Italian Law is…Different.

U.S. Justice System: Like driving behind these.
Italian Justice System: Like driving behind this.

It’s been said that the wheels of justice in the U.S. turn slowly. Well, the Italian justice system makes ours look like it’s in a sprint. As I mentioned previously, I was told by someone with considerable inside knowledge of the Italian system that my case would likely take years. Yes, I know that cases in the States can take years too. But things we don’t have to face regarding our system include:

  • The shutdown of the courts in July and August due to extreme heat and no a/c
  • Judges with months of vacation days actually take them
  • At any time, a major faction of the population can/will go on strike, leading to delays in your case (I will get back to this one soon)

Before I get into the nitty gritty. Some early searches led me to discover some rather disheartening information about the Italian courts. Namely, the court system is pretty much bankrupt. About 5 million cases are on the books waiting to be heard (In 2006, 9 million). And in the area of crimes such as rape and sexual assault, the country has a less than stellar record. In fact, a now-famous Italian Supreme Court decision led to the creation of Denim Day (great case summary at link), an international movement to raise awareness of sexual assault and rape that arose from outrage at a 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision to overturn a rape conviction.

To summarize, early research told me 1) The courts might decline to pursue my case because of a lack of money to do so; 2) My case could join the pile of 5 million backlogged cases and run up a bill of at least $5000 per year for years; 3) The cultural view on sexual assault in Italy was unfavorable, to say the least.  How I was not deterred is still a grand mystery to me.

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