17 Rebuilding the Judicial System in Haiti It’s been more than two years since the earthquake in Haiti revealed to the world the human cost of its government’s lack of respect for the rule of law. Decades of unenforced building and zoning codes helped exact a death toll of about 200,000, as many people were crushed or buried alive underneath shoddily constructed houses in overbuilt hillside neighborhoods. Survivors, particularly near the quake’s epicenter in Port-au-Prince, are plagued by disease, including cholera. Roughly the size of Chicago, Port-au-Prince has lacked infrastructure to provide clean water and basic sanitation for decades. Basic necessities, like a sewer system and enough water treatment plants to serve the population, were never built. According to Brian Concannon Jr., a former Mintz Levin attorney who is the founder and current director of the Boston-based Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, a fraction of the public money that was embezzled by former dictator Jean-Claude“Baby Doc”Duvalier could have been used to provide these necessities. Duvalier’s return to Port-au-Prince a year after the earthquake, and 25 years after living in exile in France, became an opportunity to hold him accountable for financial crimes and crimes against humanity. Brian’s organization and the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux immediately started building the case against Duvalier. “This is an opportunity to build up the justice system in Haiti and be a deterrent of political violence and financial crimes there,”says Brian, who worked on the case with an international team of organizations, law firms including Mintz Levin, and lawyers in Haiti to convict Duvalier. Mintz Levin attorneys Nick Cramb, Yalonda Howze, and Martha Koster focused on Duvalier’s human rights abuses. With research assistance by Project Analyst Daniel Phillips and French translation help by Assistant Marie Jezequel, the team put together an extensive outline of examination questions for a judge in Haiti to ask Duvalier to bring him to trial. Under Duvalier’s rule, and his father’s before him, citizens were arrested for their political ideas. “Victims included those who went missing, were confirmed executed, or were tortured, and their accounts are graphic,”says Nick.“This attempt to bring Duvalier to trial shows that there are pathways to justice to prosecute these types of crimes in Haiti,”says Yalonda. Although a judge dismissed the charges against Duvalier in February, the lawyers are confident the charges will be reinstated. And Brian, Nick, and Yalonda remain hopeful about what was started. “Victims have organized and mobilized,” says Brian. “There has been a lot of opportunity to improve the justice system. It’s not over yet.” Hope & Justice It’s invaluable to be able to provide the poor people in Haiti the same high- quality representation that prosperous business clients receive from Mintz Levin. Brian Concannon Jr. Founder and Director Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti The Power of Partnerships