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Digest 21

We are glad to present you the 21st issue of the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum Digest!

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Theme of the Plenary session is declared. You can also find more about the panel «International and National Criminal Justice. Compatibility and Interaction»

News of the Forum

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“Mission of law in an era of change” is the theme of the jubilee Forum Plenary session.

Representatives of 44 countries have registered for the Forum.

The panel «International and National Criminal Justice. Compatibility and Interaction» is co-hosted by the St. Petersburg International Legal Forum and Martens readings on International Humanitarian Law.

Criminal justice, having been kept for years within the domain of internal affairs of states, acquired practical international dimension in the wake of the Second World War and the establishment of the two international military tribunals. However, both tribunals remained an incidental episode until 1990s which witnessed the Renaissance of international criminal justice which altered the international legal landscape, affecting the development of national institutions and doctrines of criminal law. And yet it would be an overstatement to hail ad hoc courts and tribunals that were established during that time, to be followed by the permanent International Criminal Court, as setting standards of irreproachability. Neither has the jurisprudential dialogue in which they engaged national legal systems, been always constructive and free from conflict.

Panelists who include judges of highest national courts and of international courts and tribunals, authorities from amongst academics and practitioners will offer their vision of approaches to, limits of, and hurdles in the way of enhancement of interaction and compatibility of international and national criminal justice. Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov, Judge, Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for the Former Yugoslavia, will act as a moderator of the roundtable. The discussion will be attended by Gleb Bogush, Associate Professor of the Law Faculty at the Lomonosov Moscow State University, Gennady Esakov, Head of the Department of Criminal Law, HSE, Vagn Joensen, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Sergey Knyazev, Judge, Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, Nizami Safarov, Head of Legal Department, the National Assembly (Parliament) of Azerbaijan, Anita Usacka, Judge of the International Criminal Court Appeals Division.

They will discuss theoretical and practical issues of “domestication” of the former into the latter, the role of principle of universality in striking a balance between national and international criminal justice, modes of optimal adjustment of constitutional and international foundations of criminal justice, options for harmonization of national legislation with international norms.


See continuation of the article dedicated to the series about the lawyers in the fashion column with a legal focus

“The Boston Legal series is an excellent manual on both fashion trends and primarily, development of dress code from formal to casual one”

Lesya Mikhailovskaya

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A few words about the author. Lesya Mikhailovskaya – fashion journalist and stylist. Worked as a fashion director in the In Style magazine, Elle, Citizen K and as a creative director of L’Officiel magazine. Now she is a fashion columnist of the Vogue.

The Boston Legal series aired from 2004 to 2008, five seasons all in all. Thus, it embraced the whole of the Noughties and showed all the wealth and success of these fat years. The story ends up with the beginning of the crisis – the flourishing legal firm of Crane, Poole & Schmidt is sold out to Chinese.

This firm and its staff members (main characters of the series) represent an ideal model of the American society of the first decade of the XXI century, with its collisions, contradictions, ideals and myths. Political and common, ethical and esthetical. These days are relatively quiet, dramas of political correctness and sexism being already regarded in a slightly condescending and ironic manner. Time has healed wounds of 9/11, the level of patriotism has obviously decreased though. Being successful is fashionable again, but the sheer cynicism is still not very welcome. In the beginning of the series the country is headed by republicans, while in the final episodes the President is Barack Obama. And here are the main characters, two bosom friends – Alan Shore and Denny Crane, the former in his forties, the latter in his seventies. Sure, Denny is a conservative republican considering the criticism of the state and laws as a blasphemy; Alan is a liberal freethinker questioning everything and demonstrating victory for common sense in a court.

Both of them are womanizers. They like all the women including young trainees, ripe beauties in judicial robes and middle-aged clients with visible traces of plastic surgery, and admire the senior partner of the firm, Shirley Schmidt, beautiful woman in her seventies.

Due to this attention to women, the series is an excellent manual on both fashion trends and primarily, development of dress code from formal to casual one. Sometimes dresses the characters wear can even be “too much” for such a conservative environment as a successful legal firm in Boston seems to be.

However, Crane, Pool & Schmidt is quite an unusual firm, and its members, including senior partners, are weirdos – to put it mildly. They seem to fight against these quirks, but deep down they realize that this out-of-the-box thinking is the trump card of the company. For this reason, perhaps, the first season opens with a scandal episode when Edwin Poole, named partner at Crane, Poole & Schmidt, shows up in the office pantless. All the others exchange nervous glances and then send him to a psychiatric hospital in the first few minutes of the pilot. However, this sets the tone for the whole series. We understand that people in this company have bizarre manners.

Meanwhile, camera shows us an absolute cleavage of one of young employees. In the first episode we have a clear picture of the office style: young women have long, beautifully coiffured hair, either straightened according to the fashion of that time or wavy. All of them are proud owners of large breasts dramatized by slim fit jumpers and low-cut necklines which used to be impossible in office. They show off hourglass figures in elegant slim fit blazers. All these women have similar hair-style, dress, make up and sex appeal which is inappropriate in office.

This frivolity against a backdrop of wealth and success became a characteristic feature of the Noughties’ fancy dress code. An attentive viewer will notice that the Crane, Pool & Schmidt employees break stereotypes of office wear which used to be in place during many decades. Cashmere shirts, cardigans, frilly skirts, wrap dresses, blouses with skirts without jackets have recently been considered as impropriety. The office dress included a skirt, a blazer and a shirt. No way was it a sweater or a T-shirt. In the Boston Legal, however, the female employees wear a suit only in a court. It seems that there are no other variants in this case.

Along with the development of the plot, characters, and intrigues, the role of costume designer is getting more and more obvious. Dress helps to build up a character. For example, Shirley Schmidt, name partner of the firm, always dresses alluding to the fashion trends of her youth. She wears bright-coloured or printed over-size coats with masculine silhouettes referring us to the 80es, decade of her youth, which apparently was very wealthy. At the same time, each episode features Shirley wearing long semi-precious gemstone necklaces, absolutely weird safari suits or jackets with ethnic embroidering referring to boho-chic of the 70es, the memory of which remains with this rich old lady, one of the most thriving attorneys in Boston. These conservative, slightly old-fashioned costumes justify Shirley’s stable character. Indeed, she is an “island of stability” in this office full of madmen.

Reasonable cold blonde Denise, who dreams about becoming a partner, is always in trouser suits and blazers, without any feminine frivolity. And only having got pregnant, she puts on a lovely silk blouse with a bow belt.

The most romantic character, associate Katie Lloyd, who is not able to say no either to the poorest clients, or to the most impudent or hopeless ones, wears cute white embroidered shirts, pink frilly blouses and silk puff sleeve dresses. Even going to a court to save another “patient”, she puts on a girdled suit. She ends up dating with the weirdest guy in the office – gifted attorney Jerry Espenson, diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. He is awkwardly walking with his hands pressed to his thighs, purring and hopping when excited. But sympathy towards him has nothing to do with pity. He is absolutely brilliant in his eloquent speeches and logics of his argumentation.

To be honest, all men are brilliant in this show! Each is brilliant in his own way, and it doesn’t even matter what they wear (by the way, no one of them could be called a handsome man). The only significant detail is Crane’s matching lapel pocket handkerchief and tie. He is in his seventies, and this old-fashioned detail, apparently, emphasizes his dandyism and a wish to “remain at duty” in spite of the early stages of Alzheimer's.

For this reason, Boston Legal is a show for everyone including successful attorneys, law students and those who only dream about becoming a lawyer. Boston Legal is, in fact, a hymn to the legal profession, precisely showing power and tragedy, artistry and routine of attorneys’ everyday life.


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Coming in the next issue:

The next issue of the Digest to be launched on March 25 will feature the expectations of the leading experts from the anniversary Forum, as well as keep you informed about the V SPBILF news.