Judicial Cooperation among State Courts in Europe and the U.S.: A Comparative Approach– this was the subject of the international judicial conference, which took place in Florence on the 13th and 14th of December. Ivars Bickovics, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, also participated in this conference. “Although court systems and hierarchy differ, it is interesting and useful to hear an experience and to compare creation of united legal space in one and another system”, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court said.

Each member state of the European Union has its own legal and its own court system, but there are also joint judicial institutions, for example, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice. In its turn, each state in the USA has its own legislation, and it is very different, for example, the capital punishment is the death penalty in several states, and in several states it is abolished. The highest judicial institutional level above state courts is level of Federal courts.

Seven blocks of discussions of the conference were designed in a way, so that one reporter from the European Union and one reporter from the USA for each subject, and reports were followed by discussions.   

When reporting on new directions and instruments in cooperation of courts, Irmgard Griss, the Chair of the Supreme Court of Austria told about initiatives of the Network of the Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the European Union, and Christine M. Durham, the Chief Justice of Utah Supreme Court – about role of conference of Chiefs Justices of states of the USA.   

In subject about different models of judicial cooperation, reporters told about role of the European institutions, and representatives of the USA – about impact of American Legal Institute in unification of legislation, cooperation between state courts and federal courts of the USA and Committee on United Law.   

Legal scientists and practitioners discussed constitutional and other obstacles in judicial cooperation, future perspectives and other issues.

Supreme Courts of the European Union were represented at the conference by Irmgard Griss, the Chair of the Supreme Court of Austria, the president of the Network of the Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the European Union and representatives of sixteen Supreme Courts of other countries of the EU, and the USA was represented by Shirley S. Abrahamson, Christine M. Durham, Wallace B. Jefferson and Margaret H. Marshall – Chief Justices of Supreme Courts of Wisconsin, Utah, Texas and Massachusetts, and Jonathan Lippman, the Chief Justice of the New York Court of Appeal. Range of leading legal scientists from the European University Institute, Hague International Legal Institute, Universities of New York and Florence and Brookings Institution also participated in work of the conference.    

Conference, which took place in the European University Institute in Florence, in Italy, was organised by Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, Institute of Judicial Administration of the New York University, and the Network of the Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the European Union. The Supreme Court of the Republic of Latvia has operated in this network since 2004.


Information prepared by

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

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: 67020396, 28652211