Richard Pena has spent a lifetime advocating for the rule of law—in Texas and around the world. Pena, who practices in Austin, just returned to the United States from a trip to Turkey, where he met with lawyers, law professors, law students, and bar association officers to learn about that country’s justice system. The former State Bar president is used to traveling the globe and learning about other cultures while educating others about ours. He was chair of the Leader Advisory Board of the People to People Citizens Ambassador Program, an incarnation of an initiative founded in the fifties based on President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s belief that communicating with other countries can foster peace. He currently is Special Assistant for Legal Program Travel at Academic Travel Abroad. Pena’s first of 16 trips, in 2000, was to China, and since that time, he has lead delegations of legal professionals to places such as Tibet, Vietnam, Cambodia, Egypt, Israel, South Africa, Cuba, Russia, India, Brazil, and Turkey.
Below, he provides his commentary on his recent stay in Turkey.
The president and board members of the Istanbul Bar Association are going on trial Jan. 7, 2014. They are facing two to four years in prison, as well as disbarment. They are being charged for the actions of asking a judge, in open court, to permit a fair trial for defendants in a high profile case. The technical charge is “attempting to influence a member of the judiciary.”