The Ottumwa Courier


April 27, 2013

Enjoying our differences


Luis Marchant Fernandez, a Chilean attorney, was able to spend time at the Iowa Supreme Court, a lower court in both a civil matter and a criminal trial and with prosecutors and defense attorneys. So much of what was happening seemed familiar — which made differences really stand out.

Emotions do not play as much of a role in Chilean justice. That's because of the jury: in serious matters, the law does not call for a jury in Chile, only three voting judges who are experts on the law and the subject at hand. And they don't tolerate theatrics. In the U.S., attorneys need to know the law and be performers for the sake of swaying the jury, Marchant Fernandez said.

Which may be why he found it interesting to observe one Iowa attorney who told jurors to "close your eyes," and then asked them to picture a scene in their imagination.

"You would never say that to the [panel of judges in] court," Marchant Fernandez said. "Never."

"It took two-and-half hours to choose the jury," said David Gonzalez Marambio, a high school English teacher in the nation's capital.

"And," added Botlon, "they have no legal training. You have to explain the law to them ..."

There are fewer courts in Chile, too. They have a local court, an appeals court and a Supreme Court. In the U.S, they found it interesting that in addition to those courts for state laws, there are similar but totally separate courts for federal laws.

However, Bolton and elementary school teacher Cecilia Espejo Zarate explained that there are several types of schools in their country, all considered to be at different levels of educational quality. There are private schools paid for by parents. Those are considered the best. Then there are "free" to students public schools, schools which have not been garnering a very good reputation for quality lately. In the middle are government-subsidized schools, where the government pays some of the tuition and the parents pay some of the tuition.

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