Chinese Judges to Study Environmental Law at VLS
June 13, 2012
South Royalton is different from New York City, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, but the little village and the big cities do share one trait -- they're often the four places that Chinese lawyers, judges and law students visit when they come to the United States to learn about environmental rule of law.
Drawing them to South Royalton, the only town in the nation with a law school but a population so small that there's no traffic light, is Vermont Law School's U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law. VLS, the top-ranked environmental law school in the United States, is the leading American law school working on environmental governance in China. Since 2007, VLS and its U.S. and Chinese partner institutions have trained thousands of Chinese judges, lawyers, prosecutors, government officials, scholars and law students.
Under a pilot program started last year in China, the VLS Partnership, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and two Chinese organizations are overhauling the way Chinese judges are educated and trained in environmental rule of law. The goals are to empower judges, so they're better prepared to resolve significant environmental disputes and apply pollution laws that are widely ignored by companies that foul the country's air, land and water; and to help the National Judges College of Supreme People's Court to create its first environmental law curriculum. The college is the China's training institution for the courts.
As part of the environmental adjudication training project, the VLS Partnership is organizing a four-week study tour for a group of Chinese judges in the U.S. starting July 23. Sixteen senior judges, instructors from the National Judges Colleges and a leading environmental lawyer will travel to South Royalton and other Vermont locations, New York City, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco to study American environmental law and environmental adjudication.
The delegation members will engage in intensive training led by Judge Merideth Wright, former Chief Judge of Vermont Environmental Court, the only specialized environmental court in the U.S. They will also meet with American judges, prosecutors, government officials, NGOs and leading scholars specialized in environmental law.