South American Exchange Program Provides Judges with New Insights and Perspectives about Domestic Violence and Courts
Retired Baltimore City District Judge Nancy B. Shuger is planning a weeklong program this fall to host a delegation of judges and attorneys from Argentina as part of an ongoing domestic violence initiative.
In the spring of 2011, Judge Shuger was part of a delegation of Maryland judges and attorneys that visited Argentina to observe and study how the legal system in that country addresses domestic violence. The visit followed a visit by the Argentine delegation to Maryland in 2010. During both visits the judges and lawyers involved taught each other about how their respective legal systems address domestic violence. “Above all, from this exchange, so far we have learned that, while our approaches to this issue may vary, we share a strong commitment to address effectively a problem of great concern to our respective societies. We have learned a lot from each other, and hope to continue the exchange in the future,” Judge Shuger said.
While in Argentina, the Maryland delegation members were observing court proceedings in Cordoba when a controversial decision was handed down – a defendant charged with intent to kill his wife by stabbing her 20 times received a minor sentence and was freed. After the surprising decision, the Maryland delegation members met with their hosting colleagues to discuss “domestic violence from different perspectives.”
The visit was organized by Argentina’s Forum of Studies for the Administration of Justice (FORES). The delegation from Maryland included Judge Shuger, retired Judge Alan M. Wilner of the Court of Appeals, state’s attorney Michelle D. Samoryk and Dorothy J. Lennig, legal director of the House of Ruth.
“The purpose of the visits is to build on our exchange of attorneys between Argentina and the State of Maryland, and from that exchange increase each other’s knowledge,” Judge Shuger said. “Even though our judicial systems are different, it is very interesting and informative to study how the same problems are resolved. We have learned much by immersing ourselves in this judicial exchange. Independent of the differences in our systems, our goals remain the same. A person-to-person experience like this exemplifies ‘handshake diplomacy’ at its best.”
Judges and attorneys who are interested in participating in this exchange should contact Maryland District Court Judge Nancy Shuger (Ret): Nancy.Shuger@mdcourts.gov.