THE INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY OF TRIAL JUDGES
44th Annual Business Meeting
Judge Wendell Mortimer, President
Budapest ~ Cruise the Danube ~ Bucharest
President Wendell Mortimer & Ceil
Hon. Julian W. Bailey
Hon. Dennis Choate & Colleen
Hon. Richard O. Frazee &Elaine
Hon. Frederick P. Horn & Hon. Carolyn Kirkwood
President-elect Derek W. Hunt & Amy
Hon. Cheryl Leininger
Hon. Malcolm Mackey & Rachel
Hon. Mark Millard
Secretary Thomas Murphy & Pat
Treasurer Tully Seymour & Jan
Hon. William D. Smith & Linda
Hon. Robert Soares & Punky
Hon. James Stotler
Hon. Dickran Tevrizian & Geri
Ms. Diane Bowen, Chief Administrative Officer
Mrs. Sandra Hall
Ms. Laurie Hampton
SATURDAY: The Academy Fellows arrived and transferred to the Hilton Castle Hill Hotel in Budapest, where each room had a view of the gothic Parliament Building across the Danube on the Pest side. A Welcome Cocktail Party and Dinner was held at the famous Fisherman’s Bastion Restaurant.
SUNDAY: In the morning the group left for a full day of sightseeing in Budapest and the countryside, beginning with a tour of the inside of the Parliament Building, where the group admired the gold leaf and decorative painting throughout. This was followed by a drive into the country to Lazaar Farm for a traditional Hungarian lunch starting with Goulash, and followed by an outdoor Hungarian equestrian show featuring Lipizzaner horses. The group next toured the Royal Palace of Gödöllö, famous for being a favorite palace of Queen Elisabeth of Hungary. The group returned to Budapest, and those wishing to do so were dropped at the funicular leading up to Buda Hill to enjoy the views and explore the Bastion area. In the evening some members attended a folklore performance at the Danube Palace or a concert at St. Stephen’s Basilica.
Excerpt from Linda Smith’s trip emails: Everyone sees all those exterior pictures (in the Viking ads) but the interior is spectacular. Lots of real gold leaf and decorative painting. They told a tale about this coronation crown – that during the ceremony with King Stephen the box was brought forward with the crown to be opened – but the key was left in Vienna – so the cross on top was bent in the prying open process.
MONDAY: The group was scheduled to visit the Hungarian Constitutional Court, and were welcomed by Dr. István Stumpf, a Judge of the Constitutional Court since 2010 who studied at Harvard and George Washington Universities. He was also in Washington, D.C. during the Clinton inauguration, attending both the ceremony and a ball.
The Constitutional Court (CC), created on January 1, 1990, is the principal organ for the protection of the Hungarian Fundamental Law. It is tasked with protecting the democratic state governed by the rule of law and the constitutional order, and also to enforce the principal of the division of powers. The Fundamental Law of Hungary entered into force on January 1, 2012, following a former Act regarding the CC adopted by the last communist “reformatory” Parliament in 1989. Total constitutional reform and the first free elections were held in 1990. The CC played an important role in the transition to the new democratic system.
In 1990, judges were elected by a two-thirds majority in Parliament for a nine year term, and could be re-elected for nine more years. Since 2012, judges have been elected for 12 years and cannot be re-elected. Judge Stumpf is one of the judges who can be re-elected, but he feels he may not be because of his dissenting opinions. The Court consists of 15 judges who make decisions in plenary session, in five member panels in less significant cases, or as a single judge in strictly formal decisions. Judges must be Hungarian citizens of outstanding knowledge and have at least 20 years of professional work experience in the field of law as a lawyer, university professor or judge.
After Judge Stumpf returned to chambers, Dr. Detre László, a Legal Advisor at the court for seven years, presented a brief power point history of the CC and its duties. He highlighted some important decisions of the court regarding freedom of the press, right to a fair trial, right to peaceful assembly, access to public data, etc. Each year approximately 2,000 petitions are submitted to the CC. The CC admits the complaint only if a conflict with the Fundamental Law significantly affects the judicial decision or the case raises constitutional law issues of fundamental importance. If there are no such issues the Court refuses the admission of the case.
Following the visit to the Constitutional Court, the Academy members visited the American Embassy for a briefing arranged by Gergely Gaál, Political-Economic Analyst, who has been with the Embassy since 2011 and covers both political and rule of law issues. Other Embassy personnel included Don Brown, an Economic and Rule of Law Officer, who said the Hungarian economy is doing well and wages have been increasing quickly. Also present were Darren Christenson, a lawyer from Oregon, who has been at the Embassy for three months, and Attaché Antonia Malnarova.
Dave Kostelancik is the Chargé d’Affaires and has been the Acting Ambassador since the former Ambassador left in January of 2017. He takes very seriously questions of law and the legal process in Hungary, which is a civil society, having freedom of speech, media, association, and civil rights. It is not known when a new Ambassador will be appointed.
The Embassy officials explained that they watch the country closely for democratic backsliding, and that some of the biggest issues Hungary has today are checks and balances. They explained the history of the country and the changes since the fall of communism. They discussed the current political situation and power struggles taking place in the country which affect the composition of the courts since Parliament appoints the judges. It was noted the Constitutional Court has never overturned a decree of Parliament.
They also discussed the press and newspaper reporting, and the relationship of Hungary to the European Union. Hungary has been negatively impacted by migration and could develop some problems with refugees. Antonia Malnarova gave an overview of the “Soros Plan,” a plan to resettle one million migrants in Europe per year, from Africa and the Middle East in the EU countries, including Hungary. Recently the government published a “national consultation” on the Soros Plan, and it has been reported the Hungarian government is considering building a fence to impede the execution of the Plan.
They indicated that the Embassy’s mission is to develop a general idea of what is happening in the country and send the information to the appropriate department, such as the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. The Embassy never acts unilaterally, the orders come from Washington, D.C.
Following the meetings, the Academy group had time to explore the Central Market and have lunch. The Academy had been informed that they would not embark on the AmaWaterways cruise in Budapest as previously designated due to a bridge closure by the Serbian port authorities. It was necessary for AmaWaterways to house the passengers one more night in Budapest, and the Academy group moved to the Corinthia Hotel. A Welcome Dinner with entertainment was enjoyed at the Corinthia, and then everyone was taken on an Illuminations River Cruise of Budapest.
TUESDAY: In the morning the Academy group departed Budapest by motor coach, enjoying a lunch at the Romanov Restaurant, then continued to Novi Sad, Serbia, the second largest city in Serbia, located on the banks of the Danube. The city was devastated by bombardment during the Kosovo War of 1999, but has now been rebuilt and is a key financial center. The passengers enjoyed walking around the town, then continued to Belgrade where they embarked the AmaCerto. In 2003, the former Yugoslavia was replaced by the union of Serbia and Montenegro, and in 2006, the Republic of Serbia declared its independence.
WEDNESDAY: In the morning there was a Belgrade City Tour, which included the Kalemegdan fortress, previously the principal defensive structure for Belgrade, and the Church of Saint Sava. Built in 1935, the Church is in the process of being “completed,” and the interior is still in progress. In the afternoon, members could visit the Royal Palace. Built in the Serbian-Byzantine style from 1924 to 1929 by King Alexander and Queen Maria, the Palace was opened to the public by Alexander II and presents a history of Serbia “past and present.” Currently the Palace houses Crown Prince Alexander, who after nearly 60 years living in exile, returned permanently to his homeland in 2001 with his wife, Crown Princess Katherine, and his three sons. Next was a visit to Tito’s Memorial, the tomb of Josip Broz Tito, the President of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (who ruled the country in various positions from 1945 until his death in 1989) and his wife, Jovanka Broz. Other Academy members enjoyed a Quburich Brandy Tasting and Avala Mountain tour in the afternoon.
In the evening the group enjoyed a private dinner in the Chef’s Table Dining Room, where everyone watched the chef behind glass preparing dishes of aged beef brisket, lamb rack, corn soufflé and handmade ravioli, among other menu items, all paired with various wines of the region.
THURSDAY: Today was a “sea” day while the AmaCerto departed from Belgrade and sailed along the Danube. Named for the beautiful set of gorges through which the river flows between Serbia and Romania, the Iron Gates portion of the River is the highlight. It is an 84 mile route with cliffs over 1600 feet high and narrows to 726 feet in some portions. The Iron Gate Dam was opened in 1974 with two hydro-electric power stations and two locks to control the water’s flow. The AmaCerto docked at Vidin, Bulgaria at 9:00 p.m. for an overnight stay.
Annual Business Meeting
At 2:30 p.m., the annual business meeting was convened in the Chef’s Table Dining Room aboard the AmaCerto. President Wendell “Mort” Mortimer welcomed everyone and noted we were all happy to be on the ship and begin sailing. He noted the trip filled up very quickly and we had a waiting list of Academy members for whom we were fortunate enough to obtain cabins. Judge Mortimer thanked Diane for all her hard work with Creative Travel Planners, and in setting up the meetings at the Constitutional Court and the American Embassies.
Upon motion by Judge Seymour and second by Judge Soares, the minutes of the 2016 Ireland trip were approved as written.
The Treasurer’s Report was submitted by Judge Seymour reflecting a beginning balance of $3,327.93 as of September 18, 2016. Income derived from dues, initiation fees and scholarship donations was $5,276.58. Expenses totaled $4,487.48. The balance on hand as of October 1, 2017 was $4,007.03 (with $702.19 due to be paid). It was noted that Trinity Law School had never cashed the donation check which they were given in 2016. Diane noted she had emailed the professor but never received a reply. After discussion, it was decided Diane would again follow up with the Professor to determine if another check needs to be issued. If there is no response, no further action will be taken. Upon motion by Judge Hunt, second by Judge Tevrizian, the report was approved as presented.
The Membership Report was presented by CAO Diane Bowen and discussed. Three members are delinquent for 2016 and 2017 dues. Upon motion by Judge Frazee, second by Judge Soares, they were dropped for non-payment of dues. Six other members were delinquent for 2017 dues. (Since the meeting one member has paid.)
Thirteen new members joined the Academy, and there were two resignations. There were three pending nominations from 2015 which were declared lapsed. There were various nominations pending for 2016 and 2017. These were discussed and members will follow up on their nominations. One new nomination is pending from Judge Frazee and Sarah Guevara will write an invitation letter to the nominee.
There was discussion regarding nomination methods and procedures as set forth in the IATJ Bylaws. Motion by Judge Tevrizian and second by Judge Horn to continue to process nominations as presently defined in the Bylaws.
The Nominating Committee consisting of past-presidents of the Academy in attendance, chaired by Judge Seymour, presented the following recommendations: Judge Hunt as President, Judge Stotler as President-elect, Judges Seymour and Murphy will continue as Secretary-Treasurer (to facilitate banking). The nomination for Chancellor (and 2020 president) was opened to the floor. After discussion, Judge Leininger agreed to take the position. The nominations were moved closed and unanimously approved.
Diane Bowen presented the resume of Sarah Guevara, who she recommends as her replacement. The judges reviewed her “very impressive” resume. Guidelines for the smooth transition were formulated, and Sarah will begin working with Judge Hunt on the 2018 trip. Diane will continue some functions, but will continue to give Sarah more responsibility for Academy correspondence. Sarah will introduce herself to the Academy by email. She has developed a LinkedIn page for the Academy. Diane and Sarah will both attend the 2018 trip. Motion by Judge Frazee to approve Sarah’s appointment as CAO, second by Judge Murphy, unanimously approved.
Judge Hunt presented a tentative itinerary for the 2018 trip. It will be Southern Italy, including Sorrento and Puglia, with meetings in Naples. Cultural and scenic activities will include Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast and the Island of Capri. It will include a stay in Lecce, Puglia, known as the Florence of the South, and spending time at an authentic countryside masseria (fortified farmhouse turned hotel). An add-on could be Sicily. Judge Hunt plans to have less touring and more relaxing on this trip. Israel was discussed and Judge Stotler is very interested in Israel for the 2019 trip.
Under new business, there was discussion regarding the tax status of the Academy. Judge Seymour proposed a tax professional should review the status, and Judge Horn knows someone who could do this. Diane will send current information from her files to the officers and Judge Horn.
Diane noted all gratuities for the AmaCerto have been prepaid. Members can tip the guide for the Academy in Bucharest directly and amounts were discussed. At 4:10, the meeting was adjourned.
FRIDAY: Bulgaria is dominated by rugged mountains and Black Sea Beaches and is one of Eastern Europe’s least densely populated nations. In 1989, Communist rule ended and democratic change began. Tourists are just beginning to come to Bulgarian Black Sea resorts and to visit Rila National Park. Bulgaria is famous for producing and exporting rose oil products, such as soap, perfume and lotions. In the morning in Vidin, Academy members could choose between a Banitsa pastry and yoghurt making tour, or a Belogradchik Fortress and Baba Vida Fortress visit. Some members chose the Banitsa pastry tour and brought back samples to the group. Baba Vida is regarded as the best preserved medieval stone fortress in Bulgaria, built during the 10th and 14th centuries atop the ruins of the old Roman Citadel. The town of Belogradchik is in the Stara Planina Mountains and has gigantic rock formations shaped over a period of 230 million years, forming unique rocky obelisks, reddish sandstone castles, and oversized monuments. The Fortress sits atop a hill overlooking the town.
Excerpts from Linda Smith: We had such a great guide this morning when we went to see the rock fortress. She was very graphic in her descriptions of Soviet rule....”they could take our homes and move us to work in factories, but our beautiful land is still here.”
After lunch, the AmaCerto cruised 188 miles from Vidin to Rousse, Bulgaria, arriving in the morning.
SATURDAY: Rousse is the fifth largest city in Bulgaria. It is known for its 19th and 20th century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture and is often called the Little Vienna. In the morning, most took the tour of Veliko Tarnovo, referred to as the City of the Tsars and the ancient capital of Bulgaria, and visited an Arbanassi village, shopping in the quaint town. They then visited two Orthodox Churches. Also offered was an Ivanovo Rock Hewn Churches Hike and Rousse highlights.
Excerpt from Linda Smith: We saw two stunning Orthodox churches with beautiful frescoes even though the exteriors wouldn’t give away what was inside – they looked like regular stone houses.
After lunch the AmaCerto sailed to Giurgiu, Romania and then to Fetesti, approximately 120 miles. In the evening the group enjoyed the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail Party and Gala Dinner.
SUNDAY: In the morning there was a full day tour to Constanta and the Black Sea. Constanta, Romania was founded when Greek traders visited to exchange wines for grains. The city reached its height under the Romans when it became the main port of the Black Sea. The walking tour of the Constanta Promenade included a visit to the St. Peter & Pavel Cathedral in between religious services. Next was a visit to the National Museum of History and Archeology.
Excerpt from Linda Smith: The archaeological museum was stunning – with items from the Bronze Age on...even wooly mammoth tusks! Of course the Greco Roman sculptures were extraordinary and there were plenty of them. It was just surprising to see the quantity of artifacts, many that were out in the open and touchable. There was also the largest intact Roman mosaic found to date.
During the excursions, the AmaCerto moved from Fetesti to Oltenita, and in the late evening, sailed back to Giurgiu for disembarkation.
MONDAY: The Academy group disembarked in the morning and was met by a private bus for transportation to Bucharest. Romania became democratic in 1989, ending a long period of repression.
The Academy group visited the Bucharest International Arbitration Court (BIAC), a new independent Romania-based arbitration center established under the auspices of the American Chamber of Commerce in Romania. The BIAC focuses on business and commercial disputes in the Romanian and English languages involving foreign investors.
The group was met by Attorneys Daniel F. Visoiu and Vlad Peligrad, both members of the Administrative Council of the BIAC. Mr. Visoiu grew up in the United States, and 20 years ago came back to Central Europe to practice law in this region. The practice of law is more of a general practice rather than highly specialized. He has been involved in arbitration for the last four to five years, as arbitration has become well recognized.
Mr. Peligrad is associated with the firm of Clifford Chance Badea in Bucharest. He has been involved in arbitration for the last eight years, working also in London and Paris. He joined the BIAC a few years ago because he felt it was a great idea and something that was needed in Romania, patterned on American and German arbitration rules.
The Romanian courts are limited in the options that can be applied in accordance with the law. The courts lack specialization, i.e., IP or construction, and therefore the court’s judgments are very narrow. There are many foreign contracts coming to Bucharest and the courts have not evolved enough to address the basic issues the contracts present. In addition the cases can take four, five or six years to get before a court. It is felt that the Romanian courts are still evolving from years of public and private corruption that impeded economic growth during the 1990s, and recovering from the negative impact of the corruptive rule and are somewhat inefficient, and a work in progress. It is hoped that the BIAC will become an effective tool to attract foreign investors.
The BIAC arbitrators are independent contractors. In order to come to the BIAC the parties must have an agreement in writing that provides for arbitration. An arbitral tribunal of three arbitrators decide whether a legally valid agreement exists. The parties must agree on the arbitrators, and the governing board considers the prospective arbitrator’s relationship with the parties.
The Academy judges and the attorneys further discussed mediation and arbitration techniques and proceedings.
Following the meeting the Academy group checked into the Athenee Palace Hilton Hotel. In the afternoon the group attended a Reception at the home of Preston Savarese, Rule of Law Officer, from the Romanian American Embassy.
In addition to Preston Savarese, the group was welcomed by the following Embassy Personnel: Abby Rupp, Deputy Chief of Mission, John Julien, Deputy Head of FBI, Anca Pop, Department of Justice attorney focused on IP, Terry Kinney, Department of Justice prosecutor focused on public corruption, Monica Custura, attaché focused on IP, and Mioara Tapalaga, attaché focused on corruption.
The Embassy personnel introduced themselves, outlined their experience, and then gave an overview of Romania’s current political situation and judicial system. The major issue facing Romania is Rule of Law matters such as combating corruption and transparency. Romanians believe the United States to be their closest partner and they love the U.S. The U.S. holds a lot of sway, but doesn’t want to interfere in domestic policies. John Julien from the FBI gave a briefing to the judges of matters in which the FBI supports the Embassy.
Following the Embassy briefing, approximately 30 other guests arrived at the reception, including Romanian judges, prosecutors, legal practitioners in the rule of law area, embassy personnel, academics and some law students.
Those in attendance included Constitutional Court Judge Maya Teodoroiu, Judge Andreea Chis, Counsiliul Superior at Magistraturii (CSM), Prosecutor Nicu Solomon, CSM, Judge Alexandru Serban and Judge Horatius Dumbrava, Appeals Court, Stan Bogdan and Silviu Popa, Agentia Nationala de Integritate, and others. The Academy judges enjoyed mingling with everyone:
By Judge Jim Stotler: The most interesting and indeed striking conversation I had [at the reception] was with a Romanian prosecutor who specialized in corruption cases. He gave me additional insight into the conditions extant at least in Romania. Those conditions I would say are the consequences of communism.
By Judge Cheryl Leininger: I spoke with a recently appointed judge to the Superior Council of Magistrates, for six years, which oversees all judges and prosecutors in Romania. (They don’t have jury trials in Romania...). I don’t have the exact percentage of women judges to men judges, but it was a very high percentage. A significant majority. I think it was 80% ......
Also attending was Dean Flavius-Antoniu Baias, University of Bucharest Law School, three vice deans and three students. During the reception Academy President Mort Mortimer presented Dean Baias with a $1,000 scholarship donation to the Law School.
TUESDAY: In the first day of inclement weather, there was a full day excursion to Bran (Dracula’s) Castle scheduled and most braved the weather to see the famous Castle built in 1388. It is located at the border between Wallachia and Transylvania, and is commonly nicknamed Dracula’s Castle due to its connection with the Dracula legend. It is said that Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, took inspiration from Bran Castle as Count Dracula’s home in the story closely fits the castle’s description. Today the castle is a museum filled with art and furniture collected by Queen Marie of Romania who ruled during the 1920s and 30s. Lunch was at a restaurant and winery in the countryside. The evening was free for members to explore Bucharest.
WEDNESDAY: In the morning the Judges visited the National Institute of Magistry (NIM) to participate in an educational seminar being held. The Academy’s participation in this ongoing Romanian and Baltic Magistrate’s seminar was arranged by Preston Savarese from the American Embassy. The overall topic was “Legal English,” and the judges were welcomed by the Deputy Director of the NIM, Nina Compra and were thanked for donating their time to the NIM.
The NIM was established in 1992 to meet the need to provide highly qualified magistrates who become prosecutors or judges. It provides the initial training, and then continuous training to appointed judges and prosecutors. There are two ways to join the magistracy in Romania, the admission to NIM examination, or an admission examination taken by law school graduates who have at least five years in the practice of law. The selection process is based on professional competence and good reputation and is carried out through a competition. Usually about 200 are accepted each year out of approximately 4,000 applicants. Training lasts two years, and during the first year, trainees attend various seminars and conferences at NIM. In the second year, they work within the first instance courts and prosecutor’s offices as interns. Judicial trainees opt for their future profession as a judge or a prosecutor at the end of the first year of training.
NIM organizes continuous training courses each year, and on average hosts 240 sessions, training up to 5,000 magistrates yearly. It also has on-line courses on its website. The training staff also continues to train and keep up to date on procedures and methodologies.
The Academy judges were divided into two groups to participate with the Magistrates. Speaking in English, the judges and Magistrates analyzed a set of facts and arrived at a class consensus in deciding the facts of the legal situations provided. The Academy judges greatly enjoyed the interaction with the Magistrates, and noted their English was 100% better than our Romanian. One group consisted of judges and prosecutors from Bucharest, Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary and Germany.
While the judges participated in the seminar, the spouses visited the National Museum of Art.
After lunch the group visited the Bucharest Village Museum, an open-air ethnographic museum located in the Herăstrău Park, showcasing traditional Romanian village life. The museum contains 272 authentic peasant farms and houses from all over Romania.
In the evening the Academy group enjoyed a Farewell Dinner and entertainment at Caru cu Bere Restaurant. President-elect Derek Hunt and Amy presented President Mort Mortimer and Ceil with crystal goblets from Bran Castle as a thank you gift for all their work in planning the trip, and Mort and Ceil presented Diane with a Herend Porcelain (Queen Victoria’s favorite) bird figurine as a thank you for all her work on the trip.
THURSDAY: In the morning, members left to return home.
Written by Diane Z. Bowen, Chief Administrative Officer
I certify that all Fellows of the Academy listed above attended all the meetings of the Academy.
Wendell Mortimer, Jr.
President Wendell Mortimer, Jr.