On Wednesday, the Superior Council of the Magistracy (CSM) elected its Chair and Deputy Chair, President Klaus Iohannis taking part in the CSM meeting just as he did in previous years.
According to the CSM’s Regulations, the Council is led by a Chair, assisted by a Deputy Chair, both elected for a one-year term that cannot be renewed. The Chair and Deputy Chair are elected in a CSM plenary meeting attended by at least 15 CSM members, with a majority of the votes. The Chair and Deputy Chair are members of different CSM sections.
Judge Lia Savonea has been elected Chair of the CSM, while prosecutor Nicolae Andrei Solomon has been elected Deputy Chair.
CSM consists of 19 members: nine judges and five prosecutors elected by the magistrates in general assemblies of courts and prosecutor’s offices and validated by the Senate, two representatives of the civil society elected by the Senate, and three automatic members: the minister of justice, the chair of the Supreme Court of Justice, and Romania’s Prosecutor General. The term of office of the elected members is six years, without the possibility of an extension.
Before the vote, Simona Camelia Marcu was Chair of the CSM, while Codrut Olaru was Deputy Chair.
The Council’s 2018 activity report was also on the agenda of CSM’s meeting on Wednesday.
Judge Lia Savonea is the new Chair of the CSM
The plenum of the Superior Council of the Magistracy confirmed Lia Savonea as CSM Chair, the judge being the only candidate for this office. Likewise, Nicolae-Andrei Solomon was confirmed as CSM Deputy Chair.
Incumbent CSM Chair Simona Marcu announced that the CSM plenum confirmed Lia Savonea as CSM Chair and Nicolae-Andrei Solomon as CSM Deputy Chair.
Lia Savonea was president of the Bucharest Court of Appeals starting in 2010 and vice president of the Court in 2009. She was the one who, on November 12, asked the Superior Council of the Magistracy (CSM) to put up for debate the effects of the Constitutional Court decision that noted the existence of a constitutional conflict generated by the leadership of the High Court of Cassation and Justice (ICCJ), pointing out that “the Section must debate to what extent the conduct of the ICCJ leadership is not [sic] part of a veritable abdication from certain values of the Judiciary,” a request that could have led to the dismissal of Supreme Court President Cristina Tarcea.
Nicolae Solomon ran for the office of CSM Deputy Chair last year too, losing to Codrut Olaru. According to his resume, Nicolae Solomon was born in 1984 and he started his activity in 2008, at the prosecutor’s office attached to the Medgidia Court. Subsequently, Solomon worked as prosecutor within the prosecutor’s office attached to Bucharest District 6 Court (until 2011). He then transferred to the prosecutor’s office attached to the Bucharest Court (until 2013). The prosecutor also worked at the Public Prosecutor’s Office, after which he returned to the prosecutor’s office attached to the Bucharest Court.
Judge Lia Savonea: Independence should no longer serve as front behind which justice is violated
Judge Lia Savonea, the new chair of the Superior Council of Magistrates (CSM), maintains that the independence of justice “should no longer serve as a front behind which justice itself is being violated”, and society needs impartial judges in order to prevent the abuse of power.
“The independence of Justice should no longer serve as a front, behind which justice itself is being violated. Society needs an independent justice and impartial judges, in order to prevent the abuse of power and to protect the rights and fundamental liberties. Independence cannot and should not serve anyone as a shield for breaking the law and needs to be protected only in the limits and purpose for which it has been granted to us. Any signs of straying from the high standards of the profession need to be urgently clarified and, should certain factual elements result from a serious investigation, the immediate protection of the magistrate should ensue, or, if the imputations are confirmed, legal procedures should be commenced as quickly as possible,” Lia Savonea mentions in the candidacy project for position of CSM head.
The judge further affirms that the idea of defending the independence of justice has been derided by the shallow treatment of the former CSM.
“The idea of defending the independence of justice has been, at times derided, by the very frequency and superficial way in which it was treated, it is true, by the former Council, when the same imputation made by the litigant, resulted, in turn, in defending the independence of justice and the magistrate’s reputation made in the plenum, so that after a more thorough search, to be followed by the disciplinary or even criminal liability, cases in which the reaction of defending the independence proved to be a simple mechanical exercise on behalf of the Council. The independence of Justice must not become a rhetorical accessory. It needs to signify the comfort of impartial judgment in the causes they take on and accordingly, with increased responsibility,” Lia Savonea explains.
Among the objectives from the candidacy project, Lia Savonea mentioned “ensuring an honest and constructive dialogue with the bodies and competent institutions in resolving these so-called “justice issues, as they are repeatedly invoked.”
President Iohannis: Independent judiciary is the most important instrument against arbitrariness of power
President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday stated that an independent judiciary is the most important instrument to be used against the arbitrariness of power, in which context he underscored that the Superior Council of the Magistracy (CSM) has a very tough mission.
“Romania’s role in the EU and commitment to European values must be reflected also internally, in the coherence of public policies. In the field of justice, the CSM plays an active role in meeting the obligations arising from our capacity as an EU member state. In 2018, Romanians were united in defending the independence of the judiciary and you will certainly have an ally in the future too, in each citizen who wants a better future, a future which can only rely on an independent, fair and efficient judiciary. An independent judiciary represents the most serious instrument against the arbitrariness of power, and you, the members of the CSM, have a very difficult mission, which is, on one hand, to advocate for ensuring the stability of the act of justice and, on the other hand, to react to the attacks against the independence of judges and prosecutors, no matter whomever launches them,” said Iohannis, at the plenary sitting of the CSM. The head of state specified that he will do everything in his power so that “Romania won’t take backward steps.”
“I assure you of my unconditional support in guaranteeing the good functioning and independence of the judiciary to the direct benefit of Romanians. In this, I am your partner. I urge you to stay dedicated to your noble mission and I wish you a lot of success in the year to come,” said Iohannis.
“CSM should become Parliament’s genuine dialogue partner in law-making process”
He emphasized that the Superior Council of the Magistracy (CSM) should become a dialogue partner for Parliament in the law-making process.
“The CSM should become a genuine dialogue partner for Parliament,” Iohannis told a CSM plenary meeting.
He also pointed out that the government’s public policies must be elaborated following impact assessments.
“We cannot afford stage experiments,” Iohannis said.
“Aligning judicial laws, criminal legislation with European standards is mandatory”
He also stated on Wednesday that aligning the judicial laws and criminal legislation with the European standards is mandatory.
“2018 was marked, in this system, by the amending of the organisation and functioning laws of the judiciary and of criminal legislation, which are still pending. We had a difficult year, with many crossroads for the judiciary of Romania, which, unfortunately, are far from being exhausted. Aligning these normative acts with the European standards is mandatory and will pose a challenge for the next period. As part of this demarche, the Superior Council of Magistracy (CSM) will have a particularly important mission which implies, more than ever, the assertion of its constitutional role as a guarantor of the independence of the judiciary. Although we were in a complicated context, the CSM remained a balance factor, managing to act equitably with the actors involved. Please continue with the same determination, be permanently connected to the inner voice of the system that strongly advocates the need to defend and strengthen the independence of the activity of judges and prosecutors, but also of the entire judicial system,” President Iohannis stated in the plenary sitting of the CSM.
He underscored that “the isolation” and “division” of the magistrates’ body does not lead to anything productive.
The head of state showed that his presence at the CSM sitting represents “an institutional encouragement,” in the context in which the CSM plenary chooses its new leadership on Wednesday, namely the new chair and deputy chair. Moreover, Iohannis congratulated the current CSM leadership, who reached the end of tenure.
“It was a difficult year. I congratulate you all for the balance which you managed to maintain in the system,” President Iohannis concluded.
President Klaus Iohannis has taken part in CSM’s election meetings on several occasions. According to the law on whose basis the CSM is organised and functions, the Head of State can take part in election meetings without having the right to vote.
At the previous CSM elections, President Iohannis noted the fact that in 2017 the Council had “an intense, complicated activity with strong impact.”
Iohannis sarcastic on Toader’s absence: I see that JusMin has other things to do than honour your activity report
President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday criticised Justice Minister Tudorel Toader for his absence at a plenary meeting of the Superior Council of the Magistracy (CSM).
“I see that the justice minister has other things to do today than to honour your activity report. The main promoter of such projects is a rightful member of CSM and he is under an obligation to be the first to respect those principles,” Iohannis said.
He pointed out that all that has happened over the last two years is a “strong indication that Romania can only progress with well-developed public policies that are implemented in line with European values.”
“The CSM has to become Parliament’s genuine dialogue partner in the law-making process, as it is the authority expressing the voice of the judiciary, its real needs and the challenges that judges and prosecutors face today,” Iohannis said at a CSM plenary session.
He also pointed out that the government’s public policies must be elaborated following impact assessments, by assessing the risks and benefits of the measures taken and connected to the realities of the judiciary.
“We cannot afford stage experiments that, instead of solving problems, generate increasingly more problems with even more serious consequences,” Iohannis said.
Tudorel Toader’s explanation for his absence at CSM meeting
On Wednesday, Justice Minister Tudorel Toader avoided saying why he was not present at the CSM plenary meeting in which the Council’s new leadership was elected, meeting attended by President Klaus Iohannis, stating that he must be in Parliament at 2 p.m.
“I must be in Parliament at 2 p.m. That’s what I’m going to do. Good day,” Tudorel Toader stated when leaving the Superior Council of the Magistracy, when asked by journalists why he did not take part in the first part of the plenary meeting in which the CSM’s new leadership was elected, meeting attended by President Klaus Iohannis too.
The Justice Minister arrived at the CSM headquarters after the Head of State left.