized in child abuse and sex crimes cases. I have seen her on TV a lot. I admire her courage to express her own opinion which is not the same as those of most people in mainstream media. Unfortunately, this article is not yet published on well-known news sites, only on the websites of a few little known local newspapers in Massachusetts such asĀ The Daily News Tribune. Politics trumps the pursue of the truth and justice in America as much as it does in the developing world.

“The Italian legal system is indeed different than the American system, but it isn’t necessarily worse. We think we have the “best legal system in the world” but we really don’t – though there are features of our system that are truly superior – like the right to remain silent, and the exclusionary rule that forbids use of evidence obtained in violation of certain constitutional rights. The Italian legal system has similar kinds of rules to ensure the fairness of the process, but they’re not as generous.

Nevertheless, the Italian system is more likely to reach a “just” verdict if “justice” means getting at the truth.

This is because the Italian legal system is inquisitorial – which means it’s designed to uncover facts. The American legal system is adversarial – which means it’s designed to pit adversaries against each other for the purpose of producing a winner.

Adversarial legal systems inspire an “anything goes” attitude that can lead to shenanigans that distort rather than elucidate the truth. Think O.J. Simpson.

Inquisitorial systems don’t tolerate tricks. They’re designed to prevent red herring strategies precisely because they distort the truth. This is one of the reasons Italian juries are comprised of a combination of “regular” people and judges. The professional training and expertise of judges brings objectivity and less human bias (and vulnerability to strategic manipulation) to the decision-making process.

In short, – the Italian system couldn’t care less about exactly the thing that makes many Americans so upset about the verdict.”

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