Survey of Judicial Network - Insight into CEELI’s Accomplishments

One of my final projects with CEELI has been helping Freda organize and run a survey of the Judicial Network members to gain insight into how CEELI has helped them and what the organization can do better as it continues its mission. While this post will be a little vague in terms of specifics because of confidentiality and the ongoing nature of the survey, this as a final project has been sort of serendipitous with the information it has allowed me to glean about CEELI's beneficial impact for everyone who has engaged with the organization.

First, in reviewing the entire networks members, closing in on 300 judges and 50+ judicial experts, making sure the correct contact info was there and no one was missing, the expanse and reach of CEELI really came into focus. Freda has worked relentlessly over the past few years to almost double the network’s participants, expanding connections CEELI has made within all the countries’ judiciaries it works with. The amount of care and effort that has gone in to fostering the networks reach was given a statistical showing with just how many people have been a part of CEELI and its events and programs. When we sent the more general survey to all the members, the amount of responses was equally amazing with a good proportion of the network, most of whom are judges with extremes amounts of important work on their docket, taking the time to give CEELI valuable responses in how the organization has helped and kind insight into ways to improve.

One of the most eye-opening tasks while completing the survey, though, was helping fix transcriptions of hour-long interviews that were completed by a third-party of CEELI’s Core Group in the Judicial Exchange Network. The Core Group is made up of Judges and experts from all over Central and Eastern Europe who help CEELI come up with topics for programs, where they are often faculty, assist CEELI as representatives to certain events, and overall make strong contributions to the organization while being a source of guidance.

The interviews were an opportunity to share their experiences, and while the task of fixing transcriptions can be arduous, with Zoom having very hit-or-miss accuracy especially when it comes to accents, listening to these interviews really showed just what immense efforts CEELI has made with the help and dedication of its employees and members. From hearing the origin story of the manuals and addendum to the extreme variety in program focuses to imbue participants with valuable skills and knowledge, both of which were part of my work this summer, these interviews gave me a sense of pride that my summer experience was with an organization who has made, and continues to make, an impact.

Hearing the support CEELI has given to judiciaries in the region, with anecdotes coming from those that know the network best, really emphasized the value of such an organization bringing people together, especially in times where judiciary independence has come under attack as it as in some of the members’ home-countries. The ability for bringing people together at the Villa, in a location centralized and easily accessible for the region through Prague and Czech Republic’s proximity, was shown to me as a key tool in allowing the rule of law to perservere and prevail.

CEELI has grown a network that allows a level of discourse and idea sharing that I truly believe is one of the greatest in the world. The members each discussed how CEELI provides resources, not only to themselves but to the judiciaries and courts they are a part of, to continue to grow and strengthen. CEELI definitely is not “silly” (as Zoom likes to pick up the acronym as - I know lame joke) and I am proud to have been part of their work and contribute to their programs division this summer.