Orientation initiative FOR OPEN JUDICIARY

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The society rightly expects that the judicial power will guarantee the rule of law and justice and that the judges will be professional and moral authorities for the public. The very low confidence in judiciary shows that today the judicial power does not fulfil this expectation.

 

The necessary changes in the judiciary require open discussion on reasons of the current state and effective solutions. Mainly judges should be those who are able to identify problems in judiciary, to present proposals for creating a functioning and socially respected judicial system that will be publicly controllable without any threat to its independence.

This was the goal in creating the judicial initiative “For Open Judiciary“ that continues the activities of the civic initiative “Justice Opens Gates“, Proclamation and the declaration of judges “Five Sentences“. Our initiative has no political ambitions, it is not connected to any political party, we wish to offer new alternative for solving this unfavourable situation. We consider openness and transparency for citizens who are the source of power in democratic state with rule of law, the main attributes of the new model of judiciary we wish to implement in accordance with international standards.

FOJ finds the main problems:

1. Political interference in judicial power
2. Current model of selection procedures
3. Insufficient professional level of part of the judiciary
4. Delays in court proceedings
5. Insufficient implementation of ethic values in judiciary
6. Current legal regulation of creation and decision making of the Judicial Council of the Slovak Republic
7. Misuse of disciplinary actions
8. Insufficient transparency

For improving the situation FOJ proposes the following solutions

1. Political interference in judicial power

We will work for changes in the existing model of selection procedures at the Courts such as:

a) to prohibit any management position in a Court administration for at least five years after leaving a political position,
b) obligation to appoint to the position of a Court chairman only one of the first two candidates in a selection procedure, or obligation to appoint to the position of a Court chairman only a winner of a selection procedure,
c) judicial self-administration bodies appoint majority of members of a selection committees.

2. Selection procedures

We will work for change in the existing model of selection procedures in the Courts to

a) give more emphasis to personal capabilities and moral and will characteristics of all candidates, proved by expert methods,
b) to secure equal opportunities to all candidates by random selection from a unified and sufficiently wide database of tests available to all candidates,
c) to define limiting criteria for judicial positions,
d) to verify management abilities of candidates of judicial positions by expert psychological methods.

3. Professional level and evaluation of judges

We wish to support creating conditions for increased professionalism of judges, mainly

a) to improve training system of judges,
b) to add the right to a training in a selected area to the obligations of judges,
c) to repeatedly introduce regular evaluation of judges according to objectively measureable and comparable criteria excluding subjectivism,
d) to define unified rules for internal revisions in the Courts.

4. Delays in Court proceedings

We propose for implementation of the constitutional right of citizens for Court protection in adequate time also

a) to deepen and protect specialisation of judges in particular areas of law,
b) to implement measures aimed to equal workload of Courts and judges,
c) to thoroughly require fulfilment of obligations of Court chairmen in performing supervision and measures to secure fluent decisions in cases,
d) to thoroughly introduce and apply new elements of Court procedure aimed to efficiency of the Court proceedings.

5. Ethics and obligations of judges

We wish to strengthen ethical level of performance of judicial position mainly

a) to create ethical committees, with members of judges and also representatives of expert and general public,
b) to detail rules of judicial ethics (code of ethics) including code of ethics for Court officers,
c) to reach legislation regulation according to which no former State Security member can become a judge and that a judicial position is not compatible with cooperation in secret services,
d) to define legal obligation to a judge to inform about fact preventing performance of justice, with guaranteed protection.

6. Judicial Council

We will promote legislative changes related to composition and activities of the Judicial Council of the Slovak Republic as an independent body with the aim mainly

a) to prohibit compatibility of a position in the Judicial Council of the Slovak Republic with any position in administration or management of a Court,
b) to modify voting rules of the Council members by increasing number of members elected directly by judges to half of the total number (9) and to define the principle of regional representation (districts of the Regional Courts and the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic will have one representative each),
c) to remove cumulated positions of the President of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic and the chairman of the Judicial Council of the Slovak Republic,
d) to introduce yearly rotation principle in the position of the chairman of the Judicial Council of the Slovak Republic,
e) to introduce one third model replacement of the Council members elected by judges during particular parts of the election period,
f) to specify position of the Judicial Council in the Constitution of the Slovak Republic,
g) to define the principle of public proceedings of the Judicial Council of the Slovak Republic (mainly in decisions on personal affairs of judges) in the Constitution of the Slovak Republic.

7. Disciplinary actions

We consider necessary to remove options for misuse of the system of disciplinary responsibility of judges mainly by

a) appointing a disciplinary senate by an ad hoc selection of all judges except of judges of the Court where a disciplinary heard judge is active,
b) to condition the possibility to submit a motion for a disciplinary action for delays by a prior notice to a judge by a chairman of the Court on insufficiencies in fluent decision making in his/her Court division and by passing a deadline defined for removing notified insufficiencies,
c) to define legal obligation to a Court chairman to preliminary discuss with a judge any action that may be subject to a disciplinary action,
d) to define a right of a judge to give his/her opinion to a disciplinary motion before it is submitted,
e) to introduce responsibility for misused disciplinary motion.

8. Transparent activities of the Courts

We propose to make activities of the Courts transparent and give access to them to judges and public

a) by securing publication of the Court decisions at the Internet,
b) by defined obligation to publish statistics of decisions of the Courts,
c) by unlimited access to the Internet for judges.

2010 and 2011 priorities


Bratislava, 29.3.2010

Founders of the initiative:

Juraj Babjak, Judge of the Regional Court in Banska Bystrica
Ludmila Babjakova, Judge of the Regional Court in Kosice
Igor Belko, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic
Elena Berthotyova, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republi  c
Pavol Farkas, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic
Miroslav Gavalec, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic
Peter Hatala, , Judge of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic
Jana Hencekova, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic
Jan Hrubala, Judges of the Specialised Criminal Court in Pezinok
Katarina Javorcikova, Judge of the Regional Court in Bratislava
Jozef Kandera, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic
Milan Karabin, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic
Juraj Kliment, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic
Martin Murgas, Judge of the Regional Court in Bratislava
Peter Paluda, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic
Juraj Povazan, Judge of the Regional Court in Bratislava
Stanislav Sojka, Judge of the District Court in Michalovce
Peter Szabo, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic
Edita Szabova, Judge of the Regional Court in Bratislava
Maria Tothova, Judge of the District Court in Trencin
Marian Vorobel, Judge of the District Court in Presov

Contacts:


email: zoj(at)sudcovia.sk
webová stránka www.sudcovia.sk
telefón: +421 944 508 826

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