March 2018

California Judicial Commission discusses ethics and disciplinary procedures with participants

Tetra Tech’s Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP) is supporting Myanmar’s democratic transition not only by building a better understanding of rule of law, but by supporting ongoing efforts to make it a reality for the people of Myanmar and not just a concept imagined for others. For more than 4 years, PRLP has supported Myanmar courts, prosecutors, lawyers, and civil society to improve justice services and better protect human rights. To ensure that these reforms can be applied in practice, PRLP successfully completed a two-week study tour in the U.S. during the second half of February focusing on critical topics such as ethics, training, legal aid, specialized courts, and the importance of collaboration among various justice sector actors.

Ten representatives from the Union Supreme Court, Attorney General’s Office, Union Legal Aid Board (ULAB), Independent Lawyers’ Association of Myanmar, and the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament (Hluttaw), participated in the study tour in San Francisco, California and Reno, Nevada. Participants were exposed to collaborative courts and modern prosecution practices, and visited legal aid clinics, a public defender office, and a bar association. Training and ethics were a special focus for participants visiting the National Judicial College, the Federal Courts, and the California Judicial Commission. Participants also met with prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and pre-trial services personnel. A meeting with the California District Attorneys Association provided valuable information about pre-trial investigation, working collaboratively with witnesses and victims, and training for prosecutors. Legal aid clinics and the public defender office offered various models for the ULAB to consider in their implementation of the new legal aid law.

The group commented on how the U.S. system focuses on problem solving and collaboration and expressed the will to bring this focus to the Myanmar justice system. They appreciated the passion demonstrated by the justice sector professionals in serving the public and protecting human rights. Participants were inspired and energized to apply their knowledge from the trip to the local context in Myanmar. Having recently finalized their own 5-year Judicial Strategic Plan, Supreme Court Justices encouraged the Myanmar participants to work together with them, applying the models from the U.S., to achieve the goals of their strategy. The study tour offered a clear case of “seeing is believing,” giving participants the incentive to make rule of law a reality in Myanmar.

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