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OPDAT’s Eurasia programs, funded by the U.S. Department of State, currently post Resident Legal Advisors (RLAs) in Georgia. Initiated in 1999, OPDAT’s Georgia RLA program builds sustainable capacity in the Georgian criminal justice sector, assisting the Georgians in modernizing their criminal justice system and building the rule of law in line with the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration goals. A Judicial Assistance RLA program, inaugurated in 2018, focuses on providing assistance to the Georgian judicial system, specifically on institutional reform and skills capacity training on criminal law topics. 

OPDAT provides expert input on existing and proposed legislation, helps mentor and train legal and law enforcement professionals, and offers expertise in establishing more effective criminal justice institutions.

Selected Issues

Legislative Reform

OPDAT support to the Government of Georgia resulted in a Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) that provides for full adversarial proceeding during the pre-trial and trial stages; as such, it facilitates effective criminal investigations and prosecutions in a manner that safeguards due process rights and core civil liberties. The CPC, including recent amendments, has been well received by the legal community and by the Georgian public. OPDAT has also helped to revise and modernize several key laws, including those addressing corruption, terrorism/terrorist financing, money laundering, human trafficking, child exploitation, domestic violence, and transnational organized crime in line with Georgia’s various international obligations. OPDAT has also played a leading role in helping to draft legislative packages focused on modernizing the process for judicial selection, education, ethics, and discipline. With OPDAT expertise and support, the Georgians enacted several waves of judicial reform over the past years. In fall 2019, they passed the most recent fourth wave of reform, which aims to resolve issues including protracted case hearings, case backlogs, conflicts of interest, and judicial discipline. OPDAT will continue to support the passage and effective implementation of legislative reforms within the judiciary aimed at increasing the capacity and independence of Georgian judges. 

OPDAT has also played a major role in developing more specialized justice sector laws.  

Capacity Building

OPDAT is currently assisting Georgian legal and law enforcement professionals throughout the country with developing their investigative and prosecutorial skills.  The RLA conducts multi-topic case-based mentoring and skills training programs for prosecutors and investigators throughout Georgia on the CPC and Criminal Code, focusing on improving prosecutorial capacity to successfully pursue cybercrime, transnational organized crime, corruption, child exploitation, terrorism, and money laundering. The RLA places an emphasis on effective investigative tools, trial advocacy skills for bench and jury trials, prosecutorial ethics, rules of evidence and discovery, as well as on grooming a cadre of local Georgian trainers who co-instruct with the RLA.  

The Georgian JRLA assists the judiciary with developing judges' skills in courtroom management and control, evaluation and admission of evidence, the drafting of legal orders, jury selection and trials, and increasing courthouse and judicial security. The JRLA develops the country's judicial academy, the High School of Justice (HSOJ), through improving faculty (judge-trainers) skills, curriculum development, instruction delivery, and evaluation of training effectiveness.  The JRLA provides direct, case-based mentoring to judges and promotes mentoring by U.S. judges through study visits to the U.S. and reciprocal visits of U.S. judges to Georgia. The JRLA provides skills training instruction on U.S. best practices in evidence evaluation and admission, as well as unique considerations in presiding over specific types of cases, such as complex litigation and domestic violence. The JRLA also assisted judges in bringing U.S. best practices to bear in the country's first jury trials conducted under pandemic restrictions.


Institutional Reform

OPDAT helped the Georgians craft a merit-based selection process for the Prosecutor General of Georgia, which was subsequently implemented to select a new Prosecutor General in 2015, 2018, and 2020.  Since that time, the ODPAT RLA has helped devise and implement a long-term strategy for the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia, which includes priorities, policies, and procedures.  OPDAT also helped the Georgians stand up victim-witness advocate offices in each major prosecution office throughout the country. OPDAT is also working in cooperation with the Georgian High School of Justice and supports an ongoing dialogue between U.S. federal and state judges and their Georgian counterparts to improve the organization and operation of this training facility, particularly for criminal court judges.

Updated August 11, 2023