Morroccan Judges Visit San Francisco

A delegation of judges from Morocco's highest court said in San Francisco today that their court system is quite different from the American one, but they hope to get some ideas from the U.S. model.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    A delegation of judges from Morocco's highest court said in San  Francisco today that their court system is quite different from the American  one, but they hope to get some ideas from the U.S. model.
       
    "We are quite open to several international experiences, including  the American experience. We want to learn as much as we can," Judge Mohamed  Khadraoui said through a translator.   

    The four judges from the Court of Cassation, as Morocco's supreme  court is called, are visiting the United States through the State  Department's International Visitor Leadership Program.

    San Francisco was their third stop in an itinerary that has  included Washington, D.C., and Reno and will end in New York. As part of  their visit, they met with a small group of reporters who cover federal  courts in San Francisco.

    Khadraoui and colleagues Rajae el Marahi, Ali Rhezouani and  Abdelkafi Waryachi said their visit is timely because the Moroccan judicial  system was reformed in a new constitution approved by the nation's voters in  July.
       
    The new constitution was proposed by a council appointed by King  Mohammed VI in the wake of last year's tumultuous "Arab Spring" protests in  the Middle East and North Africa. In Morocco, the protests took the form of  demonstrations but not uprisings.
       
    The visiting judges, who included one woman and three men, all  between the ages of 32 and 42, said the new constitution increases the  independence of the judiciary.
       
    "Our slogan now is that the judicial system is in the service of  the citizens.  We are emphasizing rebuilding confidence between the judicial  system and citizens," Khadraoui said.
       
    The Court of Cassation has a total of 206 judges, the delegation  said.  Unlike the federal and state supreme courts in the United States,  which take up only a fraction of the cases appealed to them, the Moroccan  court hears all the appeals submitted to it.
       
    Each case is heard by a panel of between five and 10 judges,  depending on the nature of the case, the visitors said.
       
    The judges said Moroccan law, as set by Parliament, combines  concepts from Napoleonic, German and Islamic law. Family law in particular is  governed by Islamic sharia law. But appeals of all types of cases, including  family law cases, go to the Court of Cassation.
       
    One exception, however, is that new constitution establishes a  special Constitutional Court to rule on the constitutionality of laws.
       
    Judicial appointments and discipline of judges continue to be  carried out by a Higher Council of the Judicial Branch, headed by the king.  But the visitors said that in an effort to separate the judicial and  executive branches, the council is now led by the chief judge of the Court of  Cassation rather than the minister of justice.
       
    The visitors said they have also been learning about American  society on their trip and have liked what they have seen.
       
    "We've learned a lot of new stuff about American society.  It  changed our views of American society and the American people in a very  positive way," Khadraoui said through the translator.
       
    Khadraoui, who headed the delegation, noted that Morocco was the  first country to recognize the United States as a new nation in 1777.
       
    "We would like to see this relationship moving forward to better  serve both nations," he said.