Andrea Chiş, former member of the CSM: "Justice - captured by a handful of high-ranking judges and prosecutors"

George Marinescu
English Section / 28 septembrie

Andrea Chiş, former member of the CSM: "Justice - captured by a handful of high-ranking judges and prosecutors"

Stelian Ion, former Minister of Justice: "We are talking about a system desired by politicians and by some at the top of the judiciary who have seized all the power - presidents of courts, members of the Judicial Inspection, members of the CSM -, practically all the cream that manages the justice in Our country"

Versiunea în limba română

The judicial system in our country has become, within a few years, a pyramid-type structure, which can be controlled by those at the top, i.e. by a handful of judges and prosecutors, in whose hands lies the career of every magistrate in Romania, claims Andrea-Anamaria Chiş, former judge and former member of the Superior Council of the Magistracy, in the study "The (in)adequate use of power in the judicial system in Romania" published in the journal of the Institute of Political Sciences and International Relations "Ion I.C Brătianu" of the Academy Romanians.

Andrea-Annamaria Chiş specifies in the cited study: "In Romania, short, medium and long-term scenarios were created and implemented to reconfigure the judicial system in a pyramidal structure, which would allow absolute control over the career of each judge and prosecutor, control which can be used to promote certain people over others or to penalize certain people and not others for similar behavior based on how they respond or not to commands when appropriate. This can only be achieved with the complicity of a Trojan horse, containing in its bowels high-ranking judges and prosecutors, those who know best the vulnerabilities, the weak points of the system, the blind spots for politicians, points that, once hit, can lead to the downfall the entire edifice of judicial independence, in all its components".

The former member of the CSM claims that in the last decade, the balance between powers has been shaken and that, since 2017, we are witnessing a systematic attack on the independence of the judicial system in all its components, from the independence of the individual judge and prosecutor, to that of the courts and prosecutors. Mrs. Chiş states that

legal guarantees (including constitutional ones) are insufficient to protect the independence of the judiciary, the way the law is applied being the real indicator of how it ensures the independence of the individual judge and the courts.

The former magistrate also refers to the existing differences between society and judges regarding the perception of judicial independence.

Andrea-Annamaria Chiş specifies: "In the Report of the European Network of Judicial Councils (ECJ) regarding the independence, responsibility and quality of the activity of judges and courts for the period 2019-2020, the independence perceived by society was 55%, that perceived by litigants (users of the courts) was 30%, of lawyers -

just over 60% and by judges 79%. As it follows from the reports for the following years, namely 2021-2022 and 2022-2023, Romania no longer participated in the survey regarding judges' perception of their own independence, and this because of the decision taken by the SCM, which was and is a member of the RECJ" .

Andrea Chiş: "The new justice laws contribute to the consolidation of the pyramidal structure already existing in the system"

The magistrate also points out that the three new justice laws that entered into force on December 16, 2022 only repair part of the damage caused by the legislative changes from 2017-2019.

The former member of the CSM claims: "We say one side, because, on the one hand, they still contain a series of provisions with toxic consequences for the judicial system, increasing the powers of the Section for judges and strengthening the role of court presidents, especially those of the courts of appeal, contributing to the consolidation of the already existing pyramidal structure. On the other hand, some of the appointments made under the empire of the old laws have remained, continuing their harmful effects, especially with regard to those within the Judicial Inspection".

Andrea-Annamaria Chiş also notes that "the latest justice laws were adopted in haste, without a wide consultation of the courts, the CSM's opinion being requested during the judicial vacation", because the political decision-makers reasoned that the rectification of the respective normative acts is necessary for the lifting of the MCV, which happened on September 15, 2023, when Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, declared that the institution in Brussels was giving up the MCV for Romania and Bulgaria.

The magistrate also criticizes the lack of public debates in the current SCM, in contrast to the effervescence of contradictory discussions in the old composition of the institution: "There is silence in the new Council, as it results from the fact that public debates are almost non-existent and the duration of the meetings (the public part, which see) is insignificant".

Suspicious delegations and secondments in highly publicized criminal cases

Another dissatisfaction of Mrs. Andrea Chiş is related to the promotion and delegation of some judges with management positions from the appeal courts, especially from the Bucharest Court of Appeal, where several magistrates were part of the CSM and suspended from their positions held at court, which created problems in the resolution of some cases.

Andrea Chiş points out: "In the case of criminal judges, especially those from the appeals courts who judge appeals in high corruption cases, making final decisions, the secondment to the SCM can mean the resumption of probation, which can lead to the prescription of criminal liability. It is all the more difficult to understand how a judge appointed by the Section for Judges of the CSM as president of the 2nd Criminal Section of the CAB (ed. - Bucharest Court of Appeal) on April 6, 2023, for a three-year mandate, he could be seconded to the CSM at one-month intervals, on May 18, 2023, for a period of three years, i.e. the entire duration of the mandate, with another judge being delegated in his place for a period of six months , delegation that will be extended until the end of the secondment period in the CSM. This executive judge has, in turn, very little seniority at this court, having only been delegated as an executive (not even transferred) by a decision of the president of the appeal court. Are such decisions in the interest of the court or the cases in which the seconded judge will be replaced? The question is, of course, rhetorical. It is also difficult to explain the solution of delegating some presidents or vice-presidents of some courts on execution functions to the hierarchically higher court, especially if it is followed by the resolution of some files with media impact".

That is why, at the end of her study, the former member of the CSM wonders if

the scenario of the subordination of justice is a wishful thinking that has become reality, in the conditions in which "a handful of people hold the entire system in their hands", in which there is a new "rotation of cadres" and in which the departures from the system seem to they are the results of a well-laid plan.

Stelian Ion: "The judicial system is taken over by the interests of those who manage it"

The statements of the former magistrate Andrea Chiş are correct regarding the fact that the judicial system was taken over by the interests of those who manage it, said deputy Stelian Ion, former Minister of Justice in the Cîţu government, for the newspaper BURSA.

Stelian Ion told us: "We are talking about a system desired by politicians and by some at the top of the judiciary who have seized all the power - presidents of courts, members of the Judicial Inspection, members of the CSM -, practically all the cream that manages justice in our country . I sent signals about these issues in 2020 and 2021, when the amendment of the justice laws was discussed, but President Klaus Iohannis did not want to take them into account. Unfortunately, my predecessor and successor as Minister of Justice, Cătălin Predoiu, did what he should not have done: he negotiated with the members of the CSM. Predoiu clapped hands with them, so that there would be peace, to resolve the court case in order to raise the MCV and everyone would be satisfied. In my opinion, he should have tried to correct certain things, but Mr. Predoiu gave up, following the negotiations with those from the CSM, even some good proposals he had in relation to the amendment of the justice laws and gave them to those who lead the justice everything they wanted, and this is reflected in the current system, which we will not get rid of for a long time."

Regarding the low perception of civil society and litigants regarding the independence of magistrates, the former Minister of Justice showed that citizens' trust is not won with CSM campaigns carried out for a lot of money, but with efficiency in the act of justice and with the accountability of magistrates guilty of decisions that are clearly erroneous in the light of the documents on file.