Friday, June 19, 2009


I don't know how many of you have had the opportunity to go to court in Sudan so for those of you who haven't I'm going to paint you a little picture so that you know what you are getting yourself into the next time a Sudanese court date or Sudanese jury duty appears on your calendar.

Oh, whoops, except there's no jury. The court is about a stone's throw from my office, as it turns out and amazingly clean and tidy. Inside the cement compound there are dozens of shifty looking men all standing in clusters around the the dirt courtyard. Our Dinka lawyer (who's about 7'8") swept across the yard and ushered me directly into the court room. It was sparcely decorated but, surprisingly, clean. The judge, a dour Northerner who spoke only in Arabic, sat at a large desk. Facing her was another desk at which the defendant (former employee who embezzled a rather large sum of money from us)and I stood. Our lawyer stood at one end and a police officer sat at the other. On the table was a Bible and a Koran. I got to choose on which I'd like to swear

So, there we were. The judge looked at me and our conversation went a little something like this:

Judge: Statement
Me: Everything. You want me to tell the entire story again? (Lawyer translates).
Judge: No. Name.
Me: Kelsey
Judge: Second name.
Me: Hoppe
Judge: Third name.
Me: Ummmm...Elizabeth?
Judge: No! Father's name.
Lawyer interjects with some argument
Judge: No! Mother's name.

This went on for quite some time until we ascertained my Mother's maiden name is what they were after, how old I was, was I married, where did I live, what religion, etc. All of this was dutifully noted by the judge.

I then gave my statement. The former employee then gave his statement. The judge told him to pay us the money back. He said he would. My lawyer told him that he's going to jail if he hasn't by July 2nd. Another court date was set for the 2nd. And that, was that. It was a remarkably ordered - but not altogether productive. I'm beginning to doubt that we're ever going to see the money but are going to keep seeing the inside of that court room.

Of course, if there is any poetic justice in the world it is this: after we fired the guy he promptly got a job at the World Bank...who never checked his references.

1 comment:

Erin said...

oh dear. (about the world bank). Fascinating (about the court)