Cuttino's Georgian Life

A journal of my Peace Corps service in the Republic of Georgia, 2006-2008.

Friday, August 10, 2007

My Day in Blood Court

After a month-long hiatus I'm back in the swing of things in Georgia. I returned to the US to find that it is still there, just as I left it. It was kind of strange to be in a country with all those shiny new cars, air conditioning, traffic laws, and fast food. Coming back to Georgia, I found the daily temperatures approaching 100 degrees and almost no rain for a month. Home sweet home.

Last week, I received a summons from the Gori Regional Court to come and testify in the case of the theft back in January. My host cousin was facing his court hearing date and I had to come and...say something. I was instructed by Peace Corps to simply say, "I have no more claims against this person, please don't call me again." We initially tried to do this in writing, but the judge insisted that I come to the hearing.

We arrived about 30 minutes late to find that the hearing (of course) had not started. So the waiting began. I spent most of the time in a van with one of the Peace Corps staff members, refining my "statement" and discussing the criminal justice system in Georgia. One interesting thing I learned: criminal court literally translates to "blood court." Also, Georgia is just now trying to implement trial by jury, but seem to be running into problems. What do you do in a country of less than 4 million where everyone is connected to everyone? An impartial group of peers is most definitely hard to find.

In the end, I never got to make my statement. The police never escorted my former host cousin from the prison to the court. We'll have to wait another day. In the meantime, we've submitted another petition to the court, basically saying "I have nothing else to say, don't call me again."


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