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time of witnesses. “I only know one way to try cases,” McMurrey recently explained, “the way I’ve always tried a case.” But Judge Karibi-Whyte had had enough. “I have left you at large when some of the things you have said have been complete rubbish. If you continue being irresponsible I think I will have to take a different attitude.” McMurrey says Texas lawyers are a different lot: more aggressive in the courtroom than those in other parts of America. But the emotional appeal sometimes necessary to sway a jury is of little use here, where a three judge panel acts as both judge and jury. Looking back, McMurrey thinks she must have come across like a barbarian to this quiet judge from Nigeria. In recent weeks, a much tamer McMurrey has inhabited the courtroom. She says it was Tribunal President Antonio Cassese who persuaded her to tone down her style. Cassese and. another Tribunal judge recently paid a visit to the United States to see for themselves what goes on inside an American courtroom. According to McMurrey, they were so appalled by the prosecution’s presentation, they got up and left. “Just imagine what they’d think of the defense,” she says. There are different ways to get what you want from a trial judge. Tom Moran, the former Houston Chronicle reporter, relies heavily on Good 01′ Boy charm. Although originally an Illinois native, when it suits his purpose Moran can produce a drawl thicker than West Texas crude. “These things just flat aren’t reliable, Judge,” he’ll complain, as he rises yet again to make another objection. This stall-and-complain defense is one of the reasons this trial is expected to last until the end of the year. Other Americans at the Tribunal have complained about the courtroom antics of the Texas troika. But Tribunal expert Diane Orentlicher, a law professor at American University in Washington, D.C., says the problem isn’t the lawyers, it’s the inexperienced judges. Of the three jurists on the Celebici case, only one has any real courtroom experience. “The Trial Chamber has a crucial role to play in assuring a fair proceeding, with all that that entails in the exceptional circumstances that define the Tribunal’s work. Surely one of its crucial tasks is to ensure that survivors of unspeakable crimes do not endure further trauma be cause they were brave enough to testify in The Hague.” Not all Tribunal judges are as green as those sitting on the Celebici case. In fact, the presiding judge at the Tribunal’s first case is another Texan, a former federal judge from Houston, the first AfricanAmerican to be appointed to the federal bench in Texas. Gabrielle Kirk McDonald is the sole American among the eleven judges of the Tribunal, and a veteran of civil rights litigationeverything from employment discrimination to voting rights suits to a celebrated case in which Ku Klux Klansmen were accused of burning the boats of Vietnamese fishermen. It was this civil rights background that led the U.S. State Department to nominate McDonald for the Tribunal post. McDonald \(whose couch is covered by a red blanket with “Texas” emblazoned across ent side of Lone Star law. A tall, elegant woman in her red judicial robes, McDonald runs her courtroom like a benevolent monarch, making sure everyone has copies of everything, taking the time to explain to a witness why there is a delay for legal arguments, while also insisting that lawyers not waste the court’s time. She has her shortcomingsher pronunciation of Serbo-Croat names and places often makes Yugoslav reporters cringebut her courtroom style has garnered nothing but praiseeven from Cynthia McMurrey. “She is absolutely my hero!” McMurrey gushes. McMurrey visited The Hague last summer to watch the proceedings in the trial of Dusan Tadic, a Bosnian Serb karate teacher accused of freelance terrorism in three Serb-run prison camps. McMurrey had read about the Tribunal in a bar association journal, and decided she had to see for herself how criminal law worked in an international setting. She met with Judge McDonald, and McMurrey says the judge was responsible for opening the gate to the rest of the Texas bar. Judge McDonald denies any responsibility for the influx. “She came to the Tribunal, we chatted, and the next thing I knew, she had signed up.” McMurrey put her name on the list of attorneys available to serve as defense counsel for indicted war criminals. The call came in January, when a Bosnian Muslim prison guard named Esad “Zenga” Landzo wanted an American attorney. And a woman. Landzo is a short, 24-year-old kid who is accused of murder,and tortureincluding nailing a nationalistic badge into the forehead of one man and tossing gasoline on the legs of another, then setting him on fire. McMurrey says Landzo lacks the mental capacity to be held responsible for his alleged crimesa defense strategy not yet tested at the Tribunal. McMurrey encouraged Tom Moran, an old law school buddy, and John Ackerman, whose office is next door to hers in Houston, to come to The Hague. Ackerman is co-counsel for Landzo. Moran is defending Hazim Delic, a 33-year-old Bosnian Muslim camp commander accused of murder, torture and rape. Just a little bit different from the pizza delivery murder cases and snake-oil cancer treatment trials the trio has worked on in the past. As to their reputation of being “onaangenaam,” McMurrey, Moran and Ackerman aren’t worried. Everybody in New Mexico already hates Texans. Why should the Dutch be any different? And anyway, attorneysespecially defense attorneysalways finish last in every popularity poll. The Texas troika may consider “onaangenaam” a bit of a compliment. Public radio reporter Kitty Felde has spent more time in the courtroom of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia than any other American reporter. She has won the California State Bar’s “Golden Medallion Award” for legal reporting four years in a row. Be a /zier-td. The Observer is currently seeking volunteers to help organize circulation projects and fundraising events. If you can donate a little time as a Friend of the Observer, please call Amanda Toering at 512/477-0746. JULY 18, 1997 -,’ THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31