Moreno-Ocampo Is a Really Slow Reader (Updated)

by Kevin Jon Heller

According to the Prosecutor, he needs 421 days to review 12,900 pages of documents that the Pre-Trial Chamber recently ordered him to disclose to the Ocampo Six so they can prepare for their confirmation hearings:

International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has told the court he needs 421 days to review the evidence to comply with orders given last week.

In his request to be allowed to appeal against the order by Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova last week to disclose his evidence against the six suspects, Ocampo says it is unfair to require him to disclose all his evidence now, when the confirmation hearings are still so far away.

He also says if he were to fully comply with judge Ekaterina’s order, he would have to review and disclose 12,900 pages of documents. This he says would take him 421 days.

But by Friday evening, ICC had not issued any orders stopping the status conference scheduled for Monday. It is at this conference that Ocampo is expected to disclose to the defence lawyers his evidence against the six suspects, ahead of the confirmation hearing set for September.

Google informs me that “12900/421=30.64.”  Which means that Moreno-Ocampo believes reading more than 31 pages of evidence per day is simply too onerous to contemplate.  Law students read far more than that every day — and I’m pretty sure that Moreno-Ocampo doesn’t have to read all 12,900 pages by himself.  (Interns, anyone?)  I’d also hope that he has already read at least some of the documents, given that they form the basis of his proprio motu investigation…

Perhaps the next time Moreno-Ocampo takes a long, pensive walk on the beach contemplating the fight against impunity — the low point of the otherwise excellent documentary The Reckoning — he should bring some reading with him.

UPDATE: CM correctly points out in the comments that the actual motions — one per set of three defendants — refer to “review days,” defined as “the work product of one reviewer in one working day,” not days for review.  One motion says that review will take 421 review days; the other says review will take 456 review days.  The total number of review days is thus 877.  Assuming that Moreno-Ocampo assigns multiple reviewers to the project, the length of time he is asking for will obviously be less than 421 days, as reported — obviously erroneously — by The Standard.  Five reviewers, for example, would take 175 days; ten would take 87; etc.

My apologies for the error; I could not find the motions on the ICC website.  Plucky blogger that I am, though, I want to turn my error into a teaching moment.  The OTP obviously has to be concerned with how its efforts are perceived in Kenya, which is quite literally hanging on Moreno-Ocampo’s every word and on the OTP’s every motion.  It thus seems incredibly unwise for the OTP to use counterintuitive legalese like “review day” in a motion — especially without a clear explanation of what the term means in practice (an equally legalistic footnote is grossly inadequate).  The motion could simply have said “it would take one reviewer 421/456 days to review the documents and prepare the analysis; as the Office of the Prosecutor intends to dedicate X reviewers to the project, the review will take X days to complete.”  Such a plain-language explanation would have avoided generating headlines in Kenya such as “Ocampo asks for 421 days to review evidence,” which makes the OTP look needlessly incompetent.  It would also likely have improved the motion’s chances for success, making far more clear that the OTP will be able to comply with the Pre-Trial Chamber’s ruling only by dedicating large numbers of (scarce) personnel to the review.  What’s more rhetorically effective: arguing that the review will take 877 review days, or that completing the review in two months will require a team of 15 reviewers working full-time?  I’m going with the latter.

http://opiniojuris.org/2011/04/16/moreno-ocampo-is-a-really-slow-reader/

6 Responses

  1. Kevin, you appear to have misread the request for leave to appeal.  

    The prosecutor estimated he would need 461 “review days”.  This estimate included 206 “review days” to review the 12,900 pages (at an average of just over 62 pages per day), plus additional time to produce an analysis chart ordered by the Chamber. 

    A “review day” was defined as “the work product of one reviewer in one working day.”  That means seven people working at an average of 62 pages per day could knock off the whole project in just under 30 days. 

  2. CM,

    Do you have the request?  It does not seem to be available online.

  3. Be that as it may, CM, the people I know who have interned in international organisations, including I think one at the ICC, had a ‘work product in one working day’ of (my estimate based on not much) about 120 or more pages of dense material, including summary notes.

    Even I, who was well in their academic wake, would back myself to knock off 30 pages comfortably before lunch.

    Maybe standards are slipping at the ICC?

  4. Kevin, apologies for the delayed response.  The request is on the website but isn’t easy to find! 

    http://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/doc/doc1055281.pdf

  5. Kevin – this is the request in the second Kenya proceedings.  Cheers.

    http://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/doc/doc1055273.pdf

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  1. […] effort to conceal evidence against the Ocampo Six until he had had enough time to study it.  See instructive discussion here on the number of days Ocampo claimed were necessary.  See also.   On 31 March 2011, the Kenyan Government had filed an application to have the case […]