08TBILISI556, PRELIMINARY LOOK–JUDICIAL REFORM INDICATORS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI556 2008-04-04 13:16 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO3588
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #0556 0951316
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041316Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9226
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L TBILISI 000556 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CARC 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/04/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM GG
SUBJECT: PRELIMINARY LOOK--JUDICIAL REFORM INDICATORS 
BETTER THAN 2005 
 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
 1.  (C)  Summary:  A independent judicial reform expert 
recently visited Georgia to evaluate progress since 2005. 
Preliminary results indicate much has been done to improve 
the professionalism, accountability and salaries of judges, 
but questions remain as to the independence of the judiciary. 
 End Summary. 
 
2.  (C) On April 3, Poloff met with Tom Cope, an independent 
contractor hired by the American Bar Association (ABA) to 
write the Judicial Reform Index (JDI) which will evaluate 
reforms made in Georgia since 2005.  Cope, who also penned 
the JDI in 2005, remembers well the situation in Georgia in 
2005 and was struck by the positive changes.  The JDI is a 
bi-annual assessment which examines over 30 factors which 
deal with quality, education and diversity; judicial powers; 
financial resources; structural safeguards; accountability 
and transparency; and efficiency. Each area is rated as 
negative, neutral or positive.  In 2005, Georgia only scored 
positively on two of the 30 factors, and fifteen factors were 
rated as negative.  Each JDI draft is sent out for a peer 
review prior to final publication which is slated for Fall 
2008. 
 
3.  (C)  Cope told Poloff that the biggest positive changes 
that he noticed are the training of judges, procedures to 
address ethics violations (he particularly lauded the passage 
of the ex parte communications law--which the U.S. strongly 
promoted), and structural improvements to court houses.  What 
particularly struck him was the attitude of judges with whom 
he spoke.  In 2005 judges seemed reluctant to talk to him, as 
many of them had been placed on the reserve list until the 
end of their terms and were not sure what the future held for 
them.  According to Cope, judges then seemed bewildered and 
confused by what was happening.  In his latest discussions 
with judges, nearly all seemed content with the progress and 
the direction of judicial reforms.  Cope said he wasn't sure 
if this indicated that the "problem makers" who disagreed 
with the administration are now out, or if the situation is 
significantly better.  Cope said his preliminary assessment 
is that judicial independence is still lacking, but is still 
evaluating the issue. 
 
4.  (C)  Comment:  ABA used the JDI as a planning tool in 
formulating its training to address deficiencies in the 
judiciary over the last two years and is hopeful that Georgia 
will do better on the 2008 assessment.  ABA training is 
currently focused on addressing legal education reforms and 
encouraging public trust within the judiciary by heightened 
public awareness campaigns and assistance to make court 
opinions accessible to counsel and the public. 
TEFFT

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