The decision was adopted yesterday after judges from several courts temporarily suspended their activity to protest against the “passivity” shown by the CSM plenum towards their vote to recall the two judges. Also yesterday, CSM voted Adrian Bordea as Vice President.
Judge Cristi Danilet and Judge Alina Ghica were recalled yesterday by the Superior Magistracy Council (CSM) approximately one month after the courts’ general assemblies finalized the recall procedures. The decision to recall Danilet was adopted with 14 votes in favour and 4 against, while the decision to recall Alina Ghica was adopted with 11 votes in favour and 7 against. According to Mediafax, the two left the CSM’s meeting room but left their ballots on the table. Judge Alina Ghica voted against the recall of Cristi Danilet and the latter did the same for his colleague. This is the first time CSM members are recalled from their positions as a result of requests filed by the judges’ general assemblies. Alina Ghica and Cristi Danilet had filed their candidacies for the office of CSM Vice President on January 4, 2013, after Oana Schmidt Haineala was elected President of the Council. Subsequently, the judges’ general assemblies that elected them as CSM members started the recall procedures, being dissatisfied with their behavior within the CSM and with the fact that their votes “helped” a prosecutor to become chief of the judiciary, a first for the Council. On January 23 the two judges withdrew their candidacies for the office of CSM Vice President. 103 out of 135 courts voted in favor of recalling Danilet. 1,126 judges voted for the recall and 324 voted against it or abstained. The general assemblies of 13 out of 16 courts of appeals throughout the country voted in favour of recalling Alina Ghica. 424 judges voted in favour of her recall, 39 voted against it and 2 abstained. Cristi Danilet tried to defend his seat up to the last moment. Yesterday he stated during the debates within the CSM plenum meeting that the recall request should be rejected because the recall procedure took place “in violation of legal provisions.”
The judge invoked as arguments the insufficient number of judges’ decisions to recall him and the fact that in some cases the decisions adopted by the general assemblies of judges were illegal. “Even today I don’t know what I am being recalled for,” Danilet stated, being quoted by the ‘Lumea Justitiei’ website – luju.ro. According to the same source, irregularities in the recall procedure were invoked by Alina Ghica too. Likewise, the Council’s former president accused some CSM members of abdicating from their professional obligations. Judge Cristi Danilet’s and judge Alina Ghica’s seats within the CSM will be taken ad interim by the candidates that qualified behind them in the elections for a seat as representative of the judges and of the courts of appeals respectively. Also yesterday, Judge Adrian Bordea was elected CSM Vice President with 16 votes in favor and one abstention. He was the only candidate. Before the election of the new Vice President the representatives of the Association of Romanian Magistrates (AMR) asked Judge Adrian Bordea to withdraw his candidacy. The request stirred heated disputes within the CSM, Council members asking AMR representatives to let them decide the issue of Adrian Bordea’s candidacy. On the other hand, Adrian Neacsu put up for debate the recall of CSM President Oana Schmidt Haineala. According to Mediafax, Livia Stanciu, President of the High Court of Justice (ICCJ), stated yesterday that the CSM President should be an upright and honest judge from the ICCJ, namely Mircea Aron. Aron ran for that office on January 4 but Haineala won more votes.
Court protests throughout the country
Magistrates suspended their activity for around one hour at several courts in the country (Ramnicu Valcea, Buzau, Suceava, Botosani, Constanta, Slatina, Olt, Sibiu) in order to protest against the fact that the CSM plenum has refused for a month to take a decision on recalling the two judges. “It was considered that the passivity shown by the CSM plenum towards the requests to recall CSM members Cristi Vasilica Danilet and Alina Nicoleta Ghica cannot be reasonably justified considering that the law stipulates a 15-day period in which the Plenum has to take act of the will expressed by the judges,” a press communiqué issued by the Ramnicu Valcea Court and quoted by Mediafax reads. The Ramnicu Valcea Court is the one that started the recall procedures against Judge Cristi Danilet. The magistrates’ protests took place at the request of the Association of Romanian Magistrates (ARM) which considered the Council’s attitude of delaying the two judges’ recall as being “unacceptable.” AMR had threatened on Friday, through an open letter addressed to judges and prosecutors, that if the will expressed by the judges that chose to withdraw the mandate offered to the two elected CSM members is not respected AMR will reserve the right to immediately file criminal complaints against all CSM members for malfeasance in office. The Association also warned the CSM members that interpreting the law based on temporary personal interests negatively impacts the public’s perception of the judiciary. AMR sued CSM on February 15 on this account. Tudor Chiuariu, PNL Executive Vice President and former Justice Minister, stated yesterday for RFI that the protests organised by some courts are a normal reaction towards what happened recently, claiming that the activity of the Superior Magistracy Council “was dominated by political influences and maybe even by a political model.”