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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Entries in icc (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.


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.


A World of Experience in One Room.

The ICC is truly international in scope and the people beside me reflect this world. I have a Moroccan Lawyer to my left and a Romanian Lawyer to my right. We are all looking at the same problem and yet our world views and experience are slightly different. To learn from each of them is such a privilege. It makes me better than I could be on my own. Further, a good number of these lawyers have experience in the ICC or some of the other Tribunals including former Yugoslavia, Lebanon, Sierra Leone and Rwanda. It’s just incredible.


Walking in the door at the ICC in The Hague. Yeah, no problem. Ugh ...


How to Reconcile Intense Beauty with Crimes Against Humanity in The Hague

After more than a few years rolling around this planet, I think I can say with some certainty that life is about balance.  Getting shot at and /or hit by IEDs will do that to someone. Go figure. And oddly enough, The Hague has a strange balance that goes beyond few places I have seen.

After a flight from Minneapolis to Toronto is cancelled and then rerouted through Chicago and then to Munich and then finally to Amsterdam, I stumble onto a train and try to embrace this relaxing stress-free ride down to Den Haag, The Hague.  At least, that's where I think I'm going. Not even sure what day it is. Watching the countryside speed by, its hard to believe that there are truly any problems anywhere in the world, which takes me back to the purpose for this trip. It's so strange as I prepare to go to the International Criminal Court.  The juxtaposition of this place could not be more stark. That work begins in the coming hours.

Sometimes just a slow lumbering walk is all it takes to remember the balance and why you are here and I know a slow lumbering walk. The Hague is absolutely stunning, even fairytale like.  The Government buildings, centuries old, the Prime Minister's office, small, almost inconsequential and yet amazing for that reason alone. If you can imagine a jewel box in city form, then you get it. The cobblestone streets, the historic architecture, the blue doors and window frames that are so unique in color that they seem to grow from this place only.  And then there are the canals. They criss cross the city just enough to give you the contrast and focal points that leave you breathless.

And yet, The International Criminal Court is here too. And more than anything else, it is none of these things. Oh, to be sure, its architecture is stunning and in an intensely modern way.  Of course, what I'm talking about is what they tackle. Genocide. Rape. Murder. Crimes against humanity. Let that sink in for a second. It stands as a testament that people should not be able to act with impunity and that they should be held accountable.  And maybe as much, maybe because it stands, others will think twice before they do something that puts them in the cross hairs of the Court.  

All that being said, as I think about it, having this intense beauty surrounding the Court actually makes sense. The beauty of life is real. It matters. It is stunning. And, when it is taken, by anybody, and any where on the planet, that beauty is stolen too.  And that beauty matters just as much.  

As as result, surrounding oneself with such intensity, both sides of it I mean, is probably the smartest and best way to remember the beauty and the brutality, so you can handle both with the focus and intensity that they require.  


Eighteen Human Rights Lawyers Coming Together at the ICC.  

As I pack for another trip, this one to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, it feels very different. I'm one of 18 lawyers from all over the world who are coming together to work on trial advocacy work and to learn how to better address issues in international human rights and justice. I recognize that the ICC is far from perfect and aspects of what they do are troubling and the speed with which they operate and the individuals whom they decide to prosecute also make me scratch my head. Nevertheless, the intent and the true lack of an alternative brings me back to this place.

The lawyers with whom I am lucky enough to stand beside intimidate and inspire me. They are from everywhere; Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Venezuela, Lebanon, Ukraine, France, Morocco, Kenya, New Zealand, Australia and more.  And honestly, it isn't where they are from as much as their accomplishments in their home countries as well as throughout the world.  They've worked previously at the ICC as prosecutors, in the Tribunals in Lebanon, Yugoslavia  as elsewhere. To call it impressive really isn't enough. They are prosecutors, defense attorneys, human rights advocates, everything.

Over the next few days, I may write a little about what I'm working on and about some of these amazing people. I hope to make my own contributions but to be honest, I really believe that I will gain far more from these brains and hearts.  I hope to take you a little bit of a peak behind the curtain.  Damn this is going to be fun.

Hope you can tag along as I step into the International Criminal Court. 


Heading Back to the International Criminal Court

I have seen trauma, tragedy and the death of innocents around the world.  Iraq.  Afghanistan. Haiti. Mexico. Kosovo.  The list goes on and on and on.  

I have seen where governments have failed, exacerbated the atrocities, were responsible for the atrocities or simply looked the other way. I have seen people from other countries large and small stomp into various corners of the world and act with abandon, not concerned about their behavior or what others do in their name.

Justice? It is a word that means little in some parts of the world.  I'm not saying it should but I'm saying that its what I have seen.

I know that the U.S. signed onto the Rome Statutes but never became members of the International Criminal Court. There are a whole lot of reasons that this is the case. I also know that the ICC is not perfect.  They take too long when handlingh a case from beginning to end.  Due process and presumptions of innocence are critical issues to beupheld. Their investigations can be myopic and miss some of the bigger players. They don't go after all of the bad guys.  They only go after the acceptable ones, according to some.  The list goes on and on.

U.S. Ambassador Bolton has called the Court illigitimate.  And yet, is there really anybody else doing what the do?  

That all being said, I love what the ICC is trying to do. Trying to hold those accountable for what they have done in the world. Trying to stop those who walk with impunity.  And maybe, just maybe, convincing some that in the future they shouldn't go down this path themselves.  

These are some of the reasons that I support the ICC.  This is why I became of member of the ICC Bar Association.  This is the reason I'm going to go back to the ICC in the coming weeks. To learn. To be better. To contirbute if I can.