The Honorable Madhat al Mahmood visits Arizona's judges and attorneys
The Honorable Madhat al Mahmood, Chief Justice and President of the Iraqi Higher Judicial Council spoke to over 500 Arizona judges and attorneys last month during a visit to Arizona by the Chief Justice.
With the assistance of an interpreter, Chief Justice Madhat discussed his commitment to the rule of law and shared his struggles of developing a stable court system in Iraq, after 40 years of totalitarianism in which there was no Constitution, no rule of law, and no basic human rights.
After Sadaam Hussein’s fall in 2003, Chief Justice al Mahmood took over as Interim Minister of Justice and was tasked with rebuilding the entire judiciary.
In the process of rebuilding, Chief Justice al Mahmood noted that 49 judges and 132 court employees were assassinated. The Chief Justice’s son was also assassinated for his father’s role in the rebuilding of Iraq Judiciary.
The Chief Justice shared his experience of rebuilding a justice system that was fraught with corruption and not representative of the people they served. One of his first goals was to involve more women judges in the court. In 2003, there were only 573 judges in Iraq including 7 women judges. Today, there are over 1,300 judges, 76 which are women. He then went about to ensure judges were adequately compensated and had a safe place to live to reduce corruption and retaliation fears.
He went on to explain that judges and advocates must have faith in an independent judiciary and citizens must believe in the value of judicial independence and the impact their civil and political rights.
The Chief Justice proudly spoke about the increase in case loads that that Iraqi judiciary is now capable to handle. He explained that the restructuring of the judiciary in Iraq and the effort to establish judicial independence was not easy, but not impossible and the proof is their achievements from 2003 to 2012, including opening additional courthouses, establishing special units to handle domestic cases, and adopting new technology.
He implored those in attendance to stand up for an independent and impartial justice system in both the United States and countries around the world. He thanked our country for the opportunity to meet and work together.
Chief Justice al Mahmood begin his career in 1960 as a judicial investigator in Iraq’s Ministry of Justice. He is a professor of law and published a commentary on Iraq’s civil procedure code. He is a founding member of the Arab Center for Justice and Legal Studies and a member of Arab Center for Development of Rule of Law and Integrity.