Local Judge Part Of Mongolian Delegation

Educating Mongolian leaders on the United States’ court system was the purpose of a delegation from the Texas Wesleyan University (TWU) School of Law on a recent 10-day trip to the former communist-ruled country.
The law school’s Asian Judicial Institute (AJI) has been working with the country since shortly after the Soviet block dissolved and a bloodless revolution led to the creation of a Democratic country in 1992.
Part of that work has been to assist with the creation of a court system similar to the United States.
That is where Hill County Judge Justin Lewis came in.
The judge hosted a fact-finding Mongolian delegation at the Hill County Courthouse last year, discussing how small-claims courts operate in Texas.
The delegation was led by Dr. Biraa Chimid, Ganzorig Gombosuren and Dashjamts Battulga.
Dr. Chimid is considered the father of the Mongolian constitution, and his daughter, Sanzaiya, served as interpreter for the group.
Gombosuren is a former member of the Mongolian Supreme Court and chief assistant prosecutor general for the country, and Battulga is chief of staff for the president.
As a result of his presentation, the judge was invited to be a part of the four-member delegation that made the trip to Mongolia and make a similar presentation at the Ikh Zasag University School of Law.
“I presented information to the future lawyers of the country,” Lewis explained. “Hopefully we can work together to find solutions to judicial reform in the country.”
The group was led by Joe Spurlock II, who is a professor at TWU law school and head of the AJI.
Two law students joined Spurlock and Lewis on the trip. While Lewis is also a law student, he was invited in his official capacity as county judge to continue discussions on the court system.
One example Lewis used on the complexity in the current Mongolian court system is that there are over 400 definitions for homicide.
In the legal system, if a crime is committed, there is a police investigation and prosecutors take the case to court. 
Because there are no speedy-trial guidelines, a person charged with a major crime could spend three to four years in jail before ever having their day in court because there is no system to post bail.
The opportunity to purchase property has only been an option in Mongolia for about 20 years, so not many people have collateral to put up for a bond like in the U.S.
In addition, defense attorneys have no right to conduct their own investigation into crimes to try and get their clients out of jail.
There were extended discussions about Texas’ juvenile-justice system since there is currently no means to handle most Mongolian juvenile offenders.
“If a suspect is 13 or younger there is no punishment, even if they commit a murder.
“On the other hand, if they are 14 or older, they are automatically tried as an adult,” the judge explained.
Much of the eight days the group was in the country were spent in the capital of Ulaanbataar, where approximately 45 percent of the country’s population lives.
While there, they met with Gombosuren and Gungaa Bayasgalan, state secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs for the country.
Five judicial-reform bills were introduced in the country’s parliament while the delegation was visiting.
It took the group 20 hours by air to reach Mongolia, which is sandwiched between Russia and China. That included stops in Bejing, China both going and coming.
Each participant on the trip were responsible for their airfare, but lodging was either provided by the government or an apartment was utilized that is owned by two TWU law-school alumni who do business in Mongolia. 
The group journeyed outside of the capital for an overnight stay in Terelj National Park.
During a day trip, they also visited a 13-story tall stainless steel statue of Genghis Kahn on horseback. 
Kahn is considered by many as the father of Mongolia and ruled over the Mongol Empire around 1200.
They also visited a family living in a traditional ger or tent-like home. The judge noted that most Mongolians in the rural areas remain nomadic in nature, living in gers.
There are only three major highways leading out of Ulaanbataar. The maximum speed is about 40 miles per hour due to their condition.
The country, which is about the size of Alaska, is divided into 20 regions.
Sixty percent of the country’s economy is tied to the mining industry.

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