NEWS

Fellowship 2018

OPEN CALL FOR A BULGARIAN PARTICIPANT
VISITING FOREIGN JUDICIAL FELLOWS PROGRAM 2018

Тhe Federal Judicial Center (FJC) and the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives under the American Judges for Bulgaria Network Initiative supported by the America for Bulgaria Foundation, offer a 1-month judicial fellowship in the FJC, Washington DC. The FJC established its Visiting Foreign Judicial Fellows Program in 1992. The Program provides an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of U.S. judicial practice and to conduct relevant research in the area of judicial reform and rule of law. The successful applicant will be provided with the opportunity to research at the FJC database on a preliminary selected topic by him/her. The Center provides fellows with an office, computer access, assistance with their research and arranges meetings with U.S. judges, court administrators, Center staff, law professors, and others in the D.C. community with relevant expertise. Recent fellows have studied distance education, case management, sanctions in civil proceedings, judicial independence, judicial performance evaluation, and how U.S. law reconciles privacy interests and criminal investigations. As of March 2016, the Center has hosted 103 judicial fellows from 43 different countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Hungary, Japan, Kosovo, South Korea, Togo, and Turkey. PhD candidates are encouraged to apply.

Funding: The Program provides a scholarship of 10 000 BGN for the applicant to cover the expenses, including travel, accommodation, insurance. It is the applicant’s responsibility to organize his/her travel and stay within the U.S. (apply for а U.S. visa, purchase airplane tickets, book a hotel/airbnb, etc.). READ THE FULL CALL.

Articles

Bilyana Gyaurova-Wegertseder

11/10/2017 The Supreme Judicial Council and the Election of Chair of the Supreme Administrative Court: Episode II (BG)
18/09/2017 At the Entrance and at the Exit of Each Government the Judiciary Stands (BG)
15/06/2017 The Supreme Judicial Council in An Alternative Reality (BG)
08/06/2017 Merkel's Еlegant Warning (BG)
28/01/2017 Why the Continuous CVM Monitoring Is the Better Scenario for Bulgaria (BG)
06/11/2015 Inspectorate for the Magistrates or Inspectоrate of the Deputies (BG)
27/01/2015 About the Honor of the SCC and the Fear of the SJC (BG)
02/09/2014 VISION 2020: Why It Is Good and Disturbing (BG)
09/03/2014 How to Appoint those Leadership Positions without asking the #КОЙ (who) Question (BG)
08/07/2013 The Election of New Chair of the National Health Insurance Fund. Parliament Acts like 911 - alas, not in a good way (BG)
18/06/2013 We "Can" and We "Do" in the New Parliament After Adopting Its New Rules (BG)
17/08/2011 Confiscation - Mission (Im)possible (BG)


Boryana Christova

21/03/2017 The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) - from proposals to results (BG)
11/07/2017 The Lay judge - a Parade Piece of Decoration in the Criminal Proceedings (BG)
09/02/2016 How Can We Believe in the Judiciary? (BG)
05/11/2014 Uniform Rules for the Nomination, Announcement and Appointment of State Bodies Under the Current Legislation (BG)


Neda Grozeva

11/10/2017 Fighting Bribery: an ambition or a reality? The perspectives of ISO 37001:2016 (BG) 
08/09/2017 The Trust in the Judiciary was not Given a Chance or Why Democracy is so Overrated* (BG)
11/08/2017 The Law of the Season. Is the State Building an Anti-corruption Sandy Castle (BG)
02/07/2017 Anti-corruption Talk vs. Anti-corruption Doing: a story of a whistleblower (BG)
23/03/2017 A Conversation with Judge José Igreja Matos – President of the European Association of Judges (EN)
24/12/2016 For Corruption with Love: India (BG)
15/02/2016 The Duplicitous Face of Transparency (BG) (EN)
28/10/2015 The Inspectorate with the Supreme Judicial Council Depends on Its Inspectors: or Why Procedures Shall be Pro Indeed (BG) (EN)
06/06/2012 Direct Vote for the Supreme Judicial Council. Is It Possible? (BG)


Teodor Slavev

31/05/2017 Upcoming Elections of Independent State Bodies. Are We Expecting a Change? (BG)
02/01/2017 Happy New 1917 (BG)
01/12/2016 Conclusions After the Presidential Elections in Bulgaria (BG) 
08/10/2016 The Election of a New President - Beyond the Family Idyll (BG)
21/06/2016 The State Capture Scenario in Bulgaria (BG)
23/02/2016 Parliamentary Labor Bureau (BG)
07/01/2016 Аuthoritarian Models of Governance in Bulgaria. The Test Drive (BG)


Tsvetomir Todorov

11/07/2017 The Lay judge - a Parade Piece of Decoration in the Criminal Proceedings (BG)
23/03/2017 А Pre-election Optimistic View on the Judicial Reform - full analysis (BG)
26/10/2015 Election of Lay judges? There Is No Such Thing! (BG)

Events

01/11/2017

Image: The American Law Institute

The U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth S. Stong for the Eastern District of New York is visiting Bulgaria at our invitation. Her visit is part of the "American Judges for Bulgaria Network" project supported by the America for Bulgaria Foundation. Judge Stong will be meeting magistrates, the ombudsman and lawyers with whom she'll discuss bankruptcy, mediation and other important issues for the judiciary.  Judge Stong is active in international judicial capacity building and has trained judges on five continents, including in Central Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Arabian Peninsula, as an expert with the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and U.S. Department of Commerce Commercial Law Development Program. She has also consulted with the Supreme Court of China and People’s High Courts in Beijing and Guangzhou, and has participated in judicial workshops in Cambodia, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. She is an elected member of the European Law Institute and an Adviser to the ELI-UNIDROIT Principles of Transnational Civil Procedure project.

18/09/2017

Bilyana Gyaurova-Wegertseder was invited by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to join the final session of the Civic Council with the SJC. The session was held on September 18. Bilyana presented the answers of the judicial nominees regarding their future work as SJC members and cooperation with the Civic Council. She emphasized on the necessity of good, active and professional dialogue between NGOs and judiciary. Answers of the magistrates are available in Bulgarian here.

12/07/2017 

BILI organized a civic hearing of the candidates for the SJC, nominated by the Parliament. The hearing was an opportunity for the candidates to present themselves, their concepts and vision on the work of the SJC and motives to enter the procedure in a calm and friendly environment. 3 of the nominees responded to our invitation as well as current members of the SJC, MPs, magistrates, media representatives and legal experts.  

06/07/2016

BILI celebrated its 10 years anniversary! We are grateful for all the support and partnerships built during the past 10 years with  state respresentatives, other think tanks, media and private sector. We all have worked very hard and shared common efforts towards a positive change in the public life in Bulgaria. We know that change takes time, continious efforts and strong motivation. We'll keep doing our best. Thank you! #10years of knowledge #10years searching for new solutions #10years Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives.

26/09/2017

On September 26, 2017 Tsvetomir Todorov, who is coordinator of the “Lay Judges – active citizens for real participation in justice" project presented a report during the round table “120 years After the First Lay Judges Law”. The first lay judges law in the Bulgarian history was voted on February 22, 1987. Mr Todorov presented his findings and opinions after the amendments in the Judiciary System Act. “The lay judges institute in Bulgaria is a reflection of our society and the general state of the judiciary. From sociological point of view that means the following: population is aging, most of the lay judges are also old. Most judges are women, women also dominate this institute. Roma minorities are not active in our civic life and we will rarely see Roma people as lay judges.”

06/09/2017

BILI published profiles of all 18 parliamentary nominees for members of the SJC following the Transparent Judicial Appointments Initiative methodology. 11 (6 will be elected) are candidates for the judicial chamber and 7 (5 will be elected) for the prosecutorial chamber. The purpose of the profiles is to present in a systematicаl and understandable manner the information about candidates. Since 2012 the "judicial profiles" are reliable and respected source of data regarding leadership formation procedures in the judiciary. The composition of profiles is part of the TJAI strategy to promote high standards in the recruitment procedures in the judiciary.

23/04/2017

Under the American Judges for Bulgaria Network Justice Richard L. Gabriel from the Colorado Supreme Court visited Bulgaria. During his stay he visited Varna and Burgas where he met not only with judges, but also with attorneys and prosecutors. Justice Gabriel touched on topics which were of importance to the Bulgarian judges – self-governance, performance evaluation, election, individual plans for improving the performance and mediation. Everywhere, he was warmly welcomed and the meetings achieved their purpose – to have a professional, collegial and interesting discussion. 

27/09/2016

On September 27-28 we hosted the The Alpha to Omega Academy of Social Entrepreneurship. The Academy encompassed education, global experience and networking in the discourse around the growth and development of social entrepreneurship in Bulgaria. Our speakers were Nwabisa Mayema (SA), Ismail Lahsini (MAR), Camila Urzua (CL), Chenjerai Katanda (ZW). Key topics: Financial Courage; Currency of Networks; Addressing Social Issues through Innovation. Watch ALL lectures here.

19/12/2016

On December 19 BILI hosted the conference "One year after the Constitutional amendments - what is done and what is yet to come". The conference is the first professional follow up after the amendments. The conference provided floor to magistrates, politicians, academia and civic activist to present their opinions and evaluations of the effect of the changes. Key topics:functionality of the SJC after the two-chamber division;the parliamentary quota in the Council; judicial reform advancement and obstacles; general state of the rule of law in Bulgaria. 

Interviews

Full list of all interviews in media is available in the Bulgarian version of the website. 

What Did the Parliament Do with the Election of the Supreme Judicial Council?

On September 23, 2017 our Director Bilyana Gyaurova-Wegertseder was guest in BiT, where she discussed the election of the new supreme administrative body of the judiciary. “The major problem, which became completely obvious during the parody called “parliamentary hearings”, is the procedure itself. None of the important and uncomfortable questions about the judiciary were asked or towards what policies those new members will be working during their mandate. None of the questions presented by NGOs was asked and it is precisely the questions of NGOs that draw the thin red line in the judiciary. Very soon there will be a test for the independence of the new SJC members with the election of President of the Supreme Administrative Court.  

The Expert Speaks: Mediation Could Heal the Broken Relationship Between Arguing Parties

On March 15, 2017 the Director of BILI Bilyana Gyaurova-Wegertseder was invited to explain mediation as a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) by Attorney Maria Sharkova in her blog. “Mediation is, in general, a process where the communication between parties may progress and improve. Often, when there is a conflict between two people or between a person and an establishment or between a group of people, the main reason for this is the broken communication. There is the "lost in translation" situation - people talk, but they are not really heard, and this deepens the conflict. The mediation process is trying to correct this problem by allowing the parties themselves to take responsibility for their dispute and to find the right way to solve it themselves. Last but not least, mediation is voluntary - no one can be forced to participate against his/her will. Read the full interview here.

Enough About the Low Trust in the Judiciary. Fair Magistrates Need Our Support

On June 1, 2017 the Policy Advisor with BILI Neda Grozeva took part in the BiT broadcast eMission Bulgaria to discuss the Supreme Judicial Council election campaign and the upcoming parliamentary nominations. She urged the MPs not to file “last-minute” candidacies as well the nominations to be fair, merit based and strongly motivated. She commented on the past general meetings of investigators and prosecutors. “The individual presentations may be followed by debates, because the Council itself is a collective body and it is important for the magistrates’ community to see if the nominees share the same values, vision and could actually work together”. Neda noted the judicial presence at their relevant meetings was not a formality but a strong and positive community message.

The Battle for the Supreme Administrative Court is a Battle to Control or Reject the System of Corruption Dependencies in the State

On September 11, 2017 our Senior Researcher Teodor Slavev was guest in Bloomberg TV where he commented on the election of President of the SAC and the current development of the judicial reform. He pointed out the key importance of SAC. It is the court “in control” of the executive power acts: SAC exercises supreme judicial supervision as to the accurate and uniform application of the laws in administrative justice and pronounces on all disputes as to the legality of instruments of the Council of Ministers and of the government ministers, as well as of other instruments specified in the law. He emphasized on the importance of procurement cases where corruption schemes are most common to exist. Watch the full interview here

Judge Stong

The beginning of November was marked by the visit of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth S. Stong for the Eastern District of New York. Judge Stong spent a week in Bulgaria and during her visit had a number of interesting and inspiring meetings with judges, attorneys, members of the Supreme Judicial Council and the National Ombudsman.

Judge Stong talked about her professional path from a corporate attorney through mediator and bankruptcy judge. She shared her views on the courts as problem-solvers and explained the role of judges in this process. Judge Stong conveyed her enthusiasm for mediation as a means to not only resolute a dispute, but also help parties reach the best decision with the help of the judge as a neutral voice in the courtroom. 

CV

Judge Elizabeth S. Stong has served as U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of New York since 2003.  Before entering on duty, she was a litigation partner and associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher in New York, an associate at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, and law clerk to Hon. A. David Mazzone, U.S. District Judge in the District of Massachusetts.

Judge Stong is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Council and Membership Committee of the American Law Institute.  She is also a Trustee and member of the Executive Committee of the Practising Law Institute, a member of the board of P.R.I.M.E. Finance, an international dispute resolution organization that promotes judicial education in complex financial disputes, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Harvard Law School Association of New York City.  She is co-chair of the New York Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, serves on the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, represents the ABA’s National Conference of Federal Trial Judges in the ABA House of Delegates, and is a member of the Council of the ABA Business Law Section.  She serves as co-chair of the New York City Bar Council on the Profession, a member of the New York County Lawyers Association Justice Center Advisory Board, and a board member of the New York Law Institute.  She is an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School and St. John’s University School of Law.

Judge Stong is active in international judicial capacity building and has trained judges on five continents, including in Central Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Arabian Peninsula, as an expert with the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and U.S. Department of Commerce Commercial Law Development Program.  She has also consulted with the Supreme Court of China and People’s High Courts in Beijing and Guangzhou, and has participated in judicial workshops in Cambodia, Brazil, Argentina and Chile.  She is an elected member of the European Law Institute and an Adviser to the ELI-UNIDROIT Principles of Transnational Civil Procedure project.

Judge Stong previously served as President of the Harvard Law School Association, chair of the International Judicial Relations Committee of the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, Vice President of the Federal Bar Council, Vice President of the Board of Directors of New York City Bar Fund Inc. and the City Bar Justice Center, Chair of the New York City Bar’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee and Vice Chair of its Judiciary Committee, the Board of Directors of the International Insolvency Institute, and an officer of the ABA Business Law Section.  She was also a member of the board of MFY Legal Services, Inc., one of the largest providers of free civil legal services to low-income residents of New York City, and served on the ABA’s Standing Committee on the American Judicial System, Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education, Commission on Women in the Profession, and Commission on Homelessness and Poverty.

Judge Stong received the Brooklyn Bar Association’s Freda Nisnewitz Award for Pro Bono Service, the New York Institute of Credit’s Hon. Cecelia H. Goetz Award, the ABA Business Law Section’s Glass Cutter Award, and the MFY Legal Services Scales of Justice Award, among other recognitions.

Judge Stong received her A.B. magna cum laude and her J.D. from Harvard University.

October 2017

Gallery

Meeting with members of the Supreme Judicial Council

Meeting with members of the Supreme Judicial Council

Business breakfast "Business, mediation, benefits – a view from the bench"

Business breakfast "Business, mediation, benefits – a view from the bench"

Meeting with attorneys

City break @ the Sofia City Art Gallery

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