Last week marked the beginning of my work with the Tibetan Supreme Judicial Commission (SJC). The SJC and I had been communicating throughout March and April to set up the specifics of the internship. We had created plans for weekly meetings where I would provide instructions on U.S. Federal Evidence law.
But as the saying goes, “the best laid plans… often go awry.”
I received the final draft of the Tibetan Evidence Code shortly after the conclusion of finals and began to look it over. After my first read through, I had a couple more questions. I emailed the contact person on the SJC and discovered that the health crisis in India had taken its toll on the SJC. Sadly, my point of contact was in quarantine because of possible exposure. Quarantine means that the SJC is now separated from each other and also has less access to reliable internet. Due to the ever present threat of the COVID-19 crisis in India, my internship is clearly going to change. What was going to be a pretty set schedule of weekly meetings has become a more freewheeling schedule based upon the need of the SJC and the availability of everyone during such challenging times. This change in the zoom meeting structure is due in large part to the poor internet connection in quarantine. As the SJC grapples with an outbreak, they also have to face being separated spatially and having access to less reliable internet.
As with anything during this health crisis, flexibility is key. It was inevitable that a remote international internship would have its difficulties and unexpected challenges. Nevertheless, the work moves on. Despite the internet and quarantine challenges, I was able to compile the Federal Evidence Rules that were cited in the Tibetan Code into one document. I also began conducting research on case law to explain the different rules.
As I enter the next week of my work with the SJC, I am looking forward to receiving feedback on the research compiled so far to help me determine what is working and what can be better as I move forward with research. I am also struck by the dedication of the SJC. The entire Commission is trying to set up the legal framework for their justice system while also dealing with a large outbreak of COVID-19 cases. I am grateful to be working with such resilient individuals dedicated to establishing a fair and effective justice system. Here is to a summer full of evidentiary rules and, hopefully, no more drastic changes to the best laid plans.