California Judges Association visiting South Africa

Early 2013 saw an intrepid group of Legal-Eagles from the California Judges Association (CJA) venture to South Africa to explore the Rule of Law and how it is interpreted and, in turn, implemented into society.

The insightful program included a visit to Constitution Hill and South Africa’s Constitutional Court where they held a meeting with His Honour Justice Edwin Cameron, one of South Africa’s eminent constitutional court judges. Furthermore, they visited the South African Judicial Education Institute and the Law Society of South Africa for in-depth conversations, and they attended sessions at the Cape High Court before meeting with its judges and the Cape Bar Council followed by a tour of the Western Cape High Court Administration offices.

Spontaneously, however, this group was invited to afternoon tea and coffee at the home of Justice Albie Sachs, one of South Africa’s luminaries in the judicial field. As an apartheid activist, he fought strongly to bring down the Apartheid regime from a legal perspective and at the turn of democracy in the country was one of the gentleman tasked by Mandela to assist in writing South Africa’s Constitution, now regarded as one of the most thorough in the world.

In amongst an exciting itinerary including leisure times visiting penguins, Cape Point, Table Mountain, the Apartheid Museum, Soweto and going on safari, the professional learning was powerful and impactful. Our CJA delegation was given an insight into South African politics and the role of the judiciary in the implementation of law at a level not usually accessed, even by most South Africans.

But the learning did not stop there.  On a recent trip to the United States, the favor was returned, and Justice Sachs, hosted by the CJA, was their keynote speaker at CJA’s conference in Palm Springs, CA just a few months later.

This, for us, is one of the most rewarding parts of our jobs.  Knowing that through international travel and person-to-person contact with peers, relationships develop and knowledge is exchanged on a continual basis as time progresses – meaning that growing and learning exists far beyond the initial journey once begun, on a remarkable visit to Africa.