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Georgia Past Programs

Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) supported anti-corruption efforts and promoted the ratification of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). ABA ROLI also assisted the Georgian government in implementing a national anti-corruption strategy and anti-corruption action plan, adopted in June 2005 and March 2006, respectively.

ABA ROLI led a team of experts that prepared a comprehensive treatise on harmonizing domestic legislation with the provisions of UNCAC, a prerequisite for ratification. Following Georgia’s ratification of the UNCAC in 2008, ABA ROLI helped educate the public about the May 2008 parliamentary elections and trained more than 100 lawyers in preparation for anticipated election-related complaints.

Judicial Reform

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) judicial reform activities in Georgia focused on helping the judiciary become an independent, respected and capable branch of government by supporting its reform process and by empowering judges. ABA ROLI worked closely with key international stakeholders and local partners to advance judicial ethics, strengthen judicial decision-making, improve judicial perception and launch a case management system with the Ministry of Justice’s Enforcement Department. Our judicial reform efforts include:

Conducting judicial education: ABA ROLI helped the Georgian judiciary reform its code of conduct to reflect international standards. ABA ROLI also provided ethics trainings to about 100 judges, distributed 500 copies of a judicial ethics guidebook, and created and distributed 500 copies of a catalogue of 2,500 Supreme Court decisions to increase consistency in judicial decision-making.

Supporting the Judges of Georgia: In 1998, ABA ROLI helped establish the Judges of Georgia—the first professional association for Georgian judges. With ABA ROLI support, the association has since held a televised discussion on the importance of judicial reform, advocated for wrongly disciplined judges and published a law journal, Justice and Law, distributing nine issues to more than 1,000 judges, lawyers, government agencies, and local and international non-governmental organizations.

Supporting a judicial qualification exam: In 2005, ABA ROLI helped introduce a judicial qualification exam in Georgia. To ensure sustainability, in 2006, the High Council of Justice (HCOJ) took over the administration of the exam. ABA ROLI also worked to improve judicial selection and disciplinary procedures by organizing a conference for 50 Georgian judges and by translating and distributing related American guidebooks. Additionally, ABA ROLI experts observed the HCOJ’s interviewing procedures for judicial candidates and made recommendations for improvement.

Enforcing judgments: ABA ROLI worked with the Georgian government to reform the Law on Enforcement Proceedings. In line with the law’s provisions, ABA ROLI created a case management system (CMS) to effectively track the enforcement of judgments. We also facilitated the use of the CMS by training enforcement officials and equipping Georgia’s Enforcement Department with needed technological supplies.

Improving public perception of judges: To improve public perception of the judiciary and to foster a positive relationship between the judiciary and the media, ABA ROLI created and distributed 500 copies of a media guide to judges. ABA ROLI also worked to increase public awareness of judges’ ethical obligations and vocational duties. ABA ROLI publicized the revised Judicial Code of Conduct by placing 100 posters in courtrooms and 2,000 informational brochures.

Legal Profession Reform

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) worked to strengthen the capacity of Georgian legal professionals and institutions to uphold the right to due process and increase access to justice within the adversarial system. ABA ROLI’s legal profession reform initiatives included a range of trainings that built the capacity of criminal defense attorneys to provide effective counsel to Georgian citizens.

Enhancing “street law” program: To promote the equality of arms between Georgia’s prosecutors and defense attorneys and to ensure the most just outcomes for criminal trials, from 2012—2014, ABA ROLI created and implemented the below training programs for defense attorneys:

  • Practical Lawyering Trainings: These trainings followed a real (though redacted) criminal case from the Georgian courts. Defense attorneys were trained on what to do from the time they are initially retained through to the end of the litigation process in a step-by-step analysis of the legal system.
  • Jury Instructions/Jury Selection/Voir Dire Trainings: ABA ROLI designed an advanced voir dire course and manual and conducted a training of trainers for Legal Aid attorneys, who went go on to conduct trainings for their colleagues. 
  • Mock Jury Selections: To further hone the new skills of its trainees, ABA ROLI conducted Mock Jury Selections in the Tbilisi City Court. Participants took on the roles of defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, and jurors. The mock jury selections were limited to the best defense attorneys in the advanced voir dire classes and assessed how defense attorneys respond in front of real judges and against real prosecutors.
  • Enforcement and ECtHR Judgments in Georgia: With the ever-increasing reliability of the domestic Georgian court system, the issue of the execution of judgments from the ECtHR has begun to gain pivotal importance. These trainings trained defense attorneys on what to do after a successful ECtHR case has been decided by focusing on the process of enforcing and executing ECtHR judgments utilizing the Georgian courts. 
  • Forensic skills trainings: These trainings covered all aspects of the introduction of forensic evidence in jury trials. Trainees learned how to use expert-witness testimony, including on such essential evidentiary matters as DNA analysis, fingerprints, firearms identification and ballistics, arson and explosives, insanity and mental illness defenses, traffic accident investigation and crime scene investigation procedure. The trainings were enhanced with hands-on experience in courtroom simulation, as well as with a comprehensive forensics manual. Available in Georgian, the manual is an important resource the trainees use as a reference in their daily practice.
  • Legal Research Skills, Writing, Motions, Appeals: As of February 2012, there was no legal writing course available for Georgian defense attorneys to teach them how to write motions and appeals, and no resource existed to prepare defense attorneys to write and file appeals with higher courts and to the ECtHR. To meet defense attorneys’ educational needs with respect to legal writing, motions, appeals and the ECHR, ABA ROLI developed a comprehensive manual and implemented trainings covering these areas.
  • Direct and Cross Examination: Direct and cross examination of witnesses is a central component of criminal trials for both defense attorneys and prosecutors. ABA ROLI conducted a series of trainings for defense attorneys to teach them how to use direct and cross examination strategically to draw out testimony, identify contradictions in the prosecutor’s case, and describe the physical evidence to the jury.
  • Opening Statements and Final Arguments: Another essential skill that is needed by defense attorneys in this newer adversarial system is how to give good opening statements and closing arguments. Like the hook of any good thesis, the opening statement of a trial must clearly describe the facts of the case that will be presented by each side in layman’s terms, and in such a persuasive way as to immediately put doubt into jurors’ minds. ABA ROLI conducted a series of trainings for defense attorneys to teach them these skills.
  • Forensic Science/Criminalistics/Traffic Accident Reconstruction/Examination: This training was one of the most important and most requested by Georgian defense attorneys given the frequency of car accidents in Georgia. ABA ROLI’s training series for defense attorneys covered the most problematic type of cases resulting in car accidents, those resulting from reckless driving (where another person is injured or killed, and the driver could go to prison if found guilty).
  • Forensic Psychiatry: These trainings were popular as well as they related specifically to the insanity defenses available to defendants who suffer from mental illnesses, and for whom the mental illness, and not necessarily the defendant, is the culprit in the crime. ABA ROLI’s training series helped defense attorneys learn to identify and apply insanity defenses where appropriate.
  • Plea Bargaining and Negotiation Skills: ABA ROLI’s trainings on plea bargaining, negotiating skills, and discovery focused on all aspects of the plea bargaining phase (including the production of evidence, the concept of reciprocal discovery as well as related ethics rules relating to plea-bargaining and negotiating skills. ABA ROLI conducted these trainings in order for attorneys to effectively analyze and properly gauge the strength or weakness of their cases while taking all relevant factors as well as law into account.

ABA ROLI’s work to support criminal law reform in Georgia is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.

Women’s Rights

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) Women’s Rights Program (2006–2009) provided vital financial assistance to two important and impactful women’s rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA) and the Centre for the Protection of Constitutional Rights (CPCR). ABA ROLI worked with these organizations in raising public awareness of the 2006 domestic violence law and the protective mechanisms it provides, consulting nearly 7,200 women on gender-related legal issues and galvanizing governmental agencies and local and international NGOs to pass and begin the effective implementation of Georgia’s first domestic violence law. Our women’s rights initiatives included:

Drafting a domestic violence action plan: When Georgia’s anti-domestic violence law passed in June 2006, ABA ROLI and GYLA helped the government draft an action plan to combat domestic violence. The action plan had important provisions, including the provision for victims’ shelters and social workers to manage domestic violence cases. On July 30, 2007 the Georgian government approved the action plan.

Amending the domestic violence law: In 2009, ABA ROLI collaborated with the United Nations Development Fund for Women to create a working group of judges, lawyers, prosecutors, patrol policemen and NGO representatives to draft amendments to the domestic violence law to decrease the age of the potential abuser to 16 and to emphasize the call for the creation of a shelter for victims. The amendments were submitted to the government in December 2009 and were signed into law in January 2010.

Conducting a domestic violence survey: To document the extent of domestic violence in Georgia, ABA ROLI conducted a nationwide survey and found that domestic violence was often silently sustained because of a cultural inclination toward family privacy and victims’ fear of adverse public reactions.

Producing a domestic violence manual: ABA ROLI’s subgrantee GYLA created a domestic violence manual, presenting a detailed explanation of the Georgian domestic violence law and its procedural mechanisms of protection. The manual also included hypothetical cases, providing sample recommendations for police, lawyers, social agencies and others on how to effectively deal with domestic violence cases.

Conducting a public awareness campaign: Public awareness of domestic violence as a problem is a crucial first step toward improving protections and services for women. ABA ROLI’s subgrant to GYLA supported GYLA’s efforts to teach citizens about the 2006 domestic violence law. GYLA aired a public service announcement it developed with ABA ROLI’s support to publicize the problem of domestic violence and to encourage women to seek help. GYLA designed and published informational leaflets describing the protections in the law, including protective and restrictive orders. More than 6,000 copies of the leaflets were distributed across the country.

Providing legal aid to survivors: With ABA ROLI support, GYLA and the CPCR provided free legal assistance in the form of in-person and hotline consultations to more than 7,200 domestic violence survivors. The legal advice sought and provided centered on family law (divorce), but also encompassed labor law and criminal prosecution.