CHARLESTON – West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals representatives recently met with a group of Mongolian judges to discuss the role of the Supreme Court and the appeal process, court administration, electronic filing and other judicial matters.

Chief Justice Allen H. Loughry II and Supreme Court Administrative Director Gary Johnson met with the judges July 27.

“Even though these judges came to West Virginia to learn about our judicial system, we also learn from them,” Loughry told The West Virginia Record.

Loughry said that, “while it is clear that each country has a unique history and develops its own system,” there are also similarities in the countries’ justice systems.

“The judges I spoke with expressed their desire to have a system of justice that is fair and to have well-trained judges,” Loughry said. “This is obviously a viewpoint shared by me and by all of the judges in our judicial system.”

According to the release, the Mongolian judges’ experience with the West Virginia court system was planned by the Center for International Understanding, a non-partisan organization based in Princeton.

The court said the center, along with the Open World Rule of Law Program and the U.S. Department of State, brings professionals from emerging democracies to Appalachia to learn about American government. Since the center opened in 1988, representatives from more than 70 countries have visited West Virginia.

While in West Virginia, the Mongolian judges watched a circuit court sentencing hearing, a family court hearing and a video arraignment in magistrate court.

Loughry said programs like those run by the center are important because “it is in the best interest of the United States to discuss our judicial system with leaders from other countries.”

“The judicial branch is the cornerstone of democracy, and this program allows West Virginia judicial officials to help educate others about our system of government,” Loughry said. “It allows us to share with them the importance of an independent judiciary that makes rulings based upon the law and not based upon external influences.”

Loughry said the West Virginia court system has been involved in this program for years and has had visitors from many countries.

“I am hopeful that visiting judges learn the value of our democracy and value of the rule of law,” he said. “They are able to see how legal disputes are decided in open court for the entire world to see. I am hopeful they learn that the level of transparency in our judicial system also leads to trust in the judiciary by our citizens.”

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