dmikesell's blog

Published: July 18, 2013
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Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

It is hard to believe that the Nice Program 2013 is now coming to an end. This is the 22 year of the Nice Program. Students are busy right now taking final exams in the four courses offered in the program: international human rights, international and comparative drug control laws, international trade and finance, and international intellectual property. Each course is worth 2 credits, and all students take 2 courses.

This year we had a dream team of law professors including Ben Templin, Richard Winchester,  Alex Kreit, Susan Tiefenbrun and Justice Richard Goldstone. Students came from 7 different law schools to study in our program. There were 21 students from different countries in Europe studying with our 44 American law students. The students and professors traveled far and wide on three-day weekends to London, Prague, Barcelona, Berlin, Paris, Rome, Florence, San Remo, Russia, and many other beautiful cities and countries of Europe.

The food here is unbelievably fresh and delicious. Strawberries and watermelon are too delicious to describe. You simply have to be here to experience this culinary wonder. We all appreciated the great lectures relating to international and comparative law by experts such as Justice Richard Goldstone, Judge Caroline Charpentier, Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, Dr. Chen Ke, and Professor Randy Grossman. Dean Rudy Hasl and Lisa Ferreira joined us for this year's Nice Program, and their participation greatly enhanced the program for all of us. We all became good friends after this fascinating adventure in international law in an international and cosmopolitan setting on the French Riviera. What could be better? Join us next year!

Professor Susan Tiefenbrun

Founding Director, Nice Study Abroad International Law Program

Published: July 09, 2013
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Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

This is the end of the second week of the Nice Study Abroad Program in International Law. It is hard to believe that it is more than half over. We have 44 American students from 7 different law schools, 21 students from the University of Nice Law School, most of whom are French but some from Poland, Holland, Italy, and Morocco. The American students are integrating fully inside and outside the classroom with the students from Europe and North Africa!

Last Friday we all went to the French court and observed a trial involving tax evasion, which was particularly interesting to us because Professor Richard Winchester, who is a specialist in international tax law, was able to give us insights into the intricacies of the French tax law system. We marveled at the lawyers and judges in robes, the articulate defense by the defendant's lawyer, a university of Nice tax law professor, and the theatrical nature of the trial. On Monday we had a fun French class taught by Professor Susan Tiefenbrun, who stressed the importance of good French pronunciation...form over substance...and the art of sounding oh so French!

On Tuesday we had a fascinating presentation by our distinguished guest lecturer from Shanghai, Dr. Chen Ke, who spoke to us about the legal complexities of a Chinese nuclear power plant financing project that his international law firm in China has been working on for years! Dr. Chen Ke is a great supporter of our China Study Abroad Program, and it was wonderful to see him here in Nice. He speaks fluent Chinese, English, German, and some French as well. On Wednesday we all visited the Nice Bar Association and enjoyed a royal welcome by Madame Marie-Christine Mouchon. She is the President of the Nice Bar Association. She spoke to us about what the Bar Association does, how a foreigner can practice law in France, and what type of disciplinary actions the Nice Bar Association handles. She is the second woman President of the Nice Bar Association since its inception hundreds of years ago! We all ate lovely French cookies and pastries (macaroons), drank juice or coffee, and heard from the Chief Justice of the High Court of Amiens, Francoise Alienot-Thienot, who helped me organize this important visit to the office of the "batonnier" (President of the Nice French Bar Association).

On Saturday former Dean Rudy Hasl arrived in Nice. On Sunday Professor Randy Grossman, Justice Richard Goldstone, our one and only Lisa Ferreira, and Professor Barry Sullivan from the American Bar Association all arrived en masse in Nice! On Monday we heard a mesmerizing talk by Professor Randy Grossman about how to become a sports agent and the differences between being a sports agent in the U.S. and in Europe. He also taught for the day in Professor Alex Kreit's class on International and Comparative Drug Control Laws, talking about drugs and sports. Justice Richard Goldstone taught in Professor Susan Tiefenbrun's International Human Rights class, focusing on the politics of international justice. His presentation was inspiring and very informative. Justice Goldstone was appointed by Nelson Mandela to be the first Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia as well as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. In the Nice Program in the recent past we have hosted Ted Meron, now President of the Appellate Division of these two tribunals, Louise Arbour, the second Prosecutor of these two tribunals, and Professor David Scheffer, the then U.S. Ambassador who signed the International Criminal Court Rome Statute, which was later "unsigned" during the Bush Administration. This week we will hear a lecture by Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the famous French Prosecutor who sentenced Carlos the Jackal to prison and who consults with President Obama on anti-terrorism tactics.

The afternoons in Nice are filled with fun, sun, swimming at the beach, walking in Old Nice, eating great French food, and making lots of new friends. Students in the Program travel to places far and near like London, Rome, Barcelona, and Pamplona for the running of the bulls, Prague, Paris, Madrid. Others, like me, prefer to stay in Nice and take long walks by the seaside, visit the Fondation Maeght Museum in St. Paul de Vence, or visit the markets in the old port of Antibes where Jackie and Aristotle Onassis kept their yachts. Antibes is amazing. So tune in for more next week. Nice is very, very nice!

Regards,

Professor Susan Tiefenbrun

Director, Nice Study Abroad Program

Photo 1 of 4:

Bottom row, right to left: Jeremy Schneider (TJSL Student), Lisa Ferreira (Director of Student Services), Professor Susan Tiefenbrun, ABA Inspector Mr. Barry Sullivan and Justice Richard Goldstone (Who is teaching 3 classes of the International Human Rights course);

Top row, right to left: Richard Andrews (TJSL Student), Lou Fardet (French Student), Professor Randy Grossman (Guest Lecturer), Professor Alex Kreit, former Dean Rudy Hasl, Professors Ben Templin and Richard Winchester. (Photo by TJSL Student Sol Sung)

Published: July 09, 2013
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Dear Students, Professors, and Staff at TJSL:

This is our 22nd year of the Nice International Law Study Abroad Program located at the University of Nice Law School on the sunny French Riviera. We are all having a wonderful time. We have about 44 American students from 6 different law schools and 21 French, Italian, Polish, Dutch, and German students all studying international law together. The European students and our American students are really enjoying each other's company, meeting together after class, learning together in class, and getting to know firsthand the big differences that exist in the laws and societies of these different countries. It is definitely working.

During the first week of the Nice Program, I invited all the European and American law students and professors to my apartment for a Welcome Reception, and Adam Edel, my able assistant, along with Gabriel and Jake, his friends, helped me buy the wine and cheese for the party. It was a smashing success where everyone got to meet everyone and share experiences about travel in Europe.

Classes started on Monday, and from what I have heard, all the classes are very exciting and informative with exceptional teaching by Professors Alex Kreit, Richard Winchester, Ben Templin and myself. Students are here to learn about international law in an international and highly cosmopolitan setting. Our first Distinguished Guest Lecturer, Examining Magistrate (Juge d'Instruction) Caroline Charpentier from the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Marseille, came on Wednesday to deliver a mesmerizing and personal talk about her rise to power as a judge and examining magistrate and the powers of such a judge in the French Civil Law system compared to our Common Law system. Amazing!

We had a fun French class taught by me on Thursday, and private French conversation classes are given every day by French professors in the law school itself. On Friday we all went to the French court in Nice, heard a short but incisive presentation by the former Vice President of the Nice Court and the current President of the highest court in Amiens, France (who came down from northern France just to host this visit of the Nice court for our group). We all saw a trial conducted (about tax evasion), and we watched an incredibly talented French tax lawyer defend his client brilliantly, even though we all thought the defendant was guilty! Lots of fun to see the French lawyers in black robes with a white bib, the judges in robes with ermine fur on their sleeves, and the panel of three judges attentively listening to the lawyer plead for mercy for his client. Really good stuff! This weekend students are traveling near and far to Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Florence, London and elsewhere, and they are returning on Sunday to start the second week of our Nice Study Abroad Program in international law.

On Monday I offer another French class, and on Tuesday we have an important lecture by Dr. Chen Ke from Shanghai on Financing a Chinese Nuclear Power Plant Project that he and his Chinese international law firm in Shanghai are working on. The weather in Nice has been beautiful, and the sun shines bright everywhere. No wonder Matisse, Chagall, Renoir, and Manet came here to paint. We look forward to the arrival of Dean Rudy Hasl and Lisa Ferreira next weekend. I will keep you all posted.

Regards,

Professor Susan Tiefenbrun

Founding Director Nice Program

Published: June 11, 2013
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Dear Students, Colleagues, and Staff:

The China Study Abroad Program 2013 has now come to an end. We are all experiencing the joys of exoticism, the challenges of living in a foreign land, and the sense of accomplishment having completed this program of international law study. We studied with Chinese professors and Chinese students who will probably remain our friends for life.

After we returned to Hangzhou from the invigorating trip to Beijing and the Beijing Supreme Court, we spent our last week studying hard for final exams, eating up our last bites of terrific Chinese food, or buying our last Chinese silk scarves and purses. We attended our last brown-bag lecture by a corporate Chinese woman from Hangzhou and who has lived and worked in San Diego for the past 40 years. Lulu Hsu's talk was all about women in business in China and in the U.S. She was very informative. She was especially helpful to students of international business transactions because of her first hand experience working with foreign parties.

Students in the program absolutely raved about their unique experience studying international business law in China, and many have told me they want to do the program again. This year was probably the best year in all the seven years we have been running this program. This was due, no doubt, to many factors: (1) the awe-inspiring presence of Judge Pierre Leval, (2) the active participation of Dean Rudy Hasl who actually taught a great course in Comparative Trial Advocacy, (3) the participation of Professor Aaron Schwabach who loves China, speaks Chinese, and is a superb teacher, (4) the participation of Professor Claire Wright who has been living and doing research here in China for the past three months and could share her deep knowledge not only of WTO but of China as well and (5) Lisa Ferreira whose positive attitude, open mind and helpful advice are always indispensable to all of us. The students this year were very respectful, open to learning new types of international legal issues, excited about the adventure of living and studying in China, and very appreciative of everything they were being given in this action-packed program of international law study in Hangzhou, China.

Thanks to all of you, especially the 4 Chinese professors and the 21 Chinese students who participated actively in the program and seemed to enjoy it immensely Until next year!

Professor Susan Tiefenbrun

Director China and Nice Study Abroad Programs of TJSL

Published: June 03, 2013
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Dear Students, Colleagues, Staff, Friends, and Family:

The second week of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law Program in Hangzhou, China has been a great success. This is a superb group of very special students who  appear to be intellectually curious about all international law matters, very excited to learn more and more about the history and culture of China and Asia in general, and just an amazingly cooperative and flexible group. It has been a pleasure and an honor to direct this group of TjSL students and professors. The participation of Judge Pierre Leval not only in the classroom but on all levals of our program has been particularly rewarding to our students who have come to know and admire him all the more. Judge Leval taught three classes in the International Business Transactions and gave a very important public lecture to our entire group of 55 American students, 21 Chinese students, 4 American professors and 4 Chinese professors. We have all enjoyed the very special participation and support for our program shown by Judge Pierre Leval of the Federal Court of the 2nd Circuit and his exceptional wife, Susanna. We will never forget them, and we hope they will come back with us to China and maybe even to our Nice Study Abroad Program in France (in which Judge Pierre Leval has participated in the past). The Nice Program begins in about 3 weeks.

Here in China, during the week students and faculty continue to study and learn together at the Zhejiang University Guanghua School of Law. After class we all listen to great lectures by distinguished scholars and legal practitioners such as David Buxbaum, Esq. from Anderson and Anderson in Guangzhou (fluent in Chinese and working in China for more than 20 years) and his associate Khristopher Ward (a recent alumnus of TJSL now working in Guangzhou) and  Philip Rohlik, Esq., a partner at Debevoise and Plimpton in Hong Kong. All the students here seem interested in deepening their understanding of China, its people, its laws, its  culture, its cuisine, the art and natural beauties of the city of Hangzhou and the reknown West Lake, described by Marco Polo as one of the most beautiful places in the world. While most of the students and professors in our group have toured together on weekends visiting Hangzhou and Xian (the place of the famous buried terra cotta warriors) and Beijing, others have traveled by themselves on weekends to Thailand, South and even North Korea as well as Hong Kong. This past weekend we all visited Beijing, where we were invited to the Beijing People's Supreme Court, heard lectures by three judges of the Judicial Reform Division of this important court, and viewed the beautiful marble building and its elegant courtroom. This was a great honor for us. We all saw Tian An Men Square, the unforgettable Forbidden City, the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs. Some of us saw the death-defying Acrobat Show and others saw the Beijing Opera. Yesterday we had a Peking Roast Duck dinner and saw a fabulous Kung Fu show. We all ate a hearty breakfast every morning at a beautiful hotel and enjoyed good local cuisine for lunch and dinner. We are all using chop sticks at this point, and some are even speaking Chinese. I continue to work hard to improve my Chinese, and I am making progress. We are all fatigued and happy after climbing the challenging Great Wall, and I am proud and amazed to report that Dean Rudy Hasl made it to the top top top. We all walked down holding our thighs and shins, breathing hard and heavily,  but loving every minute of the adventure. Today we go together to the Temple of Heaven and have a tour of a local region of Beijing. We fly back to Hagzhou tonight after a fantastic exploration of the vast and ancient capital of China: Beijing! More to come next week.

Regards,

Professor Tiefenbrun

Published: May 28, 2013
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Dear Students, Colleagues, and Staff of TJSL:

It is hard to believe that this is the end of the first exciting week of our China Study Abroad Program in Hangzhou, China. We are 56 American students and 21 Chinese students all attending the 5 superb courses we offer, and all enjoying each other's company after classes. The 9 professors (Dean Rudy Hasl, Judge Pierre Leval, Professors Susan Tiefenbrun, Aaron Schwabach and Claire Wright, Professors Qian Hongdao, Yongxin Song, Leslie Wang and Zhao Jun) all participate actively and enthusiastically in the program.

We are all having a great time, getting to know each other well, traveling to Xian to see the 2000 year old Terra Cotta Warriors together, eating meals together, biking and hiking together, eating dinner together and discovering the beautiful sights and  hidden secrets of West Lake just across the street from the four-star hotel, Ramada Plaza Haihua Hotel, where we all stay and gather for chats, plan making, and excursions before and after classes everyday. We all take the shuttle bus together to and from Zhejiang University Guanghua School of Law Monday through Friday, after eating a delicious and hearty breakfast that we all love!

This week has been very successful. On the first day we went on a half-day tour of Hangzhou, took a cruise on West Lake, visited the world wonder Linyin Temple, and saw a tea ceremony at Dragon Well Tea plantation. Monday we had a fact-filled Orientation. Everyday we are getting to know the Chinese students better, and they invite us to dinner and to walk in the park with them and their friends. We are experiencing Chinese school cafeteria food and  trying Chinese food in restaurants. We are learning international law together with Chinese students and Chinese professors who live with the Chinese legal system and obey the Chinese laws.

22 of us including Dean Hasl and Judge Pierre Leval are traveling  together to Xian this weekend,  and it is an amazing trip. We are at a 5-star hotel. Yesterday we saw  the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses that were buried in 247 BC more than 2000 years ago, and this site is overwhelming for all of us. Last night we saw a beautiful Tang dynasty (600-900 AD) show in a supper club. The show was absolutely magnificent: exquisite costumes, authentic and ancient Chinese instruments, gorgeous and colorful costumes,  exotic dancing from that period, orchestral music, good singing, copious food and drink for a supper-club  dinner.

We are all immersing together in this rich and complex culture with great joy and lingering appreciation. Aaron Schwabach (whose Chinese is already proficient) and I are taking Chinese lessons. What could be better? Students are getting to know Judge Pierre Leval and his fantastic wife, Susanna, and we are all developing a great affection and admiration for each other. I am particularly impressed with these students who clearly are interested in Chinese history, art, culture, food, and the law. Some students went to Hong Kong, and during the week others went to Shanghai.

Next week we have three guest speakers and on Thursday all of us are going to Beijing to visit, by invitation only,  the Chinese Beijing Supreme Court! We are having a wonderful time, and the intimacy and really deep learning created by this program can not be matched. More to come next week when Judge Pierre Leval delivers his public lecture and teaches three classes in the International Business Transactions course (covering the Kiobel and Morrison Supreme Court cases). We will keep you all posted. My thanks to this amazing group of students and professors here in China. You and you alone are making this great stuff happen!

Professor Susan Tiefenbrun

Director of China Study Abroad Program

Published: July 03, 2012
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As I look back at my stay in China after returning to the United States, I view my experience fondly. We were blessed to stay in Hangzhou. Although I cannot say that it was as large and exciting as Shanghai, but Hangzhou was by far the most beautiful city in China that I have visited. Every morning, as we drove to the Campus of Zhejiang University, we passed by the lake that was in the heart of the city. The lake was surrounded by parks, restaurants, and immaculate landscaping. It was not uncommon to catch a glimpse of elderly women doing tai chi as our bus drove by.

Our first week was full of anticipation and eagerness to explore our new surroundings. Within a few days of class, several Thomas Jefferson classmates and a Zhejiang University student and I went for a bike ride around Hangzhou. This was challenging as bikes shared the road with cars. Many of the drivers viewed traffic laws as mild suggestions. They occasionally drove through red lights as well as on the side of the road. The week concluded with a trip to Shanghai. Shanghai was the complete opposite of the relative peacefulness and tranquility of Hangzhou.

Shanghai is a large and modern metropolis, full of bright lights and tall buildings. Our days during our weekend trips were always long. We tried to take advantage of the short time we had. I have to say that the most memorable thing about Shanghai was not the Chinese law firm, the markets, or the second largest building in the world. It was having lunch in the home of a Chinese family. We were welcomed into a stranger’s home for a freshly prepared meal. It was a humbling experience to see how an average Chinese family lived. The apartment was small and simple, but comfortable. The one thing that I remember most was the picture of Mao Zedong overlooking the living room as we ate our meal.

During the second week of the program, we became more comfortable with our new surroundings, including the feral cats that often meandered into the classroom during lecture. Class was normally fast paced, but this week was even more condensed because class ended on Thursday, as the next morning we were visiting the Supreme People’s Court, which is located in Beijing.

When we arrived at the courthouse, our bus parked outside a large white building with a large gate that surrounded it. After everyone went through security, many of us gathered in front of the large steps. We were eventually led into the lobby where we were greeted. We took a tour of a courtroom and were ultimately brought to a large conference room. We received a lecture from a panel that included Justice Jiang Huiling. It was remarkable that it can take traveling halfway across the world to realize how truly different our culture and perceptions of the world are. As we quickly learned, the American perception of law was just that, American. This is exemplified as justices in the Supreme People’s Court are appointed for short terms, and justices often see their position as a stepping stone for higher political ambitions rather than to an ends to the means in and of itself.

As with the previous weekend trip to Shanghai, our trip was fast paced as we squeezed in as many attractions as possible. Our trip to China would not have been complete without seeing the Great Wall of China. The Wall stretched as far as you could see. As I headed back down from the wall, I was eventually greeted by a group of Thomas Jefferson students, who stated that they had just met the Vice President of Kenya and one of his Ambassadors. As we stood waiting for the rest of our group to return, we saw the motorcade of the Kenyan Vice President and realized the story was not a ruse.

During the last week of the China program we were fortunate enough to be visited by Judge John Walker. Judge Walker lectured for several days in Professor Tiefenbrun’s International Business Transaction Course.  Judge Walker’s knowledge of the Chinese legal system was rather impressive. Most of what Judge Walker stated coincided with the Chinese Legal System course I was taking. I was surprised that Judge Walker was able to be as open as he was with the problems that plagued the Chinese legal system. However, I was even more impressed about how candid the Chinese professors had been. I was under the impression that such candid talk about the functions and dysfunctions of Chinese politics was taboo. This was seen during our weekend trip to Beijing when several classmates saw a girl kick The Red Book in Tiananmen Square and was subsequently taken away by police. The rest of the week was marked with the usual stress and anxiety of trying to catch up on neglected readings and studying for finals.

In retrospect, the Chinese program was fast paced, hectic, and intensive. You feel that you never have enough time for your reading, and there is never enough time to explore China. However, years from now, that is not what I am going to remember. I am going to remember how students at Thomas Jefferson, whom I had never met before, opened up not only to each other but to the Chinese students as well and how beautiful and amazing all of the sites are.

Published: July 14, 2011
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The Nice Program 2011 is at the end of its  third week, and students and faculty are working and playing hard with lots of excitement and enjoyment of the beauty surrounding them on the French Riviera. The 48 American students from several law schools in the United States and the 13 European students from Holland, Italy, and France are spending lots of quality time together, getting to know eachother, Europe and how European law works from the perspective of European law students. The cultural and educational exchange takes time and effort to nurture, and it is working. Students in the Nice Program have reported to me that they thoroughly enjoyed Ambassador David Scheffer's teaching and Distinguished Guest Lecture as well as all his wonderful short stories about working on the formation of the International Criminal Court and about  working as Madeleine Albright's legal advisor before and after she became Secretary of State. David Scheffer and all our students and professors are still talking about Justice Olivier Dutheillet de Lamothe's incisive analysis of the burkha ban and the headscarf ban in France.  During the week and after class,  students and professors have been able to get to know each other well at special Receptions in my apartment, at the beach, going to restaurants in Nice, and traveling together for site seeing in Monaco, Antibes, Aix en Provence, Arles (where Van Gogh worked), Avignon (Palace of the Popes), and Nice itself with the Chagall and Matisse museums (among many others), the old town and Matisse's studio, the nice jazz festival, and many other wonderful places to have fun and to experience the great European culture and its rich history that inspire its laws. On the weekends many students ventured off to Spain to see the running of the bulls, Switzerland, Paris, London, Tunisia, Rome, and others preferred to stay put in Nice and to take short day trips in the environs of Nice. The first  weekend I went to Nimes, Arles, and Avignon, and last weekend I went to Dresden and Leipzig in the former East Germany where I saw Bach's house, Mendelssohn's house, and Robert Schumann's house as well as Leipzig University. These two cities were completely restored after World War II, and the trip there was amazing, not to mention the great music I heard everywhere. This weekend I am in the Italian lake area (Lake Orta, Lake Maggiore,  Lake Como, and Lake Garda), staying mainly in Orta so I can hear opera at La Scala in nearby Milan. Several students are going to Rome, Florence, Pisa, and the fabulous Cinque Terra for gorgeous views, delicious Italian food, and good hiking. Monday Professor Randy Grossman will be giving us all an interesting talk on international sports law. Two or three days later--final exams. Hard to believe we are  juggling all this work and play so well. Students who went to both China and Nice report to me that they loved both programs equally and are delighted that they went to both. But many confess that  Nice is absolutely a heaven on earth, a real vacation in a place where it is easy to find pleasure and beauty. The Nice law school requires us to walk up a big, steep hill, but inside, the institution is full of friendly faces, helpful people, and a full wall ceramic mural by Chagall who donated it to the law school! Working hard and playing hard in a land of rich history, culture, and legal tradition that all of us are learning about everyday. Not bad, eh?

Regards,

Professor Susan Tiefenbrun

Published: July 07, 2011
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I am delighted to report that we are having an excellent time in Nice. The students are all enjoying the four courses, the beach, the nightlife, the three and four-day weekends traveling to Rome, Spain, Florence, Dresden, Leipzig, and the beautiful French and Italian Riviera. We all loved seeing Christie Edwards, a really great alumna of TJSL who spoke to us about Women's Human Rights in Morocco and how to get a job without really trying. French class was fun for all, and those who could not roll their "Rs" on their uvula finally learned how, despite themselves! We will try again tomorrow. The Day in French Court was amazingly informative, and we read in the newspapers the next day that both accuseds were condemned to jail and a fine: one for  l8 months in jail with a 17,500 Euro fine or a 1 year sentence and confiscation of his truck for the Tunisian who sold products and food on the beach without a permit. The speaker Judge Olivier Dutheillet de Lamothe was riveting in his description of the Burkha ban (ban on full veil) in France and the reasons why this ban, which flies in the face of one's right to manifest one's religion,) was passed without much objection  in France. The headscarf ban in public schools is admittedly much more difficult to justify, but he tried. Former Ambassador David Scheffer has now been lecturing in the International Human Rights course for two days, and the students find him fascinating and full of first-hand knowledge about the establishment of the ICTY, the ICTR, the ICC, and the ad hoc courts in Sierra Leone and in Lebanon and Cambodia. He actually wrote the Rome Statute setting up the ICC, which we signed (he signed it under Clinton's regime and he was the lawyer for Madeleine Allbrighti and then unsigned under Bush. Fascinating man, fascinating subject.

Today David Scheffer is giving his public address on "The End of Impunity? The Impact of the War Crimes Tribunals on the Commission of Atrocity Crimes," and I will whisk him away afterwards to give him a good tour of Nice and its environs. He is having a great time. And so are we.

Wish more of you were here. Professors Aaron Schwabach, Claire Wright and Bryan Wildenthal have all been actively engaged in contributing to the success of our first week in Nice. As usual, TJSL has a great team, and I am so proud to be a professor of TJSL. My husband, Dr. Jonathan Tiefenbrun, has been enjoying his tennis and swimming enormously, and he has been giving students and professors some medical advice when needed and when appropriate. He is the best!

Regards, Professor Susan Tiefenbrun

Published: July 05, 2011
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This week has been monumental: 25% of our summer school session is over, the stress from being close to finals is already sinking in and, yet, we’re in this amazing paradise with tons to see and experience. Life is wonderful, stressful, filled with beauty – and of course, Patriotism.

Thursday, Professor Tiefenbrun threw a “wine and cheese” gathering at her apartment in order to facilitate the American students in the Human Rights class mingling with the French students. It was certainly a success – the French cheeses were tasty, the wines were delicious, and the French, Italian, Dutch and Belgian students were so friendly and social. After the gathering, the Americans and French students went out to local bars, sat and discussed culture, school, France and many other endless topics for hours! It was definitely a great experience because now I have met many new students and I can hear about their impressions regarding the world, education, America, life – it is a great way to learn outside of the classroom.

Our first week of classes finished on Thursday, and it sank in – in 3 weeks we’re taking finals. We have so much to cover in order to get our ABA credit. This means, quite frankly, that the course load is intense. I have had roughly five hours of reading a night. On the flip side, class is really interesting and we’re done each day by 12:30. This is early enough to still explore the city, enjoy the beach, and get homework done! It does leave little time for sleeping, though, but this is no strange occurrence for law students. This week, the former ambassador for war crimes under the Clinton administration, David Scheffer, is teaching our Human Rights courses. It is mind-blowing to hear him speak firsthand about setting up the International Criminal Court, the negotiations for the Treaty of Rome, and the pressures on both sides for America joining the Rome Treaty versus the need to protect American soldiers abroad.  This experience alone has made the entire Nice program one of the best educational experiences I have ever had.

Friday morning all of the students in this program were able to go to the French high court, the Palais de Justice. It was difficult to sit for a few hours listening to French discussions of complicated subjects but, thanks to the French and Italian students, we were able to hear the proceedings translated! It was a great insight into the differences between the Civil and Common law systems and, more specifically, the French and American. After the court proceedings, I left for a weekend in Montpellier!

Montpellier is another coastal town (slightly inland) that has a lot of student life, many Roman ruins and a functioning Roman aqueduct, several Medieval structures still standing in good condition, and a bustling street market! I absolutely love the gorgeous city. Montpellier is the capitol of the Languedoc region and, as such, has a lot to offer to visitors: gorgeous parks, breath-taking architecture, student life, shopping, history, and Roman ruins! Exploring was a great experience, and it was nice to sleep in – even if only for a day. Another perk: I found a coffee shop (Fairview Coffee) that serves bagels, pancakes, cupcakes, Chai tea and all other sorts of American coffee house items. The sweetest French man and Welsh man own the coffee house, and felt that American coffee houses were such a great experience that they had to integrate one into French culture!

Even though school is stressful and the homework is vast and seemingly never-ending, this past week has been beautifully life-changing – I have met people from the other side of the globe, seen beautiful foreign cities, learned interesting topics from brilliant minds and, of course, celebrated the fourth of July in a gorgeous beach town!

Until next week, and a Happy  fourth of July!

-Elysia