Prof. Moliterno on International Judicial Ethics

James MoliternoProfessor James E. Moliterno, the Vincent Bradford Professor of Law at Washington and Lee, recently published his article, Some Lessons from the International Judicial Front, 42 McGeorge L. Rev. 213 (2010) in the McGeorge Law Review, as part of the school’s symposium, “Judicial Ethics and Accountability: At Home and Abroad.”

In the article, Professor Moliterno discusses the complicated state of the judicial system in the former Serbian province of Kosovo. Old Napoleonic Codes exist, but slept during the communist half-century. Yugoslav laws remain. The laws of the 1990s exist but Kosovars hold them in low repute, as they were adopted by the Serb-controlled government that revoked Kosovar autonomy formerly granted by Yugoslavia. The law in force from 1999 to 2008 was adopted by UN directive and administered by the UN High Representative. The fledgling Kosovar Parliament has now adopted laws with strong Western influence.

Older judges and lawyers were educated in communist times. New judges and lawyers are educated by an uncoordinated conglomeration of NGOs in concert with the newly-formed Kosovo Bar Association and Kosovo Judicial Counsel. These judges and lawyers do not live in a U.S. culture or legal culture. They are not common law lawyers. However, the adopted lawyer and judicial ethics rules are loosely modeled on the ABA codes. In a tussle between U.S. and European NGOs and their relative influence, the U.S. style codes stand alongside the recent adoption of the French notary system, creating the common, Western European branch of the legal profession that generates official documents, especially regarding property transfers. The U.S. lawyer code, of course, does not contemplate such a lawyer.

Professor Moliterno’s article discusses the difficulty of teaching judicial ethics in such a legal environment.

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