Judge Michael DiReda (JD ’93) travels with Pepperdine Law to Uganda

July 21, 2016 — In an article in the Standard Examiner, Judge Michael DiReda (JD ’93) describes sending an email congratulating former classmate Jim Gash on recent successes, including Gash’s novel “Divine Collision” and the Revolution Pictures documentary REMAND. Both the book and film tell the story of work by Gash and Pepperdine School of Law to implement a plea-bargaining system in Uganda to help address the crowded jails and prisoners awaiting trial for for as long as years at a time. Little did DiReda know that an offer to help would land him too in Uganda. In the course of two weekshe would visit three jails and helping input around 600 trials into the court systems, resolving many with the help of plea-bargains.

From “Ogden judge spends two weeks in Uganda teaching about plea agreements”:

DiReda said that two weeks visiting three prisons in Uganda has changed his life.

Each prison was built to house 300 inmates, but each prison housed 1,000 to 1,200 inmates, he said. Many of the inmates had been waiting to have their cases heard before a judge. In Uganda, there are no jails like Davis County Jail, and there is no such thing as bail. Once a person is arrested, they are incarcerated until prosecutors bring their cases to court. That can take anywhere from four to six years, DiReda said.

“Their system is merciless,” DiReda said. “There is no probation. No parole. The average life expectancy for man is 52 years. So if they are arrested when they are 20 and sentenced to serve 30 years, that is the bulk of their life.”

DiReda, along with other attorneys and law students from the United States and Uganda, lead the Second Annual National Peal Bargaining Conference, attended by more than 100 judicial and legislative officials in Uganda.

Read more at standard.net.

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