Russian Jurists Visit Las Vegas
Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, NV)
Posted on October 21, 2002
By Jace Radke
Sidorenko knows the Russian judicial system still has a long way to go, but on Saturday he saw what he hopes will be the future of justice in his country as he visited the George Federal Building in Las Vegas.
"This is the standard we are striving for," Sidorenko said Saturday through an interpreter as he stood outside the courthouse. "We still don't have buildings like this in Russia, but we are building now and we're beginning to use the new technologies available for court reporting and teleconferencing.
"This is what we're aiming for."
Sidorenko was in Las Vegas over the weekend as part of the Library of Congress Open World Program. The program has invited 2,600 emerging Russian political leaders to the United States to assist in building a democracy and market economy in the former Soviet Union.
Sidorenko, who was also joined by two high-ranking officials with the Russian Judicial Department, has also visited New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago over the past three weeks, but was looking forward to seeing the building named after his friend, U.S. District Senior Judge Lloyd George.
George has traveled to Russia more than 15 times since 1991 to share his expertise with Russian officials who have taken on the task of building a judicial system.
Over the past decade Russia courts have become more independent, and now a citizen can lodge complaints and challenge the actions of the government and its officials. Another change is that arrests, searches, wiretaps and freezing of accounts can only be accomplished by the court order of a judge.
A local system of municipal courts have been established to take some of the burden off the rest of Russia's court system, which is entirely federal, said Sidorenko, who also serves as chair of the Russian Federation's Council of Judges.
Beginning in 2003 jury trials will be introduced throughout the country. From 1917 to 1994 there were no jury trials in Russia, and since then only nine of the country's 89 regions have adopted the method.
"It's taken 200 years since the founding fathers for our judicial system to get to where it is today, and I think the history books will count Justice Sidorenko as a founding father of the Russian system," George said. "What has been done in the last 10 years in Russia has been amazing."
Sidorenko said that the accomplishments have been greatly helped and influenced by George and other American judges.
"It has greatly helped us with the reform of our system to be able to see what has been accomplished in America," Sidorenko said. "The support of American judges strengthens us in our fight for our newly gained independence.
"We see how Americans respect the law and judges, and we want to have that in Russia."
Both Sidorenko and George received keys to the city of Las Vegas from Mayor Oscar Goodman, who said that it was a long overdue honor for George.
"I wouldn't have been able to do what I've done in the downtown area without Judge George," Goodman said. "This building that he is largely responsible for is the prototype for what we are trying to do in this area."
© 2002, The Las Vegas Sun. Used with permission.
[Reprinted with Permission]