So Long, Astoria

| Joshua Alter | 01 August 2012 | The Hague, Netherlands |

My wallet, iPod, Blackberry and apartment keys are sandwiched together in my right hand as my left hand opens the front door to our security centre. I swing my backpack off my shoulder and place it on the x-ray scanner as I drop my cluster of electronics and personal belongings into a small blue tray directly behind it. I say good morning to the security guards as I walk through a metal detector. Within a few seconds I have my wallet in my back pocket, my iPod in the front left pocket, and my Blackberry and keys in my front right pocket. I walk briefly outdoors as I make my way from the security centre into our building. And just like that, I have entered the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for the last time.

My badge gets me through another three doors and a flight of stairs; suddenly I am sitting in front of my computer and logging into our system for the last time. Thirty minutes after I arrive the office begins filling up, with different defence teams seated in different parts of our main office. My major assignments for the summer were completed by the end of last week; these three remaining days have been devoted to wrapping up the projects that I worked on. I review every memo, research assignment, and excel chart I worked on over the last eight weeks, all in an effort to make sure my work is understandable to the next interns that work on these projects.

‘Some Reading’

I begin to read e-mails from the summer and I stumble upon the first one, titled ‘Some Reading’ that is dated 5 June 2012. I remember that day was my first in the office and attached to the e-mail are two law review articles: ‘Joint Criminal Enterprise: Criminal Liability by Prosecutorial Ingenuity and Judicial Creativity?’ and ‘Three Conceptual Problems With the Doctrine of Joint Criminal Enterprise.’ I remember reading these articles over the course of my first day in the office and trying to understand the finer points of this doctrine. Over the last eight weeks I have been constantly reminded of just how important the doctrine of joint criminal enterprise is at international tribunals and how important it will be in our defence. It also doesn’t hurt that I now have a paper topic for my International Criminal Law course this fall.

‘Can You Do Me a Favour’

Although I had met our Lead Counsel and Co-Counsel during my first week at work and had even done some little assignments for them, on 18 June I received my first ‘big’ assignment from our Co-Counsel. This would not be a collaborative project with different parts done by different people; I was responsible for making sure everything was done right the first time. This project took me to the ICTY library for the first time all summer and kept me in the office quite late. I remember the feeling when I finally sent the full memo later that evening. A few days later I was reading one of our recently filed documents and saw a part that looked familiar. Before I even finished reading that portion, I had a big smile on my face. I did a good enough job that my work made it into our final submission.

‘Important Contextual Info’

By 22 June Andrew has joined our team. We receive an e-mail from Liane with a 200 page document, detailing every witness in our case and an OTP summary of what they will discuss. One of our major projects this summer was to analyse prior testimony and these witness statements. Shawn will not arrive for another week, but when he does he will join our efforts to make sense of tens of thousands of pages of witness statements and prior testimonies.

June turns to July and the projects and assignments become more complicated. However, I am pleased to see that my work quality has improved throughout the summer as well. I continue reviewing charts I’ve created, summaries I’ve written and memos I’ve drafted. Throughout the day I have flashbacks to specific parts of the summer. But there is no time for nostalgia; aside from wrapping up everything I worked on throughout the summer, I am also working on a new research assignment that sprung up this morning. I manage to complete the assignment early in the day. As my final day in the office comes to an end, I log off my computer and say my goodbyes to my colleagues.

Leaving the building is much simpler. I swipe my badge against a pad and then walk out through a revolving door. There is no juggling all my possessions; each one remains in the pocket it was in before I entered the building this morning. And just like that, I have left the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for the last time.

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