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If you are still finalizing your spring 2015 schedule, don’t miss this extraordinary opportunity and register for International Law this coming spring!

Arnold ProntoWe are proud and honored to welcome Mr. Arnold Pronto, Senior Counsel with the United Nations, to be the guest lecturer in International Law at Pace Law School this semester. He will be co-teaching approximately one-third of the classes with our own Professor Thomas M. McDonnell in his International Law course.

Professor Pronto is a Senior Legal Officer in the Codification Division of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations, working primarily in the field of the codification and progressive development of public international law. As a member of the Secretariat of the Sixth Committee, his activities have included working on the negotiation of several international anti-terrorism treaties, as well as the establishment of the International Criminal Court. He has also been in the Secretariat of the International Law Commission since 1999, and has worked on the topics of state responsibility, the responsibility of international organizations, diplomatic protection, the effects of armed conflicts on treaties, and the protection of persons in the event of disasters and provisional application of treaties. He has published, given presentations and lectures, and taught, in the area of public international law and international human rights law.

Professor Pronto has a Master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and an LL.B. degree from University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He has taught as adjunct professor at the Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University and, in addition to his duties with the UN, he currently serves as an Extraordinary Lecturer at the University of Pretoria Faculty of Law, South Africa.

Just to remind you all, International Law is a four-credit required course for all those intending to graduate with International Law Certificate. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Prof. Thomas M. McDonnell, at (914) 422-4381 or via email, or Lucie Olejnikova, Reference Librarian & Adj. Prof. via email.

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Transcripts of the grand jury proceedings that followed the shooting death of Michael Brown on August 9, 2015, by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson are available online from CNN. The grand jury was convened beginning August 20, 2014, at the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Clayton, Missouri. There are twenty-four volumes of transcripts of the grand jury proceedings, as well as witness interviews, additional materials presented in evidence, and photographs of Officer Wilson available on the website.

The grand jury proceedings have been controversial. Generally, such proceedings are secret, and it is rare for a prosecutor to release the grand jury transcripts and evidence to the public. It was also unusual for Officer Wilson to testify for several hours before the grand jury, since as a general rule a suspect under investigation by the grand jury is not considered to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented. As Justice Scalia stated in United States v. Williams, 504 U.S. 36, 37 (1992):

[R]equiring the prosecutor to present exculpatory as well as inculpatory evidence would alter the grand jury’s      historical role, transforming it from an accusatory body that sits to assess whether there is adequate basis for bringing a criminal charge into an adjudicatory body that sits to determine guilt or innocence. . .[I]t has always been thought sufficient for the grand jury to hear only the prosecutor’s side, and, consequently that the suspect has no right to present, and the grand jury no obligation to consider, exculpatory evidence. . . .

Related Readings:

The graduates of the Pace Law School class of 1989 were honored to have Governor Mario M. Cuomo as their commencement speaker. Pace Environmental Law Review printed his address, in which he focused on our environmental program, and presciently said

This particular program at Pace, and the general growing awareness of the current threat to our environment, gives me hope that we are smart enough to avert avoidable environmental disasters in the future. That, though, will require that we open our minds to the frightening prospects that all our current environmental hazards now present, from acid rain to toxic waste, so that we can marshal the energy and the strength to change our laws, and our ways, so as to avoid their potential consequences.

His article, The Soul of the Profession, was published in 2010 in a special issue of Pace Law Review devoted to examining New York state law.

Related Reading:

  • Obituary, The N.Y. Times (Jan. 1, 2015).

Happy Holidays!

Pace Law Library will close at 5:00 PM on Tuesday, December 23, 2014 and will re-open on Monday, January 5, 2015 at 8:00 AM. Complete library hours are available here and at 914-422-4272.

We wish everyone Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

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Legal writing – one of the skills law students begin to practice as soon as they start a law school – is a skill requiring continuous practice. Check out the Pace Law Library’s collection of resources offering legal composition and legal writing guidance.

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For additional assistance, you may consult the Guide to Legal Writing and Style subject guide compiled by Cynthia Pittson.

2010 Orientation 40The Pace Law Library has a growing Law in Film Collection. The following are some of the most recent additions to this collection, which is located on the main level of the library in our student lounge. All our patrons with borrowing privileges may check these films out for up to five days at no charge. Check it out yourself!

Environmental Law

Fracknation (directed by Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney, Magdalena Segieda; produced by Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney) [TD195.G3 F7358 2013 DVD] - Journalist Phelim McAleer searches for the truth about the alleged dangers of fracking, a method of extracting natural gas from shale rock by drilling deep underground, specifically challenging claims made by activist Josh Fox in his film Gasland. Interviewing scientists and individuals directly affected by fracking, McAleer presents a different side to the fracking debate.

Last Call at the Oasis: Art Takes Over (ATO Pictures and Participant Media present a film by Jessica Yu; producer Jessica Yu; produced by Elise Pearlstein; directed by Jessica Yu) [HD1691 .L38 2012 DVD] - Examines threats to the world water supply, such as pollution and shortage, and proposes that measures be taken to protect it.

Trashed (Blenheim Films presents; executive producer Jeremy Irons; produced by Candida Brady & Titus Ogilvy; written & directed by Candida Brady) [TD791 .T73 2013 DVD] - Looks at the risks to the food chain, environment, and health in various parts of the world through pollution of air, land, and water by the production and accumulation of solid waste.

Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek (a documentary by Leah Mahan) [GE235.M7 C664 2013 DVD] - ”Come Hell or High Water follows the painful but inspiring journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who moves home to coastal Mississippi when the graves of his ancestors are bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. Over the course of a decade, Derrick and his neighbors stand up to powerful corporate interests and politicians and face ordeals that include Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil disaster in their struggle for self-determination and environmental justice.”

Criminal Law

Prince of the City (Orion Pictures Company, Warner Bros. present; directed by Sidney Lumet. produced by Burtt Harris; screenplay by Jay Presson Allen and Sidney Lumet; directed by Sidney Lumet; distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures) [PN1997.2 .P77 2007 DVD] - New York cop Daniel Ciello (inspired by real-life undercover narcotics cop Robert Leuci) is involved in some questionable police practices. He is approached by Internal Affairs and in exchange for him potentially being let off the hook, he is instructed to begin to expose the inner workings of police corruption.

The House I Live In (a film by Eugene Jarecki; an Edgewood Way production; Charlotte Street Films presents; a co-production of BBC Storyville/ITVS/ZDF; executive producers, Joslyn Barnes, Nick Fraser, Danny Glover, John Legend, Brad Pitt, Russell Simmons; produced by Eugene Jarecki, Melinda Shopsin; written and directed by Eugene Jarecki; executive producers, Roy Ackerman, David Alcaro; producers, Sam Cullman, Christopher St. John; produced in association with NHK Japan, SBS-TV Australia, Louverture, Al Jazeera Documentary Channel, VPRO) [HV5825 .H68 2013 DVD] - For over 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for more than 45 million arrests, made America the world’s largest jailer, and damaged poor communities. Yet for all that, drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available today than ever before. Filmed in more than 20 states, it captures heart-wrenching stories from individuals at all levels, the dealer to grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge, revealing profound human rights implications. Received Grand Jury Prize in the Documentary category at the 2012 Sundance film Festival.

Malice (Metro Goldwyn Mayer; Columbia; Castle Rock Entertainment in association with New Line Cinema presents; a Harold Becker film; story by Aaron Sorkin and Jonas McCord; screenplay by Aaron Sorkin and Scott Frank; produced by Rachel Pfeffer, Charles Mulvehill and Harold Becker; directed by Harold Becker) [PN1997 .M35 1993 DVD] - When a serial killer begins murdering female students in a New England town, the college dean becomes involved in the investigation while wondering about the surgeon who has taken a room in his house.

Women’s Rights

Anita: Speaking Truth to Power (Chanlim Films; American Film Foundation; in association with Impact Partners and Artemis Rising Foundtion; a film by Freida Mock; director, writer, producer, Freida Mock) [KF374.H55 A55 2013 DVD] - The story of Anita Hill, who has empowered millions to stand up for equality and justice.

International Criminal Law

Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today (Metropolis Productions & Schulberg Productions present; narrator, Liev Schreiber; restoration created by Josh Waletzky & Sandra Schulberg; commissioned by Pare Lorentz; produced by Pare Lorentz & Stuart Schulberg in cooperation with Eric Pommer; written & directed by Stuart Schulberg) [KZ1176.5 .N869 2014] - ”Shows how the international prosecutors built their case against the top Nazi leaders using their own films – devastating evidence of atrocities that are still shocking today.”

Legislative history research can be a difficult process, but finding historical information on federal rules and regulations can stump even experienced researchers. In Custodia Legis, the blog of the Law Library of Congress, recently published a guide, “How to Trace Federal Regulations,” that describes methods of researching administrative regulations and their history. Administrative rules and regulations are created by federal  agencies, boards, and commissions to implement the procedures for carrying out Congress’s legislative purposes. Congress delegates the authority to agencies to create regulations in enabling statutes. The guide discusses how to find the enabling legislation and an agency’s proposed and final rules. It explains the regulatory process in clear and concise language, for those who need a basic tutorial or a refresher, as well as where to find Authority Notes, which cite relevant sections of enabling statutes, and Source Notes, which often provide extensive information about a particular rule and why it was passed. The Notes also contain citations to regulations as originally drafted and amended and published for public comment in the Federal Register. Links to additional useful information on conducting administrative research are included.

From the ABA Journal we have this challenge. Two paragraphs are proposed. They include no punctuation. How would you punctuate them? Proper punctuation improves the clarity and flow of your writing. Try your skills. Later in the article the paragraphs are shown professionally edited. If you did not do well against the professional, think about how the professional approached the paragraphs and what you might do to use those skills to improve your own writing. The article is here: How are your punctuation skills? Try this comparison exercise to find out.

Post written by Lucia Martinez Maroto, Comparative Law LLM candidate 2015, Pace Law School

A Belgian court last month granted the right to die to a convict who had been imprisoned for over 30 years. The inmate claimed that he was suffering from “unbearable psychological pain” and therefore requested the right to put an end to his life through euthanasia.

Frank Van Den Bleeken was convicted of murder and rape of a 19-year-old student in the late 1980’s and was serving a life sentence for those crimes. Due to his sentence he argued that he had no prospect of being released and found no way to overcome his violent sexual urges. He claimed that he was “a threat to society” and therefore wanted to exercise his right to medically assisted suicide in order to end his life.

The detainee is currently serving in the psychiatric wing of the prison and has undergone numerous treatments in order to ease the mental suffering he was going through. However, it has been proved in several cases that Belgium continuously fails to provide inmates with the needed psychological attention and treatments. The European Court of Human Rights has criticized them for the constant violation of human rights. Van den Bleeken has complained about the lack of therapy for his mental suffering and condition and, after rejecting the possibility of an early parole due to his incapability to overcome his sexual urges, claimed his wish to die rather than live under such intolerable suffering.

This case is just one of the fifteen cases of convicts who wish to put an end to their lives but Van Den Bleeken is the first one to receive legal permission from a court establishing this way a landmark ruling that will open the door to future cases.

Belgium, a predominantly Catholic country, is one of the first countries in the world to allow euthanasia under certain situations. The Belgian Euthanasia Law, passed on May 28, 2002, had a limited scope, restricting the access to the assisted suicide to those who were undergoing a severe physical and mental pain and were under a grave or untreatable situation. Nevertheless the requirements needed for the application of this law have begun to expand over the years, going from 24 patients who underwent this path in 2002 to 1,807 in 2013. The same situation can be found in Holland, the first country to legalize euthanasia, where there has been a tremendous increase of cases and euthanasia now takes up 3% of the total death poll of the country.

This sudden increase of people who are willing to put an end to their lives, and the recent approval of euthanasia on terminally ill children at any age, has opened a very controversial debate on whether people should have a right to decide when their life finishes and have the needed medical assistance to do so. This debate reopens the controversy found in innumerable cases of medical ethics.

On one hand, it has been said that euthanasia is the “ultimate humanitarian gesture”, allowing dignity to a foreseeable death and avoiding the insufferable pain that in many cases accompanies it. In the words of Van Der Bleeken: “I am a human being, and regardless of what I’ve done, I remain a human being. So, yes give me euthanasia,” he said during a documentary for the VRT Flemish Television.

On the other hand, it has been proved, as mentioned above, that the present formulation of the law has expanded its application to some cases where there are still certain opportunities to allow the patient to overcome the unbearable suffering that he finds himself experiencing.

In the case of Frank Van Den Bleeken euthanasia is seen as a solution for the suffering that he alleges to be going through, but when analyzing the situation we find that there are other solutions available for the convict, such as medical treatment that would allow him to overcome the situation that he finds himself in. Moreover, this situation proves to create a debate on whether he should be allowed to “take this way out” as many have put it, or if he should suffer from the decisions he took and therefore should serve out his entire sentence.

In most states of the U.S. euthanasia remains prohibited, except in Oregon and the District of Columbia, however we find that the death penalty is still present in 32 states. Of the 1,348 executions there have occurred since 1976, 11% of them were “volunteers”, inmates on death row who decide not to appeal their case. In Vice, Natasha Lennard wrote:

Belgium’s liberal euthanasia laws, broad enough to encompass mental anguish and the imprisoned, in some ways stand as an illustrative counterpoint to a US system that maintains an archaic enforcement of barbaric death penalties and (for the most part) a refusal to grant an individual’s liberty to end his or her own life, even in cases of terminal disease.

The question of euthanasia and the death penalty continues to be a taboo subject but we have to ask ourselves, if we have the right to life and liberty shouldn’t we have a right to die?

Post written by Oscar Zenteno, Global Environmental Law, LLM candidate 2015,  Pace Law School

BhutanGlobalization has brought great changes to the world. The interconnection of the countries has allowed an ongoing industrialization along with global economic growth, creating more jobs, development of new technologies and has facilitated a cultural immersion. However, boundless development comes at a price – climate change.

Climate change is the alteration of the global climate patterns attributed to the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to the overuse of fossil fuels. The high levels of carbon dioxide along with others heat-trapped gases in the atmosphere cause the heating of the planet triggering several impacts globally such as the melting of the glaciers and thereby sea level rise, droughts, rainfalls and floods. These consequences stem from the lack of human ability to establish a proper balance between development and environment. Climate change is a “disease” that is killing the planet constantly; a disease caused by us. Just a few paradises remain silent waiting the arriving of industries.

Bhutan, “Land of the Thunder Dragon” is an oasis located in the lap of the Himalayas and between two of the largest CO2 polluters in the world, China and India. Bhutan is a constitutional monarchy with a unitary parliament and the last standing Buddhist Kingdom in the world. The protection of the environment is one of the fundamental foundations of its constitution. This country is unique in that is the only country in the world which has Gross National Happiness instead of a Gross Domestic product as a policy, thus having as one of their fundamental pillars the conservation of nature. Bhutan is considered to be one of the happiest countries in the world along with a great biodiversity. It has 770 species of birds, 5,500 species of plants and 165 species of mammals. Therefore, unlike the rest of the world, economic growth is not a priority.

The environmental policies in Bhutan are remarkable. More than 74% of this country is cover by forests, the largest forest coverage within the Asian nations. In addition, 26% are declared as protected areas. It is the first country to attain the goal of 100% organic agriculture. Furthermore, this environmental paradise launched a Poverty Environment Initiative Program in 2007. It is a plan supported by the United Nations in order to integrate environment, climate and poverty within the government policies. Additionally, the Carbon Neutrality Strategy launched by the government in 2012 makes Bhutan one of the few countries in remaining carbon-neutral and therefore a sink for greenhouse gases.

Bhutan is an example for the world, where humans and nature coexist having a regulated harmonization between development and environment, allowing a perfect balance to reach a green development. Climate change is a real threat that should be taken more seriously. If measures are not undertaken soon, paradises like Bhutan would be just a memory and new generations would have to face a world under water without any remaining paradises.

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