20 Jan 2012

Bulgarian Judges Association as a Platform for Judicial Empowerment

Read 14032 times

Duration: 3 years

Grant:     420,000.00 BGL


Project Goals
Build a stronger judiciary adhering to higher professional and ethical standards and ensure judicial participation, expertise and experience as an indispensable reform resource.
Project Objectives. In pursuing this goal the Project will focus on the following objectives: 
1.Provide more judges with the institutional means to be involved in reforming the judicial branch and to voice their perspective;
2.Develop a set of key policies for the judicial reform and establish the model for judicial involvement in policymaking;
3.Strengthen BJA and reinforce its capacity to work nationally with its broader membership base (including young judges and judges from outside Sofia) as a key factor in rallying Bulgarian judges around high standards of professional integrity and a shared vision for the reform of the justice branch.
Policy development
Six key challenges for the judicial reform will be identified and detailed policy proposal for them will be developed and put forward. This process will both provide much needed judicial expertise for the judicial reform and help developing BJA as a platform for judicial empowerment. The identification of the challenges (respectively the areas of policy work) will happen with the input of judges and working of groups of judges will be formed for each area. This can be done at the Annual BJA Conference: in advance of the event the participants will be asked to fill in questionnaires on their perceptions of the most important challenges facing Bulgarian court. At the conference the outcomes of the polling will be presented and discussed and working groups will be formed for each of the three areas that were selected. The proceedings of the working groups will be reflected in detail on BJA web page and Bulletin and will be coordinated with civil sector experts. Outcomes of the working groups will be presented at the regional round-tables and at the next Annual BJA Conference where they will become official position of the BJA. BJA then will advocate for the adoption of the developed policy proposals. Members of the NIJ Network, judges from outside Sofia and the BJA’s local chapters will be specifically engaged to ensure that their perspectives and experience are reflected in the policy work.
For illustrative purposes, this is a provisional list of some possible areas of work:
•Case-load measurement and management;
•Governance in the judicial branch and the Status of court presidents;
•Judicial Ethics;
•Evaluation of judicial performance;
•Media-Judicial Relations;
•Quality of the acts of the Court.
Enabling activities
The implementation of the Project will be facilitated by several tools and activities. Simultaneously, these will contribute greatly for the overall institutional capacity-building of the BJA.  
National Institute of Justice Alumni Network. An online network of the NIJ Alumni will be established and based on the BJA web-page. A national conference for the members of the network will be held. The participating NJA Alumni will be involved in all other project activities. 
Round-tables. Quarterly Regional round-tables will be organized to ensure the inclusion of judges from all regions of Bulgaria in the development of the Project policies and the general work of BJA. They will ensure that judges from outside Sofia and from the BJA’s regional chapters will be engaged in the work on the Policies. 
Annual BJA Conference. Annual BJA Conferences will be conducted during the course of the Project with a view of making this a sustained practice. These events will be used as culmination of BJA efforts to engage judges nationally in its work and in the development of the Project Policies. 
Web-page. The existing BJA Web-page will be redesigned to become a dynamic communication tool with a primary goal of becoming the basis of a new dialogue within the judicial profession on all challenges it faces today in Bulgaria. It will be a key instrument for engaging the BJA membership base, provision of services, mobilizing judicial expertise and conveying the new image of BJA and the judicial profession as a whole. 
The America for Bulgaria Foundation assists in growing and strengthening a vibrant market economy and democratic society in Bulgaria, helping the country to realize its full potential as a successful, modern European nation. Founded in 2008, the ABF is a successor to the Bulgarian American Enterprise Fund, an investment fund created by the U.S. government acting through the U.S. Agency for International Development. The grants provided by ABF build on the legacy of goodwill and friendship that exists between the American people and the citizens of Bulgaria.