“Interference with the administration of justice is unacceptable,” states the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
24 October, 2019
The course of court proceedings must be as effective as possible in every case and the court must reach a fair judgment as soon as possible. This is particularly important in the criminal case of the Zolitude tragedy, as stated by Ivars Bickovics, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. At the same time, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court points out that neither he nor the judges of the Supreme Court have the right to intervene in the organizational matters of a lower court and to influence the course of the proceedings.
Incompetent and misleading are public statements made by Janis Bordans, Minister of Justice, stating that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court bears direct responsibility for the course of court proceedings in the case of the Zolitude tragedy. The management of procedural time limits is an organizational matter of the court which is the responsibility of the President of each court. In accordance with Section 107 of the Law "On Judicial Power", the Ministry of Justice is the leading State administrative institution in the administration of courts, which issues internal laws and regulations regarding organizational management issues of district (city) courts and regional courts; requests data from district (city) courts, regional courts necessary for performance of the functions stipulated in laws and regulations; performs organizational management of district (city) courts, regional courts and performs inspections in district (city) courts, regional courts.
The Supreme Court is not administratively linked to district (city) courts and regional courts. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the judges cannot control or give instructions to judges of lower courts on specific cases or organizational issues. The relationship between courts at all levels is manifested in procedural terms, when examining appealed or challenged decisions of lower courts, as well as in the development of uniform case-law.
The statement made by the Minister of Justice that the judiciary, including the Supreme Court and the Council for the Judiciary, are not involved in the legislative process and in the development of the regulatory framework, is also false and misleading. Neither the Council for the Judiciary, nor the Supreme Court has the right of legislative initiative. The Supreme Court cannot draft laws. What the Supreme Court can do and does is that, firstly, it can make proposals for the necessary amendments to the law resulting from case-law and, secondly, it may participate in working groups for drafting laws and in meetings of the Saeima Legal Affairs Committee, if called upon.
The Supreme Court calls on the Minister of Justice to ensure the lawful performance of the functions of the Ministry of Justice as provided for in the law and to refrain from inappropriate and unfounded criticism of the judiciary, using political rhetoric in public space.
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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