Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Pepperdine's Jim Gash has been working closely with the Ugandan Judiciary to develop and implement a system of plea bargaining in Uganda with the hopes of improving their criminal justice system and reducing the number of prisoners sitting in prison awaiting trial (sometimes as long as five years). The idea grew out of a paper two Pepperdine Law students had written for a Ugandan judge while the students were clerking for him several years ago.
I recently had the privilege of accompanying Jim on his 17th trip to Uganda in the last five years. Other participants included current and former prosecutors, public defenders, other lawyers, a current state and a current federal judge, and Pepperdine students who were spending the summer in externships in Uganda and Rwanda. The first week of the trip, I felt like a first year associate as we put in 70 hours or so, including trips to four prisons and one juvenile remand home. At the prisons, we worked in teams of an American attorney, a Ugandan defense attorney (much of the time), Pepperdine students, and Ugandan Christian University students meeting with clients in an attempt to work plea deals. You can read more about the trip and Pepperdine's work in Uganda on Jim blog, Throwing Starfish.
I greatly appreciated Jim's invitation. It was just my third trip to Uganda, and his experience and contacts will greatly enhance the experience of University of Oklahoma law students and alums as we continue our work in northern Uganda with Sr. Rosemary Nyirumbe, St. Monica's Vocational School, and Gulu University.