IBJ Cambodia lawyers and investigators

On Friday, 7th of June 2013, all twenty-two of the IBJ lawyers and investigators in Cambodia gathered in Phnom Penh for a training session organized by IBJ Cambodia and led by Denise Crawford and Larisa Dinsmoor, two public defenders from Orange County, California. After introductions and ice breakers, the two American lawyers presented a case study to the group. The hypothetical case involved a poor farmer accused of battery and the starting point for the discussion was Article 321 of the Cambodian code of criminal procedure: “Unless otherwise required by law, any evidence in criminal cases is freely admissible.”

Larisa Wakefield

After a brief discussion about the case, the two women used it to further talk about advocacy skills and shared their experience gathering evidence in support of their clients, including telephone conversations and expert testimony. All the lawyers then broke up into groups to discuss various difficulties, especially interviewing the witnesses to crimes. The most common topics were witness misidentification, bias, and translation problems. Then the IBJ lawyers shared their main difficulties, how they have to travel far to interview the families of their clients and dig deep to uncover their clients’ records. Before breaking for lunch, Denise led a brief discussion about client confidentiality.

After lunch, the two seasoned American lawyers gave the IBJ lawyers some interviewing tips. The afternoon was spent discussing various affirmative defenses, mitigating circumstances, and past successes and failure. The American lawyers seemed to get as much out of the exchange as their Cambodian counterparts.  Finally, the two women returned to the case study from the morning, added a few more details, and asked each IBJ lawyer how he/she would strategize representing the client.

Denise Crawford

In all, the day was a great success. The IBJ lawyers, some of them new on the job, picked up strategies from the two public defenders that will help them better represent their clients.  They raised important questions and were very active throughout the training. IBJ Cambodia lawyers and investigators were glad to learn this practical approach and to improve their skills, but they do regret that the training was not longer than one day. Moreover, everyone benefited from the cultural exchange among professionals.


Larisa Dinsmoor, Denise Crawford, Vandeth Ouk (IBJ Cambodia Country Director)

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