Date: September 11, 2002 Contact: Laura Kiernan
Court Information Officer
(603)-271-2646 x359

NEWS RELEASE

EIGHT RUSSIAN JUDGES VISIT NEW HAMPSHIRE

 

CONCORD--Eight leading Russian judges from the Vologda region are spending this week in Concord and Manchester studying the U.S. federal and state court systems with their New Hampshire counterparts. The Russian jurists are part of a high-level rule of law exchange sponsored by the Open World Program, a program funded by the Library of Congress. The visit comes following Russia’s recent adoption of major judicial reforms proposed by President Vladimir Putin.

The visit is being coordinated in New Hampshire by the New Hampshire/Vologda Rule of Law Partnership Committee, a committee of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, that has been conducting exchanges with the legal community in Vologda since 1998. Vologda, a province of similar size to New Hampshire, is located northeast of Moscow.

Superior Court Associate Justice Kathleen A. McGuire, chair of the Rule of Law Committee, and New Hampshire Supreme Court Associate Justice Linda S. Dalianis, the Supreme Court's liaison to the committee, are hosts for the visit, which was expected to include a number of trips to legal and government sites in New Hampshire.

The Russian jurists’ Washington, DC, and Concord programs take into account the changes in the Russian court system legislated by the judicial reform package enacted by the Duma, the Russian parliament, last December. One of the main components of the Putin package was the expansion of jury trials nationwide.

The extensive reforms also include provisions intended to enhance the status, accountability, and independence of the Russian judiciary by improving judges’ pay, ending their lifetime tenure and immunity from prosecution, and overhauling the judicial appointment and promotion process.

As many as 300 Russian jurists will participate in Open World this year. In the New Hampshire group, six of the eight judges are women: two sit on the Vologda Regional Court, two sit on the Vologda Commercial Court (one as deputy chair), one chairs a district court, one sits on the Vologda City Court, and two sit on the Cherepovets City Court.

While in Concord, the Russian judges planned to visit the New Hampshire State House, meet with justices and hear oral arguments at the New Hampshire Supreme Court; observe child support hearings and a jury trial at the Merrimack County Superior Court; meet Merrimack County Probate Court judges; study the Merrimack County Teen Court program; and tour the New Hampshire State Prison for Men.

The judges were also scheduled to travel to Hopkinton to observe Election Day activities at the town hall; to Manchester to visit the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Hampshire; and to Canterbury to see the Shaker Village.

This visit is the latest in a series of exchanges since 1998 that have brought five delegations from Vologda to New Hampshire and 10 trips by New Hampshire judges and lawyers to Vologda. The travel expenses of the NH/Vologda Rule of Law Partnership programs have been funded by grants from a variety of federal foreign aid and cultural exchange programs, coordinated by the Russian American Rule of Law Consortium, which paired New Hampshire and Vologda.

Before traveling to Concord, the Russian delegates participated in an intensive two-day orientation session in Washington, D.C. conducted by NH Superior Court Associate Justice Gary Hicks, several other U.S. judges, and officials from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and the Federal Judicial Center.

The nonprofit American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS is handling the logistics of the Russians’ visit. For more on Open World, please see www.open-world2002.gov.

The New Hampshire contacts for the Russian judges’ schedule are Elizabeth Hodges, deputy legal counsel to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, Tel: 603-271-2646, E-mail: ehodges@courts.state.nh.us; and Dan Wise, communications director for the New Hampshire Bar Association. Tel: 603-224-6942, E-mail: dwise@nhbar.org.

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