Bahraini Officials Re-examine Judicial Selection and Court Security

January 2008

Joseph McDonough and Edward Templeman, two American judicial experts,recently traveled to Bahrain to participate in the ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI) Legal and Judicial Training Program. Through the Legal andJudicial Training Program, ABA ROLI partners with the Bahraini Ministry ofJustice (MOJ) to improve the delivery of justice in Bahrain with professional trainings and institution-building support.

McDonough, a member of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and theformer executive director of the Massachusetts Judges’ Conference, spent twoweeks assisting the Bahraini Ministry of Justice (MOJ) with the process forselecting judges. He provided the Bahraini officials with an extensive sample of interview and application questions they might use when screening judicial candidates.

“Because there is no bar exam, and no long tradition of outreach to select judges,” McDonough stated, “it is very important for the Bahrainis to develop aprocess that selects applicants based on legal skills and personal character.This process must be done in a manner which guarantees integrity to the applicants and the public, free of bias or favoritism.”

Templeman, chief of the Court Security Office at the Administrative Officeof the US Courts, traveled to Bahrain to help the MOJ to determine whether itscurrent balance between openness and security in the courts was appropriate. During his discussions with the Bahrainis, Templeman explainedthat the courts and staff offices must be adequately safe and secure to allow the parties, the public, and judges to render justice without fear.

“It was quite interesting to learn,” Templeman noted, “that the Bahraini courts have some of the same concerns that vex the federal and state court systems in the United States.”

During the visit, the two met with high-level officials including Bahrain’s Attorney General, Senior Advocate General, Chief Prosecutor and other senior members of the Ministry of Justice and the judiciary. Both McDonough and Templeman were impressed by the Bahrainis’ commitment to introducing reform.

For more information, contact Liz Candler, <candlerl@staff.abanet.org>.

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