A Closer Look at the Law for Visiting Chinese Students and Scholars
July 18, 2008
During his year of studies at VLS, Mark Qiu is harnessing a greater understanding of energy law and renewable energy policy in the United States, but it was a visit to the Vermont courts that brought that law and policy knowledge into sharper focus.
Qiu was one of five students and scholars from China to visit with judges during a tour of the state’s court system on July 18. The tour was part of the VLS-China partnership program with Sun Yat-sen University that works with lawyers and scholars to strengthen environmental enforcement and energy policy in China.
After a tour of the State House the group met with Vermont Supreme Court Justice Brian Burgess, who explained judicial appointment and appellate hearing procedures. Then came a visit to the Vermont Superior Court, where Judge Mary Miles Teachout discussed elements of American civil procedure, including the jury system and the jurisdictional relationships between state and federal courts.
On the last leg of the tour, they visited the Vermont Environmental Court, the only one of its kind in the U.S. Judge Meredith Wright offered insights into the operation of the court, its history and structure and an overview of applicable laws that are the basis for the court’s decisions. It provided for lively discussion.
Qiu, a PhD candidate and junior visiting scholar, said he was most impressed by Vermont’s unique approach to enforcing environmental law.
“It made me reconsider the judicial reform in China. I think it's so important to establish such an environmental court in China because of the technical issues in the environmental cases,” he said. “We really need judges who are not only law professors but also familiar with the environmental science.”
Yingjun Wu, another student on the tour, held a similar view.
“Judge Meredith Wright introduced the unique characteristics and function of environmental court to us and I really respect the active attitude toward environmental protection in Vermont,” Yingjun said.
Three scholars and four law students from China took part in the VLS summer study program this year. Earlier in the summer, six VLS faculty traveled to China, where they led research and teaching workshops for environmental law scholars, as well as a series of lectures for students enrolled in Sun Yat-sen University’s Juris Master program.
During the course of their June trip, the VLS professors trained an estimated 200 scholars, lawyers, judges, government officials and students.
“We met smart, open-minded, hard-working people struggling with one of history’s greatest challenges: bringing one-fifth of humanity out of rural poverty without destroying the world we live in,” said Professor Michael Dworkin, who heads up the VLS Institute for Energy and the Environment.
This fall, four Chinese scholars will arrive at VLS to begin their one-year residencies.For more on the VLS/Sun Yat-sen University Partnership, visit .
Read more about Vermont Law School's Partnership for Environmental Law in China.