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Mecklenburg DA going to Turkey to teach about resolving criminal cases

Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray has been selected to be part of a delegation that is going to Turkey to teach Turkish justice officials about resolving criminal cases.

Murray will join four other American justice officials and legal experts in the delegation that will spend this week in Turkey. The trip runs through Saturday, according to the district attorney’s office.

Murray will travel to Ankara and Istanbul and make presentations to justice officials about the roles of prosecutors and defense attorneys in resolving criminal cases.

Murray and the other American experts are being sent to Turkey to speak with judges and prosecutors through a partnership between the U.S. Department of Justice and the Turkish Justice Academy, which trains judges and prosecutors before they enter Turkey’s Ministry of Justice.

Turkey is interested in the United States’ methods of criminal case resolution, including plea bargaining, because the country has an overwhelming backlog of cases, the Mecklenburg District Attorney’s Office said. Turkey is forced to dismiss thousands of cases because trials cannot be held within the period required by the statute of limitations.

Murray told the Observer that he will talk with Turkish justice officials about plea bargaining from the perspectives of both prosecutors and defense lawyers. Murray spent years as a defense lawyer before being elected Mecklenburg’s DA in 2010. He was an assistant district attorney in the 1990s.

“When I was elected, one of my priorities was addressing the backlog of criminal cases here in Mecklenburg County, and over the past two years, my office has substantially decreased that backlog, particularly in homicides and serious felony offenses,” Murray said. “I hope to share what we’ve learned with prosecutors in Turkey.”

Turkey also is an important ally in the United States’ fight against terrorism, the Mecklenburg DA’s office said.

Turkey, which has no incentive system to persuade defendants to cooperate, is interested in plea bargaining as a tool in prosecuting terrorism and organized crime, the DA’s office said.

The trip to Turkey by Murray and the other members of the delegation is a follow-up to an October 2012 program in which Turkish judges came to North Carolina to learn about the U.S. criminal justice system.

“It’s an honor to be chosen for the delegation,” Murray said. “This is not only a chance to partner with federal prosecutors and broaden our horizons in the prosecution of criminal matters, but it is also an opportunity to participate in an international collaboration that will ultimately help protect our country.”

Wright: 704 358-5052
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