During the eight month-long Dujail trial (October 2005-August 2006), Saddam Hussein, his seven co-defendants, and their dozen lawyers regularly disparaged the judges, interrupted witness testimony with outbursts, turned cross examination into political diatribes, and staged frequent walk-outs and boycotts. Drawn from the author's September 2006 lecture to the staff of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, this article examines some of history's previous messy trials and the strategies judges have employed with varying degrees of success to respond to disruptive conduct by trial participants. It then describes the various tactics employed by the judges in the Dujail trial and analyzes why they were not more successful. The article concludes with a detailed prescription for maintaining order in future war crimes trials.


Disruptive defendants, contumacious counsel, war crimes trials, Saddam Hussein Trial, Chicago Seven, Illinois v. Allen, remedies for disruption, Slobodan Milosevic Trial, International Criminal Court, Iraqi High Tribunal, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, stand-by public defenders

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law

Publication Information

39 Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law 155 (2007)


COinS Michael P. Scharf Faculty Bio