Law
Role of Public in Administering Justice
02 February, 2012
Role of Public in Administering Justice

Judge Lasha Kalandadze is today presenting to Georgian Journal the role of our public in administering the law. Our society is becoming much better versed in the matters of law day in day out, which is utterly important for further successful development of this nation.



NBR –What could you tell us about the role of public in administering Justice in general?
L.K. – It is a well accepted truth that the judiciary is a servant of people. It is a

tool for observing human rights. And independence of the judiciary as such is a guarantee of fairness and healthy legal judgment. This is what the judiciary is all about. I think the participation of the society in administering justice strengthens and reinforces the public trust and belief in judiciary. Therefore, a legal judgment as such is a direct expression of views and ideas of a sensible society and the society’s concurrence with the spirit of that judgment.
NBR – What kind of participation of society in administering justice do you mean?
L.K. – According to our new Criminal Procedure Code, the institute of a Jury trial has been introduced and was put into effect in Georgia, using it only in criminal cases for the starters.
NBR – Are all criminal cases subject to consideration by a Jury trial?
L.K. – No, not all of them. Only first-degree murder (or aggravated murder) cases are deliberated on by a Jury trial. It is being planned to develop this popular judicial phenomenon step by step.
NBR – What are the requirements for being a jury member?
L.K– A jury member in our country may be a legally capable citizen of Georgia who is not less than18 years of age, is fluent in the official language of the country and lives in the area, which is under the jurisdiction of a trial court and does not lack mental and physical capacity to carry out the honorable duty of a Jury.
NBR –Is our legislation envisaging any kind of restrictions for becoming a jury member?
L.K– Yes, it is. For example, political and governmental official, investigator, policeman, clerical worker, indicted person, military servant, lawyer, psychiatrist, psychologist, convicted addict and party to a trial can’t be selected as a jury member.
NBR – Can you briefly provide us with the information on the selection procedure of a jury?
L.K– I certainly can. Firstly, no more than 100 candidates for the jury membership, who have reached 18 years of age, are selected at random by a trial judge from the database of the citizens of Georgia. These candidates are obligated to fill in a special questionnaire compiled by a trial judge. It should also be mentioned that each party equally takes part in creating the questionnaire. Finely, through certain selection procedures 12 members of a jury and 2 alternate jurors are selected for the deliberation on a criminal case.
NBR – How about the decision-making capability of a jury?
L.K– According to our legislation in force, a jury has the responsibility of hearing the evidence, determining the outcome of the trial and the fate of the defendant. A jury shall only find defendant guilty or not guilty, and the imposing of the legal punishment (penalty) is merely the competence of a judge. It is important to note that the verdict of a jury is final and not subject to further appeal.
NBR – How about a judge’s role in considering the case on merits?
L.K – In compliance with the functioning law, the judge’s role has been changed – the judge is no longer authorized to interrogate a witness at his/her own discretion, gather evidence or ask a question because adversarial proceeding means strengthening the role of a judge as an impartial arbiter.
NBR – What are our best expectations concerning the introduction of a jury trial?
L.K – I think, a jury system is the strongest guarantor of judicial independence. A jury trial enhances and reinforces public trust in the judiciary system as well as strengthens the adversarial proceeding (equality) and fair consideration of case. My desire is to finish our interview on the role of public in administering justice by John Adams’s (American founding father, 2nd   president of the United States) words which surely makes clear the meaning, importance and role of a jury system: ‘Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty’.

 

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