MOUNT VERNON — Having to go through interpreters slowed things down, but the attitude of the visiting judges from Ukraine quickly cut through that roadblock as they discussed the similarities and differences between courts in Ukraine and the U.S.
The four judges were in Ohio as part of the Open World Leadership Program run by the U.S. Library of Congress. The program is intended to give future Russian and Eurasian leaders the opportunity to experience American democracy and its operations, in this case American court systems.
The judges were in Columbus this week and were able to see state and county courts in operation there, but they also wanted to see how a single-judge court operated and so were referred to Knox County and the Common Pleas Court of Judge Otho Eyster.
The visiting judges observed the morning session of the court, then spent time talking with Eyster, Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher, Public Defender Bruce Malek and various officers of the court.
After a photo session in the courtroom, they spent time in the judge’s chambers, often asking him about objects he has on display there, then were treated to a cookout for lunch behind the courthouse.
Judge Ihor B. Kucher, chief judge of the Zboriv District Court in Ternopil Oblast, said he found it quite interesting to find out how the courts here operated, and was “quite pleased with how Americans keep their older buildings up to high standards. Ukraine should adopt similar standards for its courts.”
He was also impressed with Judge Eyster, saying “The judge has a lot of personality ... he’s a smart judge with a lot of charisma. You’re lucky to have such a judge and that the people keep voting for him for 30 years is impressive.”