Judicial Conference fosters fellowship, professional development for Salah ad Din judges
March 22, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq - Voices clamoring "Soura, Soura" filled the air amid camera flashes and cigarette smoke as nearly 50 judges from Salah ad Din province met Mar. 12-14 for a judicial conference in Sulyamaniah.
The two-day conference was sponsored by the Salah ad Din Provincial Reconstruction Team and the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, but the organization of the conference was led by the judges themselves. They selected the conference location, set the agenda and selected speakers for each of the sessions.
Topics at the conference included civil law, criminal law and the security agreement as it relates to both the Iraqi-led warrant and investigation process and the transition of Coalition Forces out of the cities by June 30.
The judges invited MG Hamid, the provincial police chief, to be a featured speaker during the criminal law portion of the conference. It was the first time many of the judges present had had the opportunity to meet with Hamid. He brought his two lead investigating officers to the conference; the three policemen participated in a lively discussion with the judges about increasing coordination between investigating judges and investigating officers to effectively build cases against criminals and terrorists.
"The benefit of this conference is the wide-ranging discussion about investigative techniques and speaking about the issues that we as judges face, and trying to fix them in coordination with the Coalition Forces" said one of the judges.
"It really made me happy to see all the judges gathered together" said Joe Mott, the Salah ad Din PRT Rule of Law coordinator. Mott has been working with the judges for more than 15 months and has seen them transition from heavily guarded courtrooms on Iraqi military compounds to more traditional courtrooms as the security situation steadily improved in the province.
This is the first professional development conference the judges have had as a group since 2003 and is also the first time many of the judges had met each other, he added. The judges took advantage of the conference to get to know new friends and reconnect with old ones; session breaks were filled with impromptu photo ops as they posed for snapshots with each other.
The major benefit for a conference like this is the personal relationships the judges built during breaks and in the evening after the conference was complete for the day, said Maj. Katherine Krul, the 3rd Bde., 25th Inf. Div. brigade judge advocate. Mott and Krul both helped coordinate the logistical details for the conference.
"I liked the coordination and exchange of experience between the judges and the opportunity to meet all the judges in the province" said another judge. Many of the judges agreed they would like to make professional development conferences a more regular event.