My Foray into the Courtroom

Today is exactly one month before my internship at the ICTY ends. Interns leave here regularly, but those who started with me are getting ready to head out (some used vacation time to leave early to return home for firm interviews). It is strange to see that. Also strange is seeing the other summer blog interns finishing up their ten weeks. I don't think I realized ten weeks had passed. Probably because I have had such amazing opportunities to travel and such interesting work to do here at the Tribunal. Today was no exception.

Per ICTY Rules, each case must have a Status Conference every three months to check in on the accused and bring up any important issues that cannot be addressed via motion. About a month ago, I drafted the Scheduling Order for today's conference. It was my first shot and drafting, and though not very difficult, it was exciting to do. Last week, I wrote out the script for the judge to follow at the conference. It included a summary of recent decisions and still pending decisions, as well as prompts to check in with each of the accused/appellants and their attorneys regarding health and other issues. After I had completed the script, the only thing to do was wait with excited anticipation.

Why was I excited, you ask?

1) I got to be in the courtroom.

2) The accused (who I have researched, drafted about, and analyzed for over two months now - the men who were responsible for the atrocities at Srbrenica) were in the courtroom.

3) I got to wear a traditional Dutch court robe.

Okay - the last one is really silly. But I have to admit, we Americans have it all wrong. Why should only judges get to wear robes? They add a sense of importance to the experience of being in the courtroom - so maybe lawyers would be more in line with them on. And you don't have to worry about what you wear underneath. Though I wore a full suit and heels. It was pretty awesome, albeit extremely heavy and hot. Because the ICTY is in the Netherlands, it follows Dutch legal custom -- so all Chambers, Defence, Prosecution, and Registry lawyers and personnel (almost) were in the robes.

The conference was very short (as typical). It lasted about fifteen minutes, and consisted of: sitting, standing, bowing out of respect, sitting, listening, standing again, bowing again, then leaving. Regardless of my nonexistent role in the actual proceedings, though, it was humbling to be in there and know I had even a small part in all those people who have impacted the world (whether in good or bad ways) being in the same room.

I want to make and change history through the law. And that is thrilling to know!