written by NITA guest blogger Doris Cheng
On August 11, 2017, NITA completed its fifth advanced trial advocacy skills training in the Caribbean with the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) as part of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI). One of the goals of CBSI is to increase public safety and security through improving the rule of law. NITA has been considered the expert in international advocacy training and a proud partner with NCSC in the CBSI efforts.
This recent NITA advocacy skills program provided training to the Port of Spain Prosecutor’s Office led by the Director of Public Prosecution Roger Gaspar. NITA Program Director Doris Cheng, L.C. Wright, Cynthia Goode Works, Hon. Matthew Williams, and Kimberly Moore conducted a three day program focusing on lay and expert witness examinations, opening statement and closing arguments in a complex murder case. The case materials were challenging and parallel the types of cases that Caribbean prosecutors regularly encounter. This is the first of two advocacy skills programs for the Office of Public Prosecution in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Before the program started, NITA faculty had the opportunity to visit the trial courts and observe bail hearings conducted by local Justice Gillian Lucky, who was enthusiastic about the use of different trial techniques and audio-visual demonstrations. Program Director Doris Cheng commented, “We had an inspiring exchange of modern day trial skills techniques with high skilled prosecutors. The persuasive techniques that NITA has been teaching since 1971 continue to be relevant in all adversarial justice systems.” At the end of the program, DPP Roger Gaspar, who also teaches trial advocacy at the law school, expressed his pleasure with training provided by NITA and NCSC. The exercises brought out the verve and vigor of the prosecutors, who enjoyed testing their arguments against one another. A number of the prosecutors exclaimed their excitement about learning different approaches to witness examinations.
NITA’s learning-by-doing style has been incredibly successful in the Caribbean. The first NITA training in the Caribbean was held in Antigua in July of 2015. Prosecutors from Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, and St. Vincent & Grenadines attended the three-day workshops. After the program, the judges remarked that the advocates’ courtroom presentations were much improved with the training. NCSC next invited NITA to reprise the program for the prosecutors in Jamaica and then in the Bahamas.
NITA returns to Port of Spain, Trinidad to work with the remaining thirty prosecutors in September, which will mark NITA’s third trip to Port of Spain. In addition to training the prosecutors, NITA delivered advocacy training to the Legal Aid defense attorneys earlier this year in January.