Judge Georgeta Ciungan: “We are headed for disaster. We have come here through passivity and indifference” .

Judge Georgeta Ciungan (Bihor Court): “We are headed for disaster. We have come here through passivity and indifference” .

 

MAIN DECLARATIONS

  • Dear citizens, the independence we have is a guarantee that you, tomorrow, will have the right to a fair trial, no matter what nature.
  • My fear does not make two money besides the general interest I have to protect
  • Such a lesson was needed to understand the importance of democracy

Background:  The Emergency Ordinance adopted on February 19 has dissatisfied almost the entire body of magistrates in Romania. The next day, on 20 February, the SCM Prosecutor’s Office convened the general assemblies of prosecutors to express their views on the changes provided by the ordinance.

At the same time, the prosecutors at the Brasov Court and the Brasov Tribunal protested, saying that the provisions of the ordinance would transform the Investigation Section of the magistrates into a parallel, unconstitutional investigation structure.

Magistrates’ protests multiplied, and on 21 February the Oradea magistrates expressed their dissatisfaction, even while Lia Savonea, the head of the SCM, participated in the Court of Appeal’s balance sheet. At that time, the magistrates in Covasna and again those in Brasov also protested.

On February 22, magistrates’ protests broke out across the country. In Constanta they joined the protests and DNA prosecutors, including the interim head of the territorial structure. At the same time, several prosecutors and courts in the country announced that they will suspend their activity next week (starting with February 25), in an unprecedented initiative in Romanian Justice.

 

ISE: Why do we again have magistrates on the steps of the courts demanding respect for the rule of law? How did we get here? And where do we go?

Georgeta Ciungan: Because we have not only the right, but also the obligation to express our opinions about the reform of the judiciary, the functioning of the judiciary, and last but not least, with the preservation of the rule of law. Public opinion should understand that the magistrate, prosecutor or judge does not express opinions in their own interest, but does so to ensure that there is a sufficient and necessary legal framework governed by the nature of guaranteeing the rights and freedoms of its citizens.

How did you get here? The judiciary reform was initiated by the SCM, in its old constitution, for sufficiently reasoned reasons and imposing legislative interventions for a better and more efficient functioning of our activity. Gradually, the draft law passed from the Ministry of Justice to Parliament, self-evident and undergoing an activity that wanted to be public consultation and debate in line with the principle of loyal cooperation between institutions. It is neither time nor the place to resume the entire epic of these legislative projects and how it was understood to be subject to public disagreement, it is certain that they were subjected to a priori constitutionality before an opinion on proposed amendments by the Venice Commission.

Finally, the adopted laws were criticized by the Venice Commission, by GRECO and by the latest MCV report, in a way that has not been the case in recent history, criticisms that unfortunately have confirmed all our alarm signals transmitted in connection with the “reform” of justice. Despite the public commitments made to bring the legislation thus adopted into line with the requirements and recommendations of the European institutions, the legislator insisted on the “reform” to finally end up with its own approach through the last legislative amendment produced by GEO no. .7 / 2019. I declare to disband, because by the last legislative intervention he completely omitted the principle of separating the judge’s career from that of the prosecutor, too cleared and affirmed that he supports a new approach to justice. In fact, the new approach has stopped at the first impediment generated by the newly amended legislation, meaning that our “reformation” is probably not obtained in a short time and determined by foreign interests from the real functioning of justice. In other words, the urgency was so stringent that priority was given to the adoption of a normative act without any consultation, with no instruction, nor with the CSM from which it would have needed a consultative opinion, but by a well-informed opinion with sufficient analysis time. These latter circumstances arise from the statements of some MSC members who intervened in the public space and explained that in reality there was an initiative to return to the old legislative form of accession to the magistracy, but so did. in the sense that our “reforming” was probably not obtained in a short time and determined by foreign interests from the real functioning of justice. In other words, the urgency was so stringent that priority was given to the adoption of a normative act without any consultation, with no instruction, nor with the CSM from which it would have needed a consultative opinion, but by a well-informed opinion with sufficient analysis time. These latter circumstances arise from the statements of some MSC members who intervened in the public space and explained that in reality there was an initiative to return to the old legislative form of accession to the magistracy, but so did. in the sense that our “reforming” was probably not obtained in a short time and determined by foreign interests from the real functioning of justice. In other words, the urgency was so stringent that priority was given to the adoption of a normative act without any consultation, with no instruction, nor with the CSM from which it would have needed a consultative opinion, but by a well-informed opinion with sufficient analysis time. These latter circumstances arise from the statements of some MSC members who intervened in the public space and explained that in reality there was an initiative to return to the old legislative form of accession to the magistracy, but so did. In other words, the urgency was so stringent that priority was given to the adoption of a normative act without any consultation, with no instruction, nor with the CSM from which it would have needed a consultative opinion, but by a well-informed opinion with sufficient analysis time. These latter circumstances arise from the statements of some MSC members who intervened in the public space and explained that in reality there was an initiative to return to the old legislative form of accession to the magistracy, but so did. In other words, the urgency was so stringent that priority was given to the adoption of a normative act without any consultation, with no instruction, nor with the CSM from which it would have needed a consultative opinion, but by a well-informed opinion with sufficient analysis time. These latter circumstances arise from the statements of some MSC members who intervened in the public space and explained that in reality there was an initiative to return to the old legislative form of accession to the magistracy, but so did. But by a well-informed opinion with sufficient analysis time. These latter circumstances arise from the statements of some MSC members who intervened in the public space and explained that in reality there was an initiative to return to the old legislative form of accession to the magistracy, but so did. But by a well-informed opinion with sufficient analysis time. These latter circumstances stem from the statements of some MSC members who intervened in the public space and explained that in reality there was an initiative to return to the old legislative form of accession to the magistracy, but so did.

Under that pretext, what we believe, indeed, we followed, changes, legislative amendments that together create and corroborate the premises of a possible “control” over magistrates. From the magistrate’s perspective, there are two “fears”, two institutions that, although designed for our protection and citizens, against the unwilling attitudes of some magistrates who have not understood their role in the profession and society, can be transformed by a pervert from the principle underlying their institutionalization, in the “guiding” tools of the occult and hidden to the general public to foreign interests in the act of justice. The two institutions are the judicial inspection and the new investigation section of the crimes committed by the magistrates. In short, who holds the control of these institutions holds justice. The magistrate is also an ordinary man, with qualities imposed by the profession, but also a man with instincts of conservation and defence. Although entered into the system with great principles and ideals, it can be “guided” to what it needs if the pressures exerted are likely to affect its own freedom, family, income, status.

In essence, regulating the activity of these institutions, which really have their established and legitimate role, is necessary and healthy for the system. But when through legislation, a whole category of people who are not related only by profession, are subjected to another treatment and other rules of criminal procedure than the citizens of that country, who do you think is the interest? Since yesterday, SIIJ is a parquet with a special regime, whose structure is intended to be removed from hierarchical control as it results from the Constitution and jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court, at least until the leadership of the General Prosecutor’s Office will be provided by an agreed person. Since yesterday, if a magistrate is being investigated for actual or actual criminal deeds, no longer has the same criminal procedural rights as the rest of the citizens of that country. He can no longer control the criminal prosecution, which he may consider illegal or ungrounded, for he who does his acts will also be the one to exercise control.

“Dear citizens, the independence we have is a guarantee that you, tomorrow, will have the right to a fair trial, no matter what nature”

The context in which they intervened has not been forgotten and these changes to the laws of justice have been justified. In the public space, for about two years, the “abuses” of justice have become a legitimate reason for all the actions or inactions of others. Going beyond the fact that the old fashion is that abuses must be ascertained by the judiciary and not by other authorities, and that from the strictly legal perspective “abuse” can only take the form of crimes committed by magistrates and proven, of course, what is noticeable now? From a legal point of view, the magistrate is located outside the citizens of this country with “special status” and the criminal procedure regulated only for them with rights, not different, but less secured by the Romanian state. For, GEO no.7 / 2019 does not only amend the organizing law, but also the criminal procedural law.

It can be said, at an unseen look, that “it does well”. No, dear citizens, the independence we have is a guarantee that you, tomorrow, will have the right to a fair trial, no matter what nature, civil, administrative, fiscal, criminal. However, the fair trial of a judge and an independent prosecutor does not mean that the guilty person will not be found, if indeed an act has been committed, but it means that we can only decide after we have provided a legal and fair framework outside any interference and interference, that all exercise their rights provided for in the Constitution and other laws.

How did we get here? Through passivity and negation and by retirement in a guaranteed “place” and by the facilities of a substantial salary. I believed that the way I chose and wherever I strongly believed, for an independent, quality justice, done in a fast-paced fashion, cannot have a turn at 180 degrees. We thought it was enough to carry out our work as best as possible and to prove that justice can be done in this country, regardless of the status of a person, the function he or the peculiarities that determine his individuality. Gullible? May be. Ideal? Why not? But the experience of the last time, briefly, has shown us that we are still a young, tender, unstable democracy, in formation, in childhood and always susceptible to returns in times of regret.

Where do we go? To the disaster. Towards a direction where, personally, in choosing this profession, I swore that no one would reach. I had once, before being a magistrate, the quality of justice and trust I went to justice, to seek justice (a labour dispute) Whether or not I was right about my problem, I had the right to address to justice and I had the right to a fair trial, judged by an independent and independent magistrate. I would find myself in the darkest disillusion, when the judge of the cause asked me for certain favours (not relevant to their nature). It happened in 2004-2005. Only two years after that accident I decided, being at an age when many say they have no longer what to do in life, to give the right to make me judge and not to hurt anybody I have suffered. Towards that kind of justice we are heading.

ISE: Do you think that the DNA or the General Prosecutor’s Office can be led by a judge? Is this a normality? 

GC: As we have stated above, through the EGO no.7 / 2019 the legislator himself has distanced himself from his new and fairly recent approach to separating judges’ career from that of prosecutors. In this context and not only, it becomes at least interesting what were the real arguments and interests underlying this decision. It is natural to ask this question also from the perspective of the latest events that have revealed a firm opposition from the SCM Prosecutors Department to most of the proposals coming from the Justice Minister. It may be reasonable to explain that attempts are made to ensure success if the voting mass is widening.

From a professional point of view, the decision is unenforceable and is not based on the specifics of the activity carried out according to the judicial function exercised. As a criminal judge, obviously I know in detail the criminal investigation activity, but I do not really know the way of organizing and functioning of the prosecutors. It is true that a managerial function can be exercised by a magistrate in a broad sense, but it must be adapted to the type of activity you are coordinating. However, the legislative amendment in question does not condition the occupation of a leading position of the prosecutor’s office by the existence of a managerial experience, even a judge being. The mere fact that, somewhere in time, you have served as a prosecutor, it does not justify taking a leading position in an institution of vital importance for the rule of law.

ISE: How do you perceive the provision in the GEO on “good reputation” of magistrates? And how do you feel, as a young magistrate, the developments in Justice lately?    

GC: At first glance, the introduction of the condition of lack of “good reputation” as a cause of release from office appears to be justified given that, in reality, there may be objective causes requiring such a sanction, on the highest rank of severity. But the phrase “good reputation” is so unclear, unregulated in any particular way and so unpredictable that it can give rise to subjective appreciations with the most serious consequences for the career of a magistrate. The evaluator may refer to some standards unknown to the recipient so that he does not know which benchmarks he needs to report. For example: You may not be considered to have a good reputation if you attend a concert, where the artist takes you on stage and urges you to play a song that can include “coloured” words. And yes, and no, it depends on the evaluator and the standards imposed by society, which are in constant evolution.

The legal provision is not justified in any other way. Disciplinary acts already regulated in the law allow dismissal and include a wide range of behaviours, so that this negative condition is no longer necessary.

“My fear does not make two money besides the general interest that I have to protect”

ISE: Do you feel fear, fear of how things can evolve in Justice or the repercussions on magistrates, which could follow public protests and exits of prosecutors and judges? 

GC: Obviously I’m afraid. I participated in a protest and now I agree to answer your questions. I’m not comfortable, I’m not used to it, and I would not like to interfere in this context. But it depends on what you want to relate to in life. My fear does not make two money besides the general interest I have to protect. The rightful person in front of me must know that I am an integrity, incorruptible, good faith and professionally trained to the highest standards. He does not care that I write at 12 o’clock, that I’m sorry, I’m afraid of leadership, colleagues, CSM, Judicial Inspection, SIIJ, or myself. I have not had any disciplinary research or other kind of research I know about, and my professional career is due only to personal work and caretakers, without any intervention and without any request to the CSM for detachment, delegation, transfer or other facilities. Only through excuses and infernal exams of heavy.

Many times, and not only in our branch, I have heard justifications for lack of attitude, starting with the reserve obligation, to “we family, children,” or “it’s not our fight.” I have no explanation for this “approach” because I do not understand, as they do not understand, that we are more people in good faith. And a substantial critical mass, mindful of professional, social life, not only stays anchored in society but also participates in its creation day by day.

“Such a lesson was needed to understand the importance of democracy”

ISE: Where Is the Justice of Romania at the moment? Do we risk going on a non-return journey? 

GC: Here, where I’m sure any good man sees it. Still alive and still right. Obviously, what has been done over the past two years can hardly be recovered, irrespective of the country’s political path? Fortunately, democracy was taught and such a lesson was needed to understand its meaning. If we can understand. If not, history will repeat itself.

 

Note: Reprinted by special permission of www.info-sud-est.ro.

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