I wrote in today's Globe about the impressive and sustained work of dozens of Massachusetts judges in China. For more than a decade, these judges have given their time and expertise to help the Chinese improve the rule of law. And they have hosted Chinese judges here to experience the American judicial system first-hand. Often, these visitors have lived in the homes of Massachusetts judges for weeks or months at a time.
One point that didn't make it into print covered the funding of the program. This work has been forged and driven by a team from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and more specifically within the McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies. Founder Edmund Beard, now a senior adviser to the UMass president, has used his formidable grant-generating skills to drum up federal support for the Bay State-China projects over the years.
One early trip was funded through what was supposed to be a one-time grant from the US State Department to help promote the rule of law in China. But the exchange was deemed so successful that five more such grants followed. And then the US Agency for International Development weighed in with a big grant. That $1.9 million three-year USAID grant runs through February 2011.
I also wrote about an area that has developed strong momentum over the last couple of years -- training Chinese law students in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. UMass-Boston professor David Matz, who founded the school's graduate program in dispute resolution, has traveled to China four times in the last couple of years to offer training.
Matz's firm, The Mediation Group, marked its 25th anniversary this year by sending senior staff members with Matz to China for the negotiation competition that Matz and a Beijing-based colleague, Andrew Wei-Min Lee, offered for students from six Chinese law schools. The firm co-sponsored the competition, and also is sponsoring a US tour of dispute-resolution hotspots for the winners. Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Wendie Gershengorn was among the competition judges.
In attempting to frame the context of the Bay State's renowned dispute resolution expertise, I mentioned the legacy of the Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation. That may have misled some readers; there's no Harvard involvement in this China project.
Worthy of note: Peter Anderson, the retired judge from Boston who has become a leader of the Chinese effort and has traveled to China 14 times, says that the Massachusetts judges' family members have often contributed to the training -- playing roles in the mock trials that form a pillar of the program. Anderson's wife, Ann, who has had a long interest in China, has taken part in mock trials.
Anderson recalled in my discussion with him: "These mock trials turned out to be wildly successful. We went to a couple of law schools where these huge auditoriums were packed. One had more than 800 people. It was a sweltering day.... We walked on stage and you'd think we were the Rolling Stones. People started screaming and hollering."
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
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