The USAID New Justice Program assisted the National School of Judges (NSJ) with developing cooperation with the National Judicial College in Reno (USA) which resulted in holding a series of webinars on judicial response to COVID-19.
The webinars covered critical issues facing the Ukrainian judiciary today. They provided an opportunity for 480 judges, lawyers, and court administrators from throughout the country to learn from U.S. judicial experience in responding to COVID-19 and discuss steps taken by the Ukrainian judiciary related to the pandemic.
“In view of the quarantine imposed in Ukraine, we combined our efforts and conducted a series of webinars for judges and court staff jointly with the National School of Judges and National Judicial College. Such format enabled us to share experience of working under conditions of the pandemic,” pointed out David Vaughn, the USAID New Justice Program Chief of Party. “We are committed to use all our resources in order to help the judiciary respond to the current challenges and facilitate implementation of innovative approaches and solutions.”
The webinar titled “The Role of the Judge and Court Administrator in a Pandemic“, which was conducted by Charles LaVerdiere, Chief Judge, Maine District Court (Ret.), and Bohdan Monich, Chair of the Council of Judges of Ukraine, Judge of the Seventh Appellate Administrative Court, enabled participants to gain a better understanding of their role in responding to COVID-19 and learned how to find a balance between human rights protection and ensuring public safety under the pandemic conditions.
The second webinar was devoted to key elements of successful mediation programs. Mediator and Dispute Management Strategist Nancy Neal Yeend, Judge of the Kyiv District Court of the City of Odesa Volodymyr Petrenko, and President of the Ukrainian Academy of Mediation Luiza Romanadze familiarized the participants with opportunities for resolving cases during the period of social distancing thanks to mediation and demonstrated advantages of medication as a supportive mechanism for judges and court staff for the purpose of ensuring access to justice.
Mindfulness and Stress-Reduction in Trying Times became the concluding topic of the series. Judge Patricia Blackmon, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Judge Linda Diaz, Dade County, Florida, Judge Lee Sinclair, Stark County, Ohio, and Hanna Savchenko, Head of the Office of Psychological Preparation of Judges, National School of Judges of Ukraine, demonstrated to the participants how to apply mindfulness techniques in personal and professional lives in order to attain psycho-emotional balance, make rational decisions, develop tolerance to stressful situation, and unlock own potential.
In his estimation of the joint efforts outcomes, Rector of the National School of Judges Mykola Onishchuk emphasized that this was a vivid example of long and fruitful cooperation between the NSJ and USAID New Justice Program. “Such timely and useful webinars, which involve a large number of Ukrainian judges, help us to promptly engage in coverage of important aspects of judicial activities and specifics of management and communications in courts during at the time of pandemic wherever we are situated – at home or at the work place”, stressed Mr. Onishchuk.
According to William J. Brunson, Special Projects Director of the National Judicial College, a positive feedback from the Ukrainian audience of the webinars evidences that the NSJ and USAID New Justice Program were able to do a needs assessment to find out what the Ukrainian judges need to know and then provide this education.
“It has been such a pleasure to work with the NSJ, USAID and its New Justice Program, they did wonderful job”, – mentioned the representative of the National Judicial College.
The cooperation between the National School of Judges and National Judicial College will continue.
Webinar participants’ feedback:
“Excellent webinar, keep on going this way”
“I hope to be able to participate in similar programs again”
“Thank you, I got answers to all my questions”
“It was interesting to learn experience from the United States”
“Prospects for court-annexed mediation from the perspectives of a judge toward this process is inspiring”
“Thanks for the webinar, very informative, useful and interesting”
“Thank you for the high level of the training and sharing knowledge”