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How Far Can Lawyers Go in Criticizing the Court? An International Perspective

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2 Responses

  1. A.J. Sutter says:

    Thanks for a very interesting post. Do you think this could become a defense tactic in trials of this type, something like child-abuse allegations in divorces?

  2. Jenia Turner says:

    Thank you for your comment, A.J. I also wonder whether defense attorneys might start using such tactics more frequently in international crimes cases. At the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, lawyers did not attack the integrity of the court in the same way (although pro se defendants like Milosevic and Seselj did so on a regular basis, and their attacks were much more vicious and groundless). Verges has a reputation for taking his cases to the public and attacking the legitimacy of the court before which he is arguing, so I am not sure how representative he is. Also, most of the other international courts have not suffered from the same allegations of corruption as the ECCC (although the Iraqi Special Tribunal (IST) and East Timor’s Special Panels for Serious Crimes had other legitimacy problems). Finally, in most cases, it’s probably not strategically wise to attack the integrity of the court too forcefully, since the same judges who are being attacked will be deciding on the fate of the defendant. So I anticipate that such tactics will be used rarely, but I am curious to follow the developments at the ECCC to find out.

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