Group of Chinese judges visit Washington County Courthouse

People's Court, Intermediate Court and the High Court were represented

June 21, 2011|By DON AINES |
  • A group of Chinese jurists wait to get through security Tuesday at Washington County Circuit Court. They visited the court to observe criminal court.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

They were in this country to learn about antitrust law, but a group of 19 Chinese jurists and their interpreter stopped in the Washington County Courthouse in Hagerstown Tuesday afternoon to watch a criminal proceeding.

"Today a prisoner who was previously sentenced is attacking the conviction," Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael explained to the group about the post-conviction hearing.

The defendant, he told them, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in 2004 in exchange for an 18-month sentence and an agreement to testify against her mother.

However, the woman fled to Florida before being sentenced, was returned to Maryland last year and received a seven-year sentence, which she was now challenging as illegal, Michael told the judges.

The group was visiting Kaplan University's Hagerstown campus as part of its stay in the United States, said Larry Glenn, Kaplan's director of work-force development. It was the second group of Chinese judges to come to the campus in the past two years.

The judges were from Guangxi Province, a coastal province in southeast China, and represented three levels of the Chinese judiciary — People's Court, Intermediate Court and the High Court, Glenn said.

Through interpreter Anna Xie, the judges said that in China, as in the United States, judges hear criminal and civil cases, "and they need to pass something similar to the bar exam."

Unlike some states, where judges are elected, judges in China are appointed "by a representative of the people," Xie said.

Stops on the group's tour included Georgetown University, a federal court and the Federal Trade Commission, said Maura Donley, an adjunct work-force development instructor at Kaplan.

The university has been working with the government of the People's Republic of China for about six years, providing training to groups in leadership and management, law, human resources and other disciplines, Glenn said.

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