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Justice Minister says it’s ‘a blatant lie’ that the motion introduced by the Judges Department asking for the cancellation of the decision by which Oana Schmidt-Haineala had been elected as President of the Council had been rejected. ‘Such decision was never made, because they did not have a chance to vote’, minister says.
The election of prosecutor Oana Schmidt-Haineala as President of the Superior Magistracy Council (CSM) continues to generate controversies and heated debates. Sunday night, in a telephone call on Antena 3 TV, Justice Minister Mona Pivniceru denounced the election of a prosecutor as president of the CSM, noting that the institution may only be led by a judge. ‘First of all, a prosecutor is a magistrate only in order for his/her independence to be safeguarded. A prosecutor belongs to the public ministry under the Constitution. Being subject to hierarchic subordination, it is abnormal for a prosecutor who is a part of the whole to be put to lead the whole. For that reason, CSM is mostly made up of judges, because they represent the majority system and are the only ones who lead the judiciary’, hotnews.ro quotes Pivniceru as having said. Furthermore, the justice minister says the motion introduced by the Judges Department of CSM asking for the cancellation of the appointment of Oana Haineala as President was not rejected by a score of 11 to 7 votes, as announced Friday night. ‘It’s a blatant lie and a gross fake if that somehow materialised in a legal act, because that decision was never debated. If they voted on it, they must have done it without quorum.’ According to Mona Pivniceru, the procedure for the appointment of Oana Haineala as President of CSM carries ‘the flaw of being cancellable’ as prosecutor Daniel Morar (former head of the National Anti-Corruption department – DNA) may not legitimately be a member of CSM ‘even if he was let in based on the idea of inter-institutional tolerance’. ‘Therefore, someone who is not empowered by law to be a member of CSM may not actually give a valid vote’, said the minister. Pivniceru also noted that the new Council president had come to the leadership of the institution in ‘a regrettable manner’. Asked how she expected things to develop further, the minister answered: ‘A general disarray will follow. A claim will probably be filed in court (…). The Judges Department will raise back the matter and we will prepare a report on the succession of events.’
UNJR: We will use all legal means for CSM to fulfil its constitutional role
The National Union of Judges in Romania (UNJR) also criticises ‘the non-transparent and unprofessional way’ in which Oana Schmidt Haineala was elected to run CSM. In a press release issued yesterday, UNJR says the very busy legal agenda of 2013, calling for decisions on the appointment of professionals to the highest leading offices in the system – president of the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ), chief prosecutor of the ICCJ Prosecutor’s Office and chief prosecutor of DNA – the bringing into force of the new Code of Civil Procedure, the anticipated constitutional review, would require a decision the main concern of which should be cohesion inside CSM rather than ‘starting new wars behind closed doors and publicly’. ‘In 2012, the corps of judges repeatedly expressed its dissatisfaction with the performance of the CSM leaders and its flaws in the exercise of its representation function, the wish of the professional body of magistrates that the same leadership should not be re-elected in any form being evident (Haineala President of CSM, Alina Ghica – Vice President). But our wish was defiantly ignored (…), and so was the custom respected ever since the Council was set up, of always having a judge as president’, say UNJR representatives. They add they will use all legal ways in order to make CSM aware of and fulfil its constitutional role as a guarantor of judicial independence.
CSM claims in a communiqué remitted to the press that the request to cancel the plenum decision that appointed Oana Schmidt-Haineala President of the Council was rejected on January 4 with 11 votes against and 7 abstentions. Considering that most of the members present voted to reject the proposal and taking into account the provisions of Article 12 of CSM’s Statute, according to which “members can validly express their vote in the plenum on condition they took part in the debates over the issue submitted to the voting procedure,” it was noted that the request to cancel the decision that appointed the President of the Council was rejected, the aforementioned source points out.
Ramnicu Valcea Court wants Cristi Danilet recalled from CSM
The Ramnicu Valcea Court’s General Assembly of Judges has initiated the procedure of recalling judge Cristi Danilet, who is running for the office of Vice President of CSM. “The General Assembly of Judges considers that (…) Cristi Vasilica Danilet has inappropriately exercised his duties as member of the Council, by actively taking part in a non-transparent procedure of electing the Council’s leadership against the things agreed in the draft candidacy, and the opinions he publicly expressed recently gave an objective observer the impression of involvement for other purposes, such as, without this being the only one, that of promoting his own image at the expense of the interests of the Romanian judges,” a press communiqué quoted by hotnews.ro reads. The decision taken by the General Assembly of Judges will be sent to similar bodies in order for the recall procedure to continue. According to the law, a CSM member can be recalled at the request of most courts he represents, the courts taking the decision in their turn with two thirds of the votes cast by acting judges.