The life of a judge. Episode 6: Please identify yourself!

It would be an extreme and unpleasant error if the lecture of my episodes would give the wrong impression that all the prosecutors are mean and abusive persons. The truth is that, among the prosecutors, like in any other profession, there are people who usually abuse their power. These are the people that stick out and give the impression that they all are alike. The honorable and good-natured prosecutors stick in the background and go unnoticed. I can not reasonably explain the feeling that, as a judge, I got along better with Hungarian prosecutors than with Romanian ones. Ruth Cinniger, prosecutor in Portland (Oregon), is the brightest memory of a prosecutor. I have a great admiration for Marin Nazat’s writing skills and erudition. I would have many other names to add.

In the 1970’s, I was given to live an unique experience in a criminal case. I was judge at the Cluj-Napoca law court and the president of the court assigned me to chair the panel in a criminal case pending in Turda law court, because all the other judges legitimately abstained. I was about to form the panel with the President of Turda law court, who expressed the request that I lead the debate.

On the first day of the trial, I went to the office of my fellow President. A short conversation unraveled the circumstances of the case. The gynecologist, being on remand for several illegal abortions, made a fatal error. It is said that a person who God wants to waste, loses his mind first. This doctor was known by the ones interested to perform abortions even in sever social cases (not medical), against payment. The amounts of money, easily obtained made him euphoric and led him to a reckless gesture. At New Year’s Eve, he went from Turda to Cluj, in the building where the Bureau of the County Committee of the Party was celebrating. Here he gave a big tip to a waiter who brought a box of champagne to the table where the First Secretary was. The First Secretary asked again the waiter who sent the champagne, and the waiter pointed him the business card that the doctor had left in the box. The First Secretary asked his collaborators if this was the doctor which he received numerous intimations for performing abortions. They confirmed and the First Secretary said only one word that decided the rest of the doctor’s life: “SEARCH!” (what an odd coincidence!)

And that’s how the head-prosecutor of the county, former activist with special problems at the Regional Party Committee of the former region Cluj, assigned as lead of the investigation the prosecutor famous for his cruelty and ardor with which he search solveded his cases. The same prosecutor was known for investigating at Dej a delation for homosexuality, the impeached being four monks from the Catholic Church, not very bright persons, illiterate, and not knowing Romanian, who in the defendant’s bar, were holding each other like sparrows, while he was vituperating with quotes from Rabelais (French writer from the XVI century!!).

Meanwhile, the prosecutor found pleasure in seducing the doctor’s wife, which he succeeded, but as God doesn’t infinitely forgives, his punish was double: he got stuck with her for the rest of his life and lost his sight.

After the investigation was over and the court was invested, the prosecutor of the case was the right hand of the head-prosecutor of the county, which was at that time head-prosecutor of Turda Prosecution.

This person was waiting for me and my fellow President, in the chamber through one must go in order to get to court. I was in my robe, with the file in my hand and, above all, accompanied by the President of Turda Law Court. My fellow President introduced me, telling my name and position and informing the head-prosecutor that I was assigned, in writing, to lead the debate in this case. The head-prosecutor looked carefully at me and asked me to identify myself with my ID card. I executed for two reasons:
1) I didn’t want to create tension, because the court room already looked like an exploding bomb; 2) I knew that I was about to lead the debate and I didn’t want to create the impression that there was any tension between us.
In the following hours, the trial went on without any major incidents, but accidental or not, my fellow prosecutor made some procedural errors which I noticed, deliberating with my fellow President and reading out loud the article from the Criminal Procedural Code. Taking into consideration the colors of the prosecutor’s face, I understood he was taught a lesson, unfortunately a ephemeral one.

Late at night, going back to Cluj, the President of the Law Court was waiting for me to get my report. When I told him the incident with the identification he grabbed the telephone, called the head-prosecutor of the county and told him the incident.

The reaction was fast: “Turcu is lying!”

“Wouldn’t it be better if we asked the head-prosecutor from Turda?

My fellow head-prosecutor from Turda Prosecution, which made me identify myself confirmed my story and his line was: “What, was I supposed to let him enter the Court without identifying himself?”. The incident ended here and it didn’t have any repercussions.

I haven’t heard of a similar case and I must admit that it was a singular gesture, which, as well as the gesture of the prosecutor from Zalau in the case of the paternal denial, is not common among all the prosecutors.

Univ. prof. dr. Ion TURCU
Retired judge

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