Judicial Skills Development Seminars for Shanghai Judges

2002-2013

 Overview

The East Asian Legal Studies Center and the Shanghai High People's Court jointly sponsored a judicial skills training seminar for Shanghai judges beginning in 2002. The seminar was built on strong support and active involvement from the Wisconsin and Federal Judiciaries, as well as from University of Wisconsin Law School Faculty.

A member of the Law School faculty and Dane County Circuit Court judge traveled to Shanghai to teach a week-long intensive training session on U.S. judicial practice to about 120 new Shanghai judges. Shanghai judges were from district courts, intermediate courts, and the High People's Court.

About 20 judges who attended the training session in Shanghai, then traveled to Madison to observe courtroom proceedings, and participate in formal lectures and informal discussions with Wisconsin and federal judges, and UW Law School faculty. 

The seminars varied from year to year.

Shanghai judges at the the WI Supreme Courtroom seated where the judges sit.                                      Shanghai judges at the WI Supreme Courtroom, 2009

2013 Program: August 30- September 12, 2013. Shanghai judges began their visit to the U.S. by spending some time in Chicago before traveling to Madison. The Shanghai judges had discussions with Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson of the State of Wisconsin Supreme Court, Chief Judge William Foust, Drug Court Judge John Markson, Judge Paul Lundsten of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. The Shanghai judges observed a civil procedure, drug court, and Dane County Circuit Court trials. Lectures included “Introduction to U.S. Jurisdiction,” “Is the American Judiciary Independent,” “Eminent Domain in the State of Wisconsin,” and “Evidence and Criminal Law Issues”

2012 Program: November 23 – December 8, 2012. Shanghai judges began their visit to the U.S. by spending some time in Chicago before traveling to Madison. The Shanghai judges had discussions with Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson of the State of Wisconsin Supreme Court, Judge Paul Lundsten of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, Federal Judge Barbara Crabb, and several Dance County judges.  The Shanghai judges observed supreme court oral arguments, Dane County Circuit Court trials, and drug court. Lectures included “Introduction to U.S. Jurisdiction,” “Is the American Judiciary Independent,” “Eminent Domain in the State of Wisconsin,” “Negotiation and Mediation in the U.S. before and during Trial,” and “Scientific Evidence and Expert Witness.”

2011 Program: September 15-27, 2011. Shanghai judges began their visit to the U.S. by spending some time in Chicago before traveling to Madison- including a visit to the Chicago Bulls Basketball Museum. The Shanghai judges had discussions with Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson of the State of Wisconsin Supreme Court, Chief Judge William Foust, Drug Court Judge John Markson, Judge Paul Lundsten of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. The Shanghai judges observed a jury orientation film, civil procedure, drug court, Dane and County Circuit Court trials. Lectures included “Civil Procedure,” “Department of Justice,” “Judicial Performance Standards: A Comparative Discussion,” “Is the American Judiciary Independent,” “Issues in Appellate Court Practice: A Judicial Perspective,” and “Evidence and Criminal Law Issues.”

The 2010 Program: The eighth annual Judicial Skills Development Seminar's (November 3-17, 2010) focus was on "Judicial Power and Case Management in the American Court System."  Twenty judges from Shanghai came to Madison to participate.

The seminar included a visit to Chicago to observe the federal court (7th Circuit) and to have a video conference with ABA representatives. In Madison, their schedule included visiting the Wisconsin Supreme Court and talking with Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson; observations of jury trials at the Dane County Circuit Court including seeing some of the procedure for selecting prospective jurors; observation of the drug court in Dane County; discussions about issues concerning the Wisconsin Court of Appeals; a tour of the federal district court (Western District Wisconsin) in Madison; and lectures presented by a number of Law School teaching faculty, including Professors Cheryl Weston (American civil procedure), Susan Steingass (court-sponsored mediation and conciliation), Jessica Harrison (overview of American governmental components and the legal sources related to the governmental branches; common law analysis); Steve Hurley (criminal law and evidence issues).  A special lecture on recent judicial reforms in Russia was given by Alexei Trochev.  

Judge John Markson, who went to Shanghai earlier in the year with Center Director, Professor John Ohnesorge to teach the initial sessions of the seminar, met with the visiting judges from Shanghai, as did Appellate Court Judge Margaret Vergeront (Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District IV) and Peter Oppeneer, Clerk of Courts, federal district court (W.D. Wisconsin). 

As part of the Seminar, the group visited law firms in New York before arriving in Madison.  

The 2009 Program: Twenty-five judges came to Madison to participate in the seventh annual Judicial Skills Seminar from November 4 to November 13, 2009. During their stay in Madison, they met with judges from Wisconsin's circuit courts, appellate court, and supreme court.  The visiting judges participated in a Dane County judge's investiture and observed a drug court at the Dane County Circuit Court. They received an introduction to the federal court system at the U.S. Federal District Court, Western District, Wisconsin, located in Madison. Special lectures were given to the visiting judges by the Law School faculty.


The 2008 program: Eighteen judges from Shanghai came to Madison to participate in the Sixth Annual Judicial Skills Training Seminar, October 19 to November 7, 2008. The judges ended their first week with a visit to the American Bar Association in Chicago and observation of oral arguments heard by the federal Court of Appeals of the 7th Circuit. They made many observations in the trial court in Madison and also visited the 7th Circuit District Court, Western District of Wisconsin, located in Madison. Many Law School faculty and area attorneys presented special lectures to the group as part of their three-week seminar.


The 2007 program: Twenty judges from Shanghai participated in the Fifth Annual Judicial Skills Training Seminar July 21- August 11, 2007. During each of the programs, judges from the Shanghai district courts, intermediate courts, and the High People's Court participate in courtroom observations, formal lectures, and informal discussions with Wisconsin and federal judges, and with faculty from the University of Wisconsin Law School. The 2007 program began in Shanghai during the week of June 9, 2007, in Shanghai, when four judges from the Dane County Circuit Court, Judges Michael Nowakowski, Angela Bartell, Sarah O'Brien, and John Albert, and Law School Professor John Ohnesorge went to Shanghai to teach the first section of the program. The judges began the U.S. part of the program with a trip to Minneapolis/St. Paul to meet with members of the federal judiciary. (See photo on this page.) Their program continued in Madison with extensive court observations, discussions with judges, and classes at the Law School. The program concluded on August 11, 2007, in Madison.

2006 Program: June 4-10 (Shanghai) July 15-Aug 5 (Madison). While in Madison the judges observed several Dane County Circuit Courts including Drug treatment court (Community rectification), civil procedure, and teen court. To the extent practicable, all the observations in the Dane County Circuit Courts involved meeting with the judges before the cases were heard and, when possible, after the hearings. The Dane County judges were asked to schedule motion hearings on discovery disputes, civil procedure and evidence during the observation sessions. Judges visited the Wisconsin Supreme Court and met with Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, and the Federal Court House to meet with Chief Judge Barbara Crabb.

Lectures included “Westlaw computer research training,” “Case Management,” “Intellectual Property,” “Writing Judicial options,” “The scope of judicial review,” “Court sponsored mediation and conciliation,” “Civil Procedure,” “Alternative dispute resolution-arbitration,” “Simplifying judicial administration, including the use of small claims procedures,” “Issues in Appellate Court Practice: A Judicial Perspective from Judge Margaret Vergeront,” and “Judicial ethics panel discussion” including: Ensuring judicial impartiality, Substantive and procedural justice, Independence, Neutrality, Non-discrimination, Enhancement of judicial efficiency, Judicial corruption, Observance of judicial decorum, Self-improvement, Limitation of extra-judicial activities.

2006’s program included a visit to Minneapolis/St. Paul where the judges heard lectures on “Judicial independence” and had an open discussion with Federal Circuit and District Court judges. Their visit included visits to the Federal Courthouse in Minneapolis for a tour of the Minnesota Supreme Court, the Hennepin County Courthouse to observe first appearances in County Court, and the Ramsey County Juvenile Facility for a roundtable discussion with Judge Paul Magnuson.

2005 Program: August 21 - 27, (Shanghai) October 15 – November 5 (Madison), 2005.

While in Madison the judges observed several Dane County Circuit Courts including Drug treatment court (Community rectification), civil procedure, and teen court. To the extent practicable, all the observations in the Dane County Circuit Courts involved meeting with the judges before the cases were heard and, when possible, after the hearings. The Dane County judges were asked to schedule motion hearings on discovery disputes, civil procedure and evidence during the observation sessions. Judges visited the Wisconsin Supreme Court and met with Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and hear petitions and open discussion of the hearings,” and the Federal Court House to meet with Chief Judge Barbara Crabb.

Lectures included “Westlaw computer research training,” “Evidence, with special attention to reliability,” “American Legal Sources,” “Evidence,” “American Judicial Independence,” “Settlement techniques for judges: Negotiation and mediation,” “Simplifying judicial administration, including the use of small claims procedures,” “An introduction to US Intellectual Property Laws,” “Civil Procedure,” “Alternative dispute resolution-arbitration,” “Issues in Appellate Court Practice: A Judicial Perspective from Judge Margaret Vergeront,” “International commercial disputes-what are the issues?” and  “Judicial ethics panel discussion” including: Ensuring judicial impartiality, Substantive and procedural justice, Independence, Neutrality, Non-discrimination, Enhancement of judicial efficiency, Judicial corruption, Observance of judicial decorum, Self-improvement, Limitation of extra-judicial activities.

2005’s program included a visit to Minneapolis/St. Paul where the judges heard lectures on “Judicial independence” and had an open discussion with Federal Circuit and District Court judges. Their visit included visits to the Hennepin County Courthouse to observe first appearances in County Court, the Briggs and Morgan Law Firm, the Federal Courthouse in Minneapolis for a tour of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and the Ramsey County Juvenile Facility for a roundtable discussion with Judge Paul Magnuson.

2003 Program: September 21-29, (Shanghai), October 25 - November 15 (Madison), 2003. While in Madison the judges visited the Dane County Jail, and observed several Dane County Circuit Courts including Drug treatment court (Community rectification), civil procedure, and Oral arguments in Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District IV. To the extent practicable, all the observations in the Dane County Circuit Courts involved meeting with the judges before the cases were heard and, when possible, after the hearings. The Dane County judges were asked to schedule motion hearings on discovery disputes, civil procedure and evidence during the observation sessions. The judges also watched a jury orientation film and the film “Twelve Angry Men”

Lectures included “American Legal Sources,” “Evidence,” “Alternative dispute resolution-arbitration,” “Settlement techniques for judges: Negotiation and mediation,” “Civil Procedure,” “Special Issues in judicial administration,” “Probation/parole and jail diversion programs,” ,” “Simplifying judicial administration, including the use of small claims procedures,” and “Judicial ethics panel discussion” including: Ensuring judicial impartiality, Substantive and procedural justice, Independence, Neutrality, Non-discrimination, Enhancement of judicial efficiency, Judicial corruption, Observance of judicial decorum, Self-improvement, Limitation of extra-judicial activities.

2003’s program included a visit to Chicago to meet with ABA officials and federal and state judges.

2002 Program: The University of Wisconsin Law School’s East Asian Legal Studies Center recently held a special summer program on Judicial Skills Development for 20 judges from Shanghai. The program, initiated by a request from the Shanghai High People’s Court, took place in Shanghai, China, from June 17-23 and in Madison from July 15 – August 2, 2002.  Charles Irish, professor of law and director of the East Asian Legal Studies Center at the UW Law School and organizer of the program, noted that “the philosophy of the program was to help the Chinese judiciary become more effective by offering them information about state and federal judicial administration in the U.S. so that the Chinese judges have another example to consider as they seek to reform their judicial administration.“

Dane County Chief Judge Michael Nowakowski and Law School Professor John Ohnesorge traveled to Shanghai in June to give the first week’s lectures. Judge Nowakowski commented, “We crammed into one week a primer on civil procedure, rules of evidence, court organization, concepts of case management and a history of the common law.  Interwoven in the instructional program was a regular commitment to informal discussions where the judges were encouraged to and did ask a myriad of questions on these and other topics.”

After the judges arrived in Madison in July, their weekly schedule alternated between observing trials at the Dane County courts with lectures at the Law School and occasionally at the courthouse. They were given many opportunities outside the courtroom to talk to the Dane County judges. The visiting judges observed oral arguments before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, followed by a discussion with Judge Margaret Vergeront.

The judges visited the ABA in Chicago, hearing about its Standing Committee for Judicial Independence.  Judge Barbara Crabb talked to them in her courtroom in the Federal courthouse, and three federal judges on the Judicial Conference Committee on International Judicial Relations made a special trip to Madison to be part of the program.

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