On February 15, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Andris Gulans had a meeting with the new Ambassador of the United States of America Charles W. Larson.

Both the officials noted the previous successful and fruitful cooperation of the US Embassy and the Supreme Court and discussed the possibilities of further cooperation. A. Gulans expressed appreciation for the contribution of the American state officials, judges and other lawyers in strengthening the law system of Latvia and noted the most significant events of the last years – the conference organized by the Supreme Court and the American Bar on the issues of judicial ethics, and the international law conference organized last year together with the US Embassy and the Ministry of Justice, as well as the visit of the judge Samuel Elito of the US Supreme Court in the Supreme Court. Ch. Larson evaluating the successful relations expressed satisfaction that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Curt himself had a chance to visit USA, participate in international conferences and study the experience of the courts of different instances.

One of the directions of the further cooperation between USA and Latvia in the field of law could be issues of judicial ethics because, as A. Gulans noted, the Code of Ethics of the Latvian judges once was worked out in close cooperation with US lawyers. At this moment, the current issue is the development of the commission of judicial ethics which will promote practical application of this Code.

Ch. Larson noted that the understanding of ethics is closely related to the improvement of training of judges regarding what there are strict requirements in the United States. Therefore, another direction of the cooperation could be training of judges in relation to what the Ambassador mentioned both technical and professional support. A. Gulans thinks that the experience of the American lawyers and experts would be useful not only in the matters of ethics, but also in such complicated fields as disclosing and reviewing financial and economic crimes and money laundering cases, besides, specific training would be necessary not only for judges, but also for police officers and prosecutors who have to be able to disclose, investigate and pass over to the court professionally matters which have not been so frequent in Latvia till now. The Latvian lawyers would find useful the advice of the experienced colleagues also in relation to the issues on the protection of intellectual property.

Already in April, a group of experts of the US Department of Justice will visit Latvia the experience of who could be useful in working out the amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law which provide expansion of cooperation possibilities of the accused persons with the initiators of the proceedings. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court finds this experience useful not only for further promotion of the draft law, but also for explanation of the amendments to the public.

The US Ambassador was interested also in the issue of further leadership of the Supreme Court, as the term of office of A. Gulans expires in July. Ch. Larson admitted that he as a lawyer is aware of the significance of the personality of Gulans in the development of the court system, strengthening of the principles of ethics and the rule of law, in the prevention of corruption in Latvia, therefore he would like to hope that A. Gulans would choose to remain in the position of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for another term. At this moment, A. Gulans does not consider such an option because he thinks that for the development of the democratic traditions, after two terms of office, what in total makes up 14 years, a chance should be given to somebody else to assume the responsibility, besides, the nomination of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is within the competence of the general meeting of the Supreme Court judges, and within the competence of the Saeima (Parliament) – the confirmation. The US Ambassador noted with a smile that the US President Washington once declined repeated candidacy to the position of the President referring to the same arguments of democracy, and expressed hope that the next nominee to the position of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would continue the “way of thinking and advancement to ethics in justice”.

Charles Larson submitted the letter of accreditation to the State President of Latvia on February 12, replacing Katherine Todd Bailey in the position of the US Ambassador. The politician from the State of Iowa was nominated to the position of the US Ambassador by the US President George Bush, and his candidature was confirmed by the US Senate. Larson, 39, was a partner in the public relations company “Lincoln Strategies Group”, as well as a lawyer in the military reserves of the US Army. Larson has a major’s rank, he has served in Iraq.

Information prepared by Division of Communications of the Supreme Court

Author: Rasma Zvejniece, Manager of the Division of Communications of the Supreme Court

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: 7020396, 28652211