DLA Piper Lawyers Travel to Guyana for Justice Reform Project

DLA Piper Lawyers Travel to Guyana for Justice Reform Project

New Perimeter, DLA Piper’s non-profit affiliate dedicated exclusively to global pro bono work, recently assembled a multi-disciplinary team of lawyers to assist with a large-scale program to reform the judicial system in Guyana, South America.

At the direct request of the Government of Guyana, 15 lawyers from 12 of DLA Piper’s offices in the United States and United Kingdom, along with Washington D.C. Superior Court Judge Truman Morrison, participated in an innovative project to draft manuals and train Guyanese magistrates and prosecutors on criminal trial skills. This project is one component of Guyana’s Justice Sector Modernization Program, in which the government has invested considerable resources over the past five years, with the support of multilateral institutions and lenders.

“We are proud to have assisted the Guyanese government in its ambitious efforts to modernize the country’s justice system,” said Kristen Abrams, International Pro Bono Counsel for New Perimeter, who helped lead the DLA Piper pro bono team. “This project provided a unique opportunity for our lawyers to bring their diverse experience to bear in an interactive and collaborative environment with Guyanese magistrates and prosecutors that led to a tremendous exchange of ideas.”

At the project’s launch in January 2011, DLA Piper lawyers began drafting comprehensive trial practice resource manuals for magistrates and prosecutors. In late March, 13 of the DLA Piper lawyers spent a week in Guyana where they utilized the information in the manuals to provide simulation-based workshops to Guyanese magistrates and prosecutors.

The magistrate training involved sessions with nearly all of Guyana’s magistrates on advanced trial management skills, a new anti-money laundering and asset forfeiture law, and international best practices in bail setting. In addition, New Perimeter trained more than 40 police prosecutors, prosecutors and senior investigators on such trial skills as presenting and cross-examining witnesses, introducing documents and physical evidence, and establishing chain of custody for physical evidence. This training was of particular importance for police prosecutors as they are responsible for handling a high percentage of Guyana’s criminal prosecutions and have little preparation for it.

The New Perimeter team has donated nearly 2,000 hours to this pro bono initiative thus far and will continue to closely monitor justice sector reform efforts in Guyana. The team of DLA Piper lawyers responsible for implementing this project included:

• Kristen Abrams (Washington, DC): As International Pro Bono Counsel and Program Manager for New Perimeter, Kristen develops, implements and oversees a diverse range of DLA Piper’s global pro bono projects.

• Marcia Augsburger (Partner, Sacramento): Marcia has litigated criminal cases for almost 21 years and has served as Judge Pro Tem for 10 years in the Sacramento Superior Court. She has also taught international law students and holds an undergraduate degree in education.

• Mitka Baker (Associate, Washington, DC): Mitka has experience in a broad spectrum of civil and criminal litigation, and managed a mixed civil and criminal docket in her previous role as a federal clerk. She also has domestic and international legal teaching experience.

• Angela Crawford (Partner, Tampa): A former Assistant US Attorney, Angela has prosecuted various violations of federal criminal laws and has significant international legal experience.

• J. Hess (Associate, Washington, DC): J. serves as an adjunct faculty member at American University’s Washington College of Law, and has extensive experience researching and analyzing international law.

• Robert Johnston (Associate, New York): Robert’s litigation practice involves conducting investigations of money laundering and other white collar crimes, and he has lived and worked in several international countries.

• Nicole King (Associate, Los Angeles): Nicole has significant experience in criminal justice, having worked for five years in the federal prison system where she led the development and implementation of several training programs and served as a hostage negotiator. Her family is also from Guyana.

• Megan Kraai (Partner, Baltimore): Megan regularly trains other lawyers on anti-money laundering compliance and has traveled extensively throughout Latin America.

• Sheldon Krantz (Partner, Washington, DC): Sheldon serves as Director of New Perimeter and focuses his practice on corporate and white collar criminal matters.

• Michael Lawlor (Sheffield, UK): A solicitor in DLA Piper’s litigation and regulatory team, Michael provided a vital UK perspective on the relevant issues that affect the Commonwealth country.

• Carolyn McNiven (Partner, San Francisco): Carolyn is a former criminal prosecutor and has developed and implemented training programs for attorneys and investigators. She has also participated in two criminal investigations in Guyana.

• Mark Nadeau (Partner, Phoenix): Mark is a former police officer and has had extensive experience working on complex civil and criminal cases. He also has experience with UK law and serves as an adjunct faculty member at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

• Robert Sherman (Partner, Boston): Robert has led several engagements involving challenging international legal issues in developing and developed countries. He also gained substantial grand jury investigation and presentation experience in his previous role as Massachusetts’s Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division.

• Terry Smith (Associate, Philadelphia): Terry helped develop this project as one of New Perimeter’s 2010 Fellows and traveled to Guyana twice prior to the team’s trip in March 2011.

• Peter Zeidenberg (Washington, DC): Peter has several years of trial experience as a trial attorney at the US Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice. He has also taught trial advocacy.

Launched in 2005, New Perimeter is DLA Piper’s non-profit affiliate dedicated exclusively to international pro bono work. DLA Piper attorneys are selected for New Perimeter projects on a competitive basis and work on cohesive and multi-disciplinary project teams during a multi-year commitment that typically includes spending time in-country as a key element of their assignments. Since New Perimeter’s inception, DLA Piper lawyers have donated more than 50,000 attorney hours to New Perimeter projects.

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