Thursday, November 18, 2010

Miami midyear musings




Some intriguing scenes at last weekend's midyear meeting of the American Society of International Law, held for the 1st time in recent memory outside of Washington, D.C.
The setting was southern Florida, awash in warm sun at the very same time that a foot of snow blanketed northern climes. The 2-day conference took place at host University of Miami School of Law and at the Biltmore Hotel - Coral Gables, a mammoth relic of America's Jazz Age.
Of particular interest to this 'Grrl were panels on criminal and human rights adjudication.
► In "Revisiting the Place of International Law in Domestic Law," panelists discussed the challenges posed when cases of transnational nature land in courts within the United States. Judge Adalberto Jordan, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, described the process by which he reached his ruling denying a motion to dismiss in Mamani, et al. v. Sánchez de Lozada and Mamani, et al. v. Sánchez Berzain, an Alien Tort Statute matter arising out of killings in Bolivia in 2003. (As we've posted, in another Alien Tort case, Judge Jordan awarded a $22.5 million default judgment against "Chuckie" Taylor, son of the former Liberian President.) It's now on appeal before the 11th Circuit. Meanwhile a judge of that circuit, the Honorable Rosemary Barkett, wondered how Oklahoma could enforce State Question 755, a law just passed by voters, subsection C of which declares that the state's judges "shall not consider international law or Shariah Law." (On Monday, Chief U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange will hear arguments on whether to grant a preliminary injunction against the law in her Oklahoma City courtroom.)
► In "National, Regional, and International Perspectives on International Criminal Accountability," I was honored to moderate a discussion between Olivia Swaak-Goldman, International Cooperation Adviser at the Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court, and George Washington University Law Professor Dinah Shelton, since 2009 a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Explored were the role that the ICC and regional institutions play in achieving accountability for perpetrators and redress for victims.
► The dinner keynote was "Justice and Leadership Dilemmas in Shakespeare," by the Honorable Theodor Meron, Shakespearean scholar and Judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Of particular interest was the discussion of the predicament that Hubert de Burgh -- whom Meron described as a "legal adviser" -- faced when the eponymous King John ordered an unjust killing.
Sharing Biltmore breakfast space with us on the last day, the former President at left (that's Jeb behind him).
A small world, indeed.

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