IntLawGrrl Linda Carter honored at recent symposium, “Crime without Borders”

It was my great pleasure to participate in an enriching symposium last month at the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law. Organized around the theme “Crimes without Borders: In Search of an International Justice System,” the event celebrated the diverse scholarship and work of IntLawGrrl Linda Carter, who is soon to retire from her position as a McGeorge Distinguished Professor of Law. Linda’s teaching and research areas have included criminal law and procedure, evidence, capital punishment law, international criminal law, and comparative legal systems. As to her academic output, let me mention two volumes among her numerous publications that are relevant to the symposium theme: THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT IN AN EFFECTIVE GLOBAL JUSTICE SYSTEM (with Mark Ellis and Charles Chernor Jalloh, Edward Elgar, forthcoming in 2016), and INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL PROCEDURE: THE INTERFACE OF CIVIL LAW AND COMMON LAW LEGAL SYSTEMS (with Fausto Pocar, Edward Elgar 2013).

Organized in large part by McGeorge Professors and Global Center Directors Omar Dajani and Jarrod Wong, and McGeorge Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship Raquel Aldana, the symposium explored the challenges posed by the most serious crimes afflicting humankind around the world. Panelists shared their expertise and insights on national, regional, and international approaches to atrocity crimes, including criminal trials, truth commis­sions, and traditional mediation processes. The program provided an opportunity to exchange ideas on difficult but critical issues in the search for a system that can bring justice in the wake of terror and violence.


Linda Carter

The day began with a keynote, “Wrestling Tyrants,” by Professor Christopher Blakesley of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Boyd School of Law. A long-time friend and colleague of Linda’s, Chris reflected on the moral and legal value of an international criminal justice “system.” He considered the history and development of international criminal courts, obstacles to their creation, and how some of those obstacles have continued as barriers to the development of a functional system of international crimi­nal justice. Along the way, he referred to Linda’s important work battling “the tyrants” in this important arena.

The symposium continued with a roundtable entitled “International Criminal Justice: More than the Sum of its Parts?” Moderated by McGeorge Professors Omar Dajani and John Sims, participants represented a wide array of experiences, and each offered his or her perspective on factors that have shaped the development of international criminal justice and may constrain its efficacy and legitimacy. The following overview will give a flavor of the roundtable. McGeorge Professor Stephen McCaffrey, who served on the International Law Commission at the time of developing the precursor to the Rome Statute, the Draft Code of Crimes Against the Peace and Security of Mankind, set the stage by discussing the legal and political issues from Nuremberg to Rome. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Judge Fausto Pocar discussed how and to what extent the choice of Rules of Procedure and Evidence may impact justice administered by international courts. International Bar Association Executive Director Mark Ellis examined the place of national criminal jurisdictions as they evolve into “accountability centres” for international criminal trials. Charles Jalloh discussed the emerging role of a regional court in Africa. The roundtable also had IntLawGrrls participation. Beth Van Schaack  discussed the important role that hybrid courts have played and may continue to hold in an international justice system. And yours truly described some of the impacts of linguistic and cultural diversity on international criminal justice (see my 2015 IntLawGrrls post on a related topic.


Beth Van Schaack

After a stimulating lunchtime conversation with Linda herself, ably facilitated by Chief Articles Editor of the University of the Pacific Law Review Sarah Kanbar, the symposium turned to the topic of plea bargains, or “negotiated justice. ” Moderated by McGeorge Professor Emily Garcia-Uhrig, Professors Michael Vitiello and Cary Bricker of McGeorge, along with SMU Dedham School of Law Professor and IntLawGrrl Jenia Iontcheva Turner, looked at the practice in a variety of settings, including Italy, Chile, the United States, and international criminal courts and tribunals. Together, they assessed the purposes of international criminal justice and whether plea bargaining has any legitimate role with atrocity crimes.

The symposium ended with a consideration of transitional justice mechanisms enacted at the domestic level and how they might complement, enhance or conflict with the concept of an “international justice system.” Moderated by Professor and Associate Dean Raquel Aldana, panelists examined reliance on amnesties and truth commissions, indigenous forms of transitional justice, and domestic prosecutions of crimes against humanity and war crimes as part of efforts to redress mass atrocities. Seattle University School of Law Professor Ronald Slye discussed the Kenyan Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its relationship to the International Criminal Court (ICC), while IntLawGrrl Linda Keller  explored similar tensions between restorative justice mechanisms and the global court in neighboring Uganda. Finally, Viviana Krsticevic, Executive Director of the Center for Justice and International Law, highlighted the role played by victims, and the human rights organizations that support and represent them, in shaping both domestic and international law in order to address truth, memory, culture, and accountability in Latin America.

Each of the thematic sessions over the day touched upon an area of Linda’s research or work. Not only has she published widely about international criminal justice, but she also spent time as a visiting professional at both the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the ICC. Linda carried out research on the Gacaca “courts” of Rwanda, an indigenous conflict resolution procedure refitted for the post-genocide era. She also led a group of law students to Uganda and assisted in international criminal law curriculum development in Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, and Kenya. I have personally had the good fortune to collaborate with Linda over nine sessions of the Brandeis Institute for International Judges, which she co-directed with Richard Goldstone from 2006 to 2015. We also worked together on two West African Judicial Colloquia for judges of supreme courts in the region and are presently engaged in an oral history project exploring the early years of the ICTY and ICTR. Although retiring from full-time academia, Linda will continue to work on research and rule-of-law projects.

All in all, the symposium was not only highly substantive but it also took place in an atmosphere of collegiality and open inquiry. It was an honor to join in the celebration of Linda, a friend and collaborator from whom I have learned so much over the years. I urge our readers to watch the full symposium video that is now available on the McGeorge website.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s