Q&A: Anne Rudman
Anne Rudman, a criminal defense solo practitioner, is the new chair of the board of Lawyers Without Borders, a group of volunteer lawyers who often travel to developing countries to provide access to justice initiatives and to train lawyers in those countries on legal concepts and human rights.
Each trip includes volunteer teams of attorneys and judges who will train dozens of lawyers, judges and magistrates in foreign countries. Since 2005, about 300 lawyers and judges have gone to more than a dozen developing countries as part of the program. When LWOB leaves a country, it assesses the impact of the training and what can be improved to help future visits.
Rudman said LWOB has brought together a large group of experienced lawyers and judges as trainers. Some judges are leading entire training programs, such as Judge Ann Williams of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals; Judge Virginia Kendall of the Northern District of Illinois; Judge Donald Graham of the Southern District of Florida; and Judge Timothy Burgess of the District of Alaska.
The nonprofit organization was founded in 2000 by Connecticut attorney Christina Storm. Rudman, a 1977 Fordham Law School graduate, has traveled to Liberia, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea for LWOB work. She is the first New York attorney to lead the group.
Q: How did you get involved in Lawyers Without Borders?
A: After 25 years with the New York County District Attorney's Office working in [trials, appeals, asset forfeiture], I became a criminal defense attorney. Because my private practice provided some free time, I went to the New York City Bar's Public Service Network to discuss pro bono opportunities. I was put in touch with Christina Storm, the founder and executive director of Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB). Storm needed a lawyer to go almost immediately to Liberia, West Africa for three weeks. I got the job and shortly thereafter went to Liberia for my first LWOB assignment. Since then I have travelled on behalf of LWOB to Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda and Papua New Guinea, plus two more trips to Liberia.
Q: Can you describe your work in Liberia, Ghana and Uganda?
A: In March 2007, I was sent to Liberia, the first country LWOB was involved with, to assess the courts and their resources so LWOB could conduct a trial advocacy training program based on Liberia local rules and customs. When I arrived, I sought the consent and cooperation of the chief justice of the Liberian Supreme Court, Johnnie N. Lewis, for LWOB to conduct an intensive legal advocacy training program that focused on litigation skills, legal research, evidentiary rulings and ethics. The chief justice was understandably reluctant for outsiders to come in and train Liberian lawyers about Liberian law and practice, but he appreciated that LWOB's training program was developed by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy for use in the United States and internationally and would be modified to replicate the issues raised in criminal trials in Liberia. He also was impressed that Judge Ann C. Williams, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, would lead the training program. The chief justice granted permission and even encouraged the country's magistrates to participate.
I returned to Monrovia in July 2007 as one of several trainers. The chief justice was so pleased with the training, which was attended by 40 Liberian prosecutors, public defenders and magistrates, that he asked LWOB to conduct a follow-up training program for Liberian circuit court judges.
In 2008, I went to Kampala, Uganda to determine the feasibility of an advocacy training program focused on the country's imminent passage of its first domestic violence law. In addition to meeting with the architect of the new statute and its draftsmen, I explored potential relationships with the judiciary, prosecutors, defense attorneys (public and private) and interviewed police to determine how they handle domestic violence cases.