'Double Jeopardy' Could Block Knox Extradition

Experts say case could put US courts in uncharted territory

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 27, 2013 3:50 AM CDT | Updated Mar 27, 2013 7:16 AM CDT

(Newser) – Amanda Knox won't be going back to Italy for her new murder trial, but if she is found guilty in absentia and appeals fail, she could be facing a mammoth legal battle at home in the US. If Italy seeks her extradition, American courts will have to decide whether the constitutional ban on "double jeopardy"—being tried twice for the same crime—trumps the extradition treaty the US has with Italy, Reuters reports. The new trial is expected to begin late this year or early in 2014, Knox's Italian lawyer says.

An Italian court overturned Knox's murder conviction in 2011, and any extradition case will probably hinge on whether American courts consider that to be an acquittal, according to Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. "It's very complicated, and there's no clear answer. It's in the range of unpredictable," he says. A Washington-based lawyer specializing in extradition predicts an "uphill battle" for Knox if she tries to fight extradition. The Senate has ratified the extradition treaty with Italy, which it wouldn't have done if it "didn't think the Italian process was fair and due process was sufficient," he tells ABC.

Amanda Knox is escorted as she arrives for an appeal hearing at the Perugia court, central Italy, Monday, Oct. 3, 2011.
Amanda Knox is escorted as she arrives for an appeal hearing at the Perugia court, central Italy, Monday, Oct. 3, 2011.   (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
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If Knox is found guilty, there's still a whole lot of room for battle before she would ever be extradited. - University of Nevada law professor Christopher Blakesley

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