The International Law Institute (ILI) is proud to present a new seminar entitled The Fair and Effective Trial Judge: Methods & Techniques at their headquarters in Washington, D.C. from July 29th – August 2d, 2019. James G. Apple, course advisor for the seminar as well as Founder and Director of the ILI’s International Judicial Academy, believes the push for particular developing countries to modernize rudimentary court systems in order to deal with modern problems led to the creation of this course. However, Mr. Apple will cover a variety of methods and techniques applicable to all judges hoping to be the best they can be throughout their careers.

Oftentimes, an understanding of concepts like “fair” and “effective” is seen as subjective, with practice focused on achieving these ideals in a judicial context varying from culture to culture. However, Mr. Apple believes consistent modes of operation and a robust code of ethics can uniformly reflect these ideals in everyday practice.

Mr. Apple points out, “Citizens want judges who are not affiliated with or biased in favor of one party in a case. They want to know that the judge has not received bribes, and will carefully listen to the evidence and decide the case according to law and legal principles. These are part of the characteristics that characterize a fair judge. An effective judge is one who is fair, who treats litigants with respect, who listens carefully to the evidence and who explains his or her decision in understandable language.”

Independent of country and legal system, there are essential functions of a judge that must ring true in every judiciary to be considered as such. Given this truth, Mr. Apple created modules containing lists of subjects that identify these functions to share at the ILI’s International Judicial Academy.

Mr. Apple notes, “For instance, all judges need to make judgements and write opinions; all judges need the guidance of a code of judicial ethics; all judges have to organize their chambers for maximum efficiency, et cetera. And those subjects are what the Academy emphasized in its training courses.”

Mr. Apple believes that judges and court officers who attend will not only gain a greater appreciation for a legal system and court system in the proper functioning of their government but understand the full weight of judges in shaping how a particular country is viewed outside of its borders. “Foreign investors are very interested in whether a country has a fair and efficient court system staffed by well-educated judges.”

The course will combine lectures on important subjects relating to the purpose of the course, and site visits to allow participants to observe trials and hear from judicial and court officials in their own environment about their work.

James G. Apple is Director of the International Judicial Academy, the International Law Institute’s judicial and court center. He founded and presided over the IJA before it became affiliated with the ILI. Before founding the IJA in 1999, Mr. Apple was a senior staff member at the Federal Judicial Center where he was in charge of the Center’s office responsible for international programs and promoting good relations between state and federal courts. At both the Center and the IJA, Mr. Apple has conducted over 200 seminars and other educational programs for judges and court offices on issues of judicial and court administration and other topics relating to the functioning of modern court systems. Before joining the Federal Judicial Center he was a practicing attorney for 25 years specializing in the trial of civil cases.

By Jillian Skonieczka

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