Inside Courtroom One at the International Criminal Court
I remember the first time I saw Courtroom 1 at The Hague. I entered in the visitors section or the Gallery. I went through metal detectors and then into a seating area above that looks down over the Courtroom from a sort of balcony. The Gallery is essentially on the Second floor and the massive courtroom in on the First floor and below. Of course, there is maybe two stories of bullet proof, sound proof glass between any audience and the courtroom itself. Further, there are massive curtains that can also be drawn so nobody gets access to what is going on below.
The courtroom is grey, light tan, and blue, concrete and steel, with two blue International Criminal Court flags on either side of the Judges bench. Frankly, and if I haven't said it enough, it is huge and maybe the most intimidating courtroom I have ever seen. On either side of the courtroom and two stories up are walls of glass behind which sit multiple interperters. While the Court operates in both French and English, there are also interpreters for whatever languages are necessary.
The Judges' Bench is in the front of the courtroom and there are cameras in all corners that operated by remote control so that anything and everything is under constant surveillance. There is a very real conern in this building and in this courtroom as people who appear here are truly facing the worst charges on the planet. The Judges are the furthest away from the Gallery but actually face the Gallery itself.
Opposite the Judges and on the other side of the courtroom is The Stand where the Defendant or Witness would sit. There has a massive monitor next to the witness for use with exhibits by both prosecution and defense. The Witness is closest to the Gallery but the Stand is actually underneath the Gallery itself so that viewers can't actually see the person testify other than through the monitors themselves.
Sitting in the Gallery and to the right is where the Defense and presumably the Defedant would sit throughout the proceedings. Of course, there are also several members of the security team beside the Defendant throughout the case. To the Gallery's left is the Prosecution team.
Walking into this Coiurtroom is some much different than seeing it from the Gallery. The first the big open center in the middle of the courtroom and right in front of the Judges, seems to be more of a no-man's land rather than a stage. This is much different than U.S. Domestic Courtrooms.
Of course, once you sit down at your desk and get to work, everything changes. You are thinking about what you are doing and why and what you are trying to accomplish. As you can see, there are multiple monitors, a microphone and headphones for the multiple languages being spoken.
In the end, the opportunity for a American Attorney to learn in this Chamber and to try to better understand the extraordinary work that these women and men are trying to do here is something that truly humbles me. I could not be more grateful for the opprtunity.