On October 5-6, the CEELI Institute in cooperation with the Polish Judges‘ Association, Iustitia, jointly hosted a judicial training workshop in Warsaw on the topic of caseload management and organizing the service of a judge.
The meeting brought together members of the CEELI Institute’s Central and Eastern European Judicial Exchange Network, including judges from Albania, Lithuania, Romania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Macedonia, with their Polish counterparts. CEELI Institute board member, the Honorable Judge John Walker of the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, along with the Honorable Judge Katarzyna Gonera from the Supreme Court of Poland provided opening remarks as well as moderated discussion over the two days.
In his opening remarks, Judge Walker stated:
“A bedrock objective in developing a sound system under the rule of law is building public respect for the courts and the administration of justice. Of course that requires good decisions by the courts and judges who are independent, clean and incorruptable. But public respect is also a function of sound administrative practices. Such practices should, to the greatest extent possible: reduce unnecessary delays, eliminate opportunities for corruption, and promote transparency.“
Over the course of the two days, participants shared best practices on case allocation, organizing the staff of a judge, and effective methods for preventing and eliminating backlogs, among other things.
Judge Mindaugas Šimonis of Lithuania delivered a presentation on how recent reforms in his country’s court system have led to more efficient caseload allocation and management. Judge Cristi Danilet also shared the Romanian experience, particularly the role of the Judicial Council in setting administrative standards for the courts.
Polish colleagues, Judge Lukasz Piebiak and Judge Barbara Zawisza, discussed with the group the different challenges presented in civil versus criminal courts. Judge Walker suggested that a system of mediation could be employed to help reduce backlog and facilitate settlements.
Participants from Poland, Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina felt that mediation had yet to be successfully used in their respective countries due to cultural reluctance as well as economic barriers. In Poland, for example, people prefered to have a decision from the court on their case rather than to reach an agreement with the other party. Beyond that, court fees are much lower than fees for mediation, providing little economic incentive to mediate a dispute.
Participants from Lithuania and Romania felt that mediation had begun to overcome cultural barriers in their countries, but that pilot programs and proper economic incentive structures were needed to help effectively implement mediation programs.
On the second day of the workshop, participants were hosted by Judge Gonera at the Supreme Court of Poland. They received a tour and were also invited to join the President of the Supreme Court, Professor Lech Paprzycki for coffee and a conversation between him and Judge John Walker on issues of court administration and judicial independence.
In the final workshop sessions, Judge Anna Bednarek and Judge Aleksandra Rutkowska, shared the best practices they learned from their experiences working for the Eurlex mission to Kosovo and the European Court of Human Rights. Both of these presentations presented good comparative frameworks for court administration and case allocation.
The CEELI Institute thanks Iustitia for partnering with the Institute to host this workshop.