The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association

The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, a private legal, independent, non-profit, non-governmental and apolitical law association, a professional association of judges, aims to contribute to the progress of society through actions aimed at achieving an independent, impartial and efficient justice system, and defending the independence of the judiciary from the other state powers, as well as initiating, organizing, supporting, coordinating and carrying out projects related to the improvement, modernization and reform of the justice system.

The Association was established in 2007, according to the judgement no. 671 of 8 June 2007 issued by the Slatina First Instance Court, its statute and the articles of association being amended and completed several times, according to the judgements of 22 January 2010, 27 April 2018 and 9 November 2018, issued by the same court.

In its approximately 12 years of activity, the association has distinguished itself through dozens of scientific projects, as well as numerous positions in order to respect the rule of law in Romania, the independence of judges and their status, being the most important professional association of judges in Romania.

A. Scientific activity

1. Judges’ Forum Journal

Since 2009, the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association has been publishing the Judges’ Forum Journal, whose pages hosted articles by exceptional judges or university professors from all over the world, including: Frederick Schauer, Paul Marcus, Brian Opeskin, Stefaan Voet, Marcel Storme, Raymond J. McKoski, Lee Epstein, William M. Landes, Richard A. Posner, Michael S. King, Maurits Barendrecht, Monroe H. Freedman, Justin Desautels-Stein, Chao Xi, Wojciech Sadurski, William Baude, Alec Webley, Ioana Marinescu, Joanna M. Shepherd, Lorne Neudorf, Maimon Schwarzschild, Richard H. Pildes, Eli Wald, Béatrice Brenneur, Denis Salas, Richard L. Hasen, Trevor CW Farrow, Marie A. Failinger, Jason Mazzone, Leigh Goodmark, Edward K. Cheng, John Lande, Alex Kozinski, Véronique Malbec, Vincent Vigneau, Robert W. Emerson, Robert V. Percival, Sietske Dijkstra, Yuichiro Tsuji, John Lande, Louise Otis, Éric Battistoni, Marco Bouchard, Jaime Octavio Cardona Ferreira, Johnathan Soeharno, Vahe Yengibaryan, James E. McMillan, Carolyn E. Temin, Evangelia Palaiologou, Agnès Galajda, Tamara Laliashvili, Eric Alt, Gerald N. Rosenberg, Karima Zouaoui, Blake Denton, Hrachik Sargsyan, Dessislava Djarova, Isidro Niñerola Gimenez, René Constant, Marta Nagy, Isabelle Bieri, Birane Ndiaye Cissokho, Oscar G. Chase, George W. Mustes, David S. Law, Richard L. Hasen, Robert Fischman, J. B. Ruhl, Tuan Samahon, Thomas Bustamante, Evanilda de Godoi Bustamante, Richard Nobles, David Schiff, Roberto Contreras Olivares, Robert Johnson, Nelly Madanska, Lydia Vicente, Sarah M.R. Cravens, David F. Levi, Michael H. LeRoy, Mark Grabowski, Tomasz Posluszny, Elena Rozalinova, Alexander Angelov, Ivan Georgiev, Eric Miller, Giovanna Di Bartolo, Miguel Schor, Neal Kumar Katyal, Norman Dorsen, Desmond Manderson, Leandra Lederman, Kenneth D. Chestek, Emir Crowne, Mihaela Amoos Piguet, Tsvetelina Karjeva, David Tan, Tonja Jacobi, Eugene Kontorovich, Marie-Jane Ody, Javier André Murillo Chávez, László Ravasz, Péter Szepesházi, Gabor Ivan, Gabor Szekely, Barry Sullivan, Jarosław Turłukowski, Judith Gibson,Raluca Enescu, Thomas Scheffer, David E. Landau, Shay Lavie, Paul van den Hoven, Richard Lorren Jolly, Donald P. Judges, Enric Fossas Espadaler, Rebecca D. Gill, Rafael Oganesyan, Carla D. Pratt, Chad M. Oldfather, Ruth Dapper, Taylor Simpson-Wood, Terry Maroney, Simone Gaboriau, Steven Baicker-McKee or Michael Sevel, but also numerous Romanian authors, especially young judges.

In 10 years interviews with top personalities of international cultural, social and political life, Nobel Prize winners, writers, professors, historians, judges, journalists were published in the pages of the journal: J.M. Coetzee, Marc Levy, Jorge Majfud, Alfonso Gumucio-Dagron, Stefano Benni, Giuseppe Conte, Erri de Luca, Sofi Oksanen, Nawal El Saadawi, Jean-Jacques Askenasy, Petar Atanasov, Péter Darák, Rimvydas Norkus, António Henriques Gaspar, Jean de Codt, Marc Trevidic, Jacques Barrot, Anneli Albi, Leonard Besselink, Chahira Boutayeb, Gráinne de Búrca, Laurence Burgorgue-Larsen, Ninon Colneric, Oliver Dörr, Péter Kovács, Kristīne Krūma, Gertrude Lübbe-Wolff, Bertrand Mathieu, Franz C. Mayer, Rostane Mehdi, François-Xavier Millet, Francisco Pereira Coutinho, Janne Salminen, Andreas Vosskuhle, Joseph H.H. Weiler, Peter G. Xuereb, Gracieuse Lacoste, Irena Piotrowska, Miguel Carmona Ruano, Olga Kudeshkina, Călin Andrei Mihăilescu, Neagu Djuvara, Matei Vișniec, Virgil Nemoianu, Victor Neumann, Bogdan Murgescu, Cătălin Tolontan, Liviu Antonesei, Zoe Petre, Mihai Răzvan Ungureanu, Ion Vianu, Andrei Pippidi, Radu F. Alexandru, Sabina Fati, Gabriel Andreescu, Ion Bogdan Lefter, Adrian Cioroianu, Radu Gabrea, Dan Grigore, Nicolae Covaci, Valerius Ciucă, Mihaela Amoos and many others.

The articles published in the Judges’ Forum Journal were cited not only in Romanian judicial journals and studies, but also in numerous international journals, doctoral dissertations, volumes, reports and scientific papers published in the United States of America, South Africa, Brazil or various states in Europe. For example, Yale Human Rights and Development Journal, Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, Tsukuba Journal of Law and Politics, East European Politics, Athens Journal of Law, Durham University, the Report of the Superor Council of Magistracy in France, studies of the Council of Europe, volumes from Germania, Franța, Italia or Marea Britanie, studies and dissertations published in the USA, Brazil, South Africa, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands or Hungary take up arguments from the articles hosted by the Judges’ Forum Journal.

The materials produced by the Judges’ Forum Association in Romania and presented either in the Judges’ Forum Journal or on its website, were the basis of some European Commission Reports, Venice Commission Opinion or GRECO Reports, as well as Opinions of the Consultative Council of European Judges.

2. Scientific conferences

Together with its traditional partners – the Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) of the “Academician Andrei Rădulescu” Legal Research Institute of the Romanian Academy, the European Magistrates Association on Human Rights, the Centre for Legal Resources in Moldavia, the University Publishing House, the Society of Legal Sciences, The Romanian Association for Law and European Affairs or GEMME –European Association of Judges for Mediation, the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association organized dozens of scientific conferences, among which:

Bucharest, 30 November 2009
The Conference “Freedom of Speech of Magistrates. Limits and Vulnerabilities”, organized by the Judges’ Forum Journal, The Legal Studies Society, the Legal Research Institute of the Romanian Academy and the University Publishing House, with the support of the National Institute of Magistracy
 

Bucharest, 29 January 2010
The Conference “Norming of Labour in Courts. Necessity, Regulation, Consequences”, organized by the Judges’ Forum Journal, The Society for Legal Studies, The Institute for Legal Research of the Romanian Academy and the University Publishing House, with the support of the National Institute of Magistracy

 
Bucharest, 5 May 2010
The Conference “Romania at the European Court of Human Rights (2005-2008)”, organized by the Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) of the “Acad. Andrei Rădulescu” Institute for Legal Research of the Romanian Academy, the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association and the Society of Legal Sciences

 
Bucharest, 7 July 2010
The Conference “National Judge and Executive Power before European Law”, organized by the Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) of the “Acad. Andrei Rădulescu” Institute for Legal Research of the Romanian Academy, the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association and the Society of Legal Sciences

Bucharest, 21 October 2010
The Conference “The rulings of the European Court of Human Rights against Romania. Analysis, consequences, potentially responsible authorities. Implementation of the Pilot Decision System for Systemic Dysfunction”, organized by the Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) of the “Acad. Andrei Rădulescu” Institute for Legal Research of the Romanian Academy, the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association and the University Publishing House

 

Chişinău, Republic of Moldova, 22-23 October 2010
The International Conference “Identifying the authorities responsible for the convictions suffered by Moldavia and Romania at the ECHR. Magistrates’ Responsibility”, organized by the Moldavian Institute for Human Rights (IDOM), the “Lawyers for Human Rights” Association, the Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) of the “Acad. Andrei Rădulescu” Institute for Legal Research of the Romanian Academy, the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, the Judges’ Forum Journal and the University Publishing House

 
Bucharest, 23 March 2011
The Conference “Interpretation and Application of European Union Law by Romanian Courts”, organized by the Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) of the “Acad. Andrei Rădulescu” Institute for Legal Research of the Romanian Academy, the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association

 
Bucharest, 10 May 2011
The Conference “The ECHR Rulings against Romania and the Republic of Moldavia. Analysis, consequences, potentially responsible authorities in the period 1994-2010. Evolution of the internal framework on abusively taken property and other possible systemic malfunctions”, organized by the Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) of the “Acad. Andrei Rădulescu” Institute for Legal Research of the Romanian Academy, the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, European Magistrates’ Association on Human Rights, the Moldavian Legal Resources Centre and the University Publishing House

Bucharest, 12 October 2011
The Conference “The Culture of European Law: Law and Politics in the European Union”, organized by the Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) of the Institute for Legal Research of the “Acad. Andrei Rădulescu” Institute for Legal Research of the Romanian Academy, European Magistrates’ Association on Human Rights, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association

 
 
Bucharest, 8 December 2011
The Conference “National Courts and ECHR Jurisprudence on Contravention. Presumption of Innocence vs. the Presumption of Legality”, organized by the Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) of the “Acad. Andrei Rădulescu” Institute for Legal Research of the Romanian Academy, European Magistrates’ Association on Human Rights, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association

 
Bucharest, 15 March 2012
The Conference “Liability of Magistrates in the Light of Recent Developments at European and national level”, organized by the Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) of the “Acad. Andrei Rădulescu” Institute for Legal Research of the Romanian Academy, European Magistrates’ Association on Human Rights and the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association

Bucharest, 24 April 2013
The Conference “Condemnations of Romania at the ECHR in 2012. Analyses and perspectives”, organized by the Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) of the Institute for Legal Research of the Romanian Academy, European Magistrates’ Association on Human Rights (AMEDO), the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, the Romanian Association for Law and European Affairs (ARDAE) and the University Publishing House
 
 
Bucharest, 13 June 2013
The Debate “Who protects human rights in Europe? The revised European Union Accession Project at the Convention and the Explanatory Report of the Accession Agreement” organized by the Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) of the Institute for Legal Research of the Romanian Academy, the Romanian Association for Law and European Affairs and the Romanian Judges’ Association

 
Bucharest, 19 June 2013
The Conference “Preliminary Referral Procedure” organized by the Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) of the Institute for Legal Research of the Romanian Academy, the Romanian Association for Law and European Affairs, the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association and the C.H. Beck Publishing House

 
Bucharest, 5 October 2013
The International Conference “State, Justice and Mediation”, organized by GEMME – Romanian Section, Ministry of Justice, National Institute of Magistracy, National Anticorruption Directorate, Dimitrie Cantemir Christian University, Association of Professional Mediators – Bucharest, Professional Mediation Association Bucharest – Ilfov, Mediation Centre Association Buzău, Romanian Judges’ Forum and University Publishing House

Bucharest,  23 October 2013
The Debate “The active role of the judge, the right to a fair trial and the refusal to make a preliminary reference” organized by the Romanian Association for Law and European Affairs (ARDAE), the Centre for Constitutional Law and Political Institutions (CDCIP) of the University of Bucharest and the Centre for Studies of European Law (CSDE) of the Institute for Legal Research of the Romanian Academy
 

Bucharest, 23 May 2015
The Conference “Potentially Responsible Authorities for Romanian Sentences in the European Court of Human Rights. 20 years (1994-2014) analysed in 10 volumes…”, organized by the University Publishing House, the European Magistrates Association on Human Rights (AMEDO), the Romanian Association for Law and European Affairs (ARDAE) and the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association

Bucharest, 17 June 2015
The Conference “Foreclosure – news, challenges, exigencies – through the ECHR jurisprudence filter”, organized by the the “Acad. Andrei Rădulescu” Institute for Legal Research – The Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) of the Romanian Academy, the Association of European Magistrates on Human Rights (AMEDO), the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, the Romanian Association for Law and European Affairs (ARDAE), the University Publishing House and the Ilfov Bar

 Bucharest, 23 October 2017
The International Conference “European Contract Law, Doctrinal and Empirical Observations. 10 Years since Romania’s EU Accession”, organized by the Institute of Legal Research of the Romanian Academy – Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) and MEPLI – Maastricht European Private Law Institute of Maastricht University and Romanian Judges’ Forum Association
 

Bucharest, 14 June 2018
The Conference “Procedure for a preliminary ruling. European Union law principles and experiences of the Romanian legal system. Second edition” organized by the Centre for European Law Studies (CSDE) of the Institute for Legal Research of the Romanian Academy, the Romanian Association for Law and European Affairs and the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, the Representation of the European Commission
 

3. Scientific studies and volumes

The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association has edited or supported the editing of dozens of volumes of scientific analysis on the judiciary system, the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, the Court of Justice of the European Union, national courts or magistrates’ status. Among them:

– Hotararile CEDO in cauzele impotriva Romaniei. Analiza, consecinte, autoritati potential responsabile – in perioada 1994-2014 (ECHR judgments in cases against Romania. Analysis, consequences, potentially responsible authorities – in the period 1994-2014)  volumes I-X (coordinator D. Calin, team – I. Militaru, M. Vasiescu, R.-M. Călin, L. Zaharia, A. Lăncrănjan, P.-A. Coțovanu, F. Mihăiță, L. Cîrciumaru, B. Țăndărescu, B. Ramașcanu, P. Ghergheșanu, A. Neagu, E. Blidaru, S. Militaru, C. Radu, V. Constantinescu, C. Ghigheci, V. Bozeșan, I. Balan), 2010-2015;

– Procedura trimiterii preliminare. Principii de drept al Uniunii Europene si experiente ale sistemului roman de drept (Reference for a preliminary ruling. European Law Principles and Experiences of the Romanian Law System) (M. Şandru, M. Banu, D. Călin), 2012;

– Culegere de hotărâri judecătorești pronunțate in materia medierii. Note și comentarii (Collection of court judgments on mediation. Notes and comments) (R.-M. Călin, S. Lungu, D. Călin), 2012;

– Jurisprudență recentă în materia organizării judecătorești și a statutului magistraților (Recent jurisprudence in the field of judiciary organization and status of judgesa and prosecutors) (D. Călin, P.-A. Coțovanu), 2012;

– Refuzul instantelor nationale de a trimite intrebari preliminare. Jurisprudenta romaneasca (The refusal of the national courts to send preliminary questions. Romanian jurisprudence) (M. Şandru, M. Banu, D. Călin), 2013;

– Cooperarea judiciara in materie civila si comerciala in Uniunea Europeana (Judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters in the European Union) (D. Călin, R.-M. Călin, S. Lungu, I. Cioponea, A. Ciolofan, P.-A. Coţovanu, P.-N.Gogescu, A. Groza, A. Iacuba, A.-L. Zaharia, D. Zeca), 2014;

– Dreptul Uniunii Europene şi tribunalele constituţionale ale statelor membre. Interviuri (European Union law and the constitutional courts of the Member States. Interviews) (coordinator D. Călin), 2015;

– Trimiterile preliminare ale instanţelor din România la CJUE. Culegere adnotată de jurisprudenţă (Preliminary rulings of Romanian courts at CJEU. Annotated by jurisprudence) (M. Şandru, M. Banu, D. Călin), 2014-2019, 11 volumes;

– Les arrêts de la CEDH contre la Roumanie – Analyse, conséquences, autorités potentiellement responsables. Conclusions pour la période 1994-2010 (The judgments of the ECHR against Romania – Analysis, consequences, potentially responsible authorities. Conclusions for the period 1994-2010) (coordinator D. Călin), 2012;

– Decizii relevante ale Curții Constituționale în materia organizării judiciare, selecție de jurisprudență (Relevant decisions of the Constitutional Court on judicial organization, selection of jurisprudence), 2013;

– Decizii relevante ale Curții Constituționale în materia statutului judecătorilor și procurorilor, selecție de jurisprudență (Relevant decisions of the Constitutional Court on the status of judges and prosecutors, selection of jurisprudence), 2013;

– Decizii relevante ale Curții Constituționale în materia altor profesii juridice (avocați, notari, consilieri juridici, executori judecătorești, personalul auxiliar de specialitate al instanțelor judecătorești și al parchetelor de pe lângă acestea), selecție de jurisprudență (Relevant decisions of the Constitutional Court in the field of other legal professions (lawyers, notaries, legal advisers, bailiffs, specialized auxiliary staff of the courts of law and prosecutor’s offices attached to them), selection of jurisprudence, 2013;

– Libertatea de exprimare. Hotărâri ale Curții Europene a Drepturilor Omului pronunțate în cauzele împotriva României (Freedom of speech. Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in cases against Romania), (coordinator V. Bozeşan), 2013;

– Magistrații și instanțele judecătorești în jurisprudența Curții Europene a Drepturilor Omului. Hotărâri relevante (Judges and courts in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. Relevant judgments) (coordinator D. Călin), 2013;

– Avocații în jurisprudența Curții Europene a Drepturilor Omului. Hotărâri relevante (Lawyers in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. Relevant decisions) (coordinator D. Călin), 2013;

– Mediation in the European Union. Stage and perspectives (Medierea în Uniunea Europeană. Stadiu și perspective), 2011;

– Curtea Constituțională a României și dreptul Uniunii Europene. Culegere de jurisprudență, selecție de jurisprudență (The Constitutional Court of Romania and European Union law. Case law collection, selection of case law), 2014;

– Reflectarea jurisprudenței CJUE în hotărârile judecătorești interne pronunțate în materia dreptului social. Culegere de jurisprudență (Reflection of the CJEU case law in internal court rulings in the field of social law. Case law collection), 2014;

– Viața de familie. Hotărâri ale Curții Europene a Drepturilor Omului pronunțate în cauzele împotriva României (Family life. Rulings of the European Court of Human Rights in cases against Romania), (coordinator R.-M. Călin), 2014;

– Drept social. Hotărâri ale Curții Europene a Drepturilor Omului pronunțate în cauzele împotriva României Social law (Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in cases against Romania), (coordinator I. Cioponea), 2015;

– Poliția și drepturile omului. Hotărâri ale Curții Europene a Drepturilor Omului pronunțate în cauzele împotriva României (Police and human rights. Rulings of the European Court of Human Rights in cases against Romania), (coordinator Gabriel Caian), 2015;

– Executarea silită. Hotărâri ale Curții Europene a Drepturilor Omului pronunțate în cauzele împotriva României (Foreclosure. Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in cases against Romania), (coordinator V. Bozeșan), 2015;

– Arestarea preventivă și deținerea nelegală. Hotărâri ale Curții Europene a Drepturilor Omului pronunțate în cauzele împotriva României, 2015;

– Mediation, Road of Peace for Justice in Europe: GEMME, for Over a Decade Now (eds. B. Blohorn-Brenneur, D. Călin), 2015;

– Interzicerea discriminării. Hotărâri ale Curții Europene a Drepturilor Omului pronunțate în cauzele împotriva României (Prohibition of discrimination. Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in cases against Romania), (coordinator O.C. Niemesch), 2015;

– Dreptul la un proces echitabil. Aspecte penale. Hotărâri ale Curții Europene a Drepturilor Omului pronunțate în cauzele împotriva României (The right to a fair trial. Criminal aspects. Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in cses against Romania), (eds. C. Ghigheci, M.L. Cîrciumaru), 2015;

– Dreptul de proprietate. Hotărâri ale Curții Europene a Drepturilor Omului pronunțate în cauzele împotriva României (coordinator D. Zeca), 2016;  

– Dreptul la un proces echitabil. Aspecte civile. Hotărâri ale Curții Europene a Drepturilor Omului pronunțate în cauzele împotriva României (The right to a fair trial. Civil aspects. Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights passed in cases against Romania), (coordinator D. Călin), 2017.

Beginning with the second half of 2011, the Bulletin of the Courts of Appeal, edited by CH Beck Publishing House include, for each number, a column written by the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, including jurisprudence on judicial organization.

B. Activity in the field of the defence of the rule of law, the independence of judges and the status of magistrates

Starting with 2015, the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, initially individually, then alongside the Movement for Defending the Status of Prosecutors Association and the Initiative for Justice Association (set up in 2018) took and take public positions almost daily against harmful changes to the justice system as a whole, produced by amendments to the laws of justice and proposals to amend the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code, and the Romanian judges and prosecutors disagreed with these changes, an eloquent example being, apart from the rejection by the absolute majority of the general assemblies of the justice courts and prosecutor’s offices, the signing of a number of approximately 4000 judges and prosecutors (out of a total of approximately 6800) of the critical Memorandum on the amendments to the laws on the organization of the justice system, as endorsed by the Venice Commission Opinions and the GRECO[1] and the European Commission Reports.

By means of the two past years legal changes, heavily supported by the Romanian Constitutional Court rulings, which completely ignored the legal opinions of Venice Commission and European Commission CVM recommendations, reaching a climax in the Superior Council of Magistracy institutional disability to be the real guarantor of the justice independence and to succeed in preventing increasing assaults on judges and prosecutors, Romania visibly sidetracks from the rule of law standards. Such a context threatens to quickly spread within European Union, endangering years of dialogue and progress which seemed irreversible.[2]

Three bills on Romanian judiciary laws were initiated on August 2017, long debates on Parliament being carried on till the summer of 2018, when much modified and amended the controversial laws were enacted. Hardly lodged only in the end of April 2018, Venice Commission issued a preliminary opinion on the 13th of July, confirmed by the final one in October 2018 (CDLAD(2018)017-e Romania, adopted by the Commission at its 116th Plenary Session), GRECO assessed the same bills on March 2018 (Ad-Hoc Report on Romania – Rule 34, adopted by the Group of States against Corruption during the 79th Plenary Reunion Strasbourg, 19-23 March 2018) and the European Commission through the Mechanism of Cooperation and Verification performed a similar evaluation on November 2018.

It is highly known that despite all these recommendations, the Romanian legislative and executive powers ignored completely the most important ones, such as:

• the new system of appointment and dismissal of Chief Prosecutors and the role of the Minister of Justice in these procedures;

• limitations of the freedom of expression and information, through an amendment which requires magistrates to refrain from “defamatory manifestation or expression against the other powers of the state”;

• new provisions dealing with the material liability of magistrates, which have been seen as opening the possibility to be used as methods of pressuring the magistrates

• the incentive towards early retirement and the increase of the training period for justice trainees, able to create serious risks of disruption of the human resources management in the judiciary, with consequences on its efficiency and quality

• the removal of previous reference regarding the independence of prosecutors in their statute which, taking into account the cumulative effect of other measures and given the complex political context currently prevailing in Romania, further tends toward reinforcing hierarchical control and the authority of the Minister of Justice and entails a risk of giving way to political interference in criminal cases

• a new section for investigating criminal offences committed by magistrates (unique of its kind), that can be seen as an additional instrument of pressuring magistrates, taking into account the complete lack of explanation for this special treatment of magistrates compared to other office holders and civil servants, along with ignoring the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) already established solid track record in investigating and prosecuting cases of corruption within the magistracy

• the involvement of the Judicial Inspection in a number of controversial steps in terms of a series of disciplinary investigations started against all the heads of the judicial institutions, including the President of the High Court of Justice and Cassation and the General Prosecutor of Romania.

Instead of complying with these recommendations and dissolving the special investigating „Section”, on the contrary, the Romanian Government passed the Emergency Ordinance n˚7 published in the Official Gazette of Romania on 20th of February 2019, which triggered massive protests of the magistrates and the civil society, still going on. As shaping to life the worst fears expressed by Venice Commission, namely „existing fears that the new structure would serve as an (additional) instrument to intimidate and put pressure on judges and prosecutors – especially if coupled with other new measures envisaged in their respect, such as the new provisions on magistrates’ material liability” (par. 90 of the Venice Commission Opinion CDL-AD(2018)017-e on Romania), the decree recently passed removes completely the special Section from under the authority of the Prosecutor General, public opinion best characterizing it as a “parallel prosecution office”.

Regardless the attempt meant to address the judiciary’ worries, emerged as previously emphasized, by passing a second Emergency Ordinance n°12 the Government again did not ask in advance for an opinion from the Superior Council of Magistracy, failing to give this institution the time to call the judges’ and prosecutors’ general assemblies so that the amending provisions should be thoroughly scrutinized.

Not only by means of this second regulation the Special Section was not dissolved, but its powers were reinforced, being supplied with investigating police officers and another areas specialists; the access to the High Court of Justice and Cassation was kept out of a merit based assessment and a simple fine in the fiscal record was regulated as able to trigger a magistrate removal from office, regardless the unpredictability of his provision (almost such 320 misdemeanours being included in the fiscal record and established by the director of National Agency of Fiscal Administration). 

This is the historical context in which the magistrates staged unprecedented protests[3], largely supported by university professors and students, as well as civil society[4] and actors[5].

Below there is a list of the main memoranda filed by the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association and their number of supporters:

On 25 April 2019, responding to a request from the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association, the College of the Consultative Council of European Judges issued an Opinion on the situation of the judiciary system in Romania, in the context of the amendments to the laws of justice and constant attacks against magistrates in Romania. We present below the recommendations made by the College of the Consultative Council of European Judges, the full text being published on the web page https://rm.coe.int/ccje-bu-2019-4-en-opinion-romania-2019-final-25-april-2019/168094556c :

1.         The Bureau of the CCJE, which represents the CCJE members who are serving judges from all Council of Europe member States, agrees with the concerns expressed by the Romanian Judges Forum Association as regards the independence of judges in Romania and the adoption of Amendments to the Laws on the Superior Council for Magistracy, on the Statute of Judges and Prosecutors and on Judicial Organization.

2.         As regards the role and functioning of the Superior Council for Magistracy (SCM), the CCJE Bureau recommends to reconsider the grounds for revocation of the SCM members and in particular to remove the possibility to revoke elected members of the SCM through a no-confidence vote of the general meetings of courts, including by way of a petition.

3.         The CCJE Bureau also concludes that exclusion of the SCM members who are civil society representatives from all meetings of the SCM Sections – bodies entrusted with decision-making under the Amendments – runs contrary to the European standards.

4.         The CCJE Bureau consequently recommends that it is not appropriate to have such a limited role of civil society representatives in the work of the SCM and that should be reconsidered.

5.         As regards the material liability of judges, the CCJE Bureau is concerned about any decisive role, at the initial stage, of the Ministry of Public Finance, which is an executive body and cannot therefore be appropriate for assessing the existence or causes of any judicial error. The CCJE Bureau recommends that this should be fully reconsidered. Such claims, if any, should be exclusively decided before an independent court providing all the guarantees of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

6.         In addition to these procedural aspects, the CCJE Bureau recommends, as a very minimum, that the new definition of judicial error be supplemented by clearly stating that judges are not liable unless bad faith or gross negligence on their part has been established through a due procedure. The CCJE Bureau would like to further recommend considering only bad faith – and not gross negligence – as a possible ground for liability for judicial errors.

7.         As regards the establishment of a separate prosecutor office structure for the investigation of offences committed by judges, the CCJE Bureau recommends to abandon this idea entirely.

8.         The CCJE Bureau concludes that the new obligation imposed on Romanian judges, limiting their freedom of expression, is not necessary, raises many questions, may be subject to arbitrary and abusive interpretations endangering judicial independence, and recommends therefore to remove it.

9.         As regards the reported repeated and unprecedented attacks against judges directed by political actors, the CCJE Bureau condemns any statements, comments or remarks in Romania which overstep the boundaries of legitimate criticism and aim at attacking, intimidating or otherwise pressuring judges or demonstrating disrespect towards them, using simplistic, irresponsible or demagogic arguments or otherwise degrading the judicial system or individual judges.

10.      As regards the right of judges to stand against any policies or actions affecting their independence, the CCJE Bureau resolutely confirms the legitimate right of judges in Romania and elsewhere to stand against any policies or actions affecting their independence in a climate of mutual respect, and in a way which is consistent with maintaining judicial independence or impartiality.

The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association requested the Romanian courts to refer some questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union on the independence of justice through legislative amendments. This has been achieved, pending at the European Court several requests for a preliminary reference in this respect.

We recall the related cases C-83/19, C-127/19 and C-195/19 (Asociaţia Forumul Judecătorilor din România şi alţii), in which a priority procedure was disposed by the CJUE President, and also the case C-355/19, Asociaţia Forumul Judecătorilor din România şi Asociaţia Mişcarea pentru Apărarea Statutului Procurorilor.

Among the questions raised, we note the following:

“1. The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) established by European Commission Decision 2006/928/EC of 13 December 2006 must be regarded as an act adopted by an institution of the European Union within the meaning of article 267 TFEU, which may be subject to the interpretation of the Court of Justice of the European Union?

2. The content, character and temporal extent of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), established by the European Commission Decision 2006/928/EC of 13 December 2006, are part of the Treaty on the Accession of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union signed by Romania in Luxembourg on 25 April 2005? Are the requirements in the reports drawn up under this Mechanism binding on the Romanian State?

3. Article 19 paragraph (1) of the Treaty on European Union must be interpreted as requiring the Member States to establish the necessary measures for effective legal protection in the areas covered by the European Union law, namely guarantees of an independent disciplinary procedure for judges in Romania, removing any risk related to political influence on the conduct of disciplinary procedures, such as the direct appointment by the Government of the Judicial Inspection leaders, even on a provisional basis?

4. Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union must be interpreted as requiring Member States to comply with the criteria of the rule of law as requested also in the reports of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) established under the Commission Decision 2006/928/EC of 13 December 2006, in the case of procedures for the direct appointment by the Government of the management of the Judicial Inspection, even on a provisional basis?

5. Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union must be interpreted as requiring Member States to comply with the criteria of the rule of law as requested in the reports of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) established under the Commission Decision 2006/928/EC of 13 December 2006 in the event of the urgent establishment of a prosecution office exclusively for crimes committed by magistrates, which gives rise to particular concern in the fight against corruption and it can be used as an additional tool for the intimidation of magistrates and of exertion of pressure on them?

6. The principle of the independence of judges enshrined in the second paragraph of article 19 paragraph (1) TEU and Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as interpreted by the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union (Grand Chamber, ruling of 27 February 2018, Associaçao Sindical dos Juízes Portugueses, C-64/16, ECLI: EU: C: 2018: 117) opposes the establishment of the Criminal Investigation in Justice Department of the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice, the appointment/dismissal of the prosecutors forming part of this Department, the way in which it is exercised, the way in which competence is established in relation to the reduced number of posts of this Section?”

A first solution by the Court of Justice of the European Union is expected in July 2019.

The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association drafted the three referral applications from the Venice Commission, admitted ad litteram by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which had the capacity to promote the referral, drafted views on all legal conflicts of a constitutional nature by the Constitutional Court of Romania involving the judicial authority, observations on the drafts for amending the laws of justice, criminal codes, etc.

C. International relationships

The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association has issued numerous opinions about current aspects of the judicial system in Turkey, Poland, France, Italy, Republic of Moldova or Serbia, having a tight collaboration with judge’s associations from those states.

As previously indicated, the Romanian Judges’ Forum Association is constantly collaborating with the European Commission, the Council of Europe, GRECO, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Venice Commission, the Consultative Council of European Judges, the Consultative Council of European Prosecutors, École Nationale de la Magistrature in France, associations of judges from Germany, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Liechtenstein, Albania, Armenia, Mongolia, etc.

The Romanian Judges’ Forum Association is a founding member (Paris, 2009) of ICM (International Conference of Mediation). The International Conference “Premières assises internationales de la médiation judiciaire. La médiation, langage universel de résolution des conflits”, held on October 16th-17th 2009 in Paris, Palais du Luxembourg, by Groupement Européen des Magistrats pour la Médiation – GEMME, in partnership with the European Commission, the French Ministry of Justice and Freedoms, the Court of Appeal in Paris and the Court of Appeal in Quebec, was the occasion for establishing the International Conference on Mediation. Its purpose is promoting international judicial mediation and conciliation.

[1] See https://ec.europa.eu/info/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/effective-justice/rule-law/assistance-bulgaria-and-romania-under-cvm/reports-progress-bulgaria-and-romania_ro [last accessed on 26.05.2019].
[2] See Dragoș. Căin, Anca Codreanu –  Situation Regarding the Romanian Judicial System at the end of 2018  [last accessed on 26.05.2019].
[3] See webpages https://www.nineoclock.ro/2019/03/01/protest-at-bucharest-tribunal-against-the-govt-emergency-ordinance-no-7-all-cases-except-for-emergencies-to-be-postponed-for-a-week/ [last accessed on 26.05.2019]; https://www.nineoclock.ro/2019/03/05/bill-amending-geo-7-2019-put-to-public-debate/ [last accessed on 26.05.2019];
[4] See webpage https://facem.declic.ro/campaigns/cerem-comisiei-europene-sesizarea-curtii-de-justitie [last accessed on 26.05.2019];
[5] See webpage https://www.romania-insider.com/actors-protest-justice-romania-2019 [last accessed on 26.05.2019].

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