Julia Mirabella's ('12) Note Cited in The Economist

julia mirabellaILJ note informs magazine's article about Amanda Knox trial

One evening in February, Julia Mirabella ('12) was having dinner with friends, and happened to check her phone during dessert. She was somewhat puzzled to find a congratulatory Facebook message from a friend she hadn’t been in close touch with for some years.

“Congratulations on The Economist mention,” the message said. Still confused, Mirabella, now an associate at Sidley Austin in Washington, DC, recalls that nearby Kramerbooks was still open. “I marched right over and bought the magazine. It was such a fun surprise to see my note cited!”

Mirabella’s note, “Scales of Justice: Assessing Italian Criminal Procedure Through the Amanda Knox Trial,” is an examination of the Italian justice system and its 1989 reform, turning it from an inquisitorial system into a hybrid model that draws inspiration from adversarial systems like that of the United States.

Published in the Boston University International Law Journal, the note uses the Knox case as a framework through which to explore whether American criticisms of the Italian system have merit.

The article “Italian Justice: Untimely” in the February 8, 2014, print edition of The Economist also attempted to explore the controversial aspects of the Italian justice system, and drew on Mirabella’s work. “An academic study in 2012 argued that American criticism arose from a misunderstanding of how Italian justice works,” the article reads, referencing Mirabella’s note in a footnote citation.

Mirabella is pleased by the magazine’s take on her work. “I went to great lengths to keep it neutral and unbiased,” she says, “and I appreciate that they liked my article, and brought the substance of my argument to light.” It was likely this neutrality and well-researched, unbiased scholarship that drew the attention of The Economist’s analysts, as the magazine article came to similar conclusions as Mirabella.

the economist february 8 2014Although she was inspired to write her note in part because of the Knox trial, Mirabella’s interest in all things Italian is by no means new. The daughter of an Italian-American, she speaks the language fluently, and she majored in Italian, art history, and foreign affairs at the University of Virginia.

As part of her involvement with the International Law Journal, Mirabella was required to write a student note. She decided that with the Knox trial dominating the headlines, “it would be interesting to take that sensationalized case and put it into a legal perspective.”

Mirabella was mentored by Professor Anna di Robilant, with whom she took a comparative law course, and Professor Daniela Caruso. “They were so helpful in pointing toward which resources to use, putting me in touch with Italian legal scholars, and reviewing my work,” recalls Mirabella. She also enjoyed getting to know some of BU Law’s international students, including Daniele Longo (LL.M. in American Law '12), now an attorney at Studio Legale Petrelli in Rome, who offered comments on Mirabella’s work.

Mirabella is now working in white collar defense and complex commercial litigation at Sidley Austin. In addition to her legal career, Mirabella continues to explore her Italian heritage with an exciting creative venture: she is writing a cookbook on mason jar salads, due out in April 2014.

Reported by Sara Womble
April 18, 2014

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