The law on the status of judges, part of the controversial legislative package on the judiciary, has been sent back for review to the Chamber of Deputies
In the one and a half years since the latest legislative elections, the judiciary has been a recurrent theme for the leftist government formed by the Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats. One by one, the justice laws, the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure were all refashioned. Power says it was absolutely necessary to bring these laws in line with the rulings of the Constitutional Court and to improve them so as to close the doors for abuse in the judicial system.
The Opposition, on the other hand, criticises the quasi-authoritarian manner in which the political majority changes the relevant legislation. Furthermore, together with magistrate associations and international bodies, Opposition MPs perceive this large-scale legislative process as a poorly disguised attack against the independence of the judiciary and an attempt to undermine the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, the spearhead of the fight against corruption.
A constant critic of the ruling coalition, President Klaus Iohannis has already announced he would resend the justice laws to the Constitutional Court. The Chamber of Deputies has already received for review the bill on the status of magistrates, which was already subject to an unconstitutionality ruling. The Constitutional Court found the text at odds with the Constitution, and a special parliamentary committee headed by the Social Democrat Florin Iordache operated a number of changes, including a redefinition of the concept of judicial error. The parliamentary majority decided that a judicial error takes place where judicial proceedings have been ordered in obvious breach of the relevant legislation, or when a final and binding ruling has been passed in violation of the law. The Opposition claims this definition is far from clear, and announced a new notification of the Constitutional Court is being considered. Here is Senator Alina Gorghiu of the National Liberal Party:
“I seriously doubt that the concept of judicial error has been regulated to the standards required by the Venice Commission, which is obviously why we will not hesitate to send it to the Constitutional Court. And this is not only to annoy Mr Dragnea, although I do not mind this, but because we believe the judicial system deserves better laws.”
Florin Iordache replies that the new definition is in line with the comments made by the Constitutional Court and better regulates the responsibility of magistrates:
“As we said from the very beginning, we want magistrates to be liable for bad faith or gross negligence, but we also want a good definition of what judicial error is, so as to make sure that moving against a magistrate is only possible in case of judicial errors. Unlike our colleagues in the Opposition, we actually came up with a text, we were constructive and offered a starting point for debate.”
Parliament’s agenda also includes talks on the suggested changes of the Criminal Code. The Higher Council of Magistracy has already notified all courts and prosecutor offices that it would not support the introduction in the Criminal Code of such offences as “bad faith,” “gross negligence” or other offences liable to infringe upon the independence of the judiciary.
(Translated by A.M. Popescu)