Both the Ohio Judicial College and National Judicial College have sponsored programs that allow judges from the United States to periodically receive judges and attorneys from other countries and sponsor them in training. Judges from Ukraine, Russia, Libya, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, and Serbia have toured the nation’s court system, including here in Ohio and have marveled at our Supreme Court building.
Visits have varied and have included more than judges. For example, members of the China International Economic Trade and Arbitration Commission learned about dispute resolution during a visit to Ohio in 2007. A 2009 Korean delegation studied the administration and use of jury trials. The Serbian delegation in 2012 learned about asset forfeiture, and Franklin County judges presented a program on commercial dockets to a Turkmenistan group.
Twice in 1995, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Russia and Ukraine after the breakup of the Soviet Union to teach programs designed to introduce the U.S. legal system and encourage judicial independence. Many students were fascinated to hear that people believed in the rule of law and that American judges had no armies to enforce their opinions. They were surprised that we didn’t have to call party bosses to decide how to rule in a particular case. They were also amazed that someone could actually sue the government.
So many times we take our system of law for granted. During this primary season, when politics seems to expose the rawer nerves of democracy, it’s not a bad idea to remember that when we are viewed from other places, we appear to be very fortunate and that the sharing of ideas benefits all of us.