A necessary prerequisite for the judge’s appointment
“There are no degrees of integrity. Integrity is absolute. In the judiciary, integrity is more than a virtue, it is a necessity.“ - in the judicial activities of the judges, and beyond, the imperative of their "integrity" is established by the Bangalore Principles of "on the conduct of judges”.
5 years have passed since, according to the organic law, the necessary precondition for the appointment of a judge in Georgia is their integrity. In the article, we discuss the issue of considering the judge's integrity as a key value when making a decision on the appointment of a candidate.
The integrity of candidates without judicial experience
is assessed by the following characteristics:
A) personal integrity and professional conscience;
B) independence, impartiality, and fairness;
C) personal and professional behavior;
D) personal and professional reputation.
What does each of them entail?
A) personal integrity and professional conscience
mean the honesty, integrity, awareness of civic duties and responsibilities, transparency, correctness, and precision in the performance of official or other responsibilities, financial or other obligations, such as: filing a declaration of property, paying a bank or other debt, paying utility or other taxes, paying a fine for violating traffic rules, etc.B) Independence, impartiality, and fairness:
these characteristics take into account the candidate's ability to make decisions independently and resist influence, strength of character, and perseverance.C) personal and professional behavior:
assessment of the candidate's correctness in dealing with colleagues and other persons, self-restraint, ability to manage emotions, court disputes in which he/she participated as a party, as well as whether there were criminal charges against him/her.D) personal and professional reputation
refers to the business and moral reputation of a candidate, his / her authority in legal circles and society, the nature of relations with legal circles, etc.Evaluation of candidates with judicial experience:
The integrity of a candidate with judicial experience is assessed by all the characteristics that are taken into account for a candidate without judicial experience. The difference is that when assessing the personal and professional behavior of a candidate with judicial experience, the candidate's adherence to judicial ethics and behavior in the course of disciplinary proceedings are added to the factors to be taken into account.
In addition, "financial obligations" are added to the list of main characteristics concerning a candidate with judicial experience.
When evaluating a judge in the context of" financial liabilities", information about the source of his/her income, assets, property owned and used, as well as debts and obligations corresponding to this property and income shall be taken into account. The purpose of checking this feature is to assess whether there are grounds for a conflict of the financial interests of the judge with the interests of Justice, which may threaten the judge's impartiality.
Possibility of 3 verdicts
Within 5 working days after the interview with the candidates, each member of the council independently fills out the assessment sheet, which means marking one of the 3 possible decisions. The relevant structural unit of the High Council of Justice summarizes the results of the assessment.
The council makes one of the decisions regarding the candidate's integrity:
1. The person does not meet the criterion of integrity;
2. The person meets the criterion of integrity;
3. The person fully meets the criterion of integrity.
If more than half of the board members believe that a candidate does not meet the integrity standard, he/she will be eliminated from the competition. The contest participant goes to the next (voting) stage, in both of the following cases: if more than half of the total board members believe that the contest participant meets or fully meets the criteria of good faith.
Organic law does not explain how a person who meets the criterion of integrity differs from a person who fully meets the criterion of integrity. Thus, a question arises: Where is the line between these two categories of compliance with the criterion of good faith?
The board members do not have any obligation to substantiate their reasoning on why the integrity criteria would be “fully fulfilled” by one candidate, and merely “fulfilled” by the other.
In addition to the fact that the basis for making decisions about these two categories is vague, the purpose of the existence of these categories itself is unclear, what the purpose of such differentiation of candidates is if both decisions produce the same legal result?
Judicial candidates' integrity is assessed through a special evaluation sheet approved by the High Council of justice. See Form
As stated above, the criteria for assessing the integrity of a candidate without judicial experience include four characteristics, of a candidate with judicial experience - five. Each characteristic, in turn, includes the principles necessary for judicial activity, collectively - more than 20 fundamental principles, although none of them is indicated in the assessment form approved by the council. Also, even though there are some differences between the characteristics, the form of evaluation, in this part, is identical for candidates without judicial experience.
More specifically, as described above, the criterion for assessing the integrity of a candidate without judicial experience includes four characteristics of a candidate with judicial experience - five. Each characteristic, in turn, includes the principles necessary for judicial activity, and collectively - more than 20 fundamental principles (independence, impartiality, fairness, ethics, etc.), Although none of them is indicated in the assessment form approved by the council. In addition, although there are some differences between the characteristics, the assessment form is identical for candidates with and without judicial experience.
Information about how the appraiser came to the final conclusion is not inferable from the assessment sheet. In particular, which of the candidate's personality traits was rated positively or negatively? Which principle does the candidate not adhere to, in his assessment? Etc. The recommendation of the group of states of the Council of Europe against corruption (GRECO) on the process of appointing judges in Georgia implies that the High Council of justice shall make every decision:A) "clear and objective, based on pre-established criteria";B) with a "transparent procedure";C)"indicating the reasons in writing."
Nevertheless, the evaluation of the integrity of the judge candidate does not meet these standards."Society has the right to know how its judges are selected "(ENCJ)
We are aware that "integrity", as a critically important value for justice, is recognized by the legislation of Georgia and it, as a basic criterion for the selection of judges and its characteristics, is defined by the organic law.• Yet, we do not know why some of the successful judicial candidates in each case are considered to fully fulfill the integrity standard and some- only get a satisfactory rating. • We do not know how the High Council of Justice determined that candidates who could not become judges were deficient in integrity and we (the public) had no interest in their participation in the competition.• And finally! We do not know how the High Council of Justice has determined that the judges who rule our fate live up to the integrity standards themselves.
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