On May 31, Peteris Dzalbe, the Chair of the Department of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court, met with US federal judge Richard Stearns, who arrived in Latvia to identify issues regarding which the US government could support Latvia in strengthening its rule of law.

The judges asserted – although the American and Latvian judicial systems are different, the judicial problems are similar, therefore mutual exchange of experience could be useful.

Being aware that Latvia's problem is lengthy proceedings, Mr. Stearns shared his experience in how they deal with this problem in the US. Firstly, by the settlement process – the accused is found guilty and the prosecutor and the accused agree on a sentence. In America, about 97% of criminal cases are settled in such a process. Secondly, judges are accountable for the effectiveness of the proceedings.

Judge Stearns called on Latvian judges to be stricter in conducting judicial proceedings, ensuring respect for the court. Namely, ensuring that there are no delays in court proceedings on grounds that one of the participants or their representatives do not appear at the hearing, thus hindering the proceedings. The Chair of the Department of Criminal Cases, as the most common reason for postponement of cases, referred to the absence of the participants to the proceedings due to health problems confirmed by a medical certificate.

The United States is ready to share its experience with Latvia in implementing a unified sentencing policy.

Judge Richard Stearns’ visit to Latvia was organized by the US Embassy.


Information prepared by

Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: +371 67020396, +371 2865221