IJA International Judicial Academy

IJA President Travels to the Middle East for Conferences in Fall of 2013

In late September and early October of 2013 Dr. James G. Apple, President of the International Judicial Academy, traveled to the Middle East to speak at one conference on global legal education at the University of Hebron in the West Bank, Palestine, and to preside over sessions at another conference for judges from five Middle East North African (MENA) Countries in Casablanca, Morocco.

The University of Hebron West Bank conference was held over a period of three days and featured speakers not only from the United States and Palestine but also from South Africa, United Kingdom, Jordan and Egypt. Dr. Apple spoke on “Old and New Dimensions and Directions for a Court Education Institution.

He said that he was “very favorably impressed with the faculty and students at the University of Hebron, as well as the Palestinian people in general.”

“All of the students on the campus of the University who were assisting with the conference were bright and capable.”

“I was very treated very kindly by all of the Palestinians with whom I came in contact at the conference” he said. “The University of Hebron is a thriving educational institution. I was surprised to learn that it has 8000 students, 70% of whom are women.”

The Dean of the Hebron Law School, Dr. Mutaz Qafisheh , presided over the conference. Dr. Apple said that the had met Dean Quesifeh in Washington at the first International Conference on Legislative Drafting held last March, which was sponsored by the International Judicial Academy and several sections and one chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

Dr. Apple also visited Ramallah, where the Palestine West Bank government has many of its offices. His visit was hosted by MUSAWA, a non-profit Palestinian organization devoted to establishing a strong, independent judiciary in Palestine. He said that he spoke with the leaders of the organization about cooperation and sponsorship of programs of mutual interest.

At the conclusion of his Palestine visit, Dr. Apple continued on to Casablanca to prepare for the four day conference of MENA judges, which was a continuation of a program started in March, 2013 consisting of a three week seminar/study tour of 24 judges from the five MENA countries.

The program was funded by the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) of the U.S. State Department. The primary contractor for the project was the Institute of International Education, Washington, D.C., while the sub-contractor with a primary responsibility for the structure and content of both the Seminar/Study Tour and the Casablanca Conference was the International Judicial Academy.

Fifty judges and legal officers attended the conference in Casablanca. The theme of the conference was building a strong and independent judiciary. The morning sections were focused on four major subjects: judicial education, judicial assistance through the use of assistant judges and law clerks, case management, and alternative dispute resolution with an emphasis on mediation.

The members of delegation which comprised the faculty for the seminar were:

  • Dr. James G. Apple, International Judicial Academy, conference moderator
  • Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, Wisconsin Supreme Court
  • Judge Elizabeth Stong, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of New York,
  • Judge Deborah Eyler, Court of Special Appeals, Maryland
  • Claire Smearman Esq., Executive Director, Judicial Institute of Maryland
  • Brett Taylor, Deputy Director, Center for Court Innovation, New York
  • Adi Gavrila, Court Mediation, Craeova, Romania
  • Lawrence Mason, Senior Program Officer, Institute of International Education

Nancy Overholt, Director of the International Leadership Visitor Program for the Institute of International Education attended the conference as an observer and advisor.

Arab judge participants in the MEPI program gave both the March Seminar/Study Tour and the October Conference high marks for the quality of the presentations and the inspiration provided to undertake judicial reform projects in their respective countries.