The Open World Program is a U.S. congressionally funded initiative whose Rule of Law component seeks to strengthen relationships between the U.S. judiciary and the judiciaries of Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, and other Eurasian countries. American Councils for International Education, based in Washington, D.C., administers the Open World Program for the Open World Leadership Center.
In attendance at the event were three Open World Program alumni who were instrumental in the implementation of Georgia's first jury trials. The alumni included: Giorgi Turazashvili (Open World '07 - Atlanta, GA), a lawyer who participated in the defense team for the first jury trial in November 2011; Judge Eka Areshidze (Open World '10 - Central Islip, NY) from the Tbilisi City Court Chamber of Criminal Cases who oversaw jury selection and who was responsible for public relations around the jury trials; and Nino Tarashvili (Open World '10 - Norfolk, VA), the assistant to the presiding judge and a jury trial coordinator responsible for supervising the juries. Also present were Cultural Affairs Officer Lola Petrova and Public Affairs Assistant Sophie Bzishvili from the U.S. Embassy in Georgia.
At the roundtable session, the alumni spoke to an audience of 35 Georgian law school students who described their experiences in the first jury trials and explained how they applied the skills they gained in the Open World Program. Alumna Eka Areshidze emphasized the best practices she observed in the U.S. and how many of them were later implemented in Georgia. She noted that because of her participation in the Open World Program she was able to appreciate the importance of isolating the jury in a trial. At the close of the event, audience members thanked American Councils for giving them the opportunity to meet with the Open World Program alumni.
With cooperation from the U.S. Embassy in Georgia and the U.S. Department of Justice, the Open World Program has played a vital role in the development of the jury trial system in Georgia. The program sends groups of prosecutors, defense lawyers, court clerks, and court administrators on brief, professional visits to the U.S. where participants gain practical experience working with juries.
Click here to learn more about the Open World Program.