The Leavitt Institute for International Development is excited to announce an expansion into several new countries as part of its mission to promote democratic principles, ethics, and the rule of law. 

Effective this fall, the Institute will begin working in Poland and Romania and resume its efforts in Ukraine. The Institute will continue to maintain a strong presence in Moldova working with the next generation of leaders.

The Leavitt Institute, which has operated for 12 years, was founded by David and Chelom Leavitt. Its website is 

Yesterday, the Leavitt Institute hosted the Opening Social 2017 at the TLI Centre with the special guests speakers Vicky Bonasera and Roushani Mansour from the U.S. Department of State. The participants of the "Justice Educational Training" Initiative had a fruitful discussion with the representatives of the U.S.Department of State, U.S. Embassy in Moldova and local NGOs.

Call for Student Article Submissions

Eastern European Legal Development’s Young Legal Writing Competition

The Leavitt Institute for International Development is pleased to announce the creation of its new legal journal, Legal Development in Eastern Europe (LDEE), which will issue its first volume in July 2017. LDEE will follow the most pressing issues in legal development in Eastern Europe through articles from legal professionals, academics, and law students in four languages and from across the world.

In conjunction with the launch of LDEE, and as part of its mission to develop young legal professionals in Moldova, the Leavitt Institute is pleased to announce the Young Legal Writing Competition. The competition presents a unique opportunity to develop professional skills by conceiving, developing, and presenting academic legal writing. The winning article of the Young Legal Writing Competition will be published in the first edition of LDEE.

All current law students and recent graduates are eligible to participate in the competition.

Young Legal Writing Competition – Writing Workshop

Prior to the competition’s first round, we invite all interested persons to participate in a writing workshop in February 2017. We will discuss strategies for identifying appropriate topics for legal writing, research techniques, writing strategies, and international standards academic legal writing.

The workshop is open to all, including those who are unsure whether they want to submit a final article or who have not yet identified a research topic. To join the workshop or for more information, please contact with the subject line “Writing Workshop.”

Young Legal Writing Competition – Call for Submissions

The Young Legal Writing Competition is an opportunity to submit a short article (between 2.500 and 5.000 characters) responding to one of the following prompts:

·       Which particular portions of Moldovan law could be reformed to better achieve their goals?

·       What have been the results of previous legal reforms in Moldovan law, and how can past experience be applied to improve future reforms?

·       How can the effectiveness, efficiency, and independence of national legal institutions (such as the courts, the legal profession, or legal education) be strengthened?

·       What foreign legal institutions or policy could be useful templates for reform? Which foreign legal institutions or policy might be inappropriate for the Moldovan legal system?

·       What is the role of international law or tribunals in national legal development?

Submissions may be written in Romanian, English, Russian, or Ukrainian. Please use the attached Word document to adhere to formatting requirements. Prospectus submissions should be submitted by email to The deadline for prospectus submissions is midnight on March 10, 2017.

The winning article will be selected for publication in LDEE’s first volume. Other high-quality articles will be considered for other publication possibilities, including in future editions of LDEE. All submissions will be invited to present their research at LDEE’s Student Legal Studies Conference in June and will be recognized in the News section of an upcoming volume of LDEE.

Any questions or clarifications can be directed to Jesse Stricklan at We look forward to working with you!


I am a recent graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and will work with the JET Program’s visiting professionals as an assistant lecturer. I am honored that the Leavitt Institute selected me to join the JET Program.

Before joining the JET Program, I worked in a variety of legal jobs in civil society. In addition to official government institutions like courts, civil society is the network of organizations and communities that help support the administration of justice in a state’s legal system. I have worked to protect the rights of children in foster care, to represent credible claims of innocence from people who were wrongfully convicted, to support victims of human trafficking, and to help refugees obtain legal asylum in the United States. Along the way, I have had the opportunity to see how lawyers dedicated to the public good can make an enormous difference, either as a part of civil society, as a government lawyer, or as a judge.

As lawyers, I believe we have a special opportunity and responsibility to shape the legal system in which we work. The study of comparative law is extremely valuable in that process. Comparative legal studies allow us to evaluate different ways of doing justice and to better understand our native legal system by comparison. In some ways, studying another legal system is like learning a new language: in mastering the principles of another language, you learn a great deal about your mother tongue while also drawing inspiration for new and better ways of communicating.

Likewise, I believe the JET Program will allow both lecturers and participants to draw inspiration from the exchange of ideas about the administration of law. Through Socratic method lectures and discussions with respected legal professionals, JET Program participants have an amazing opportunity to get to know the law up close and personal. In particular, we will share insights about some of the primary features of U.S. legal practice, including a robust adversarial system, procedural rules that attempt to create a level playing field, and a broad commitment to the health of the legal system from lawyers and judges. I look forward to learning from you as we compare the U.S. and Moldovan legal systems.

My family and I have only been in Chisinau for a few weeks, but we already feel at home. We love Chisinau’s lovely and abundant trees, parks, and playgrounds. Our favorite park so far is the Dendrarium – I love it because of the rose gardens, and my four-year-old loves it because we once got cotton candy there. To each their own. We also love the food here and have enjoyed trying out traditional Moldovan dishes. We are trying to learn how to make our own mamaliga and placinte, so if you have a good recipe, let me know. Everyone has been friendly and patient with our broken Romanian or Russian, which tells me great things about the character of the people that live here. We look forward to spending a year in this wonderful city.

Going to USA for three weeks in order to learn about the American Judicial System was actually more than a life experience. Mostly because we had the opportunity to talk with judges, lawyers and prosecutors as well as to visit some Justice Courts, District Courts, the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court for the state of Utah, and other public institutions in Utah, such as the Salt Lake City Council and the Juvenile Court. Moreover, we have had free time to spend it all together, such as hiking in Capitol Reef National Park, boating, jet skiing, tubing, playing tennis and having barbeques with our host families.

The experience of our lives started at the Chișinău airport where we – the nine interns – met in order to accomplish our long-awaited dream. Everybody was enthusiastic and ready for new discoveries. During our long flight, we had enough time to get to know each other better. I will admit that we were a little bit nervous, as we went to the USA for the first time, but it was actually a very pleasant feeling. Nine passionate law students were ready to live their summer adventure.

On our first week we had the honor to attend a criminal jury trial about a father who was accused of raping his young daughters. It was a really tough case. After the trial was over, we had the chance to talk with the presiding judge and to ask a lot questions about the case and about the legal system in the US. We admit that the American law system is complex, but thanks to the discussions with lawyers, prosecutors and judges we were able to understand how does it work and function properly. When visiting the Federal Court, one of the students asked a question: “How do you succeed to keep the American law system functional?” The Judged asserted that the law system in America is not perfect, but the most important thing to keep untouched is human rights, freedom and the free access to justice.

On our second week, some of the interns changed their host families because there were a lot of kind and friendly people that wanted to host Moldovan students and to offer them the time of their lives. It was amazing to be part of an American family for three weeks. Every person we have met was always smiling, wanted to know more about Moldova, and was ready to assist us on whatever we needed.
As we all know corruption is a serious issue in the Republic of Moldova, therefore our main goal was to learn from the American Legal System ideas to implement in order to fight corruption. We were surprised of their reaction as they have never had corruption as a state problem in America. It was great to meet with a Judge originated from Romania, David Sam was very pleasant to talk with us and tell us his life story. We have also visited the Local TV Station, as media is considered to be an important power in a democratic state. We have witnessed how are the news presented and we have found out what tools do they use in order to be abreast with the latest happening in the country. Another interesting visit was at the Salt Lake City Council. It was an honor for us to ask questions to the Council Members after the meeting has finished. Everything was transparent and there was no doubt that professionalism and integrity are some of the skills of the representatives of Utah.

Also we were at a homeless shelter where we saw how young unlucky people spend their time. This place is equipped with modern technologies where one can navigate on internet, search for information, eat, sleep and spend useful time together. Some of the volunteers were lawyers giving legal consultation and representing the people from there in the court.

On our last weekend, we had the opportunity to visit Capitol Reef National Park. We discovered the beauty of rocks during our fantastic hike. The view there is actually breathtaking, the nature catches your eyes and throws your imagination somewhere far away. Moreover, it was fun and pleasant at the same time as we helped each other survive the toughest paths. The moments spent together were priceless. We would highly recommend to explore this destination if you are in Utah.

All in all, spending time in the USA was extremely valuable. During those three weeks we became very united and made friendships that will definitely last for a long time. Moreover, we are now motivated to make Moldova a better place, to be the best we can in order to fight corruption and always be honest and professional on everything we do.

Loredana Gamurari: About the internship at the Miami County District Court, Kansas

Together with colleagues from other universities, I undertook a legal internship at the Miami County District Court, Kansas, organized by the Leavitt Institute for international development. We had the privilege to watch in action the US judges, prosecutors and lawyers. At the Johnson County District Court, I have witnessed a jury trial. This was the highlight of our overseas experience, as it was up to 12 citizens to decide on the innocence of the defendant, showing the core of the American legal system.
We were really surprised by the American journalists' interest in us, students from Moldova studying their justice system.
Following this link you can see their material on our group:…/article_ad44615c-de9a-5e78….
We've also visited the Topeka Appeal Court, where we've seen how the cases are solved. We have also visited the Federal Court. 
Also, we have participated in a women lawyer conference organised by the Kansas Women Attorneys Association in Lindsborg, where I met lawyers dealing with juvenile delinquency at the Miami County Court and judges from the Appeal Court of Topeka. We've participated at debates, ethics seminaries where we've learned of the problem of the minor refugees that came unattended to Kansas. 


The law students learn to reform the Moldovan Justice System in the USA 

The organizers of the internship have arranged meetings with the law students of the Kansas University during which we've spoken on different professional and non professional issues. 
At the State Capitol of Topeka we got to sit in the places of the governor, the members of the senate and to see all the official rooms. Three weeks of internship may not seem enough to comprehend the American justice system due to the deep discrepancies between our Romano-Germanic legal system and the common law. However, we had a two semesters course on the american legal system, so from a theoretical point of view we were prepared.  
When I asked an experienced Kansas prosecutor if he has ever faced a case of corruption, he denied it categorically. I found it very impressive how valuable the testimony of a police officer is in court and that when he looses his credibility, it affects all the cases he was involved in.
Comparing our legal system with the American one, we can be proud about some of our norms, especially the minors protection in the sexual abuse cases. They are not questioned publicly by the judge, but in separate rooms to diminish the stress level of the victims. Moreover, the rape cases in Moldova are examined in closed trial, both of the examples are more than welcomed.
I am glad that the projects of the Leavitt Institute encourage the participation of barristers, including barristers in training together with the National Justice Institute and university students. Thanks to the efforts of the American counterpart, the young lawyers that really want to change the system are identified and given the chance to network. The US experience will allow me to do my part in ensuring a better functioning of our justice system.


The Leavitt Institute Course.

The teaching methods of the Canadian and US professors are different from those that we are used to in high school or university. Our American teachers used the Socratic method to make us come to the right answers through open discussions and the fact that the lectures were not mandatory eliminates some of the frustration that we're not always performing optimally. 
The JET Initiative helps the development of critical thinking and represents a good occasion to practice English for both beginners and advanced students. A big advantage in this sense is the translation provided throughout the courses.
At the final of the lecture cycle, the students representing the six universities implicated in the project use the theoretical knowledge in a simulated trial environment. They play lawyers and prosecutors defending their procedural positions. 
After the interview from the final competition, 21 young lawyers were selected for the internship in the USA and Canada. The number of beneficiaries is constantly growing allowing a bigger number of Moldovan law students to learn in a country considered the biggest democracy in the world.

TLI Summer Internship 2016. (Utah, USA)
Nine TLI Interns from Republic of Moldova arrived in Midway, Utah. They spent three weeks learning US legal system, observing jury trials, shadowing prosecutors and attorneys.
During their first day TLI Interns observed jury trial at Fourth District Court in Provo.



TLI Summer Internship 2016. (Utah, USA)
TLI Interns in Utah observed criminal motion hearing at Wasatch County Courthouse and had an opportunity to communicate with the Judge, Prosecutors and Defense Attorneys.



TLI Summer Internship 2016!!! (Kansas, USA)
The women interns from #theleavittinstitute are attending the annual Kansas Women Attorneys Association Conference.


KU School of Law!



TLI Summer Internship 2016. (Utah, USA)
TLI interns are visiting the United States District Court
for the District of Utah.



TLI Summer Internship 2016. (Utah, USA)
TLI interns had an opportunity to observe a jury trial at the Fourth Judicial District Court in Provo and met with Judge Lynn W. Davis.



TLI Summer Internship 2016. (Utah, USA)



TLI Summer Internship 2016. (Utah, USA)
Hiking in Capitol Reef National Park!



TLI Summer Internship 2016. (Alberta, Canada)



TLI Summer Internship 2016. (Alberta, Canada)
Alberta Legislature Building, Edmonton.

At the conclusion of the second semester JET sponsor the Regional Adversarial Proceedings Competitions (takes place in three regions of Moldova) and the National Adversarial Proceedings Competition to which the regional winners advance. Adversarial proceedings competition will be hold in the end of April, beginning of May 2016. The competitions are based upon a mock case that has been embedded into the entire curriculum. Students must prepare to argue the case either as a defense attorney or as a prosecutor and they advance to the national competition as individual competitors. For the national competition, each individual competitor is paired with a partner and the two students compete as a team. Each regional competition lasts one day and the national competition lasts three days.  
JET Initiative National Adversarial Proceedings Competition is the final and most important event of the teaching year. The National Adversarial Proceedings Competition is an educational competition aimed increasing student awareness, understanding, and mastery of the character traits and skills necessary to function in an adversarial proceeding. The ability to think rapidly, speak logically in time pressured situations, organize and present thoughts in persuasive and compelling ways, and to act ethically, and with dignity and integrity is what the National Competition seeks to measure. The working language of the event is Romanian and English with simultaneous translation.

The Leavitt Institute for International Development (TLI) offers a semester-long internship for UVU students with an interest in international development, non-profit organizations, and law. TLI is a public charity that provides legal reform and educational programs in a growing number of Eastern European countries. In Summer 2016, TLI will sponsor an internship program for UVU students who wish to participate in an international development and education program, in which they will teach English courses to fellow university students in Moldova. They will teach two groups of students: students who will enroll in the TLI JET initiative in Fall 2016 and students selected to participate in TLI’s annual summer internship in the U.S. and Canada. The UVU interns will offer English courses at both intermediate and advanced levels. This is a significant opportunity for exposure to international legal systems, legal and educational development, and Eastern European history and culture.

Loren E. Weiss is a Shareholder in RQ&N’s Litigation Section. Mr. Weiss has more than 38 years of experience representing individuals and companies in white collar criminal defense matters, corporate compliance and internal investigations, and complex civil litigation.
Mr. Weiss has maintained an AV Preeminent (5.0) rating with Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating awarded to attorneys for professional competence and ethics for over 30 years. He has been selected for inclusion in Mountain States Super Lawyers (2007-2015) in the category of Criminal Defense: White Collar, and has also been voted by his peers throughout the state as one of Utah’s “Legal Elite,” as published in Utah Business Magazine (2012-2016). He has also been recognized by The National Trial Lawyers as among Utah’s “Top 100 Trial Lawyers.”


Judge Griffith was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals in June 2005. A graduate of Brigham Young University and the University of Virginia School of Law, Judge Griffith was engaged in private practice from 1985 – 1995 and again in 1999, first in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was an associate at Robinson, Bradshaw and Hinson, and later in Washington, D.C., where he was an associate and then a partner at Wiley, Rein and Fielding. His primary areas of emphasis were commercial and corporate litigation and government investigations. From 1995 – 99, Judge Griffith was Senate Legal Counsel of the United States. In that capacity, he represented the interests of the Senate in litigation and advised the Senate leadership and its committees on investigations, including the impeachment trial of President Clinton. From 2000 until his appointment to the United States Court of Appeals, Judge Griffith was Assistant to the President and General Counsel of Brigham Young University. In 1999 – 2000, Judge Griffith was General Counsel to the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce, a congressional commission created to study the interplay between tax policy and electronic commerce. In 2002 – 03, Judge Griffith served as a member of the United States Secretary of Education’s Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, which examined the role of Title IX in intercollegiate athletics. Judge Griffith has long been active in the American Bar Association’s Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (CEELI). He currently serves on the CEELI Council of the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative and on the board of directors of the CEELI Institute in Prague. Since joining the Court, Judge Griffith has taught courses on Presidential Powers and Judicial Process at the Brigham Young University Law School and on the Role of an Article III judge at Stanford Law School.


Dec 3 2015 (All day)

The last number of the National Institute of Justice magazine "Revista" published two articles about The Leavitt Institute for International Development and its project in Moldova "JET Initiative":

1. Interview with David O. Leavitt, Director of the Leavitt Institute for International Development Page 2.

2. "Trial by jury in the United States" by Robert Lochhead, Deputy Director of the Leavitt Institute for International Development. Page 49.

A member of the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service travelled to Moldova to help a student exchange program reinforce the Rule of Law. 

Lethbridge chief Crown prosecutor Bill Wister spent two weeks in eastern Europe with the Leavitt Institute, an organization of legal professionals dedicated to the development of democratic liberties in developing nations. The Institute has two branches in the U.S. and one in Canada. 

Bill and some exchange students met senior US state department officials at the US Embassy in Chisinau, where they discussed the Institute’s intern program and a bill that is currently before the Moldovan Parliament to increase the independence of the prosecution service. The group also attended the National Institute of Justice Conference on Human Rights, where they heard presentations from the president of Moldovan parliament, the deputy minister of Justice and a judge of International Court of Human Rights. 

 “During the discussions, Alberta was recognized as a sponsor site for future student exchange visits,” said Bill. “It is a great honour to be recognized as a key player in the future of enhancing human rights through working with interns. I am pleased Alberta, my 

home province, is seen as a part of a long-term solution for an independent Moldovan prosecution service, protecting minority rights.” 

Earlier this year, a group of three student lawyers from Moldova visited Lethbridge to learn about the province’s justice system. The lawyers spent time with Deputy Minister, Philip Bryden, and Provincial Court Judge, Derek Redman. They also attended trials, docket and domestic violence court.

In 2013, Bill and his wife spent two weeks in the Leavitt Institute in Kiev where they worked as volunteers, teaching best practices to young Ukrainian lawyers.

This event has brought together more than 18 alumni, all Law students and young professionals, while sharing impressions and aspirations with the deputy director of TLI- Mr. Robert Lochhead and his wife, Mrs. Klynn Lochhead.
The evening was spent in a leisurewear atmosphere, engaging everyone in fruitful conversations about their experience in the USA. From the general perspective of the students, all knowledge obtained during the three weeks internship, combined with the people met during this whole time serves as a significant source of inspiration and motivation to persevere further on in their career as law professionals.In his return, Mr. Lochhead has shared a strong belief in the power of change that all young people of Moldova have, especially those that are studying Law. Therefore, ”in 20 years Moldova needs to look different, and is the youth of today that is going to make that difference”, said the professional.

TLI Opening Social meetings with the TLI Interns 2015 and TLI new students that will participate in the JET Initiative 2015-2016 took place at TLI Centre last week.

TLI started "Justice Educational Training" Initiative 2015-2016 last week at 6 Universities: USEM, Comrat State University, ULIM, USPEE, Balti State University and USM. Over 200 students have visited JET Initiative classes. TLI students learnt more about the opportunities that JET Initiative offers them. They learnt about Socratic Teaching Method and were involved in a very fruitful discussion with the TLI deputy director, Robert Lochhead. TLI Interns 2015 joined JET Initiative classes, participated in the discussion and inspired TLI students to participate in the program 2015-2016.

TLI Interns together with the NIJ team visited  Supreme Court of Utah and had an honour to spend an hour with the Chief Justice, Matthew B. Durrant.

TLI Interns, TLI host families, US colleague students, NIJ team had a great cultural experience at the BBQ party hosted by one of the TLI host families. TLI interns had an opportunity to learn some US country-western dances and teach US students several Moldovan dances. BBQ party was a success.

Representatives from National Institute of Justice of Moldova (NIJ), Diana Scobioala, Executive Director of NIJ, Ecaterina Popa, Head of the department of continuous education of NIJ and Radu Foltea, Staff Attorney, U.S. Embassy in Moldova arrived in Utah, USA. Moldovan officials spent one week in Utah, participate in high level events and learn about USA legal system.

TLI interns visited District Court in Provo, Utah. Interns had a chance to observe three days trial, including VOIR DIRE, jury selection process

TLI Interns in Utah had a great day off today in Midway and hiked Cascade Springs, Hebert Valley.

1st day of the Internship in Alberta, Canada. Three TLI Interns are on the internship in Edmonton, Alberta, they meet  the deputy minister of justice of the city of Alberta.

TLI Internship has started!!! 17 law students from Moldova arrived for the internship in Utah, USA; Kansas, USA and Alberta, Canada.

Did you hear the one about the lawyer who…?
You fill in the rest; just about everyone knows a good lawyer joke. They’re even more common than jokes about reporters.

Warranted or not, lawyers have gotten a bad rap, but three Moldovan law students are pretty impressed with Canadian lawyers and the Canadian justice system, at least compared to what they’re used to.
“Here is like lawyers are much more important,” says Vladislav Chirica, who is visiting Lethbridge from Moldova with fellow law students Alexandra Pinzari and Kristian Schiopu.
In Moldova, which operates under a continental system, or Roman law, members of parliament make the decisions, and cases commonly drag out for several years. In Canada, on the other hand, the justice system relies heavily on lawyers and judges, a fact the Moldovan students appreciate.
“A lawyer can make a difference,” Chirica says.
Pinzari is so impressed with the justice system in Canada she hopes to return and practise international commercial law. Schiopu, on the other hand, hopes to take what he learns and one day introduce it to his country.
“We gained our independence not a long time ago, so we wanted to come to other countries to see how their justice systems work,” Schiopu says.
The students are visiting Alberta through TLI, the Leavitt Institute for International Development, an organization of legal professionals dedicated to spreading the rule of law and development of democratic liberties in developing nations.
TLI was organized in 2005 by David and Chelom Leavitt, both graduates of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, who, after volunteering in Ukraine for one year for the American Bar Association, were impressed by the Ukrainian people and the potential for democratic reforms to improve lives in that country. They started TLI with the premise that seasoned legal professionals can share their experience and knowledge in order to help push democratic reforms.
Bill Wister, Lethbridge’s chief Crown prosecutor, visited the Leavitt Institute in Kiev with his wife Pam in 2013. They volunteered to teach best practices to young Ukrainian lawyers to help them enhance their justice system.
“Lethbridge has really embraced the Leavitt Institute initiative,” Wister says. “The work of the institute establishes a great link between young lawyers in Moldova, Ukraine and North America. They share so many things in terms of their enthusiasm, desire and the kinds of issues they face, such as domestic violence. As the lawyers mature, they can keep in touch and continue to learn from each other to improve and enhance the global justice system. For me, that’s the key to success.”
The three students also visited Edmonton where they met Philip Bryden, deputy minister of justice and deputy solicitor general of Alberta. While In Lethbridge they’ve spent time with Wister and judge Derek Redman, and they’ve attended trials, docket and domestic violence courts, and met people involved in restorative justice, mental health diversion and fetal alcohol syndrome programs. They also met with Lethbridge lawyer Greg White and city councillor Jeff Coffman who explained the relationship between the community and the justice system.
Wister and the students are scheduled to visit the School of Justice at Lethbridge College today where instructor Murray Bartley will take them on a tour of the campus and provide them an overview of the courtroom and justice programs at the college.
On Friday they’ll visit the Leavitt Institute in Salt Lake City, Ut., before they head home Aug. 27.

Three law students from the Republic of Moldova are learning everything they can from judges and lawyers at the Miami County Courthouse during a visit they hope will help them reshape their country’s legal system upon their return home.
Serghei Florea, Ana Indoitu and Mihail Gutu are all in their third year of law school in Moldova, and they recently were given the opportunity to visit America for a law internship after winning a mock trial competition held by the Leavitt Institute for International Development in Moldova.
Moldova is an eastern European country and former Soviet republic between Romania and Ukraine. Before Moldova can become a member of the European Union, the country must make several changes, including changes to their legal system. The law students said there are no jury trials in Moldova, and the judge has complete control.
Miami County District Judge Steven Montgomery spent a month in Moldova earlier this summer, and public defender Mary Stephenson taught law in Moldova last October. She even had Mihail as a student.
Montgomery previously has made two trips to Ukraine, beginning in 2010, as part of the USAID program sponsored by the United States and Ukraine governments, working with the Leavitt Institute for International Development as an educator then mock trial judge. He welcomed three Moldovan law interns last summer and three Ukrainian law students the summer before that.
Montgomery picked up Serghei, Ana and Mihail at the Kansas City International Airport on Aug. 6, and the next day he was showing them around the courthouse and introducing them to legal staff. Mihail will be staying with Montgomery throughout the internship, while Ana stays with Stephenson and Serghei stays with Spring Hill attorney Steven Ellis.
Montgomery started by taking the Moldovan interns to his judge’s chambers and going over his schedule for the day. He talked about the process of sentencing, including the pre-sentence investigation (PSI). He also talked about how the state is in the process of transitioning to electronic court records.
He then took the interns to another courtroom, where he talked about how people are sentenced once they are convicted of a crime. Unlike Moldova, where sentences can range from three months to 20 years for the same crime, Montgomery and his fellow judges follow the sentencing grid, which gives a suggested sentencing range based on the seriousness of the crime and the person’s criminal history.
Although a judge does have the right to depart from the guidelines, he must have a compelling reason to do so, and Montgomery said that only happens about 10 percent of the time.
The students listened attentively whenever Montgomery spoke, and some even snapped a few photos of documents with their phones.
Montgomery said he and his fellow hosts will try to teach the interns as much as they can during their visit, and they specifically want them to experience a jury trial.
Mihail, who also has a degree in engineering, said he now knows that being a lawyer is what he wants to do with the rest of his life. He said the most important thing about his visit is “watching how a proper judicial system works.”
Ana said she was attracted to law because it matches her skill sets, and it gives her the power to change lives. She said she most enjoys the defense side.
Serghei said he wants to be a prosecutor like his uncle, and he’s excited about bringing back what he learns to his country.
Montgomery said the program is really taking off this year, with 171 law students traveling to the United States, compared to only six last year.
“The quality of the students this year is over the top,” Montgomery said. “It’s just unbelievable.”

But for a small group of students from Moldova, they’ve had just a few short weeks to learn as much as they can to take back to their country.
A group of 11 law students from the small European nation have spent the past few weeks here in Utah, studying American law to improve the judicial system in their young, democratic country.
Moldova is a former Soviet republic that gained its independence with the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in the early 1990s. But true freedom didn’t really come until 2009, when the Communist Party won a majority of parliament seats in April on election day. Protests broke out following the election, and the Communist Party was no longer the ruling party.
But since then, the new democratic system has had its share of challenges.
“They are going through the growing pains of developing a new government,” said Robert Lochhead, director of the Leavitt Institute, the program through which the students came to Utah. “They are economically challenged; they are one of the poorest countries in Europe.”
So, the Leavitt Institute worked with several universities in Moldova to coordinate a partnership to bring a few students to the states to see how the judicial system works in America. The institute held a mock trial competition, and the winners were the selected students.
“I had the great opportunity to participate in the competition,” said Elena Popil, one of the law students. “We had some legal mock trial classes from retired legal professionals in America.”
The students now work with judges, law professors and other legal experts to educate them in the American judicial system.
“Our purpose here is to try to investigate, to study the American system of law,” Popil said. “We are all here to try to improve our country because we are a young democratic country, which has a lot of issues, and we are really inspired by the people of America.”
Marina Bzovii, another law student, said it’s one thing to read about the American legal system; it’s another to see it in action.
“I could really say that here, we can see a legal system that is working much more better than our legal system,” she said. “So why not take the good parts from here and use the ideas of a good system.
"It’s not perfect, but it’s working much more better than ours.”
Marita Chirita, another law student, said the differences between the two systems may seem stark, but he also said he sees how he can help his country following this experience.
“We have the opportunity to compare the American judicial system with the Moldovan one,” he said. “With this, we can bring a lot home and share our experience in the Republic of Moldova."
The judicial system in Moldova is vastly different from the one in America. For example, mediation is rarely used. In Moldova, anyone can be a mediator so long as the person has completed high school. Because of that, it is a very young and poorly advised field.
“We would like to see more mediation in our country, but the problem is that people are not informed in our country about this alternative method of solving the conflict,” Popil said. “People go straight to the lawyers. ... We hope to implement more cases of mediation.”
Additionally, jury trials are a rarity in Moldova. Drafts of law have been issued to the Moldovan parliament to allow both mediation and jury trials, and are waiting to be put to a vote.
But the main issue young lawyers face in Moldova is corruption. After meeting Judge Lynn Davis in the Fourth District Court, Bzovii said she would love to serve as a judge, as long as she could “be like this kind of judge.”
“In our country, it’s really hard to work in a system where bribery is at every corner,” she said. “If we could change that, I would love to be a judge in that system where I don’t have to deal with persons which try to corrupt me.”
Ethics was a major part of their experience in America, and Adelina Harunjen said it is an invaluable lesson in Moldovan law.
“We as young lawyers have a lot of things to do in our country. One of the first would be to promote legal ethics in our profession,” she said. “We need to promote only the true values of justice.”
Davis told the students they cannot cave to the pressures of how the legal system usually works, and must be honest in their legal careers.
“I would hope ... that you serve with great personal integrity,” he said. “I know that there are some jurisdictions in the world where that may be compromised.
"I would hope that as I look into your eyes that your commitment as it relates to that will be with absolute integrity.”
In between legal advice and classes at BYU, the students had plenty of time to go boating, hiking and to enjoy the sites of Utah and the eats of America.
“We tried a lot of American food, which were really new for us,” Bzovii said with a laugh. “We had root beer floats. We don’t have root beer in our country! We also had apple pie, which was amazing.”
The students said the bonds they’ve felt as they’ve grown to know other students from different parts of Moldova will never be severed.
“One of the consequences of this great internship is that the Leavitt Institute has united us,” Popil said. “We got closer and why not, maybe we’ll meet in our country again.”
They have a couple more weeks in Utah before returning to Moldova, with a big task to accomplish.
“We learned and were convinced that we are living in a time of change,” Harunjen said. “The future of our country is on our shoulders.”

The Lethbridge visit, which is a collaborative initiative by judges, crown prosecutors and defence counsel, was made possible through the Leavitt Institute. The instiute includes some of the brightest international relations specialists and legal minds in North America. It teaches democratic principles, the rule of law and ethics and has two branches in the U.S. and one in Canada.
During August, the Moldovan lawyers will spend time with Bill Wister, Lethbridge Chief Crown prosecutor, and Provincial Court Judge, Derek Redman. On August 7, they gathered at the Bowker Building in Edmonton to meet Deputy Minister Philip Bryden.
“I think it’s a great idea and we made our guests very welcome,” said Philip. “I was involved in education for 30 years and have had a lot of interaction with international students. It’s good for people in the justice system to exchange ideas with overseas students.”
The lawyers, Cristian Schiopu, Alexandra Pinzare and Vladislav Chirica, will attend trials, docket and domestic violence court in Lethbridge. They will meet people involved in restorative justice, mental health diversion and fetal alcohol syndrome programs.
“We gained our independence not a long time ago so we wanted to come to other countries to see how their justice systems work,” said Cristian. “We also wanted to bring some innovations from our country.”
The State University students will also spend time with defence counsel, Greg White, and Jeff Coffman, City of Lethbridge councillor, who will explain the relationship between the community and the justice system. They will attend a city council meeting, visit the police station and head to Lethbridge College where they will learn about the criminal justice program. To round off their trip, they will tour the Rocky Mountains and lower British Columbia.
In 2013, Bill Wister and his wife made a trip in the opposite direction. The couple spent two weeks in the Leavitt Institute in Kiev where they worked as volunteers. Their work involved teaching best practices to young Ukrainian lawyers to assist them in enhancing their justice system. He’s pleased to be taking part in another Leavitt Institute exchange trip.
“Lethbridge has really embraced this Leavitt Institute initiative,” said Bill. “The work of the institute establishes a great link between young lawyers in Moldova, Ukraine and North America. The lawyers share so many things in terms of their enthusiasm, desire and the kinds of issues they face, such as domestic violence. As they mature, they can keep in touch and continue to learn from each other to improve and enhance the global justice system. For me, that’s the key to success.”

TLI has organized Social meeting with the TLI National Competition participants and students that are planning to participate in the program next year. JET National Competition 2015 participants received their certificates for the participation in the JET Initiative program.

TLI Expert, Steven Mongomery, and TLI team visited three district courts in Moldova, including Botanica District Court, Hincesti District Court, Ceadir-Lunga District court, and Comrat Court of Appeals. Also TLI team had an opportunity to visit Prosecutor Office of the region Centru, Chisinau.

TLI Expert, Steven Mongomery, and TLI country director, Sviatoslav Tkachuk, have visited Probation office of the region Buiucani, Chisinau and had a conversation with three of the probation officers. They discussed their role in the criminal justice system and their opinions on how their office might be improved.

TLI Experts in partnership with National Institute of Justice of Moldova will spend 90 days in Moldova in 2015 to develop an understanding of Moldovan legal system. They will visit relevant officials in the particular organization and will seek knowledge and understanding of the relevant organization and its role in the justice system through observation of the organization’s daily functions, interaction and interviews with relevant officials, and study of specific areas of law. First TLI Expert this year is - Steven Montgomery

Judge Montgomery began the practice of law in 1979 and was appointed to the bench in 2006. He has been retained twice for his judgeship. He has presided over civil, felony, domestic relations and juvenile offender actions. Judge Montgomery is a member of the board for The Leavitt Institute and has served as a program instructor in Ukraine in multiple years.

TLI team visited the Supreme Court of Justice of the Republic of Moldova and spent one and half hours with the President of the Supreme Court, Mihai Poalelungi, Vice-president of the Supreme Court and President of the Criminal College, Petru Ursache, and Vice-president of the Civil College, Iulia Sîrcu. During the meeting we discussed operations of the Moldovan judicial system and possible areas of cooperation between TLI and the judiciary.

Last week TLI team was at Ciocana District Court in Chisinau, where it had an opportunity to visit judges of Ciocana District Court and observe several trials.

TLI team has visited the Court of Appeal in Balti. Bob Lochhead had an opportunity to visit Chief Judge of the Court of Appeal in Balti and observe several hearings.

TLI team has visited a Training of Probation Officers at National Institute of Justice and had an opportunity to communicate with the Head of the Central Probation Office of Moldova, Vladimir Popa, and two probation officers from Chisinau, Oleg Zamsa and Sergiu Urmasu.

TLI Experts in partnership with National Institute of Justice of Moldova will spend 90 days in Moldova in 2015 to develop an understanding of Moldovan legal system. They will visit relevant officials in the particular organization and will seek knowledge and understanding of the relevant organization and its role in the justice system through observation of the organization’s daily functions, interaction and interviews with relevant officials, and study of specific areas of law. First TLI Expert this year is - ROBERT B. LOCHHEAD

Robert O. Lochhead obtained B.A. degree from Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah in 1975. He received a J.D. from Columbia University, New York City in 1978. He worked as a law clerk in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Salt Lake City, Utah for 2 years. He worked as an attorney in private practice for 32 years. From 2010 to 2013 he served as a regional councel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Supervised in-house legal staff and outside counsel in Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Areas of responsibility included corporate compliance, real property, construction, labor, contracts, tax, human rights, immigration, finance, government relations, and litigation.

TLI Expert, Bob Lochhead, has met with JET Summer Interns 2015 and JET National Adversarial Proceedings Competition 2015 participants at TLI Centre.

JET National Adversarial Proceedings Competition 2015 was a success:

32 students participants from 6 Universities (USM, USEM, ULIM, USPEE, Balti State University, Comrat State University) from three areas of Moldova (Chisinau, Balti, Comrat). 17 students were selected for the TLI Summer Internship 2015 in USA and Canada.

TLI Annual Social Meeting with JET National Adversarial Proceedings Competition 2015 participants, David Leavitt and Donald Carroll, Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Section, United States Embassy Chisinau.

Bob Reeve has taught Opening Statement and Closing Argument classes at 6 Moldovan Universities. Students had chance to work in a team and deliver their own opening statements and closing arguments

TLI team has taught our class to 50 students from Comrat State University. Students were very involved and interested in the class. After the class TLI International Professional, Loren Lambert, and Country Director of JET Initiative, Sviatoslav Tkachuk, have visited the Dean of Comrat State University, Sergei Zaharia. The Dean was enthusiastic about the cooperation with TLI.

On the 25th of March, the representatives of The Leavitt Institute (TLI) has hosted a social meeting with the students from the Youth League (Liga Tineretului) in Moldova.