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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Counsel to Secure Justice, India

by Richard L.

For the past three weeks, I have been working for Counsel to Secure Justice (CSJ) in New Delhi, India. It is the first time for me to visit India, and I have already fallen in love with what I do here.

The gist of my work is researching the current Indian jurisprudence and briefing CSJ on the topics that I am assigned to. I am currently working on a memo advising my organization on how to utilize psychologists as expert witnesses during rape trials. As I read through the cases from the Indian legal database Manupatra.com, I am exposed to a different but similar legal system. The current Indian judiciary models after the British system, which is composed of a system of trial courts, high courts, and one supreme court. Even though India is an ancient country, its judicial system was not established until 1947, when it achieved independence from the British Empire. Therefore, comparing to Westlaw or LexisNexis, the number of cases in Manupatra is significantly fewer. Also, the system does not shephardize. This made it quite time-consuming to find and confirm cases which are still good law. While this made the research experience more challenging, it offered me the opportunity to pioneer. For example, using psychologist as expert witness to prove that the victim is suffering from rape trauma syndrome is widely used in the United States. But it is unprecedented here in India. Therefore, as I research through the Indian cases which use forensic medical doctors as expert witnesses, I draw analogy and justify the use of psychologist as expert witness for rape trials.

Besides researching, I also help to create exam questions for lawyers of the organization to take. This is part of a training program which CSJ does to ensure its lawyer's familiarity with the current law.

Even though CSJ has a 9 to 6 daily schedule, the society here operates on a quite different time and pace. Nine or ten o'clock would be breakfast time, while two to three lunch, and eight to nine dinner. Additionally, the pace of life here is much slower than the United States. People seem to live and enjoy their lives a lot more, although sometimes at the cost of efficiency.