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Turkish Judges Visit Campus

Students and Judges Outside Law School Courtroom

The University of Kentucky College of Law and the Patterson School of Diplomacy were pleased to welcome to campus, in partnership with U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove (UK Law ’89), five judges from Turkey on September 23, 2014. The judges (Ayise Kalem, Murat Oner, Seckin Kocer, Volkan Muftuoglu, and Zekiye Ozturk) served on a panel with Judge Van Tatenhove, Professor Cortney Lollar, and Professor Marianna Jackson Clay as moderator. They discussed the similarities and differences between the judicial and legal education systems of Turkey and the United States. A major difference in legal education is Turkish students do not need to complete an undergraduate degree to apply for law school. They must graduate from high school, pass a written and an oral test, and if they pass both, they are admitted to a four year program followed by two years of internship.

Another difference was in regards to age. UK College of Law students were most interested in the ages of the guest judges, which ranged from age 28 to 44, and, based on the judges’ comments, that the Turkish judiciary is made up of approximately 40% women. Judge Zekiye Ozturk explained that judicial appointments are based on a merit system. Newly appointed judges are placed in smaller provinces. As time goes on and inspectors deem you in good standing, you are then relocated to a larger province with more workload. “While we may be young, our caseload gives us incredible experience.” Judges are allowed to remain on the bench until age 65.

In a country of approximately 80 million people, the judicial system sees more than three million cases filed per year.