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January 31, 2023

Min Predoiu: Magistrates’ accountability system does not work

Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu claims the magistrates’ accountability system does not work at the moment. “The magistrates’ accountability is an illusion these days, it does not work – as proven by the state of affairs in the judicial inspection body. Disciplinary investigations conclude nearly always that “any erroneous decision is a matter of judgment and does not require supplementary checks, as it counts as res judicata,” Predoiu stated yesterday on RFI.

“There is the possibility of enhancing magistrates’ accountability by seeing to it that not only their own bodies, but also the Justice Minister, prosecutor-general and the president of the High Court, can ensure standards are abided by when instances of severe negligence are reported,” the minister added. He further argued that, although most magistrates do their job with a sense of responsibility, there are plenty of cases in which the verdict is affected “either by a lack of professionalism or by instances of corruption.”

On the same occasion, the Justice Minister rejected accusations that the proposed reform of the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM)’ Judicial Inspection body was an attempt to politicize it, claiming that the ministerial bill concerning judicial inspection merely aims at enhancing rigour. “This isn’t a bill aimed against magistrates, but against professional irregularities in the judiciary (…) Judicial Inspection remains under the authority of CSM. Where does political intervention come in?” Predoiu stated.

“The judiciary is and should remain independent, but a pre-emptive disciplinary mechanism is needed to maintain standards of professionalism and integrity in the judiciary. This mechanism is pre-eminently operated by magistrates. The difference, from its present form, would be the possibility for it to be triggered from outside, by the Justice Ministry,” the official added.

The Government adopted the bill to modify the magistrates’ status law and the CSM law on November 9.

Appointments at DNA

The Justice Minister further stated on RFI that the ministry had started evaluations concerning appointments at the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) and argued the action would have “a positive impact on the efficiency of the institution” and Public Ministry bodies in general. When asked whether he was considering the suggestion of extending DNA chief prosecutor Daniel Morar’s mandate, Predoiu replied “this is a question on [his] agenda as well, which will be answered in due course.”

Judges’ wages

According to a ranking made by the Econtext website, the wages of court presidents in each county range between RON 5,800 and 14,000 a month. The wages included in the ranking were collected in 2010 and come from the judges’ statements of wealth. The highest wage was collected, according to the ranking, by Marcel Ioan Rusu, the head of the Sibiu Court, who made RON 13,916 every month last year. He is followed by the Calarasi Court president Vasile Moraru, with RON 13,450, and the Valcea Court president Petre Dinescu, with RON 13,125. The judges from the Bacau and Dolj courts were not included in the ranking as they have failed to file statements of wealth in the past years.

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