Judge who cannot resist political influence should leave system, opinion

The judge can be a good professional, but if this cannot resist political influence, he does not deserve to be a judge. A coward judge does not have a place in the judiciary system, said the president of the Legal Resources Center of Moldova Vladislav Gribincea. “If you cannot wear the robe of judge without bending your shoulders and back, you don’t deserve to be a judge. If you cannot guarantee the correctness of your decisions, how can you demand that the people should believe in your decisions?”, Vladislav Gribincea stated in an interview for IPN.

Vladislav Gribincea spoke about the recent appointment by the Superior Council of Magistracy of judge Vladislav Clima, who formed part of the panel that upheld the decision to annul the new local elections in Chisinau in 2018, as president of the Chisinau City Appeals Court. According to him, the invalidation of those elections was a crass illegality that was evident from the start. “Everybody understood this, but our judges said that “everything was legal and the invalidation was necessary as Mister Năstase posted several videos on Facebook, by which he called on the people to go and vote and those calls influenced in a decisive way the election outcome”. First of all, no one asked to invalidate the elections, even the Central Election Commission,” stated the president of the Legal Resources Center.

Then the judges said that a judge can immediately invalidate the elections if this has doubts about the correctness of voting. “The European Court communicated this case to the Government of the Republic of Moldova in the middle of 2019. The judges who so easily invalidated the elections of 2018 instantaneously reviewed their position in 2019, saying the judge cannot immediately invalidate the elections as there should necessarily be a CEC proposal. Tell me please, when was your position right – then or now? And how can this be explained logically as it wasn’t a simple mistake. There were invalidated the elections in the largest city,” stated Vladislav Gribincea.

Later, the judge who took part in that invalidation and who was the rapporteur on the case, writing the decision, was proposed for president of the Chisinau City Appeals Court. “I really don’t have an explanation here. I think the judges for something like this should answer disciplinarily. I believe the judges deserve to be removed from the system for something like this, not to be promoted to higher posts. But this is my opinion. It was evident that an illegal decision was adopted and the judge later reviewed his decision, saying that it was illegal.”

According to Vladislav Gribincea, not only one judge, but more judges were involved: the judge of the ordinary court of law, three judges of the Chisinau City Appeals Court, the judges of the Supreme Court of Justice. “I don’t think those court decisions were adopted unconsciously. All the arguments that were invoked at the national level were later invoked at the ECHR. And the European Court communicated the case to the Government. It didn’t convict, but only warned that it wants explanations. The judges so easily change their opinion formulated less than two years ago.  If you cannot be firm on your positions, you cannot serve as a judge. To be a judge, you must be able to take uninfluenced decisions and defend the taken decisions later, not to oscillate depending on circumstances.”

Vladislav Gribincea also said that the Superior Council of Magistracy is the guarantor of justice and of the efficiency of the judicial system. “But we must admit that in Moldova’s justice system we see the political developments like in a mirror because we do not have a tradition of independent judges and don’t have a tradition of judges who can take a firm position and say that “this is my opinion and I will defend it till the end”. Why? Because we saw what happened to the judges who were firm. They were sooner or later removed from the system and had criminal cases started against them. With such examples, it is very hard to have independent justice, if this is possible in general.”

The president of the Legal Resources Center also referred to other recent appointments by the Superior Council of Magistracy, including to the naming of judge Tamara Chișca-Doneva as vice president of the Supreme Court of Justice. This judge formed part of the panel of judges who took the final decision in the famous case “Gemenii” in which the Republic of Moldova was convicted by the ECHR, being obliged to pay over €3 million damages.

The interview was held in the framework of IPN’s project “Injustice Revealed Through Multimedia”.

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