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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Life in Uganda

Kyle Smith- Kampala, Uganda

The Ugandan culture is very interesting and the people here are great.  Of course, it's a developing country and I've seen some pretty heart wrenching sights...stuff that no human should have to go through.  I guess the biggest is all the young children that live on the streets, many of whom have small babies (younger siblings) that they are caring for.  The traffic in Kampala is a zoo, people drive all over the road.  I have begun taking the boda boda's (a large moped/dirt bike taxi) around town.  I have to negotiate down from the standard "white man" price to a more reasonable local price. I also have to threaten not to pay them if they scare me with their crazy driving...

Work at the court is going really well.  I have met most of the judges in the anti-corruption court and it has been a lot of fun getting to know them. Instead of addressing the judges as "your honor" they are referred to as "your worship" and "your lordship," which has taken some getting used to.  I'm working with another intern from Kampala who just graduated from a local law school.  He's a super cool guy and has taken the initiative to show me the ropes.  We've had some great conversations about the American legal system as compared to that of Uganda and I was surprised how similar the two systems are!

I have been primarily working on legal research for one of the judges. He is interested in seeing how the American courts have handled corruption and is adopting some of the techniques into Ugandan jurisprudence. I've also been given a few case files to prepare briefs for prior to the judgment hearing. It has been really interesting to write briefs on these cases and then see them play out in court.

Some of the most rewarding work I have been involved in has been with the Naguru remand home. Each Pepperdine student was assigned a few "clients" to write summary briefs on in order to push their case through the court system. This is a much-needed work because many of these children have been in the remand home for some time without being formally sentenced. We got the feeling that many of these kids were innocent based on their own testimony and the lack of evidence against them. We are hoping that their cases are heard in July and many of them dismissed at that point.

Two weekends ago we went on a safari in Murchison Falls. It was an incredible experience and we got some awesome photos to share. It was my first time seeing elephants and giraffes outside of a zoo setting. We were also fortunate enough to see a leopard (which I hear are very difficult to encounter on safaris). We are planning on going gorilla tracking this weekend and will likely have some awesome stories to share from that experience!