In the lunchroom at The Hague more than 5,000 miles from McGeorge School of Law, Jasmine Turner-Bond, '11, discovered that her law school's reputation made the journey before she did.
Attorneys from Italy, Russia, Brazil and other countries would ask about her alma mater. She would tell them she attended a small school in Sacramento. Right away, they guessed McGeorge.
"McGeorge's presence in The Hague is so strong," Turner-Bond says. "People know McGeorge in Europe."
Turner-Bond completed a six-month internship with Judge Fausto Pocar in the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in December 2011. Pocar, who is a member of McGeorge's International Advisory Board, sits on the benches of the appellate branch of the ICTY and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in The Hague. During her internship, Turner-Bond worked on the second draft judgments of cases, providing commentary on substantive issues and looking for citation and spelling errors. She worked on eight cases, including a controversial one that made headlines.
On Nov. 16, 2012, the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY voted 3-2 to acquit Croatian general Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, a Croatian police commander. Both had been serving sentences of 24 and 18 years respectively for crimes against humanity and war crimes. The pair were convicted for their participation in Operation Storm, a 1995 military offensive that aimed to forcibly remove Serbians from the Krajina region of Croatia. Pocar was one of two judges who dissented in the 3-2 decision in November.
That case cemented Turner-Bond's respect for how well the U.S. appellate courts adhere to standards of review on appeal. American standards have come from years of legal decisions, she says, while the International Criminal Court has been in existence only 11 years.
"In Gotovina, the majority failed to articulate a standard and review the facts under the correct standard," she says. "This is the reason we, the minority, dissented," she says.
During her internship, Turner-Bond's cases included genocide, torture, rape, extermination and other war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is work that could easily become emotionally debilitating. She learned that she must detach herself from cases because otherwise emotion will negatively affect her judgment.
"The question is, are the people who are being charged with this crime the correct people to punish," she says. "You can't just be moved by the killing. You have to say this was heinous, but do we have the right people on the hook."
Turner-Bond entered McGeorge with the goal of becoming a domestic criminal defense attorney. She discovered international criminal law after taking a class on the topic with her mentor, Prof. Linda Carter. During the class, Turner-Bond listened to a lecture by Judge Pocar and was intrigued. Prof. Carter encouraged her to apply for an internship with him, and did. Turner-Bond says what was most rewarding about her internship was seeing the difference the tribunal's decisions can make for countries.
"A lot of times these countries don't have the infrastructure to prosecute war criminals, so it gives them a framework to use. It shows that these criminals seem bigger than life, but they can be prosecuted just like every other person who commits a crime. It sends a message that these types of crimes will not be tolerated and that the international community is watching."