One of my projects while working at CEELI has been obtaining materials and writing summaries for an update of their Judicial Manual that they send to judiciaries in the region. The manual is maintained as an invaluable resource for international jurisprudence and is a collection of primary documents and standards from countries all over the world with an addendum of cases and opinions that illustrate those standards. Updating the manual has been a great insight into the collaborative nature of the Judicial Network and CEELI’s specific ability to obtain and collate materials to benefit judges. Reaching out to judiciary members, including newly added members from the recent Ethics Workshop, and requesting update materials they think are relevant to the manuals topics has educated me on the varied legal decisions and frameworks of the region and shown me just how far CEELI’s reach goes. The Judicial Network members found time in their busy schedule to find and contribute materials and it was great to see Network’s collaboration and effort to create a document that facilitates many judges work.
The manuals purpose is to facilitate and grow judiciary Independence, Impartiality, and Integrity, the three “i”s of CEELI’s mission. This update includes, among many things, added sections on the utilization of social media, connected to the freedom of expression of judiciary members, and the role of technology in judiciary function, from case management and the importance of proper technological systems for efficient justice. Obtaining materials has shown me the varied approaches to judicial ethics and how judiciary councils in the region address problems in maintaining the trust in their members and function. Some examples include opinions and guidelines for handling conflicts of interest, being members of organizations, and cases involving improper usage of social media that did not align with conduct codes.
Additionally, a section of the addendum focuses on the ongoing situation in Poland related to the independence of their judiciary. A multitude of cases have been decided recently establishing that there has been excessive influence from other governmental branches that does not align with expected judiciary independence, creating issues with cases when reviewed by higher European courts. A complex topic, the situation has shown the importance of CEELI’s mission in establishing continued independence of judiciaries, and shows just how serious it is when that independence is threatened.
CEELI also produces guideline booklets on specific topics, that often the manual gives additional case examples on, such as “Practical Guidelines on Use of Social Media by Judges: Central and Eastern European Context” (pictured below). These guidelines, like the manual, stem from collaboration of the Judicial Network and I have been helping with the creation of ones for Case Management Tips and Bias/Conflicts of Interest that are based upon the previously completed in person workshops. It is great to see how the in person workshops can create a basis, through conversation and working through complex topics, for easily digestible educational materials. Additionally, the Network members have been invaluable in helping to translate these manuals for accessibility in their home countries.
Overall updating the manual and creating guidelines has been a great practice in succinct legal writing and creating a document that is an accessible resource for judiciary members. It has been an absolute pleasure working with CEEL’s Judicial Network, and their insights and collaboration have made me proud of the work I have helped the organization complete.
(Old version of CEELI's Judiciary Manual and Example of Guideline Book CEELI Publishes)
My upcoming work with CEELI involves an upcoming “Summer School” two week program they are putting on for Ukrainian Law students to give them skills in relation to possible cases connected to the ongoing war. I will be posting updates about each week.