Law
Unethical Behavior & Disciplinary Liability
22 March, 2012
Unethical Behavior & Disciplinary Liability

(continued)

Judge Lasha  Kalandadze continues talking to GJ about the disciplinary liability of judges in Georgia. 

 

NBR – Could you, please, briefly provide us with information about the composition of Disciplinary Panel?

L.K. – A six-member-strong special Disciplinary Panel is functioning in the High Council of Justice of Georgia. According to the functioning law, half of the members of this panel are judges who are elected by the conference of judges. They are usually selected from the incumbent council members. I have to

also make a note that formally, the panel should consist of six members – three judges and three, let’s coin the word, non-judges, but according to actual practice, judges are always in majority. For example, currently, the panel is complete with four members, out of which three are judges. The members of the panel are elected for a term of two years. They are not supposed to participate in initiating, investigating and bringing the disciplinary case against a judge. The disciplinary panel elects the chairperson of the panel among its members, who must be a sitting judge at the same time. Members of the Panel do not get any compensation or additional payment from the state of Georgia for performing their duties.

NBR – How about the decision-making procedures of Disciplinary Panel?

L.K. – The disciplinary panel is not authorized to go beyond the limits of the disciplinary accusation, which is the factual side of the accusation. On the disciplinary panel, the disciplinary case will be discussed collegially – the disciplinary panel is authorized to act if minimum four members of the panel participate. The panel makes decisions in its chambers and the decision is valid if he majority of the members present support it. A member of the panel, who does not agree with a decision, issues his dissent in writing, which is normally attached to the case. Sessions of the disciplinary panel are closed to anybody other than then members themselves, and information on the discussion of the disciplinary case is confidential. During the hearing of a disciplinary case the parties are entitled to present and state their positions, ask questions to each-other, present documents and other evidences, come up with motions at their own discretion to present various documents, materials or information, to solicit additional documents, to summon additional persons and hear their information or solicit appropriate case, etc. In addition, the Panel shall provide equal conditions and opportunities to parties for the presentation and protection of their views and interests. It should be said that the disciplinary accusatory body has no right to require imposition of concrete disciplinary measures on a judge.

NBR – Is the decision of a disciplinary panel final?

L.K. – No, it is not. The decision of the panel may be appealed to the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court and will be considered in the presence of three justices. Thus, the principle of court supervision, over the disciplinary prosecution, has been strengthened. The important news to be noted is that the Disciplinary Chamber of Supreme Court reviews the decision of the Panel in the scope of appeal, for the purpose of defining correctness of a fact, legal and imposed measures. It should be said that Disciplinary Chamber makes decision based on the majority vote. Members of the Chamber will not refrain from a vote while making a decision. The decision of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court is final and cannot be appealed.

NBR – Is Disciplinary process open to anyone?

L.K. – It should be mentioned that the entire process of a disciplinary prosecution is confidential. Officials, their staff, having special authority, are obliged to keep secret all kinds of information, which comes to them in the process of investigation of the disciplinary case, but in spite of this, in accordance with our legislation, the Disciplinary Panel and the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court of Georgia are authorized to publish only the resolution part of the decision, which may cover the information on imposing the disciplinary measures, disciplinary responsibility or penalty for a judge. It is not allowed to publish the reasons of the disciplinary responsibility and measure imposed on judge, except in the event of dismissal of the judge. Finely, I simply wanted to add that we are going to make some amendments to the law in order to improve disciplinary procedures related to issues such as types of disciplinary violation, composition of disciplinary panel, bases for initiating disciplinary investigation, confidentiality of disciplinary process, etc which surely will more enhance independence, impartiality and fairness of Judiciary as well as public trust to it.

 

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