The man responsible for the day-to-day operation of Missouri’s court system is leaving in a couple of weeks to teach the people in Kosovo about the rule of law.
State Courts Administrator Michael Buenger leaves his job July 8th to join the National Center for State Courts. The center is sending people to Kosovo to reform that country’s judiciary. Kosovo is a province in southern Serbia that is under the administration of the United Nations because Kosovo wants to break away from Serbia and Serbia wants to keep it.
Buenger was there earlier this year and says Americans are warmly welcomed. He describes the government as disorganized but hopeful and .says the government does not want to return to an anti-democratic system. But he says some of our concepts of judicial independence, impartiality, transparency, and accountability–based on 200 years of development, might not be easy to implement there.
He says anybody going to another country has to be aware of different cultures that might or might not be able to accommodate our concepts. He says failure to recognize those cultural differences can be troublesome. One difference is points out is Kosovo’s basic system of law. He says Kosovo has a different system of law, one based on civil law while ours is a common law system. But he thinks transparency is readily transplantable–the notion that there are no secret trials, that there is a right to counsel, and there is a need for a well-trained, well-paid judiciary as a bulwark against corruption.
Buenger will be in Kosovo at least two or three years.