Montenegro Justice System Reform Project by jqy64044



   Justice System Reform Project

  Short-Term Technical Assistance
Communications and Public Education

           Final Report

       Brenda Lee Pearson
   Mendez England and Associates

    Submitted December 12, 2006

The reform of the judiciary has been identified by the Government of Montenegro as a priority.
Communications with all stakeholders and the general public is a critical element of successful
judicial reform. There were two main objectives of the short-term technical assistance
subcomponent implemented by Mendez England and Associates (MEA)*: 1) increase public
knowledge of how the courts function and 2) to provide a communications strategy for
improving public access, services and information from the courts to the public.

(*Please Note: This public awareness subcomponent was implemented by Mendez England &
Associates (ME&A), a U.S. small business subcontractor to Checchi and Company Consulting,
Inc., the prime contractor.)

Throughout the duration of the project, a series of activities were designed and conducted that
improved media and judicial relations between selected court presidents, judges and
journalists. The project also designed training courses for key members of the judiciary that
sharpened professional presentation skills so that the judges and court personnel were better
trained to engage with the media and general public. Simultaneously the project team began to
work on specific public outreach projects for implementation in the model (or “pilot”) courts.
These projects were vital to the success of the public awareness subcomponent, and included
publications, signage, directories and training on customer service. All of these activities were
designed to make the courts more accessible to the general public.

The Checchi (“Justice System Reform Project” or “Project”) Project’s first activity in the area
of public awareness subcomponent was to conduct a national public opinion survey in 2005
that provided valuable baseline information. As a follow-up, the Project conducted
supplemental questionnaires in the two “model” courts (Kotor and Cetinje) to determine the
specific level of citizen knowledge of and satisfaction with the courts. The Project utilized the
baseline data for monitoring and performance purposes; however it was also necessary to
present the data to counterparts. By presenting the data from the national survey and follow-up
questionnaire to counterparts, the Project provided valuable feedback to effect a change in
attitudes concerning judicial relations with the general public and media outlets.

The communications and public education activities included:

   1. Three judiciary-media relations trainings that included more than 40 members of the
      judiciary and media.
   2. A publication for journalists: A Guide to the Criminal Code that was distributed to all
      media outlets in the country.
   3. Two trainings on customer service relations for 50 court personnel.
   4. New court signage and directories in four courts, including public information kiosks
      and a plasma screen installation in Podgorica Basic Court.
   5. Posters, brochures and standardized court forms distributed to all courts in Montenegro.
   6. 17 press conferences held at the national and local levels throughout the country.
   7. A national conference on Judiciary-Media relations that yielded extensive national
      press coverage and created new working relationship amongst judges and journalists.
   8. Comprehensive public opinion related to judicial reform at the nation and local levels.

Checchi Consulting conducted a final evaluation of the communications and public education
subcomponent of the Justice System Reform Project. More than 30 interviews with judges,
journalists, lawyers, court staff and civil society leaders were conducted in Podgorica, Kotor,
Cetinje, Berane, Rozaje, Plav, Pljevlja, Herceg Novi, Bar and Ulcinj. These interviews serve as
the basis for the recommendations and conclusions of this report.

The general consensus of these interviews is that the Project is ending just as concrete
improvements are being acknowledged by the media and the public. Many judges expressed
the opinion that “ice was broken” and judges and journalists learned that they have far more in
common than they knew. One judge said that after attending two trainings, he concluded that
“ignorance was obvious on both sides.” Many journalists expressed a shared frustration with
the judges in that they need to close the distance between the two worlds. On-going,
continuous communication is needed because the judiciary is so complicated that many young
reporters give up on trying to understand the process and then resort to more “scandal-based”

Many of the participants in the Project’s activities related stories and instances of unexpected
cooperation between the judiciary and media that resulted directly from the informal and
formal interactions with each other throughout the project’s activities. One journalist, perhaps,
summarized for all:

       The historic questions of Montenegro are now decided. We are independent
       and we no longer have the Balkan Wars tied around our necks. The real
       question is what type of country we will become? The structures of corruption
       are very strong in our country, especially because we are small and it has a
       greater impact. The only way that we can move forward is if the judiciary and
       media work together to fight the corruption. We need to understand that
       publicly the media and judiciary are opponents; but privately we know that we
       are on the same side. Only through these informal meetings of USAID have we
       started to build the trust needed to move to the next stage of democratic
       development. It is too soon to stop what you have started.

II.    Model Courts

The Communications and Public Education consultant visited the two model courts in Kotor
and Cetinje six times during her engagement. The court presidents were helpful and understood
the importance of improving public access to the courts and providing information materials.
They discussed their priorities in terms of trainings and publications. The court presidents
concurred with our recommendations to concentrate improving the communications and
presentation skills of the court presidents and senior judges as it is the most effective means of
communicating with the general public. They agreed to participate in three proposed judicial-
media relations trainings in 2005-2006.

Meetings were held in Kotor and Cetinje with members of the Bar Association, journalists and
active leaders of local nongovernmental associations. These community leaders shared their
frank assessments of the court and personnel. They offered recommendations on how the court
could better establish community trust and public debate. It was our intention to develop on-
going discussions with the local NGOs in order to build public support for our efforts. Some of
the initial recommendations proved to be useful in determining what type of information
should be included in our publications. The inclusion of these stakeholders in the early stages
of developing the communications strategy helped to make these individuals and organizations
supporters of the project.

The court presidents understood the importance of public relations but did not believe that they
had either adequate staff or funding resources to appoint a full-time public spokesperson. They
believed the task of public relations or community outreach should be the responsibility of the
court president in smaller communities such as Kotor and Cetinje. They also believed that the
Ministry of Justice should provide some guidance or training in terms of what types of
information should be communicated to the media and to the public. In response, the

Communications and Public Education consultant provided media guidelines that adhere to the
Council of Europe media guidelines for the judiciary. 1

The court presidents and judges requested technical assistance in a second area. They and other
members of the judiciary were frustrated by the low quality of media reporting on issues
related to the judiciary and court proceedings. The journalists in Montenegro had little
conceptual understanding of how the judiciary and courts, in particular, function. Thus, the
working relationships between judges and journalists were strained or nonexistent. There was a
general lack of cooperation due to a basic misunderstanding of how the judiciary and media
should relate to each other. The project responded accordingly and designed a series of
trainings or interactions between key judges and journalists. The objective was to build a basis
of trust among selected judges and journalists through structured trainings and meetings
facilitated by Checchi staff and consultants that may eventually lead to solid working

The senior members of the judiciary in the two model courts were receptive to the idea of
improvements to their courts that would result in better public understanding. The court
presidents selected administrative staff, which has on-going contact with public, to participate
in a series of customer services trainings. The objective of these trainings was to present the
administrative staff with guidance on responding to public complaints, how to manage stress
and using the computer to facilitate their record-keeping. The project was designed and
published brochures, posters and other materials that explained basic court procedures, forms
and the correct public conduct in the courts. These materials were distributed to the court staff
and discussed during the trainings in order to make the staff more familiar with standardized

The court presidents from Kotor and Cetinje guided our improvements to the court facilities.
They suggested improvements to courts that would serve public needs. This consultant
interviewed court staff and police to determine which questions were most frequently asked by
the public. Based on their comments, we designed a series of posters and public information
materials that addressed the most frequently asked questions. The project also designed and
built public information kiosks to displace materials and important notifications. The signs,
posters, and materials were color coordinated, which provided a crisp, professional way of
delivering information. The use of consistent color, formatting and standardized forms also
gave a sense of continuity from one court to another.

A consensus developed regarding public education improvements among the court presidents
of the two model courts and other seven courts that were equipped by the Checchi project.
USAID agreed to expand the scope of the project beyond the two model courts and seven other
courts received additional communications and public education assistance. The project was
expanded to include the courts in Podgorica, Berane, Rozaje, Plav, Pljevlja, Herceg Novi, Bar
and Ulcinj.

Public information materials were distributed to all the courts in Montenegro.

II.    Judicial – Media Relations Trainings

Based on the recommendations provided by ten court presidents, the project developed a series
of judicial-media relations trainings. Eventually, each court in Montenegro should have a fully
functioning information office in the court, which is staffed by a trained public information
officer. At present a handful of the courts in the country have assigned public information

 Consultative Council of European Judges Opinion No. 7, adopted in Strasbourg, 23-25 November
responsibilities to a designated individual. In lieu of fully functioning information offices in the
courts, the Justice Reform Project (Checchi) Chief of Party and this consultant designed
training programs that concentrate on improving individual media and public presentations
skills of the court presidents and senior staff or judges.

During consultations, the court presidents agreed that in lieu of fully functioning information
offices in the courts, it would be most useful to concentrate on improving individual media and
public presentations skills of the court presidents and senior judges. Accordingly, we designed
a training program that would work directly with court presidents from Podgorica Basic Court,
Administrative Court and courts in Kotor, Cetinje, Berane, Rozaje, Plav, Pljevlja, Herceg
Novi, Bar and Ulcinj. Representatives from seven of the above mentioned courts, including
court presidents and court secretaries, participated in the trainings. For many of the
participants, this was the first time that they had an opportunity to interact with their
counterparts from other courts.

The Montenegro Media Institute (MMI) was chosen as a partner because of its experience in
conducting media relations training. This consultant had previously worked with the Institute
for World Bank-funded trainings and had a very positive impression of the organization as did
other international donors. The Institute was engaged to provide the trainers, facilities,
technical equipment and camera operators. Three judicial-media relations training seminars
were conducted during the period of October 2005 – June 2006 that were designed to increase
the judges public presentation skills, to discuss and to formulate standardized responses to
public and media inquiries and to develop working relationships with selected journalists. The
journalists, in turn, became more familiar with court operations and procedures, which resulted
in more accurate media coverage.

The Montenegro Media Institute facilitated the conduct of the three trainings. The MMI
worked with Checchi to ensure that all logistical support, administrative back-stopping,
technical equipment, support staff and trainers were provided. The communications training
was divided into two components. The first component focused on an overview of basic public
relations concepts and why communicating directly with the public and media are important.
The second component of the training focused on how to communicate. The MMI staff hired
experienced local journalists to conduct the mock interviews so that the participants would
benefit from direct, first-hand encounters with journalists that they would likely meet in the

These two trainings concluded the public information and public awareness subcomponent of
the Justice System Reform Project. In total, more than 20 court presidents and senior judges
benefited from our trainings. In addition, nine journalists assisted with the trainings and had
opportunities in interact one-on-one with members of the judiciary.

   A. Training Seminar I

Training Seminar I focused on media in Montenegro, journalists’ experiences and expectations
regarding the courts, the government’s position on providing information and the role of the
information officer and the courts’ obligations to provide information according the law. The
trainers included three journalists, a judicial expert on media relations, a government
spokesperson, Checchi’s Chief of Party and this consultant. The first day included an
introduction to public education and information concepts. The participants learned about
message development, interaction with the public and how to use public education materials to
deliver effectively their messages.

All nine of the court presidents requested that Checchi provide further communications
trainings with hands-on practical exercises to improve their speaking skills and to be better at
the “give-and-take” during media interviews.

   B. Training Seminar II

Training Seminar II consisted of practical training for print, radio and television interviews.
The participants learned valuable techniques to improve verbal and nonverbal communications
for the various media outlets. The second day consisted of hands-on communications training
in television and radio presentations. MMI engaged experienced journalists to conduct mock
interviews that were taped. The interviews were taped and analyzed by the judges’ peers and
staff of the Montenegro Media Institute. The journalists interviewed court presidents and staff
and asked relevant questions about their jobs. The participants were divided into small groups
and asked to analyze their colleagues’ taped interviews with the MMI trainers as facilitators.
This training format accomplished two things: 1) the participants overcame their nervousness
and treated the exercise very seriously in terms of professional development and 2) the
participants learned how to critique and to offer constructive criticism that will improve their
colleagues’ future interviews.

At the conclusion of the training seminar, the participants attended a working lunch with the
trainers and selected journalists to discuss the exercise. The participants, many who had to
travel a great distance home, remained at the lunch two hours beyond its scheduled conclusion.
They collectively developed a media strategy on how to address some of the ongoing scandals
in the judiciary if they were asked specific questions during interviews.

   C. Training Seminar III

The first day of the training was a presentation and an interactive discussion attended by 14
journalists and senior judges, including four court presidents. Prior to the training, MMI had
assigned two journalists to draft investigative reports on the functioning and public perceptions
of how the Basic Courts function in Kotor and Cetinje. The journalists spent approximately
two weeks to research and drafted their stories. MMI facilitators led the discussion regarding
the media reports on the courts in Kotor and Cetinje and extrapolated this information to make
general comments on overall public opinion.

The second day consisted of a televised roundtable discussion between journalists and senior
judges, including five court presidents. The discussion focused on how the judiciary and media
could cooperate in order to improve the accuracy of media coverage related to the judiciary. In
turn, the judges had an opportunity to explain how the judiciary functions and what types of
interactions between judges and journalists are appropriate.

The journalists presented a number of suggestions that would improve the working
relationships 1) more informal meetings with court presidents and members of the Judicial
Council, 2) guidelines or manuals that explain the complexities of common judicial processes,
3) appointment of a public information officer to work with the media, 4) regularly scheduled
press conferences, 5) more frequent and “interesting” information on website sites, 6) more
access to statistical data and information regarding court proceedings, 7) clear compliance on
the access to information law, and 8) more frequent public opinion polling and sharing of this

This training seminar accomplished two things: 1) the participants overcame some of their
reservations and began to find common ground in their responsibility to communicate to the
general public and 2) the participants learned how to critique and to offer constructive criticism

that will improve their future collaboration. At the conclusion of the training seminar, the
participants attended a working lunch with the trainers to further the discussion.

It is recommended that similar trainings be held in other cities in Montenegro that would bring
together judges and journalists regionally. These training seminars should follow the same
format but perhaps the training could be compressed into one day since the participants will
not need to travel.

   D. Judicial-Media Relations Conference

In coordination with the Montenegro Media Institute (MMI), the project hosted a two-day
conference that aimed to improve working relationships between journalists and senior
members of the judiciary, especially court presidents. The objective of the conference was two-
fold, to manufacture an event to gather judges and journalists in a “controlled environment” in
order to encourage informal discussions and secondly, to launch our new publication. The
conference format provided ample opportunities to conduct television print and radio

Respected pollster Dr. Prof. Veselin Pavicevic presented an overview of polling that
demonstrated from various categories a consistently low public opinion towards the judiciary.
The public sampling was presented geographically according to “north,” “center” and coast.
There were divergences in public opinion according to geography but the widest variable was
by political party affiliation. The polling also suggested that the public generally has a low
opinion of the media as well. The polling data did support USAID’s emphasis on training, the
need for public information materials and a vigorous focus on public education activities.

The court presidents who participated in the Checchi Project’s initial trainings used some of
their newly acquired skills in the above mentioned press conferences and interviews. Their
increased confidence was evident during the observed exchanges with local media. The court
presidents insisted on speaking directly with the journalists and physically presenting samples
of the new public education materials on their behalf, rather than simply sending the materials
by courier.

The two-day conference was attended by approximately 40 participants, including speakers,
journalists, judges, and camera crews. The main topic of discussion centered on the publication
of a journalists’ guidebook to the criminal code (VODIC za Novinare Kroz Krivicni Postupak).
The six-member drafting team presented their work and engaged the mixed audience of
journalists and judges in an exchange about mutual expectations. The discussion prompted a
number of recommendations on how to build trust and foster informal working relationships
between the judiciary and the media.

The journalists present who attended the press conferences and interviews gave a number of
suggestions that would improve the working relationships 1) appointment of a public
information officer to work with the media, 2) regularly scheduled press conferences, 3) more
frequent and “interesting” information on website sites, and 4) clear compliance on the access
to information law.

The judges, in turn, presented their opinions on how and why the media consistently reported
incorrectly on criminal proceedings. The period of investigation seemed to spark the most
misunderstandings between the two groups. The presentation by criminal lawyer Nikola
Martinovic clarified many of the contentious issues about what aspects of criminal proceedings
should and could be covered by the media.

Other specific recommendations that were made during the conference include:
       •   There should be bilingual public education materials made available, especially in
           Ulcinj, which has a sizeable ethnic Albanian community. 2

       •   Journalists tend to depict individuals who dispense justice rather than emphasize the
           institutions that dispense justice. This poses a problem but at the same time it means
           that the training of individuals has a greater impact on public opinion than institutional
           support. The media reinforces this by covering the stories in terms of personalities and
           of institutions.

       •   How to build or improve the perceptions of the courts and judiciary should be a
           cooperative effort between media and judiciary. The courts should have a functioning
           set of rules or guidelines that are given to each court as a type of direction of what the
           courts should do, at a minimum. This set of rules or recommendations would reduce
           stress and put into a clear framework what to do in times of unusual attention.

       •   The Ministry of Justice should be obligated to conduct one press conference monthly,
           issue weekly press releases and distribute guidelines for communication related to
           “big” cases.

       •   The role of lawyers needs to be regulated: there seems to be an enormous pressure on
           the judges and court presidents to perform too many functions that are the
           responsibilities of lawyers in other countries.

            Training Session III with Journalists and Judges, Podgorica, Montenegro

III.       Guide to the Criminal Code

A common problem throughout Southeast Europe is the lack of professionally trained
journalists who are assigned to cover specific topics such as economics, politics, sports or
cultural affairs. Journalists are often expected to cover any and all topics on any given day and

 In direct response to this request, Checchi provided 250 posters, brochures and other materials in the
Albanian language. The materials were delivered on the same day as parliament debated its new
“minority rights” legislation. Several members of parliament commended our efforts and acknowledged
our endeavor as an important contribution to promoting greater understanding amongst all citizens of
do not develop any specific expertise. There is also a high degree of distrust or animosity
between journalists and members of the judiciary that has it roots in isolated power structures,
residual problems from the recent Balkan Wars and lack of overall trust in the transparency
and integrity of the courts. These factors make it difficult for journalists and judges (judiciary)
to communicate with each other. Few journalists understand how the courts function and few
judges have positive working relationships with the media.

The Project proposed that it would be helpful to publish a guidebook for journalists that would
explain how the criminal procedure functions. The Project recommended that a working group
be formed to draft the publication. Its purpose was to aid journalists in understanding the
complexities of the criminal code so that they may more accurately write about criminal cases.
A USAID grantee, ABA CEELI, had commissioned the drafting of guidelines to the criminal
codes for journalists in Croatia and Serbia and it was clear that Montenegro would benefit from
a similar endeavor.

After consultations with the new President of the Supreme Court (and most senior ranking
member of the Judicial Council), the Project selected three legal experts: a member of the
Supreme Court, president of the Basic Court Podgorica and a renowned criminal lawyer. Three
journalists from print, television and radio were also selected for the working group. The first
and second meetings of the working group were held during field visits of the communications
consultant in November and December 2005. The working group reviewed the text of a similar
project in Croatia and vowed that their publication would be “far superior.”

Based on the lively three-hour discussion during the December 7, 2005 meeting, deep
professional relationships developed amongst the members of the working group. The third
meeting took place on December 10, 2005. The group agreed to meet a minimum of 6 times
between December and March 2006. The deadline for drafting the text was March 1, 2006 and
expected publication date shortly thereafter. The working group also included an extensive
glossary of terms that is especially useful for journalists (and perhaps young attorneys).

A press release about the publication was sent to the major news outlets and wire service. As a
result, the book launch was widely covered in the media. The Checchi Chief of Party and
authors of the publication have appeared on television and radio programs that have
highlighted the project. The publicity was extraordinarily positive and contributed to a general
sense of cooperation and good will between the judiciary and media. This publication created
better understanding of the criminal code by journalists and should lead to better and more
accurate media coverage. The book was distributed to all media outlets, including print,
television and radio. The publication was then launched through a coordinated round-table
discussion, press releases and television interviews.

Zoran Pazin, President of Basic Court Podgorica, Member of the Drafting Committee, “this
is the right time to begin the dialogue. There will be an even greater need to develop
understanding and trust between the two pillars of democratic societies, which are the judiciary
and the media.

The judiciary sees the media and its journalists as potential allies and colleagues who need to
be educated about court procedures and basic terminology.”

During visits in October 2006 to nine selected courts, many of the local journalists were
already familiar with the Checchi Project. They had read or heard about the Guide to the
Criminal Code. During our meetings we were able to discuss the book with more than 15
journalists. They were universally appreciative of the effort to explain a complex topic in a
straight-forward manner. The journalists requested that Checchi prepare a guide to the civil

code. This publication, however, would be much bigger undertaking. It is unlikely that project
funds are available.

The following are comments from two members of the drafting committee, one a court
president and the other a journalist and editor of the most influential newspaper in Montenegro:

Vladan Micunovic, Journalist, Member of the Drafting Committee, “there is a general
consensus that the judiciary and media need to work together but this working relationship is
not sufficiently developed because of the lack of trust. Only three newspapers report regularly
about court cases and much of this is superficial. The main focus is on criminal trials that have
a scandal angle.

Newspapers insist that reporting from court rooms should be fair and correct. Here are the
criteria: 1) accuracy 2) once a mistake is made, it should immediately be recognized and to be
corrected 3) it is unacceptable to omit important elements of the case 4) reporting should be
balanced and fair 5) no slanting of personal characterizations should be allowed, 6) use of
anonymous sources reduces the trust of judges 7) judges should know that direct dialogue with
journalists is more helpful than just closing the door.

Judges and journalists should reject an idealist view of a working relationship and think about
a realistic starting point rather than moving from no relationship to a perfect one. Judges also
panic when the media is present or shows an interest in their cases. They are not used to
working with journalists and need to learn communications skills. Journalists have not
managed well to develop good working relationship and to follow professional standards and
know little about the legislative procedure.

The journalists will not be chasing judges on a daily basis if the judges do manage to establish
good working relationships. One phone call will be enough if there is a certain level of trust
but if the judge avoids journalists than the journalists will attack the judges in the courts.
There is also a public and media interest in judges’ lives outside of the courts and this is a fact
that public figures will be under greater and greater pressure from the journalists and this will
require greater interest and focus. This is the trend and judges in Crna Gora should be
prepared for this trend, it is a normal development and not something irregular

We need to involve journalists more in the planning and trainings. The biggest benefit will be
to journalists who are at the early stages of their careers

IV.    Customer Services Trainings

As per the project work plan, court personnel at the administrative and clerical level were
identified as potential beneficiaries of customer services training. On previous field visits, this
consultant met with the court personnel and court presidents to discuss which type of training
would be most appropriate.          The court personnel conveyed a sense of pride and
accomplishment in their jobs but hinted that they felt somewhat isolated as well. They cited job
stress and lack of encouragement as most difficult, especially since they had to deal with
generally unruly and impatient public users of the courts.

The court presidents identified administrative staff and court interns who have routine contact
with the general public. These individuals, about three from each court, were invited to
participate in a public relations and customer service trainings. A one-day customer services
training was designed in coordination with the Public Relations Resource Center, an
organization that predominately trains NGO staff and volunteers. This consultant and the
Director of the Public Relations Resource Center discussed their training capacities. The PR
Center identified a renowned trainer, who is a psychologist and wife of the minister of
education (this added tremendous cache to the training for the court staff who are infrequently
in Podgorica and unlikely to meet such “political personalities”).

The customer services trainings for the court administrative staff that has direct contact with
the general public focused on: customer service, handling complaints, phone etiquette and
basic communications skills. The age and professional experience amongst the participants
varied widely, ranging from 20 days on the job to more than 37 years. None of the more than
55 participants had ever attended a training session before and they were tremendously
enthusiastic after the initial ice-breaking session. They seemed relieved and somewhat amazed
that their colleagues in other cities shared common experiences.

The training was repeated a second day in order to maximize the number of participants. The
participants learned about handling public complaints and ways of reducing job tensions
through sharing experiences with colleagues. The biggest benefit of the training was an
implicit acknowledgement that each of these “lower professional level” court employees is
important and worthy of attention, which is how they interpreted the invitation to the training.
On balance, their daily problems with the general public seem to be of less significance than
their inter-personal relations with senior judges and legal professionals. They do not seem to
have much vertical contact with the other legal professionals in the courts and the contact that
they do have is not necessarily positive.

A second customer services training was conducted in February 2006. The main focus was on
using technology to improve their workplace environment and efficiency. They received
computer skills training and how to use computerized templates to post public information
notices in the courts. The Checchi project used this opportunity to discuss the development and
distribution of new public information materials, such as public information kiosks, brochures,
signs and posters. The project informed the personnel about the Judicial Council’s
development of templates for common court procedures. It will be the responsibility of these
personnel to properly integrate these templates into the work to improve court efficiency and to
raise customer satisfaction.

The court presidents requested that Checchi offer a follow-up training for administrative staff.
They suggested that it would be helpful to provide training to selected courts in the north and
in the south. The benefits of hosting two workshops in different cities is that the court
personnel would have similar work situations, challenges, types of court cases, etc. Their
preference for the geographic grouping of participation is on target. Unfortunately, limited
remaining project funds are available to expand the customer relations training.

V.     Publications and Public Information Materials

The overarching objective of the public education subcomponent of the project was to make
the judiciary reforms and the functioning of the courts more understandable to the general
public. The Checchi project and this consultant interviewed many graphic design agencies to
produce a complex array of public information materials, new signage and directories in the
courts and an electronic plasma screen for the Basic Court Podgorica. Many of our conceptual
ideas were new in Montenegro and that required many design revisions throughout 2005-6. For
instance, some of the materials had to be ordered from Belgrade or custom-made in
Montenegro, which necessitated engaging about seven local artists and vendors to produce the
desired signage.

This consultant and local staff met with the Barroom Barroom agency four times during two
field visits before selecting the agency. In addition, we toured the Podgorica Basic Court and
Commercial Court to determine what signage will be needed for these courts’ renovations. The
design agency worked closely with the presidents of these two courts and in Kotor and Cetinje
in order to manufacture and mount the new signage. The new signage, directories and
information kiosks were completed in May 2006.

We consulted with judges and court secretaries from the Commercial Court and Basic Court
Podgorica. According to the court personnel, the public reaction has been extremely positive to
the new signs, directories, posters and other materials. Checchi staff and this consultant visited
these two courts and observed public reactions to and interest in the improvements.

A plasma screen display was installed in Podgorica Court that lists the daily hearing schedules
for judges. Additionally, these employees were issued name badges that have been designed by
our graphic agency. The Commercial Court requested additional signs, which were installed.
At the request of two court presidents, we also designed and distributed “suggestion boxes” to
be placed in the court entrances.

A. Public Information Kiosks and Plasma Screen Information Display

There were some set-backs in the construction of the public information kiosks, mainly due to
the lack of materials available to local vendors. The design was modified to accommodate the
vendor’s limited supply of materials. (For example, the counters of the public information
kiosks are now angular rather than semi-circular because there was not a machine available to
cut round patterns). The color and basic design of the kiosks remained unchanged.

Basic Court Podgorica plasma screen, which lists a daily schedule of hearing and judges
assigned to each hearing.

Initial Designs of the Public Information Kiosks

B. Standardized Forms

The Checchi project proposed developing standardized forms for common procedures that
could be used in all courts. Our proposal prompted a positive response from the Judicial
Council, which decided to take the lead on this idea. Checchi, in cooperation with the
Supreme Court, designed and drafted commonly used court forms that allow citizens to
represent themselves pro se in simple court procedures and filing. These forms were
distributed to all the courts in the country, which will permit all citizens, regardless of
geography, education, financial ability or political party affiliation to represent properly their
court cases without relying on attorneys. The existence of these simplified court forms
guarantees that all citizens have access to judicial proceedings irrespective of the ability to pay
attorneys or in some cases.

   •   Fee Schedule
   •   Required Documentation and Sample for Pleading and for Response to Pleading
   •   Appointment of an Attorney
   •   No Eating, Smoking, Phones, etc. in the Courts

                                                               OSNOVNI SUD U________________

Tužilac: ________________________(JMBG: ___________________) iz _____________________,
ul. ____________________________,
Tuženi: _________________________ (JMBG___________________) _______________________,
ul. ____________________________,

                                      ZA POVRACAJ DUGA

                                                              v.s. ___________DEM.

  Tužilac je tuženom na ime zajma ____________________________ god. isplatio iznos od
  _____________DEM. (slovima: __________________________________) sa rokom vracanja od
  __________________o čemu je sačinjen i ugovor.

  DOKAZ: Ugovor o zajmu od ____________________. god.

  Tuženi nije blagovremeno ispunio ugovornu obavezu te je tužilac u cilju obezbjeđenja svog
  potraživanja dobio od tuženog pismenu Izjavu o priznanju duga.

  DOKAZ: Izjava o priznanju duga od ____________________. ovjerena pred Osnovnim sudom u

  Imajući u vidu da tuženi ni do danas nije vratio zajam, predlažem da ovaj Sud nakon sprovedenog
  dokaznog postupka donese sljedecu


  OBAVEZUJE SE TUŽENI da tužiocu isplati iznos od _____________DEM. u protivvrijednosti u
  eurima uvećan za za zateznu kamatu koja teče od ______________ ___________. god. pa do konačne
  isplate, kao i da nadoknadi tužiocu troškove sudskog postupka, sve prednje u roku od petnaest dana od
  pravosnažnosti pod prijetnjom izvršenja.



                                     Standardized Form

C. Brochures and/or Pamphlets

The first two series of brochures were concise outlines of how the individual courts function
and a description of the judicial structure. The second brochure focused on specific court
operations and procedures. The Checchi project lawyers developed first drafts for approval by
selected judges. The design and format was consistent with the standardized forms.

After consultations with the Chief of the Supreme Court and other judges, the project provided
brochures, posters and court forms to all of the courts in Montenegro. The nine courts that
received extensive assistance from the project received additional materials. These nine courts
were visited by representatives of the Checchi project. Checchi delivered the public education
materials to each city. Local media was informed of the visit and we encouraged the court
presidents and media to jointly inform the local citizens about the new public education

This consultant held consultations with judges from the Commercial Court and Basic Court
Podgorica. The court presidents fully cooperated in moving along this component. They
understood the importance of making the courts more user friendly, which in turn improves
public approval of the courts.

D. Public Information Posters

At the request of court presidents, the project designed two posters that convey 1) what is not
permissible within the court premises, such as no smoking, no weapons, no eating, no pets, etc.
and 2) the operating hours and fee schedule. These posters were distributed to all courts in
Montenegro. This consultant brought a sample poster from a USAID-financed rule of law
project in Bosnia Herzegovina to use as a model but the posters were tailor-made and specific
to Montenegro.

E. Media and Public Response to the Public Education Materials

Checchi delivered the public education materials to each city and closely coordinated the visits
with each of the court presidents.

Local media were informed of the visit and met with Checchi and the court presidents. As a
result of the extensive planning that preceded these visits, local journalists widely covered the
events. Several well-placed articles with large photographs appeared in Vjesti and Republika
nation-wide newspapers, national radio and on local television stations. This achievement is
particularly noteworthy during the period leading up to the referendum because the media
rarely published any articles that did not pertain to the independence referendum.

Courts Visited and Extent of Press Coverage:

Berane                Press conference with 7 journalists
Rozaj                 Press conference
Plav                  Two journalists conducted interviews
Pljevlja              President issued written press release
Bar                    Press Conference with 4 journalists
Ulcinj                 Three journalists conducted interviews
Herceg Novi            President issued written press release

The excellent press coverage at the national and local levels alerted citizens to the availability
of the new public education materials. These materials presented citizens with a clear and
concise explanation of how the court functions, practical information about working hours and
procedures and guidelines to appropriate behavior in the courts.

At the request of the court president of Ulcinj, Checchi translated the public information
materials into the Albanian language. The project contacted ethnic Albanian members of
parliament and the Minister for Minorities to solicit their support and recommendations for a
top quality translator. The materials were delivered to the Ulcinj Court on the same day that the
parliament discussed new legislation guiding minority rights and use of language. Members of
parliament complimented the Checchi staff on our “forward-looking” approach and “excellent

F. Public Signage and Directories

The court presidents requested that they be shown samples of public signs and directories that
are displayed in other renovated courts. This consultant sent digital photos of recently
renovated courts in the region. The court presidents reviewed the photographs and selected the
most appropriate model for their courts. The consultant provided the design agency with digital
photographs of recent USAID-funded court improvements in Bosnia Herzegovina and in the
United States. The photographs were helpful because they provided concrete examples of what
types of signage and directories had been developed elsewhere.




VI.    Public Opinion Polling and Research

Checchi conducted public opinion polling in the early stages of the project. The polling was
conducted by the Center for Entrepreneur and Economic Development (CEED) and completed
in July 2005. Supplementary polling in the communities of Kotor and Cetinje was
commissioned in order to capture local data relevant to the two model courts in these cities.

This consultant reviewed the raw data, analysis and drafted recommendations on how they
could be distilled into an easily understandable narrative and then distributed to selected
members of the judiciary. After evaluating the data, the consultant sent a report to CEED, the
polling agency, with specific instructions on how to recalibrate the scales of public satisfaction
and knowledge, reorder the polling questions and develop more useful comparisons between
national and local attitudes. This report became the basis for a presentation to selected
members of the judiciary.

The polling methodology was very much tailored by the project design. The choice of the two
model courts in Kotor and Cetinje was borne out by the polling. In some ways, the Podgorica
Basic Court was too big to tackle as a starting point for the court reforms. The polling provided
a baseline of public attitudes and expectations that helped to guide follow-on activities such as
trainings, publications and court improvements. In a three-year project, such as the Checchi
one, early polling data may not be relevant in the near future because of the many institutional
transformations that are occurring. Thus, it was important to use the primary data to track
short-term qualitative and quantitative results.

The polling included extensive interviews with stakeholders, who when asked their opinions at
the early stages of the project expressed a sense of inclusion. These indicators were relevant
because if the stakeholders’ opinions are respected, they can be potentially big supporters
during the implementation phase of the reforms. A second important factor is that technical
assistance programs must be adjusted to local circumstances, such as the Montenegrin
referendum for independence, which put enormous pressure on the judiciary and media. Lastly,
the polling results served as a basis for all public education materials.

A. Presentation of the Public Opinion Polling Results

Checchi and CEED developed a PowerPoint presentation and written summary of the polling
results. A presentation was held on September 1, 2005 in Podgorica. The Deputy Minister of
Justice, court presidents from Kotor and Cetinje and other key officials participated in the
briefing. The US Consul and the USAID/ Montenegro Officer in Charge attended and
contributed to the presentations. Based on the lively discussion that followed the presentation,
the Montenegrin officials understood that two issues need attention: 1) public dissatisfaction
with the efficiency of the courts and 2) insufficient public understanding of the judicial

The officials also noted a lack of communication and trust between the judiciary and the
media. They stated that the improvement of media relations was a high priority because it
would result in better and more accurate press coverage, which would increase public

B. Comparison of Public Opinion between 2005 and 2006

As mentioned previously in this report, Checchi engaged a renowned polling expert to
summarize public attitudes towards the judiciary and courts at its June 2006 Conference that
brought together more than 40 judges and journalists. (See section Judicial-Media Relations


The USAID/ Montenegro Officer in Charge requested that this consultant provide a
comprehensive briefing to USAID about the accomplishments of this subcomponent of the
project and remaining challenges in June 2006. USAID/ Montenegro Office expressed great
satisfaction with the achievements in this public awareness subcomponent of the Justice
System Reform Project.

The following points were made during the exit interview:

   1. The judiciary is conservative by nature and that the biggest achievement of this
       subcomponent was to persuade members of the judiciary that it is in their interest to
       engage with the media and general public.
   2. The new strategy document prepared by the MOJ, with participation of the Judicial
       Council, includes a public education subcomponent for the first time in its history,
       which is a direct attribution to our project.
   3. The project improved customer access to the courts through developing public
       education materials, including posters and brochures that were distributed to all courts
       in the country. This also created a uniformity of appearance in the courts.
   4. Templates and commonly used forms were developed in consultation with the Supreme
       Court and these forms were distributed to all the courts. The pro se forms will allow
       greater access to the judiciary by individuals who wish to represent themselves.
   5. Basic Courts, and in particular model (“pilot courts”) received special attention,
       including the installation of signs, directories and floor maps in key courts. Public
       information kiosks were constructed and delivered to four courts.
   6. The communications training for court presidents and senior judges was conducted in
       three phases, which allowed the members of the judiciary to improve their skills and to
       interact with journalists.
   7. Customer services training was conducted in two phases (four total training sessions)
       for court personnel and administrative staff that have direct contact with the public.
       These trainings increased the confidence and capacity of lower level staff to manage
       public relations better and more professionally.
   8. The publication of the Media Guide to the Criminal Code was a resounding success.
       Three top journalists and members of the judiciary brought their expertise and
       dedication to the project that resulted in a first-class publication. The ensuing media
       coverage was very positive and raised awareness of the overall project.
   9. The Checchi legal advisor and this consultant delivered public education materials to
       the nine targeted courts and organized press conferences to coincide with our visits.
       The court presidents used this opportunity to promote their courts and speak about
       reforms. The media coverage of these events was extraordinary at both the local and
       national levels.
   10. Our project produced bilingual materials in Albanian language for the court in Ulcinj.
       The materials’ delivery and local press coverage coincided with the day that parliament
       debated the law on minority rights, including language rights.

Annex 1: Evaluation Interview Forms

Communications and Public Education
Final Report/Interview Questions
Date:                                                       Location:
Name:                                                       Title:
1. What do you consider to be some of the notable accomplishments of this project?
2. The judiciary is considered one of the most conservative branches of government; do you
think we have had any impact in making this branch of government more responsive to public
3. Are you familiar with the communications and public education components of this project?
4. Why do you think it is important to communicate directly with the public?
5. Which of the following did you or your court utilize?
signage, directories
guide to criminal code
judicial media relations training
public relations training for staff
media-judicial conferences: Kotor, Podgorica or at Mestral Hotel
press conferences
public opinion polling
6. Which of these activities, if any, have made the courts or judicial reform more
understandable to the general public?
7. Have you received any feedback from the public or media regarding some the improvements
that have been made to the court? Have you noticed any changes or improvements to relations
between your staff and the public that can be attributed to some of our joint activities?
8. Do you think the Ministry of Justice, Supreme Court and courts need to have professional
spokesmen? Do these people need to be lawyers?
9. Do you think the Supreme Court should provide institutional media guidelines?
10. How would you characterize your relationship with the media? Do you think any of our
activities have improved relations? If so, how?
11. What types of concerns or issues are continuously raised by the media?
12. Looking ahead, what type of training needs to be conducted, and in what priority?
court presidents or secretaries
administrative staff
press spokesperson
investigative judges
13. What could we have done better? Did we miss something? What other types of activities
do you think should be continued or expanded upon?

Communications and Public Education
Final Report/Interview Questions for Journalists & Trainers
Date:                                                         Location:
Name:                                                         Title:
1. The judiciary is considered one of the most conservative branches of government; do you
see any improvements in the past three years in terms of accountability or accessibility?
2. How would you characterize your relationship with the judiciary?
3. Are you familiar with the USAID judicial reform project?
4. Have you noticed any improvements to the courts? Such as:
signage, directories

5. Have you personally had any contact with court presidents, senior judges or others from the
Ministry of Justice through these media relations activities?

guide to criminal code
judicial media relations training
public relations training for staff
media-judicial conferences held in: Kotor, Podgorica or Przno?
press conferences
public opinion polling discussions: Podgorica, Przno?

6. Which of these activities, if any, have made the courts or judicial reform more
understandable to the general public?

7. Do you think the Ministry of Justice, Supreme Court and courts need to have professional
spokesmen? Do these people need to be lawyers?

8. Do you think the Supreme Court should provide institutional media guidelines?

9. What types of concerns or issues need to be raised by the media in order to push the courts
towards greater transparency or efficiency?

10. Looking ahead, what type of training needs to be conducted, and in what priority?

court presidents or secretaries
administrative staff
press spokesperson
investigative judges

11. What could we have done better? Did we miss something? What other types of activities
do you think should be continued or expanded upon?

Annex 2: Media Guidelines for Court Presidents

   •   The Ministry of Justice will soon provide the courts, judges and prosecutors with
       written fact sheets that should be used as guidelines for how you present judicial reform
       and the current state of the courts. This document will define the current state of the
       judiciary and what should be communicated to the public;

   •   Draft a short description that describes how your court functions and list the major
       goals and priorities for judicial reform. List a few specific activities proposed to
       achieve them with the next two years. This document should explain who you are and
       what you do. Use this summary at all public speaking events and with the media;

   •   Draft short biographies of the senior legal professionals that have management
       responsibilities. Have these biographies available so that you can demonstrate the
       professional capabilities of your staff and colleagues;

   •   Be certain that you understand the disciplinary procedures and how citizens may file
       complaints and how these complaints will be handled. Be ready to explain or elaborate
       on how ethical standards are guaranteed under the new reforms;

   •   In general, the public and media have a low level of understanding of how the courts
       work, they may not realize that judges are not allowed to meet with parties or wish to
       be told sensitive confidential information. You must be prepared to explain in very
       simple terms why some information is privileged;

   •   The Court President should be the only person in the court who is authorized to give
       statements to the media. Instruct other legal professionals to defer all media inquiries
       and press contacts to the Court President;

   •   Determine before media interviews what type of information you wish to convey to the
       journalist and to the general public. Think about how you would like to represent
       yourself to the public.

   •   With the assistance of the Ministry of Justice, be clear on what type of information can
       be made public and what information remains confidential. Be certain that you know
       how to respond to inappropriate requests from journalists or the public about
       confidential matters. Prepare a standard response that you are comfortable with stating;

   •   The general public and journalists have a general impression that the courts are weak
       and vulnerable to corruption. These types of questions or accusations are likely to be
       asked during public events and media interviews. Think about how you can counter this

   •   Use public appearances as an opportunity to explain how judicial reforms are being
       implemented and what types of improvements the public can expect to see in the next
       two years. Provide specific examples of what improvements have been made to date.
       Ask the journalist and public to form their opinion on what will be accomplished rather
       than what was done in the past;

   •   Consider designating one or two days per month in which you hold an “open office” for
       the citizens to meet with you to discuss their concerns and grievances;
•   The Court President should coordinate press activities with Ministry of Justice, who
    maintain overall responsibility and authority regarding media relations;

•   Whenever possible, try to use written statements during press interviews and provide
    the press with copies of your remarks in order to provide greater accuracy;

•   During press interviews, whether on television or radio, begin your interview with a
    short introduction of your job responsibilities, how your court functions and your plan
    for making improvements during the next two years;

•   If at all possible, please request that the journalist provide in advance, a list of questions
    or subjects that will be covered in the interview;

•   Request that the journalist provide you with a transcript or copy of the article or
    program that resulted from your interview.

•   All press coverage on politically sensitive subjects should be reported to the Ministry of
    Justice via phone or email. The circumstances of the contact should be included as well
    as information on which journalists made the contact;


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