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High-ranking judges who have been rebuilding the judicial systems in Croatia and Macedonia say they would like to take a few American ideas home with them.

Stopping in Salt Lake City during a monthlong training tour of U.S. courts, the 10 judges said they have been especially impressed with arbitration, administrative efficiencies and judicial training.However, Dane Ilieve, an appellate court judge in Macedonia, said he didn't care much for the television cameras he saw in Florida courtrooms. With his colleagues and U.S. District Chief Judge David K. Winder concurring, Ilieve said, "Televising a trial is something we don't like."

And Croatian Supreme Court Justice Ana Garacic said the perceived judicial activism that sometimes draws criticism in America would not be possible in her country.

Speaking through an interpreter, Garacic said, "Judicial intrusion into the social structure is impossible because decisions are based strictly on our codes and laws."

The tour is being sponsored by the American Bar Association Central and East European Law Initiative, which two years ago sent an American delegation to assess the court systems of Croatia and Macedonia. Among those visiting Croatia was Markus Zimmer, clerk of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah.

Zimmer later prepared a report with recommendations for the Croatian Ministry of Justice. His role in the program contributed to Salt Lake City's selection as one of the host cities of the tour.

Before arriving in Utah, the 10 judges visited courts in Florida and Connecticut; the federal judicial center and U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.; and the National Center for State Courts in Williamsburg, Va.

During a press conference in the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City, the judges said the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the subsequent wars left the old judicial systems in shambles. During the rebuilding process, the republics have adopted a number of reforms, including an independent judiciary and public access to the courts.

Several of the judges said, however, that their court systems are not as efficient as their American counterparts. A backlog of cases dating back to the days of the republic have provoked some "justified" public criticism of the courts, one judge said.

The judges expressed an interest in developing American-style mediation and arbitration to divert cases from the courts. They also liked some of the U.S. bankruptcy court procedures, including the business reorganization process.

"Our hope is that after returning home, we can use this experience to better our own system," Garacic said.

In addition to Garacic and Iliev, the visitors include Lucija Cimic, high commercial court, Zagreb; Branko Hrvatin, county court, Zagreb; Damir Mratovic, district court, Split; Mrcela Marin, municipal court, Zagreb; Mladen Turkalj, administrative court of Croatia; Mario Vukelic, commercial court, Zagreb; Ivka Zlokic, president of the commercial court, Split; and Margarita Nikolovska, appelate court, Skopje, Macedonia.