LISBON, Portugal, May 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Board of Trial Advocates held an open exchange of ideas and practices by comparing the Portuguese and American legal systems. Portuguese and American judges, justices and lawyers, Portuguese ministers and professors, as well as guests and members of the media participated in the event held at the Catholic University Law School on May 14. Justices and lawyers from Latvia also served as panelists. They recounted the outcome and results of their experiences when a similar conference was held in Riga, Latvia, in June 2006. "Comparing the strengths, similarities and differences in our legal systems is critical in cultivating the spirit of civility and developing international relationships. There is much to learn about how both countries appreciate the rule of law," said William C. Callaham, ABOTA National President and lawyer with the Sacramento, Calif. law firm of Dreyer, Babich, Buccola & Callaham. The conference covered several elements, such as the relationship between judges, lawyers and bar associations; the professional activities of judges and lawyers in Portugal and America; and the applicability of the American experience in Portugal. Michael T. Callahan of the Tampa, Fla. law firm of Callahan Martinez, L.L.C. said that tension between the courts and other branches of government is normal in all countries. But there are ways to protect the independence of the judiciary namely supporting an increase in funding for judicial salaries and the courts as well as defending judges from the unfair criticism in the media, particularly in situations when judges are not allowed to comment. The United States Constitution is not perfect, evidenced by the more than 230 years it has taken to evolve, Callahan said. "We continually keep trying to do better," he said. The conference format was similar to previous international programs presented by ABOTA. The program included general and breakout sessions involving speakers on topics that included:
-- Relationship between the lawyers and judges in both countries -- Judicial and lawyer discipline and ethics -- Cross-jurisdictional practice -- Simplification of the rules -- Use of electronic data for filings, record keeping and court practice and procedures -- Report on the progress in Latvia since the conference there in 2006 The conference concluded with a "Masters in Trial" program that demonstrated how a trial is held in an American court of law. The mock trial dealt with a case involving a professional football player who lost his career because of a traffic accident involving an American businessman. The deliberation of the jurors was simulcast to the audience. More than 15 ABOTA members served as faculty members for the trial demonstration. In recent years, ABOTA's international efforts have included similar programs in Prague, Czechoslovakia; Florence, Italy; Belfast, Ireland; and Riga, Latvia. Longtime Lisbon lawyer Miranda named International Member of ABOTA During the conference, Callaham named Agostinho Pereira de Miranda, a Senior Partner at the Lisbon law firm of Miranda Correia Amendoeira & Associates, an international member of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He becomes ABOTA's 12th international member. "International Member" is an honorary category of membership, by invitation only, given to persons who believe in the general principles of ABOTA and in the preservation and promulgation of the right to jury trial in contested litigation. ABOTA's membership criteria include high personal character and an honorable reputation. "Agostinho Miranda is dedicated to the rule of law and has demonstrated throughout his career a high degree of professionalism, civility and courtesy in his law practice," Callaham said. He added that Miranda was instrumental in coordinating efforts for the "Judges and Attorneys in Interaction" international program. Founded in 1958, ABOTA is celebrating its 50th anniversary. ABOTA is a national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges. ABOTA and its members are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the civil jury trial right provided by the 7th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Foundation of ABOTA is an affiliated charitable entity, the mission of which is to support the purposes of ABOTA through education and research. ABOTA membership consists of more than 6,300 lawyers and judges spread among 93 Chapters in all 50 States and the District of Columbia. ABOTA publishes Voir Dire magazine, which features in-depth articles on current and historical issues related to the 7th Amendment.
SOURCE American Board of Trial Advocates