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Archive for the ‘law’ Category

war crimes

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During lunch this afternoon I listened to the podcast of Julian Burnside (he’s a “top human rights barrister”!) and Gerry Simpson (professor of international law at the London School of Economics) talk about war crimes and international law at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival.  You can watch/listen online via to the ABC Fora TV site, which I totally recommend you do because I can’t be bothered writing out all the interesting discussion about the history of international law and victors’ justice and such.

However, I wanted to post a link to this article from Harper’s (the awesome American one, not the snooty Australian Bazzar one) if we might soon see a Ticket to The Hague for Dick Cheney? Most amusing was the reference to the report that the PBS network

found that it had no network space for [the documentary] Torturing Democracy until January 20, 2009—the day the Bush Administration decamps from Washington.

I wish our dollar wasn’t so shit so that I could subscribe to Harper’s and read this month’s cover story ‘JUSTICE AFTER BUSH: Prosecuting an Outlaw Administration’, but I’ll have to wait til Borders gets that issue in in June 😛

Written by Sunili

18 November 2008 at 4:50 pm

Posted in law, politics

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the world gets a little more blind

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I doubt Ghandi got much wrong in his time. And I reckon the great man was pretty right when he said:

An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind.

Retributive justice is a pretty full-on topic, and I won’t go into much more detail than to say that when I read about last night’s execution of the Bali bombers, I was incredibly disheartened.

People might say that this finally brings an end to the 2002 tragedy, but I wonder if maybe we might have had an end long before now had they merely been given a life sentence and left to rot in jail without the circus of the appeals and now this.

Frankly, this makes it worse. They are now officially martyrs, and who knows how that will be used by their supporters?

This makes me very sad. That is all.

Written by Sunili

9 November 2008 at 11:58 am

crime and publicity

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Following the inquiry into the death of prisoner Simon Rochford, Deputy State Coroner Evelyn Vicker recommend legislation to allow police to suppress information that might “compromise an investigation into a serious offence.”

Western Australia’s new new Attorney-General Christian Porter (the guy who told The Australian that addressing the state’s indigenous prison rate was not high on his agenda) apparently thinks this recommendation is “sensible and deserves consideration”.

Erm… giving the police MORE powers to keep stuff OUT of the press when on most occasions they seem to love PUTTING IT THERE THEMSELVES seems a little strange.

Rochford’s death was yet another chapter in the legal saga surrounding the 1994 murder of Pamela Lawrence. Andrew Mallard’s conviction for the murder was quashed by the High Court in 2005 after he had spent over a decade in jail. The Corruption and Crime Commish made findings of misconduct against police and prosecutors involved in the case. A cold case review discovered a previously unidentified palm print from the crime scene which was traced back to  Rochford … who happened to be serving time for the murder of his girlfriend.

Deputy Coroner Vicker found that the ABC television news report naming Rochford as the new suspect in the high-profile murder case “precipitated” his decision to commit suicide just hours after he saw the news.

Oops.

Last week, The Australian‘s Debbie Guest pointed out that:

The calls for new police powers follow a year of scrutiny of Perth media, including a raid on the Sunday Times newspaper by armed police in an attempt to find the source of a story that embarrassed the previous Carpenter government. [link]

Yeah, News Ltd is still pissed about that one. But I don’t think this is about the media.

Last year I wrote on my own blog about how the cops effed up in naming Supreme Court Registrar Corryn Rayney’s “estranged” husband the “prime suspect” in her murder yet never charged him. Mr Rayney, who’s a FRICKING BARRISTER, recently sued the coppers and the government for defamation.

An article on PerthNow reporting that police revealed info about an item found at the site in King’s Park where Registrar Rayney’s body was found, noted:

Since the defamation writ was issued last month, police have been reluctant to comment on any aspect of the Rayney case.

But wait… now the government wants to give the cops the powers to “suppress information”?

You’ve gotta be kidding me, Christian Porter — the boys in blue can’t keep their OWN mouths shut, dontcha think you need to work on that before fannying about with “suppression” laws?

And, um, didn’t they keep quiet about the tape of Jane or Sarah talking to some random at The Claremont on the night they went missing for twelve years and then got bitch-slapped about that?

This is not about the media going over the line. This is about the cops making value judgments about things when it suits them, and then blaming the mean, nasty media when the shit hits the fan.

Now, Labor’s shadow Attorney-General McGinty says nasty suppression legislation could stifle information which should be made public (well spotted, Captain Duh):

“I have reservations about the wisdom of yet further suppression orders of information [that] should be in the public arena,” he said.

“I think on balance that the public interest is best served by not having so many prohibitions on the public being given the information upon which they can make their judgements.” [link]

Ok, look, I love the dude (especially for everything he did for ending discrimination against Teh Gays in WAys, and stuff) and he’s right, there’s no point putting more powers in the cop’s hands, but in my humble opinion, Jimmy doesn’t actually get the point either.

I just wonder… Will laws ban giving info to the jurors who are supposed to make the judgments? Because until they are unable to lie their way out of jury duty, no member of the public should be making judgements about anyone’s criminal liability.

They should get back to washing their cars on the lawns and shopping at Bunnings and doing those other things all good Sandgropers do. Ok?

While the police are investigating stuff, the public should have no right to information unless aforementioned public can help. The public ‘making judgements’ about on-going investigations, where no charges have been laid and no case against a person has been made in a court of law, has got squat to do with it.

Everyone got that? Good.

But Jimmy’s right on the essential bit: banning the media from talking about criminal investigations like that isn’t the solution.

Sue Short, the ABC reporter who broke the story, said she wouldn’t have named Rochford if she’d “been given a good reason” and call me naïve but I would like to think journos still have the ethics and/or values that would have them hold off on a story if it would do more harm than good to an on-going investigation.

Legislators don’t need to create powers that let the police keep the media quiet, they need to get the police to do their job, and give them proper media training while they’re at it.

The pollies should get back to something they can actually fix instead of wasting time ranting on about unnecessary and draconian “suppression” laws.

I mean, honestly. What do they think they’re running? Notre Dame Uni? Psh.

Written by Sunili

29 October 2008 at 3:02 pm

career choices (advice from Michelle Obama)

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Ohmygod you guys!!

We just had to select our preferences for the first year rotation at The Firm next year, and have been invited to end of the month drinks to meet everyone, right, and just I randomly found this article from the WashPo – an exerpt from Michelle: A Biography, that is totally speaking to me right now re my life choices as mentioned the other week (and also here).

I am currently flipping out.

Since I can’t really put any coherent thoughts together, I will copy out the relevant bits, but you might want stop reading now because I am about to gratuitously compare my life to Michelle Obama’s.

Here we go:

A driven, focused student, Michelle had propelled herself into the Ivy League and, as a summer associate at Sidley, was starting to reap the benefits. Along with 60 or so other law students, she spent the summer of 1987 being courted by the firm’s highly paid partners — going to baseball games, lunches and happy hours. Her stint there led to a full-time job offer and a stark choice: Work as an associate at a big-name law firm earning about $65,000 a year, or look for something more public service-oriented but likely to be less lucrative.

GAH!!! That’s MY stark choice RIGHT NOW!!!

…she acknowledged that her years at Princeton had changed her. She entered the university, she wrote, determined to use her education to benefit the black community. But by the time she was preparing to graduate, she was not nearly so sure where her obligations lay. “As I enter my final year at Princeton, I find myself striving for many of the same goals as my White classmates — acceptance to a prestigious graduate or professional school or a high paying position in a successful corporation. Thus, my goals after Princeton are not as clear as before.”

GAH again!! I wanted to save Sri Lanka and stuff!!! But then I accepted the fancy job!!!!!!

In Michelle’s case, Sidley Austin was offering a prestigious name and a lucrative starting salary. Michelle had grown up with parents who lived paycheck to paycheck. She had student loans to pay off. In the end, she went with the private firm, a conventional choice and one she would eventually urge others not to make.

OHMYEFFINGGOODNESSSSSSS!!!!

I should stop now, but then there’s this, which is TOTALLY ME RIGHT NOW THIS YEAR and therefore makes the previous stuff MORE APPLICABLE:

She was, White recalls, “quite possibly the most ambitious associate that I’ve ever seen.” She wanted significant responsibility right away and was not afraid to object if she wasn’t getting what she felt she deserved, he says.

At big firms, much of the work that falls to young associates involves detail and tedium. There were all sorts of arcane but important rules about what could and could not be said or done in product advertisements, and in the marketing group, all the associates, not just the new ones, reviewed scripts for TV commercials to make sure they conformed. As far as associate work goes, it could have been worse — “Advertising is a little sexier than spending a full year reading depositions in an antitrust law suit or reviewing documents for a big merger,” says White — but it was monotonous and relatively low-level.

Abner Mikva, a former congressman and federal judge who is close to the Obamas and was an early mentor to Barack, finds that account of Michelle’s 20-something impatience amusing. “It doesn’t surprise me at all,” he says. Michelle is “clearly somebody who likes to make decisions and likes to be involved in exciting and important stuff. I can imagine writing memos for other lawyers — I don’t think that would have been her favorite dish of tea.”

Well at least that totally disproves the Whiny Gen-Y theory! Victory! I’m just an ambitious person, just like Michelle Obama, that’s all. No need to categorise that work/ambition/whinging thing any further.

Moving on through the article, on to the life/career choices stuff… there’s this bit about when Barack took her to meet a group of people he had worked with as a community organizer before he started law school:

Barack stood up that day, and he spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about the world as it is, and the world as it should be. And he said that, all too often, we accept the distance between the two, and we settle for the world as it is, even when it doesn’t reflect our values and aspirations.”

Yes. The crux of my dilemma.

The next bit of the article goes through the cutesy stuff about them going out, having a long distance relationship while Barrack was studying, getting engaged etc — she she kept nagging about getting marred.

Um. Nope. Totally not the same as her on this bit at all. I have not ever waited for boyfriend while he was studying far away NOR nagged aforemention boyfriend (of nearly four years) that we should just get married. Nup. Never.

Anyway. That’s not the point. The point is about careers:

… Michelle was ready to revisit the choice she’d made when she graduated from Harvard. At the time, she was still reeling from the death of her father in 1991. Fraser Robinson had died while getting ready to go to work, felled by what Barack, in his book “The Audacity of Hope,” describes as complications from a kidney operation. This was an event of enormous emotional and psychological magnitude for Michelle and the rest of her family. At the Democratic National Convention, she described her father as “our rock. Although he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his early 30s, he was our provider. He was our champion, our hero. But as he got sicker, it got harder for him to walk. It took him longer to get dressed in the morning.

“But if he was in pain, he never let on. He never stopped smiling and laughing, even while struggling to button his shirt, even while using two canes to get himself across the room to give my mom a kiss. He just woke up a little earlier, and he worked a little harder.”

His death made Michelle aware of how short life can be and prompted her to reflect, she has said in interviews. “If what you’re doing doesn’t bring you joy every single day, what’s the point?”

Her father’s death wasn’t the only one she was grieving. In 1990, one of Michelle’s closest friends from Princeton, Suzanne Alele, had died from cancer when she was only in her 20s. Alele, a computer specialist at the Federal Reserve, had always followed her heart, doing what felt right rather than what was expected of her. She was described in her alumni obituary as a “free spirit” who was much loved by her classmates.

Michelle resolved to live her own life in that vein. “I wanted to have a career motivated by passion and not just money,” she would tell the New York Times years later.

(emphasis added.)

Ok, truly, I am lucky that my dad nor any closest friends have died (touchwood), but that point is still pertinent to this whole dilemma.

And learning from other people’s mistakes/misfortunes/lessons is the best thing ever, right?

Ok, this is also something I worry about about, CLRLY making me even more the same as her:

In a 2004 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Michelle also expressed a lingering sense of guilt about enjoying so much material success as a big-firm lawyer while others who shared her origins and upbringing were not doing as well. She remembers asking herself, “Can I go to the family reunion in my Benz and be comfortable, while my cousins are struggling to keep a roof over their heads?”

Moreover, she wasn’t enthralled with the work at Sidley Austin and apparently didn’t think many of her colleagues were, either. “I didn’t see a whole lot of people who were just thrilled to be there,” she told Newsweek earlier this year. “I met people who thought this was a good life. But were people waking up just bounding out of bed to get to work? No.”

Yup. Same. I have lots of guilt about that stuff (like here) and, in the last few weeks, even in my non-corporate-law-firm job but that is still dealing with boring-corporate-law, I have been raaaather miserable.

Anyway, then: Michelle went to work at Chicago Department of Planning and Development:

Michelle’s new job was “economic development coordinator,” which city records describe as “developing strategies and negotiating business agreements to promote and stimulate economic growth within the City of Chicago.”

Hello! TOTALLY wrote my thesis on something in that broad general field!!

So now, having established that I AM JUST LIKE MICHELLE OBAMA, let’s have a look-see at what she has advised young people to do with their career choices:

After three years of toiling on behalf of Barney [as in, “The Dinosaur”] and Coors beer, Michelle was working to bring new jobs and vitality to Chicago’s neighborhoods. It was a turning point in her career and in the way she would later frame her life story. Michelle didn’t just leave the world of corporate law; she would go on to publicly reject it.

We don’t need a world full of corporate attorneys and hedge-fund managers,” she said earlier this year as she campaigned in South Carolina.

She and Barack both make a point of talking about how they left corporate America (After graduating from Columbia University, Barack spent one year as a researcher for a Manhattan financial firm before becoming a community organizer) and devoted themselves to public service. “We left corporate America, which is a lot of what we’re asking young people to do,” Michelle said at a campaign event in Ohio this past winter. “Don’t go into corporate America. You know, become teachers. Work for the community. Be social workers. Be a nurse. Those are the careers that we need, and we’re encouraging our young people to do that.

So there you have it. The advice from Michelle Obama, THE WOMAN TO WHOM I AM TOTALLY JUST A MINI-HER, on THE VERY DECISION I AM LOOKING AT MAKING RIGHT NOW.

Oh gods. I need to lie down.

Written by Sunili

8 October 2008 at 9:30 pm