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The High Council of Justice selects 12 new judges

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Thursday, November 21
The session of the High Council of Justice was held on November 19, 2013, at the Supreme Court of Georgia. The council members elected 12 candidates by secret ballot. 18 of the 59 candidates were the former graduates of the High School of Justice, and 41 candidates were those who took part in the competition for the selection of candidates for the judgeship. Next week they will be appointed to the vacant judge positions throughout the court system in the various regions of Georgia.

The voices of 10 members out of the 13 members of the council were needed for choosing the candidate. At the end of the session, Konstantine Kublashvili, the Chairperson of the Supreme Court, provided a negative assessment regarding the council's decision. "This was a very bad result, because we assumed we could appoint at least 20-25 judges. Considering that the office term of 15 judges has recently expired, we could not even fulfill a small part of the existing vacancies. Now, with the appointment of only 12 new judges, and with an overloaded court system, the current situation will not be changed," stated Kublashvili.

The non-judge member of the High Council of Justice, Kakha Sopromadze, said that those candidates who did not received enough votes had a bad reputation among legal circles, and that the government has created a crisis by itself when in 2012 , 80 judges were dismissed from the position of the High Council of Justice.

The High Council Judges declared that the Supreme Council of Justices, as well as non-judge members, are free to express their opinions, but each of them has the responsibility to strengthen the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. From the non-judge member point of view, the candidates for the judgeship's incorrect statements and inaccurate information given to the public, is detrimental to the individual, as well as damaging to the entire judiciary. This is unacceptable for them. In addition, the information spread by Sopromadze about the dismissal of 80 judges is false.

After the constitution amendments come into force, the judges will be appointed to their position on a three-year probation period. At present, 242 judges carry the judge authority within the Georgian court system in all three instances.

According to official data, in 2012 only 80 had been discharged by the High Council of Justice judge, as Sopromadze said, but the 85 vacant positions, which were never completed, were reduced to 44. According to the official statement, reduced was the number of judges, not the number of employees. They are judges who in fact have never been assigned.

Currently, there are only 41 vacancies in the judicial system in which the judge's staffs were filled only by 12 after the November 19 vote. The High Council members voted for two-thirds of the candidates, which was enough to fulfill the existing vacancies.