The three-day Oral Advocacy/Electronic Evidence Training conference and workshop was in Abuja, Nigeria, sponsored by the Attorney General Alliance / Africa Alliance Partnership (AGA/AAP) and the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.
The organizations trains African legal officers and prosecutors in combating transnational crimes such as human trafficking, cybercrime, illegal firearms, money laundering and wildlife trafficking.
Muriel was invited as a board member of the National Black Prosecutors Association (NBPA). She also is the Regional Director of the NBPA Mid-Atlantic Region, which includes Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and North Carolina.
“It was just an amazing experience to do something like that,” she said, “and it all came together so fast. I was at our NBPA board meeting and heard they still needed some lawyers for the conference in Nigeria. Twelve days later I was on the plane. I got a yellow fever shot and I just got my Visa the day before we left.”
For two days before the conference began, she and two prosecutors from Chicago (Cook County) learned about local laws and procedures from lawyers in Nigeria, where law school is just one year and there are no annual Continuing Legal Education requirements.
Muriel gave a presentation on evidence and oral advocacy to an attentive audience.
“They had very specific, intelligent questions about how we handle trial issues,” she said. “They were very interested in evidentiary issues. That was probably the best part of the trip, the interacting with the other lawyers.”
Muriel also helped local participants prepare for a mock trial – a domestic violence murder case – but she could skip the part about jury selection because in the Nigerian system there are none. There is only a judge, the defendant, a prosecutor hired from a law firm and perhaps a defense lawyer if the defendant happens to have money.
“You don’t get a free lawyer there if you can’t afford one,” Muriel said, “so you might have a trial where one side has a lawyer and the other side doesn’t. We may not have a perfect justice system here, but it’s the best in the world. In Nigeria they don’t have due process in the way that we would define it here. I would not want to get caught up in the justice system over there.”