In response to new legislation instituting jury trials in serious murder cases in Kazakhstan, the Rule of Law Initiative's Regional Advocacy Program, in cooperation with the Union of Advocates of Kazakhstan, conducted advocacy skills training for 20 lawyers from around the country on March 15. The training was planned in coordination with the first three jury trials in the country, which occurred in Petropavlovsk, Uralsk and Almaty. Advocates from the first two trials attended the training, and they discussed their experiences participating in this new trial format. The roundtable discussion, which will be televised and featured in the magazine Advocate, centered on the significant issues and problems experienced by the first advocates to operate in the jury trial format in the country. The lack of knowledge and experience regarding how best to participate in jury selection was one of the biggest problems discussed. Other significant obstacles highlighted during the discussion were the lack of knowledge on the part of judges regarding the need to provide ample time to question the jurors, as well as the need for access by defense advocates who wish to question jurors.
Rule of Law Initiative Legal Specialist Joseph Gmuca conducted a presentation on the U.S. jury selection process and provided a description of the methods that Kazakhstani advocates may lawfully employ to determine potential juror bias during jury selection. All participants stated that they appreciated the discussion of very specific skills needed to participate in jury trials and asserted that they felt better prepared to participate in such trials as a result of the hands-on training.
The Rule of Law Initiative's Regional Advocacy Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Justice.
For more information, please contact Kazakhstan Staff Attorney Nozima Medeubayeva, at <[email protected]>.