About Jack

Jack is really a storyteller, international explorer, and humanitarian and everything else rolls out from there. As a writer, its what he does. As a international human rights and criminal lawyer and trial skills teacher around the world, its his most important tool. As a former CIA officer, the only way to truly motivate people is to connect and to tell them a story that they can feel viscerally. As a media analyst, what better way to make a point.  In the end, he tries to captivate his audience about the world and its people as much as he himself is captivated.

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The Rule of Law in Hong Kong or Beijing's Way or the Highway

The verbal jousting and ongoing protesting continues in the streets of Hong Kong.  In total there have been more than a million people in the streets.  It is extraordinary and some of the most violent protests we have seen since the One Country Two Systems Policy with reunification in 1997.  The problem however isn't simply a policy dispute.  It is systemic.

Many in Hong Kong continue to chafe over Beijing's continued efforts to control the Island.  In the end, its fate is likely sealed but the people of Hong Kong are certainly not going down quietly.  They are fighting and the Rule of Law means something to them. They expected autonomy for 50 years and they are fighting for it.

This is going to be an interesting conversation.


Jack Discusses Criminal Justice Reform on NBC Affiliate Kare 11


The Rule of Law Matters, in the World and Right Here at Home

One of the main purposes of the International Criminal Court was create a permanent body those focused on crimes against humanity and to address wrongs and to hopefully dissuade those from committing them in the future. I was privileged to be involved with a program there not long ago and I was able to see and better understand some of their fine work.  However, Rule of Law is bigger than just the ICC.

Rule of Law also applies to legal systems and systems of justice within countries. People want and need to believe that their systems are fair and just and equally applied to all. As a result, the laws need to work and the corruption that can be found everywhere needs to be minimised as much as possible.  This is one of the reasons I co-founded Trial Skills International.  The purpose was to teach lawyers around the world to be better at what they did. The better they were, the more pride they would take and capable they would be.  The net result would ideally be a more stable world.  Since that time, I've worled in some pretty far flung places, let me tell you.

I appear on the Nicole Sandler Radio program today to talk about Rule of Law and why it mattters everywhere including the United States. Hope you can listen in.


Tensions Rising with the Iranians

The U.S. has had a tortured relationship with the Iranians for a very long time.  It doesn't help that the U.S. and the Brits helped to overthrow a democratically elected Iranian leader in favor of a puppet whom they liked more. It rarely gets much better after that.  

The Cold War continued to separate the two for years thereafter. Then in the 80's, the U.S. shot down an Iranian domestic airplane killing more than 300 civilians.  Consider what the Americans would have done if the Iranians did something similar?

A few years ago, 10 U.S.l sailors were taken captive for straying into Iranians waters. Of course, the Iranians aren't Lilly-white either.  They have supported dictators and terrorist groups in their own right throughout the world and continued to create instability in Iraq and elsewhere.  

They came to a nuclear agreement alongside the Brits, the French, the Germans, the Russians and the Chinese. Then Trump withdrew from the agreement and reimposed sanctions and things have been unraveling ever since. Now, two oil tankers have been hit and the Iranians have shot down a U.S. $100 million drone.

Where are we going now.  I will appear on AM950 6/21. Hope you can catch it.  


Trump Willingness to Accept Foreign Help with Opposition Dirt is a Crime


Congress Needs to Learn: Use it or Lose It.

The United States Legislative Branch is an equal partner in government. They have the right to oversee investigations and therefore to subpoena possible witnesses including those who work for the President.  While the President does have some protection from this including executive privilege, it is not an unlimited privilege. However, the President has been arguing that, and claiming that, it is unlimited. This is certainly reminiscent of President Nixon and the arguments he attempted to make in the early 1970's. 

One hears the term Constitutional crisis and this certainly has all of the hallmarks. What is interesting is that the Republicans seem to be treating this as if there is no tomorrow. Simply put, there is an old maxim in the law and life: use it or lose it.  In this case, the Republicans' willingness to provide a sitting President without almost unlimited capability to stonewall Congress sets a precedent that future Presidents, bad Presidents, criminal Presidents will use to do almost anything they want and Congress may just have to sit there and watch.  

This is where we are right now.  I appear on Voice of American Interantional E#dition to discuss.  This is going to be fun. 


Inside Courtroom One at the International Criminal Court


I remember the first time I saw Courtroom 1 at The Hague. I entered in the visitors section or the Gallery.  I went through metal detectors and then into a seating area above that looks down over the Courtroom from a sort of balcony.  The Gallery is essentially on the Second floor and the massive courtroom in on the First floor and below. Of course, there is maybe two stories of bullet proof, sound proof glass between any audience and the courtroom itself. Further, there are massive curtains that can also be drawn so nobody gets access to what is going on below.  

The courtroom is grey, light tan, and blue, concrete and steel, with two blue International Criminal Court flags on either side of the Judges bench. Frankly, and if I haven't said it enough, it is huge and maybe the most intimidating courtroom I have ever seen. On either side of the courtroom and two stories up are walls of glass behind which sit multiple interperters.  While the Court operates in both French and English, there are also interpreters for whatever languages are necessary.

The Judges' Bench is in the front of the courtroom and there are cameras in all corners that operated by remote control so that anything and everything is under constant surveillance. There is a very real conern in this building and in this courtroom as people who appear here are truly facing the worst charges on the planet.  The Judges are the furthest away from the Gallery but actually face the Gallery itself.  

Opposite the Judges and on the other side of the courtroom is The Stand where the Defendant or Witness would sit.  There has a massive monitor next to the witness for use with exhibits by both prosecution and defense.  The Witness is closest to the Gallery but the Stand is actually underneath the Gallery itself so that viewers can't actually see the person testify other than through the monitors themselves.  

Sitting in the Gallery and to the right is where the Defense and presumably the Defedant would sit throughout the proceedings. Of course, there are also several members of the security team beside the Defendant throughout the case.  To the Gallery's left is the Prosecution team. 

Walking into this Coiurtroom is some much different than seeing it from the Gallery. The first the big open center in the middle of the courtroom and right in front of the Judges, seems to be more of a no-man's land rather than a stage. This is much different than U.S. Domestic Courtrooms.

Of course, once you sit down at your desk and get to work, everything changes. You are thinking about what you are doing and why and what you are trying to accomplish.  As you can see, there are multiple monitors, a microphone and headphones for the multiple languages being spoken.  

In the end, the opportunity for a American Attorney to learn in this Chamber and to try to better understand the extraordinary work that these women and men are trying to do here is something that truly humbles me.  I could not be more grateful for the opprtunity.  


Doesn't the World Need More Who Give than Take?

I know that some people have said that the International Criminal Court is illegitimate and blowing apart. I disagree. The work that they do is critical and considering they have only been in existence for 17 years at a time when various countries, militias and individuals are constantly at each other’s throats, I think that they have done quite well. 

Consider that more than 120 countries have come together despite having different standards of proof, different rules of evidence, different rules of procedure, different rules of precedent, different styles, and different philosophies. Nevertheless, they all agreed that impunity for Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes simply can’t stand. Finally, the people who work in this building and around the world are remarkably talented and are legitimately trying to make the world a better place. 

Frankly, the world needs more people and organizations that are more interested in giving rather than taking. So, for one, I applaud these women and men and am eternally grateful for all of their help and advice this week.


Could a Need for Justice Ever Bind us all as One?

Justice is an interesting concept and the idea that a crime against humanity isn’t just about the victim themselves but rather is an affront to mankind is a concept seemingly foreign in a world where it feels like every man for themselves. And yet, here in the ICC, it is front and center to their work. Actually, this ideas of somehow being connected in this broader sense with all of the benefits, responsibility and obligations is something I find particularly attractive. Pie in the Sky maybe but there you have it. — at International Criminal Court - ICC.