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On June 20, five judges from Mongolia began 10 days of training at the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law Asian Judicial Institute. The visit kicks off a pilot program that institute director Judge Joe Spurlock hopes will eventually bring Mongolia’s 300 judges to Fort Worth, Texas.The judges’ itinerary includes visits to the courts of appeals in Dallas and Fort Worth, a meeting with the Texas Supreme Court in Austin, sitting in on TWU classes and meeting with state prosecutors. The judges will also meet with U.S. District Judge Terry Means. “Mongolia was the second Communist nation in the world, becoming a Soviet satellite in 1922,” says Spurlock, who is also a TWU law professor. “In 1992, Mongolia transferred peaceably to a democratic republic form of government, with a nationally elected legislature, prime minister, president, cabinets and judiciary.” “Since they’ve just gotten free of a Communist system, they haven’t developed the legal system that is a reliable environment for commercial investment,” says TWU School of Law Dean Richard Gershon. “It is our hope that we can train, or really re-train, Mongolian judges to help infuse their system with safeguards that we have in their own system.” Spurlock says this involves teaching the judges to work independently, without the often heavy-handed oversight and involvement of the Communist Party. Chief Justice Ganbat Chimedlham, who is among the visiting judges, says he is particularly interested in exploring such issues as the constitutional right to a defense, appealing court decisions and ensuring judicial independence. In developing the program, Spurlock spent two weeks in Mongolia in May to observe the country’s judicial reforms first-hand. He took courses on Mongolian law and met with elected officials. He says he was impressed by the bravery with which the Mongolians are delving into a technology-driven, market economy — especially since much of the population remains nomadic, and many people still live in traditional wood-and-felt huts called gers. “From the people on the street to the president, parliament and judges, they are struggling to reach the level of sophistication that we have in this country as quickly as they can,” Spurlock says. TWU began its involvement with the Mongolian Supreme Court a few years ago, and Spurlock developed a friendship with Mongolia’s ambassador to the U.S., Choinhor, when the two collaborated on a paper about the new Mongolian Constitution. The school developed the Asian Judicial Institute contemporaneous to its alliance with the Mongolian judiciary and the development of the retraining program. Spurlock says the institute is in discussions with other Asian nations to expand its involvement in the region, but Spurlock declines to elaborate. He says the institute is also exploring ways to fund the effort to bring more Mongolian justices to the school. This involvement and the development of the institute will be a welcome complement to student recruiting efforts, says Dean Gershon. In the future, Gershon hopes the program will expand to allow TWU staff and students the chance to travel to Mongolia. “I think it’s very important for law schools to look at global markets since so many of our graduates will have to practice in a global marketplace,” Gershon says. “It is important to expose students to different cultures and legal systems.”

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