Greetings from Washington D.C.! It is not quite as far flung as many of my William & Mary colleagues have travelled this summer, but it has proved to be an excellent location for a crash course in international and comparative law practice.
We started with a brief introduction to our new employ, the National Center for State Courts International Development Program, which like everything in D.C. is referred to by its acronym (NCSC IDP or sometimes just IDP) for the sake of brevity.
I say we because this summer I am working with a fellow W&M rising 2L Lindy. In fact here she is dolling out some tough justice in the Supreme Court gift shop after our visit to the Court for the Annual Supreme Court Historical Society Lecture.
This year Justice Sotomayor spoke about her formative years, and her new book My Beloved World. It has been one of many wonderful opportunities granted to us by our very capable supervisor Tim Hughes a Project Directors at NCSC.
After the introduction, and the field trip, the real work had to begin sometime and one of the first was assignments was background research on the judicial system in the Bahamas. NCSC IDP works with judiciaries all around the world sometimes projects run for several years and others are short training programs focused on one very specific issue. In the Bahamas the NCSC is working with the courts and prosecutors to help reduce high levels of backlog in the prosecution of criminal cases. My research focused mainly on pressing issues in the Bahamian judicial system, including the criminal case backlog, and on the laws relevant to the use of plea bargains in the Bahamas.
Thanks in no small part to our pre-departure training on international law research I handily found the Bahamian Code of Criminal Procedure, guidelines on bail, sentencing, and even the all important rules governing plea agreements in the Bahamas.However, this assignment was also a reminder that not all the information I need is always online. After reading some very intriguing stories about a case where the prosecutor had attempted to use a plea agreement to dispose of a case and then rescinded the offer no information could found about the final outcome of the case. Maybe the judge never ruled, the pretext for this assignment was issues with back log in the courts, or maybe it was made but it is awaiting entry into the databases. I may never know, but I have set the Google alert should it ever make the news again!