Wading through transcripts
Mitchell Emmert - Uganda
After working on remand cases, bus crashes, gorilla trekking, Rafting the Nile, and a mild case of a parasite it's almost over. I can't believe that I'm less than a week out from finishing my time in Uganda, and it's been such a valuable and diverse experience.
After completing a project on Alternative Dispute Resolution for Justice K, who's really pushing for some innovative solutions in Uganda, I requested an opportunity to get some experience writing. He laughed and said that he didn't want to give me something boring or easy, so he'd find something "interesting." I got what I wished for when he returned with a 600 page file originating from an international shipping dispute from a trial about a year old. After a cursory reading of the original filing, transcript, plaintiff's submission, defendant's response, and plaintiff's response to the response I had so many random and seemingly unorganized facts and allegations bouncing around in my head I had no idea where to start.
Each counsel contradicted itself in their arguments, bounced around various issues when making their arguments, and recanted their admissions or denials at multiple points. I get the impression that Justice K holds attorneys to a higher standard than many of the judges and it's been interesting and humorous to hear him in court instructing them and asking why they came to court unprepared to trial. The court transcript was the most helpful it included multiple full pages of Justice K's correcting the attorneys and demanding they get to the point or asking questions that opposing counsel would fail to bring up. He's very willing to enter the discussion in order to find the best solution, and that's something that I doubt occurs much in America, but is very helpful to the system here.
After sorting things out the case wasn't really all that difficult to understand, and it was very rewarding to put something together that sorts the arguments out logically for the judge to see (at least I hope). After reading all the cases from first year classes I became somewhat cynical at judges who didn't write clear opinions, but I now have a deeper appreciation for everything they have to wade through in order to get to the end result.