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Romanian Judges’ Forum on the reorganization of the Judicial Inspection, as a legal personality structure within the Ministry of Justice

With reference to this amendment proposed by the Minister of Justice on the „laws of justice”, there has never been during prior talks, beginning with 2016, such an issue put forward concerning any modification of the statute of the Judicial Inspection. There is no reasonable explanation to proceed to such a modification, it is unknown why the current statute should be subject to change and what where the reasons underlying such an initiative.

The report issued by the Judicial Inspection for the year 2016[1] reveals the following data:

  •  there have been 6823 referrals (218 ex officio) lodged regarding the activity and the conduct of judges and prosecutors, out of which 4762 referrals regarding judges (177 ex officio) and 2061 referrals regarding prosecutors (41 ex officio);
  •  solved at the end of preliminary verifications: 5751 closed for lack of probable cause of having committed any disciplinary offence (4030 – Inspection Service for Judges, 1721 – Inspection Service for Prosecutors);
  •  closing resolutions challenged: 182 (114 – Inspection Service for Judges, 45 – Inspection Service for Prosecutors) out of which 157 rejected and 2 admitted (Inspection Service for Judges); the admission decisions have been appealed by the Judicial Inspection and are pending before the High Court of Cassation and Justice; the other challenges have not yet been solved;
  •  solved at the end of the disciplinary action: 119 (1,65% of all the referrals), out of which 93 regarding judges and 26 regarding prosecutors;
  •  51 referrals admitted (0,71% of all the referrals), out of which 40 regarding judges and 11 regarding prosecutors, and 68 referrals rejected;
  •  legal remedy against referral rejection resolutions: 3 challenges (percentage of challenges 4,41 %), all rejected (annulment index 0%);
  • the Judicial Inspection proceeded to disciplinary action for: 36 judges (37 disciplinary actions) for 60 disciplinary offences and 14 prosecutors (13 disciplinary actions) for 22 disciplinary offences; the most common disciplinary actions are those provided under letters t (21), h (14), a (11) and m (9) of art. 99 of Law no 303/2004 regarding the statute of judges and prosecutors;
  •  disciplinary actions solved by the Superior Council of Magistracy: 17 regarding judges for 23 offences (15 sanctioned and 8 rejected); 5 regarding prosecutors for 11 offences (5 sanctioned, 6 rejected);
  •  12 disciplinary sanctions enforced to judges: warning – 4, reduction of gross monthly salary – 3, suspension – 3 and dismissal from magistracy – 2;
  •  4 disciplinary sanctions enforced to prosecutors: warning – 2, reduction of gross monthly salary – 2;
  • professional deontology – 6 referrals regarding the possible infringement of the Code of deontology for judges and prosecutors (4 regarding judges, 2 regarding prosecutors) of which 2 ex officio;
  • good reputation of active judges and prosecutors – two referrals (each regarding a judge), proposals of the Judicial Inspections have been confirmed by the Plenary of the SCM;
  • defence of the independence of the judiciary: 26 referrals (4 regarding judges and 22 regarding prosecutors) of which 23 solved by SCM (23 admitted);
  • defence of the professional reputation, independence and impartiality of magistrates – 36 requests (17 made by judges and 19 by prosecutors) of which 21 solved by SCM (16 admitted).

These data show that the Judicial inspection, in its current organization, delivers efficient results. Thus, the real reason why it would be necessary to change its statute is unknown.

Moreover, as in the case of the appointments of the heads of the prosecutor’s offices, no MCV reports has brought any criticisms to this institution, in view of its statute as a structure within the Superior Council of Magistracy having legal personality, acting on the basis of the operational independence principle (art. 65 of Law no. 317/2004 regarding the Superior Council of Magistracy).

The reorganization of the Judicial Inspection within the Ministry of Justice, regardless of its legal formula (autonomous, under the authority etc.) will create, at least apparently, the impression of political subordination, which leads to the infringement of the principle of the separation and balance of powers within the framework of constitutional democracy.

Considering all the above arguments, there is no legal or factual basis for modifying the statute of the Judicial Inspection.

The assertion and the guarantee of the independence of judicial inspectors means excluding any influence from political factors, including from a minister of justice, member of a political government. Any misfunction of the present organization could be easily corrected instead of proceeding to the proposed institutional transfer

[1] Found on the web page http://old.csm1909.ro/csm/linkuri/09_03_2017__86944_ro.pdf [last accessed on 17th October 2017].

Dragoș CĂLIN

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