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Bar News - October 19, 2007

Maurice Geiger Visits Haiti: NH Attorney Works for World Justice

Maurice (Maury) Geiger is a man who has worked for judicial reform all his professional life.  His most recent trip to Haiti is one more attempt to bring reform to a country that cries out for justice.  This visit is only one of many Geiger has made to this island.  Nor have his efforts been confined to Haiti.  Geiger spent 15 months in Bangladesh during 2002-03 working to stabilize their justice system. (See Bar News, May 7, 2004.) 

This trip to Haiti, as his others have been, is designed to study problems in the courts and prisons in an attempt to advise the justice system.  Geiger says of the accompanying picture, recently sent from Haiti:         

“[Here is]...a photo of me sitting on the floor of the National Prison talking to a 19-year-old man with TB.  No one ever comes to visit him.  He has been here for three years and has yet to see a judge.... There is really no case against him, but he has no money and no lawyer, so he sits waiting to die. 


“What you can’t see is the total squalor and nor can you smell the stench – it is worse than ever... 3,100 prisoners in a facility designed (poorly, as there is no plumbing) to hold around 350.   No water and no toilets; the water is trucked in daily and the waste goes out in plastic bags – don’t ask.”


“The problem of the excessive detention is really a courts’ problem...since we don’t know how many would be found not guilty, if ever adjudicated, it is difficult to say if processing the cases would reduce the population at the prison or just change the status.


“I would guess that about 50-60 percent of the [incarcerated at the National Prison] would be acquitted….”


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