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Russian Judges Study U.S. Judicial System in Omaha and Lincoln on Open World Program
June 10, 2005

For Immediate Release

Washington, DC – Five prominent Russian judges will visit Omaha and Lincoln June 11–17 on the Open World Program to examine U.S. legal principles and practices. Chief U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Bataillon, District of Nebraska, will host their study trip, with assistance from U.S. District Judges Lyle E. Strom and Laurie Smith Camp and the Rotary Club of Omaha. Managed by the Open World Leadership Center, an independent agency located at the Library of Congress, Open World is the only exchange program in the U.S. legislative branch, and its four-year-old rule of law program is the largest U.S.-Russia judicial exchange.

Through Open World’s rule of law program, Russian jurists get an inside look at the U.S. judicial system and develop ties with the U.S. judges who organize their professional programs. Participants not only learn about U.S. judicial procedures, but also gain insight into how our political system promotes judicial independence and the rule of law. The Russian judges traveling to Nebraska are especially interested in studying jury selection and the judge’s role in a jury trial in the United States, as Russia has only recently reintroduced trial by jury nationwide.

Highlights of the Russians’ Omaha stay include observing a criminal trial and a sentencing hearing; discussing First Amendment issues with Omaha World-Herald Executive Editor Larry King; holding talks with U.S. Eighth Circuit Judge William Jay Riley, state District Judge Patricia A. Lamberty, the U.S. and county attorneys, and federal and county public defenders; attending a bench and bar panel discussion at Creighton University and a Rotary lunch; and taking part in a roundtable with federal court officers. The delegates will also be guests at a reception at the Joslyn Art Museum that is expected to be attended by Mayor Mike Fahey, state senators, and Rotary members. Open World trustee Walter Scott of Level 3 Communications and Library of Congress Madison Council member Michael Yanney of America First are holding a dinner for the Russian delegates and their U.S. host judges at the Omaha Country Club.

In Lincoln (June 14), the Russians will meet with state Supreme Court Chief Justice John Hendry and Justices John Gerrard and Kenneth Stephan, tour the state penitentiary, and discuss juvenile justice issues during a luncheon at the Nebraska State Bar Association. The visit wraps up with a roundtable with federal judges and an introduction to the national pastime at the College Baseball World Series.

Nebraska’s Open World visitors are Judges Aleksandr Besedin (Lipetsk Region Court), Yuliya Orlovskaya (Orel Region Court), Aleksandr Pavlov (Samara Region Court), Anatoliy Platonov (Ryazan Region Court), and Tatyana Romanova (Moscow Region Court). In addition to his court duties, Judge Besedin teaches criminal law and serves on the committee that qualifies judges for his region; Judge Pavlov also serves on his region’s judicial qualifying panel and chairs a committee of judges who decide criminal cases in the city of Togliatti, which has not yet implemented the jury system; and Judge Platonov sits on the Ryazan Region Council of Judges, a judicial policy-making body.

Reports Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, Open World’s board chairman, “The value of Open World’s rule of law exchanges to the Russian jurists and their U.S. host judges has been affirmed at the highest level of both nations’ judiciaries, most recently in March, when U.S. and Russian Supreme Court justices and senior U.S. judges met during an Open World–sponsored visit to discuss rule of law issues, judicial reform in Russia, and future cooperation. I am pleased that the distinguished delegates traveling to Omaha will have the opportunity to work with so many of their Nebraska counterparts and to meet so many community leaders, including my fellow Open World board member Walter Scott and Library of Congress benefactor Michael Yanney.”

The Open World Program allows emerging political and civic leaders from Russia and other countries to work with their U.S. counterparts and see American-style democracy in action. More than 9,000 participants from all 89 Russian regions have stayed in all 50 U.S. states since Open World began in 1999. Open World also has exchanges with Lithuania, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Open World delegates range from members of parliament to mayors, from innovative NGO directors to independent journalists, and from regional administrators to political activists. Visit themes include economic development, women’s leadership, and local governance.

Federal host judges for Open World’s rule of law program are recruited and assisted by the International Judicial Relations Committee of the U.S. Judicial Conference and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. Rotary International, the parent organization of the Rotary Club of Omaha, is one of Open World’s main hosting partners.

For more information on this visit, please contact M. Therese Bollerup at 402-661-7379 or George Felcyn at 202-466-6210. For information on Open World, please see