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May 6, 2021

Constitutional Court has new line-up, three new judges sworn in. Valer Dorneanu, newly elected chairman

Three new Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) judges – Livia Stanciu, Attila Varga and Marian Enache – were sworn in on Wednesday, in the presence of President Klaus Iohannis.

Livia Stanciu, former President of the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ), was nominated CCR judge by President Klaus Iohannis on June 9, through a Presidential decree, for a full 9-year term. She replaces Augustin Zegrean, who was nominated by President Traian Basescu in 2007.

Attila Varga, former UDMR Lower Chamber lawmaker, was nominated CCR judge for a 9-year term by the Lower Chamber, at UDMR’s proposal and with PSD’s backing. He replaces judge Tudorel Toader, who was nominated by the Lower Chamber in 2007 at PNL’s proposal.

The third judge is former UNPR Lower Chamber lawmaker Marian Enache, nominated by the Senate with PSD’s and UDMR’s backing. He replaces Valentin Zoltan Puskas, who was nominated by the Senate in 2007 at UDMR’s proposal. Enache’s nomination was constitutionally challenged by PNL Senators. The Liberals claimed Enache was not openly endorsed by any parliamentary group. The CCR rejected their challenge on June 29.

After the swearing-in, the Court will hold a closed-door session in order to elect its new President for the next three years. The CCR is currently led by acting president Valer Dorneanu, who was elected after Augustin Zegrean’s tenure expired in June.

Thus, PSD will have no fewer than three CCR judges: Valer Dorneanu, former Social Democrat Lower Chamber lawmaker, nominated by the Lower Chamber in 2013; Maya Teodoroiu, nominated by the Senate in February 2015, following the resignation of CCR judge Toni Grebla, who was accused of corruption; Marian Enache, former FSN, PDSR and PSD Lower Chamber lawmaker nominated by the Lower Chamber on June 8 this year.

In their turn, the Liberals have lost a judge, after Tudorel Toader’s replacement was nominated by UDMR, with the backing of PSD, ALDE and UNPR. PNL is left with two CCR judges it had endorsed: Stefan Minea, professor of law in Cluj-Napoca, nominated by the Lower Chamber in 2010, and Mona Pivniceru, ex-Justice Minister during the USL Government, nominated by the Senate in June 2013.

UDMR continues to have one CCR judge, having managed to nominate Attila Varga after Valentin-Zoltan Puskas was replaced. Attila Varga was UDMR Lower Chamber lawmaker from 1992 to 2012. In return for the support they received from PSD in having their own representative nominated within the CCR, UDMR backed PSD in proposing the Senate’s nominee.

With this renewal of the CCR’s line-up, President Klaus Iohannis also made his first nomination of a CCR judge, nominating former ICCJ President Livia Stanciu. Thus, while Klaus Iohannis has nominated a single judge within the CCR, two of the judges nominated by ex-president Traian Basescu are still in office: Petre Lazaroiu, nominated in 2010, and Daniel Morar, ex-president of the DNA, nominated in 2013.


Iohannis to constitutional judges: I urge you to follow high standards of professionalism and independence


President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday urged judges of the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) to permanently follow the highest standards of professionalism and independence.

“Good luck to the judges who have taken the oath of office today. I wish you to contribute to making CCR into a pole of stability in the constitutional architecture of the state, including through clear, consistent and predictable jurisprudence. I am urging you to follow the highest standards of professionalism and independence, and I am fully convinced that you will dignifiedly honour the magistracy entrusted to you,” Iohannis told the swear-in ceremony of three new CCR judges – Livia Stanciu, Attila Varga and Marian Enache.

He said that the CCR has proved its efficiency in promoting the fundamental values consecrated by the Constitution in its 25 years of existence.

“It has contributed to explaining and implementing basic principles of modern constitutionalism, including loyal cooperation among government branches, protecting citizens against threats to their rights and freedoms, and especially to strengthening integrity and transparency in political life,” said Iohannis.

He added that the court has often been a facilitator in connecting the legislative system and even public life of Romania to the legal values and principles promoted in Europe and the world.

“While the constitutional role of Romania’s President is to make sure the constitution is being observed, the Constitutional Court is tasked with protecting and promoting the rule of law and constitutional democracy with the aim of protecting the fundamental rights of citizens,” said Iohannis.


Dorneanu: We agreed to make a team


Valer Dorneanu on Wednesday was elected chairman of the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR), for a three-year mandate.

“I was elected Constitutional Court chairman by majority of votes. I believe that my colleagues took into account my experience, my calm, my conciliatory spirit and the fact that we shall manage together to carry on the prestige of this institution, which is a rule of law pillar, doing all it takes by using our over 25-year experience and bringing a new spirit, though the contribution of the new-comers. We agreed to make a team,” Valer Dorneanu said.

Dorneanu said that he expects the CCR to have a good cooperation with the other state institutions.

“We expect to cooperate very well with the other state institutions, we expect them to no longer turn the Constitutional Court in that place where they send all misunderstandings and conflicts existing in the political sphere,” Dorneanu stated.

He did not wish to say if he had an opponent, underscoring that the votes were “strictly personal, professional and humane.”

The elections to the CCR leadership took place with closed doors, in the new composition, after Livia Stanciu, Attila Varga and Marian Enache were sworn-in at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.

Valer Dorneanu has led the Constitutional Court ad-interim, after Augustin Zegrean’s chairman mandate expired in June.

The Constitutional Court is made up of 9 judges appointed for a 9-year mandate, three being appointed by the Chamber of Deputies, three – by the Senate, and three – by Romania’s President.

CCR has a chairman elected by secret voting, on a three-year period, by the majority of the judges’ votes. To elect the chairman, each group of judges appointed by the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate and Romania’s President can propose one single candidacy. If in the first round no candidate gathers the majority of votes, a second round is organised between the first two ranked or drawn, in case all candidates obtain the same number of votes.


Outgoing CCR Chairman: There is excessive regulation in Romania’s criminal law justice that should be halted


There is excessive regulation in Romania’s criminal justice that should be halted, outgoing Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Romania told Agerpres in a recent interview.

“Maybe the definition was slightly too broad and many instances could have been deemed malfeasance in office. I have to tell you that I believe there is excessive regulation in Romania’s criminal justice: besides the criminal offences included in the Criminal Code, of which in the new code I have lost count – I used to know about them in the previous code, but I do not in the new code – but there are several hundred deeds that are criminal offences when committed. In addition, there are more than 800 offences included in special laws. So, there are more than one thousand criminalised deeds, which, if committed, are punishable in Romania. In my opinion, that is excessive,” Zegrean said in response to a question about a recent ruling of CCR on malfeasance in office.

He mentioned China as an example, where there are 243 laws in force, adding that it is hard being a judge in a country where legislation changes often.

“There is clearly excessive regulation that should be halted. Legislation has been adopted in an overzealous spirit. Romania no longer has laws from before 1990. All of them have been recast or repealed. Then they were reverted again; then the period prior to Romania’s accession to the European Union came, then the accession period and then the post-accession period. Laws kept changing. It is very hard being a judge in a country where laws change so often and are so numerous. It is hard for the people as well, because there is a principle in criminal justice that ignorance of the law is no excuse or defence. I find it hard to believe that somebody in Romania knows all the one thousand plus criminal offences; I guess not even criminal law professors know them all,” said Zegrean.


Judge Zegrean: Too much hassle in political life, politics not yet a profession


Outgoing Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) Augustin Zegrean says the country’s political life is fraught with “hassle” and being a politician has not yet become a profession in Romania.

“There’s too much hassle in Romania’s political life. They fuss too much, politics hasn’t yet become a profession, everybody thinks he knows and can do best and should be there, in that office. Here, in Romania, hardly is an incoming official seated, when one hundred eye his position. They imagine they are better than you, that they would do a better job and deserve being there. I don’t know if this is good. In other countries, where things are better settled, elections come and go, the incoming officials take over and stay put for four years, no one blasts them seeking to drive them out. We also had two failed attempts to suspend the President in this period,” Zegrean told Agerpres in a recent interview.

He also talked about the need for Romanians to learn to behave as citizens under the rule of law.

“Romanians have learned a lot, much has changed in the Romanian society in these 25 years. Although many say it has changed for the worse, I think the change was for the better. We are headed towards freedom. Freedom must be in your mind, in your behaviour, but not excessive freedom, not going over the top, but being free in thought, free in actions, being able to do what you should do and what you want to do. Education in freedom and democracy, the rule of law isn’t more extensive elsewhere either. Go and ask in developed countries what the rule of law is – who will know the answer?”, the outgoing CCR chairman said.


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