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February 3, 2023

Bucharest Court of Appeal ruling reserved to PSD’s Dragnea challenge to new top court five-judge panels

The Bucharest Court of Appeal reserved ruling on Friday in the lawsuit whereby Social Democrat Chairman Liviu Dragnea challenges the procedure for the random draw of the five-judge panels of the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ).

Dragnea initially sued the top court over the ruling of the ICCJ Managing Council this September, according to which the new regulations on the formation of the five-judge panels were not to be applied.

Dragnea’s lawyer Flavia Teodosiu on Friday came up with a supplement to the lawsuit, announcing in the courtroom that the PSD leader requests both the suspension and the cancellation the November 8 ruling of the ICCJ Managing Council, based on which the new judge panels were established by random draw.

Flavia Teodosiu argued that the new panels were drawn without the Supreme Court waiting for the release of the Constitutional Court’s motivation to the ruling acknowledging a constitutional legal conflict between Parliament and the ICCJ on the issue of the five-judge panels. The lawyer maintained that the lot-drawing of the five magistrates of the Supreme Court is illegal, and Dragnea’s procedural rights had been infringed. In the opinion of the lawyer, the Supreme Court should have drawn only the panel presidents, not all the members.

At the same time, Flavia Teodosiu asked the Bucharest Court of Appeal to refer to the Constitutional Court an exception to the provisions of Article 32 of Law 304/2004 on judicial organization.

“Mr. Dragnea is completely innocent. He was tried other than he should have,” the lawyer said.

On October 5 Liviu Dragnea filed to the court a request seeking the cancellation of the ruling of the top court’s Managing Council, according to which the new procedure for the establishment of the five judge-panels provided for by Law No. 304/2004 shall not be applied.

In the request, Dragnea claimed that the Supreme Court had assumed the selective enforcement of the provisions of Law No. 304/2004, and the non-observance of the regulations on the membership of the five-judge panels affects the lawfulness of the judgments pronounced after July 23, 2018, the date when the new provisions came in force.

After the Constitutional Court admitted a referral by PM Viorica Dancila and ruled that there was a constitutional legal conflict between Parliament and the IICJ related to the establishment of the five-judge panels, the top court drew the new judge lineups on November 8.

Liviu Dragnea is standing trial before the Supreme Court in the Teleorman Social Assistance and Child Protection Directorate General case where he was handed a three-and-half-year prison sentence in the first-instance court.

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