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Poulsbo attorney hosts Albanian court justices

POULSBO — In his Poulsbo law office, Roger Sherrard has a paperweight that reads, “Justice is truth in action.” He also has a pen set that says, “Gjykata Larte,” which is Albanian for “Court of the High.”

The small mementos are in exchange for a huge amount of generosity Sherrard has given to Albania over the years, where he, as a part of a group called Advocates International, has helped the country build its legal system from the ground floor after the end of Communism in 1990.

That generosity was shown again last week, when Sherrard hosted eight special guests — members of the Albanian Supreme Court.

Sherrard accompanied the justices to Port Orchard, where they learned about the day-to-day (and hour-to-hour) operation of an American superior court system.

He went with them to Olympia, where they watched the Washington State Supreme Court in action, then met with the Chief Justice.

Sherrard has been to Albania several times since the overthrow of the Communist government.

“They had nothing, literally,” Sherrard said, recalling the early 1990’s. “One judge told me his biggest need was paper on which to write decisions.”

Advocates International helped.

They held training sessions in-country for local judges. They sent over robes. They sent over gavels. The group’s mission, Sherrard said, is to train judges and attorneys in emerging countries to follow the rule of law; therefore, Sherrard said, the group makes itself less necessary.

“I’d love to work myself out of the job,” Sherrard said.

The judges’ visit, Sherrard said, was made in order to teach them the gritty details of law’s operation. They learned about clerks and paperwork, and asked questions like; “How does a court assign cases?” and “How many clerks are assigned to a judge?”

The judges saw a pair of cases argued before the state’s Supreme Court. Later, Chief Justice Gerry Alexander met with them for several hours and answered questions about how judges deliberate. He got down to the smallest details, including what order the judges spoke in when they talked about cases (assigning judge first; then counterclockwise).

“He went out of his way to be a wonderful host,” Sherrard said.

The Albanian judges met with two other Supreme Court justices.

“It is a very good chance for us to learn about the court,” said Pericli Zaharia.

Of the judges’ relationship with Sherrard, Arian Hoxha said, “We have a long friendship.”

The judges arrived in Washington State June 25 and left July 1.

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