Southern Illinois University School of Law–Legal Globalization & Comparative Law 2014

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The Courts

Palace of Justice in Munich: This was a very beautiful older building, this was where the white rose proceedings happened. I hadn’t realized prior to this presentation just how young the college students who were prosecuted and summarily executed (without an appeal) were.  A few of the students were 19.  That’s 8 years younger than me.  When I was 19, I had very little drive.  Sure, I was in undergrad, but all I was doing was worrying about my grades and hanging out with friends. These kids were attempting to do everything in their power to thwart the nazi regime.  I found it amazing.  I learned a lot more about the German criminal law system as well, most things were the same, but some were very different, like that the prosecutors automatically became judges. Who knew?

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European Court of Justice in Luxembourg: This building was very ornate and pristine, seemingly very orderly. What went on in the courts was anything but that.  I think they said that there were something like 26 different countries in the European union and many different spoken languages.  There were at least 8 or 9 translators on duty when we were able to attend a court session, the attorneys speaking in Spanish, the judges answering them in French and English, the audience being members of nations that don’t speak any of those languages, so they made even more translators necessary.  To me, it kind of seemed like a controlled chaos. Even though everything seemed confusing to me, I feel like if I stayed in the court for a week or two and got used to it, it may have seemed a bit more cohesive.  I couldn’t quite grasp how this court had power over the courts of the other countries, but it seemed to be working.

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International Criminal Court: This court house was actually very scary to me.  It seemed like the courthouse was prepared for war, almost like it would literally take an army to storm the walls of the court, bulletproof glass throughout the building, locks everywhere.  I understand that the defendants are very dangerous men and women, and that many people could be hurt by them and their associates, and there is the fact that there are many people who would like to hurt them or the witnesses, but it seemed to be a bit overdone.  Armed guards and a few regular locks with a good enough security check should be enough. What I didn’t like about this, is that it seems like this court couldn’t do much, since they did not have a police force that could go out and actively attempt to arrest the defendants in question.

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International Court of Justice: The building was amazing, it looked like a castle, the gardens outside of it very peaceful. With this court, I felt for the first time that this was an international court that could really get something done with its rulings.  Because of the longevity and reach of the united nations, and this courts affiliations with it, there were very real consequences to a country who did not comply with the demands of the court.  I didn’t understand everything that was going on here, but what it sounded like is this court was a form of very complicated mediation between two or more countries, using the court as an impartial venue to voice both sides of an issue and come to a conclusion of how to move forward.

~LL

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