By Deborah Carl
LDS Polygamy Prosecutor Teaching Hondurans About Legal System
PROVO, UTAH -- David Leavitt, known for his prosecution of polygamist
Tom Green, recently traveled to Honduras to help the country reform
its legal system.
Leavitt was one of four legal experts asked by the U.S. State
Department and the U.S. Department of Justice to assist Honduras as
part of a foreign-aid package passed by Congress to assist the ailing
country in cleaning up its dismal human-rights record and repairing
damage remaining from Hurricane Mitch, which devastated much of the
country in 1998.
Specifically Leavitt, the Juab County attorney, worked with a trial
lawyer from Washington, D.C., and assistant U.S. attorneys from
Washington, D.C., and San Diego to teach approximately 50 Honduran
prosecutors about the American justice system. Honduras uses an
inquisitional justice system where the judge is the jury and the
criminal investigator. There are no oral court arguments and the
judge rules from the written cases submitted by the prosecution and
defense. The U.S. Agency for International Development estimates
that 90 percent of Honduran prisoners have not had a trial nor have
they been formally sentenced.
As part of the reforms, efforts have been under way to teach citizens
how to vote, to train civil servants to meet the needs of
communities, and to train judges in the U.S. legal system. Leavitt,
who learned Spanish while serving a proselytizing mission for The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the ghettos of New
York, taught how to question witnesses on the stand and how to
present oral arguments before a judge.
Revamping Honduran law
Deseret News 31Jul01 P2
By Geoffrey Fattah: Deseret News staff writer
Green prosecutor flies south to aid legal reformation