|On 8 October 2009 Center for the Study of Democracy hosted a meeting with U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim who visited Bulgaria as part of the U.S. Department of Justice efforts to assist the reform of the Bulgarian judicial system. Judge Tunheim has served for thirteen and one-half years as a United States District Judge in the District of Minnesota hearing both criminal and civil cases while his international work includes extensive efforts in the field of rule of law development in many countries such as Russia, Montenegro, Jordan, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Lithuania, Kosovo, Uzbekistan and Georgia.|
During the meeting Judge Tunheim explained the purpose of his visit to Bulgaria outlining four priorities on which further U.S. assistance is planning to focus. These include case management, establishment of specialized judicial panels to hear corruption and organized crime cases, training on the application of the new ethics code in the judiciary and strengthening the capacity of the Supreme Judicial Council and in particular its newly established Inspectorate.
CSD representatives at the meeting briefed the guest on the Center's activities stressing on the continuing efforts of the organization to foster institutional and legal reform in the country. CSD Law Program Director Dr. Maria Yordanova and CSD Law Program Senior Analyst Mr. Dimitar Markov also commented on the priority areas mentioned by Judge Tunheim underlining that because of the peculiarities of the Bulgarian judiciary (where the courts, the prosecution offices and the investigation services are all part of one system) efforts should not only limit to judges but need to target also prosecutors and investigators.
CSD European Program experts Mr. Nikolay Tagarov, Senior Analyst, and Ms. Kamelia Dimitrova, Research Fellow, mentioned to the efforts of CSD to expand its activities in the Western Balkans. In response, Judge Tunheim briefly commented on the ongoing legal and judicial reforms in these countries stressing on the variety of opportunities these countries could offer for a think tank like CSD.
Biographical Material for Judge John R. Tunheim