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October 22, 2020

High Court to challenge magistrate responsibility law

The joint departments of the High Court on Friday decided to challenge a bill on magistrate responsibility with the Constitutional Court, according to Mediafax. The move came after the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) tabled a request in this direction with the High Court, insisting that the law passed by the Senate on Thursday is unconstitutional.

CSM believes the bill affects judges’ independence and allows the executive to get involvement in the initiation of disciplinary action against judges and prosecutors.

“These provisions violate the principle of justice independence and the separation of state powers, as provided by the Constitution, but also the provisions of the Fundamental law regarding the role of the Council in magistrates’ careers,” CSM said in a release.

The law was passed by the Senate with 75 votes in favour, 30 against and six abstentions, although it had been rejected by the Chamber of Deputies. The opposition Social Democrats also announced that they would challenge the bill with the Constitutional Court. The law extends the sphere of disciplinary errors committed by judges and prosecutors and transforms the CSM’s Judicial Inspection into a separate structure within the Council.

It also introduces tougher sanctions for magistrates, including the suspension from duties for up to six months. The project also allows the Justice Ministry or the High Court to decide what sanctions and disciplinary actions to be taken against magistrates who do their job inappropriately.

The provision angered magistrates, who charge that it allows the executive to interfere with the legal system, but Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu gave assurances that he will consult with CSM on any possible disciplinary sanctions he may have to order against magistrates.

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