Representatives of the USAID New Justice Program participated in a working conference to discuss draft laws envisaging the implementation of the classic jury trial in Ukraine. The conference took place at the Halych District Court in Lviv. The purpose of the event was to discuss topical issues in the light of the Government’s draft laws no. 2709 and No. 2710 aimed at introducing a classic jury for specific categories of cases; presentation of jury trial experience in the US and Ireland; and learning about the experience of the Halych District Court of Lviv in organizing the work with jurors to be taken into consideration when developing the bylaws supporting the implementation of the innovations proposed by the draft laws.
The event was attended by representatives of the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine, the National School of Judges of Ukraine, the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, judges, lawyers, prosecutors, academics and jurors, and representatives of international technical assistance projects that support judicial reform in Ukraine.
Participants of the event discussed the importance of educational work among judges, lawyers and prosecutors and citizens to raise their awareness of the importance of involving citizens in the process of administering justice to ensure the right to an impartial and independent trial. Representatives of the judiciary expressed concern about the proper introduction of innovations when the initiative is enacted. It was proposed to change the procedure for implementing the provisions of the law by gradually expanding the number of cases to be considered by jury selected under the new system, and to provide for challenging the decision of a judge in such cases if there are serious\substantial violations of criminal procedure.
The novelty of the draft laws is the new jury selection procedure and it also needs more detail and training.
Participants of the event were exposed to American and Irish experience of jury trial in the presentations of USAID Program COP David M. Vaughn and senior legal reform adviser of the EU Advisory Mission Thomas Flanagan (presentations can be found here). Ukrainian colleagues were interested in the experience of these countries especially that they do not have any limitation of maximum age for jurors and the possibility of exemption from juror’s obligation instead of a codified ban for some categories of people.
The results of the discussion and the specific recommendations will be forwarded to the members of the relevant Legal Policy Committee and Law Enforcement Committee to be taken into consideration during the discussion of these drafts at the joint hearing of the above committees scheduled for February 12, 2020.