Recently returned from the Balkans. For four days – June 29-July 2, 2015, my co-instructor Margaret Bodman (a prosecutor from Columbia, South Carolina and experienced trial advocacy teacher) and I (Ron Clark) conducted a train-the-trial-advocacy-trainers’ course in Prishtina, Kosovo. The course was held under the auspices of the Justice Department’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development and Training (OPDAT). Resident Legal Advisors Michelle Lakomy and Constantine Soupios were in charge of the program. The overarching goal of the course was to spread the rule of law in Kosovo.
Our audience was composed of Kosovo judges, defense attorneys and prosecutors who will in turn be teaching trial advocacy concepts and skills to other lawyers and judges throughout Kosovo.
Much of our discussions centered on cross-examination. The participants made it clear that cross was the most challenging of trial advocacy subjects to master and to teach to other Kosovars. Margaret pointed out that likewise in the United States it is considered one of our most challenging advocacy skills to learn and teach. During our training, the participants practiced cross-examination (pictured above) and how to effectively critique cross-examinations, which they will do with their students when they conduct advocacy training. It was suggested that Cross-Examination Handbook should be translated into Albanian.
One difficulty that participants expressed is that some of their judges misread their recently adopted Code to require, rather than permit, only leading questions on cross. While asking only leading questions is good technique (some may say a commandment), there can be exceptions.
This was my second opportunity to teach for OPDAT in Kosovo, and, once again, it was an honor and pleasure to work with these receptive and wonderful lawyers and judges in one of the newest countries in the world as it recovers from its recent, war-torn past. Below is a picture of Margaret and me presenting one of the participants with a certificate of completion for the course.