Justice Minister Tudorel Toader stated on Monday, when asked for his comment on the Supreme Court’s opinion regarding the statements that politicians have made about the decision to convict PSD leader Liviu Dragnea, that it would also be normal to ask the members of the judicial branch when they make statements concerning the activity of politicians, of the Legislative and the Executive, because they too, “to an equal extent if not more,” have an obligation to be reserved in expressing opinions on political or legislative overtures.”
“It’s normal to ask them, the ones who made the statement, the ones who reacted to the statement, just as it would also be normal and even necessary to ask those from the judicial branch when they make statements about the activity of politicians, the activity of the Legislative, the activity of the Executive, because, to an equal extent if not more, they too have an obligation to be reserved in expressing their opinions on political and legislative overtures,” the Justice Minister stated on Monday when asked for his comment on the Supreme Court’s reaction to the statements that politicians have made about the decision to convict PSD leader Liviu Dragnea.
Likewise, asked if this is a reproach toward the judges, Tudorel Toader said: “I’ve just made a statement.”
Last Friday, after Premier Viorica Dancila and Justice Minister Tudorel Toader opined on the Dragnea case, the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) pointed out that the members of the Executive or Legislative have no competence to deem to what extent a court ruling will be upheld, nor the legal competence to note that the enforcement of the law is under the influence of arbitrariness and to claim that the ICCJ infringed upon Constitutional Court decisions before getting to know the content and the logical-juridical reasoning of the decision, and that they are casting doubt on the act of justice.
Premier Viorica Dancila and several PSD ministers and leaders claimed that the court ruling in Liviu Dragnea’s case “shows that the way in which the law is enforced in Romania is still under the influence of arbitrariness” and that the crime for which he was convicted in the court of first instance is stipulated by an article that must be modified according to a Constitutional Court decision.
Likewise, on Friday, the Forum of Romanian Judges Association lodged with the Supreme Magistracy Council (CSM) a request to defend the independence of the judiciary, following the statements made by several politicians, including Premier Viorica Dancila, regarding the conviction of Liviu Dragnea. The statements “represent an extremely grave backsliding from the principles of democracy and outline the image of a serious threat to the independence of the judiciary,” the signatories of the document point out. The CSM’s Section for Judges has pointed out that the recent statements made by the representatives of the political class may affect the independence and credibility of the judiciary, being grave statements about the Romanian judiciary.
Association of Magistrates on criticism of Dragnea’s conviction: Statements impact the independence of the judiciary
Association of Romanian Magistrates (AMR) President Andreea Ciuca has stated, after the criticism levelled against the judges who convicted Liviu Dragnea, that criminal cases cannot be solved through the statements of politicians but in court, and the public statements are affecting the principle of the independence of the judiciary.
“Moving the trial from the court to the public space through excessive media coverage, prompted by the comments of politicians, disregards the constitutional principle of the independence of the judiciary and of the judge. The cases with which the courts are invested are not solved through the statements of politicians, nor in the street. The competence falls on the legally invested panel of judges. (…) A series of politicians holding important offices in the state, starting from the top of the hierarchy, saw fit to comment on the court of first instance decision adopted on 21 June 2018 by the High Court of Cassation and Justice, regarding the leader of the ruling party. And these comments contain, in themselves, statements that impact the principle of the independence of the judiciary and of the judge, putting pressure on Supreme Court magistrates,” Andreea Ciuca pointed out in a press release.
The magistrate also emphasised that the amendments to Law no.303/2004 on the statute of judges and prosecutors have clearly established that judges must take decisions without any kind of restrictions, influences, pressure, threats, direct or indirect interventions from any kind of authority.
“In the last two days we have seen, at the top of the political-executive hierarchy and not only there, statements according to which the High Court of Cassation and Justice’s decision shows that the way the law is being enforced in Romania is still under the influence of “arbitrariness,” that the decision is “politicised,” being the “vindictive” answer to the pressure of the street, that the decision is “aberrantly unjust” and has nothing to do with the facts and proceedings in the dossier, that it placed in balance “people, not facts,” that it will not stand after the appeal is tried! Such statements, made by persons who should be the first to respect the separation of powers and their loyal cooperation, open for discussion, in an impermissible manner, the judiciary’s place and role in the rule of law,” Andreea Ciuca added.
The aforementioned source also pointed out that the AMR is asking the institutions, public persons, and citizens to show responsibility and to abstain from acts and statements that could be interpreted as pressures on the High Court of Cassation and Justice, acts and statements made, one way or another – critically or triumphantly –, with the purpose of determining the High Court to pronounce a certain solution in the case it is invested with.
High Court of Cassation and Justice notifies Superior Council of Magistracy following public statements on judges
The High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ) decided on Monday to notify the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) in order to determine whether the public positions of late about the HCCJ and its judges could affect their independence, impartiality or reputation.
According to a ICCJ press release issued on Monday, the General Assembly of Judges of the ICCJ discussed on Monday some topical issues regarding the activity of the court and the public positions expressed about the ICCJ and its judges.
“Following the debates that have taken place, the following have been decided: the issuance of an address to the Superior Council of Magistracy, in order to exercise the attributions stipulated in article 30 paragraph (1) of Law No. 317/2004 on the Superior Council of Magistracy at that time when the independence, impartiality or reputation of judges are affected by various public attitudes or assertions,” the statement reads.
The Supreme Court also calls on the media institutions to show balance when picking up and disseminating unsubstantiated information about the work of the courts and the conduct of judges.
The General Assembly also decided to call on individuals and institutions that make public statements to present the evidence that supports their statements.