GEO

Judiciary after parliamentary elections 2012

09 August, 2013

The level of independence of the Georgian judiciary system has been questioned for several years. After the October 2012 elections, the new government drafted amendments to the Law on Common Courts. These amendments were adopted on May 21st, 2013. The Law entails many progressive statements on the transparency of the courts and the increasing role of a judge. It aims to enhance independence of the judiciary system and is based on recommendations from international organizations and local NGOs. We would like to briefly present a few trends that took place in the judicial system, after the elections.  

1. General trends

2. Aggressive statements and actions

3. Attempts of the law enforcement institutions to interfere in the activities of the court

4. High profile cases

5. Amendments to the Law on Common Courts

6. Conference of Judges

7. Composing the High Council of Justice

General trends

An inclination towards an increased independence of the judiciary system became evident after the elections. While the number of cases presented by the defense and verdicts supporting its side has seen an increase, the number of cases that were presented by the prosecutor’s office and concluded in its favor—decreased; this information is based on preliminary data on the criminal law cases gathered by monitoring organizations. It is noteworthy that judges increasingly use non-custodial measures, a tendency that can be seen in the rising number of bails. Administrative cases are also handled better. According to the information provided by the prosecutor’s office, in the first half of 2013 the prosecutor’s office requested the imprisonment of 1,979 individuals. Out of these 1,979 requests, 1,519 were granted, constituting 76.8 % of the total requests. In the same period last year, 100% of such requests were granted. Detailed statistical information on criminal cases was published by Geostat.

There are significant changes in the administrative proceedings. The number of cases that were concluded in favor of the private party (fully or partially) has significantly increased. Additionally, judges are more active and involved in the court process. We would also like to note the fact that the Supreme Court accepted two cases regarding property rights, where our organization represented private parties. Based on the fact that in recent years the Supreme Court would not review cases on property rights and based on interviews with practicing attorneys, we may assume that the Supreme Court became more active in this regard, compared to the last several years.  

Aggressive statements and actions

After the elections, the government representatives initially made incredibly aggressive announcements about the judiciary system. Using cases of high public interest, they cited past problems and charges against specific judges and courts. Originally it was only the governing parties who lead this attack. After the court ruled against their interests, however, the members of the parliamentary minority also issued critical statements. As a result, the chair of the Supreme Court issued a statement and asked everyone involved to show some restraint.

Several noteworthy events took place in regards to the court. The most aggressive action took place with regard to the Akhaltsikhe court—the local population, discontent with the court decision, held a protest rally. Some of the demonstrators were particularly aggressive and threw rocks at the courthouse. The case involved and action brought by the head of the Borjomi regional administration against several of his co-workers. The mentioned court reached a verdict on July 5th, 2013. An NGO coalition made a special statement regarding this fact.

Attempts of the law enforcement institutions to interfere in the activities of the court

There are several noteworthy events that took place after the elections. The chairman of the Poti City Court on February 18th, 2013 was summoned for questioning by the Poti Prosecutor. The prosecutor was interested in the chair’s verdict delivered in case of Revaz Nadaraia, where an amnestied person was illegally sentenced on October 2009. Despite the fact that the defendant could not be held responsible for the crime due to the amnesty, the judge prosecuted him anyway. Later, the appellate court overruled the city court decision and the defendant was set free. Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia) issued a special statement regarding this fact. The prosecutor’s decision was illegal in violation of article 84 of Georgian Constitution. Article 84 (1) of the Constitution protects the independence of the judiciary and prohibits any pressure to be placed upon the judge or any interference in his/her activity with the view of influencing his/her decision. Only a court of higher instance can assess the legality of a judge’s decision. Institutions of the executive branch cannot affect a court decision in any way.

The chairman of the Supreme Court of Georgia issued a statement on December 9th, 2012. The announcement involved one of the assistants to the judge of Tbilisi City Court, who was pressured by the special services. According to some sources, special service representatives tried to obtain information about the administrative court issues and the chairman of Tbilisi City Court. The prosecutor’s office made an announcement that the investigation of this case has been initiated, and it is now being carried out.

High profile cases

Divergent trends take place regarding high public interest cases.  The court decisions are different for each specific case and charge. In some cases, the court favors prosecution and decides on pre-trial detention of the defendants (for example: Bacho Akhalaia, Vano Merabishvili, Megis Kardava, David Kezerashvili, etc); however, in other cases, instead of the pre-trial detention, the court decides on bail as a preventive action (for example: Zurab Chiaberashvili, Nika Gvaramia, Tengiz Gunava and etc,). In case of Tbilisi City Hall, the court issued a decision that there is no need of any measure of constraint.

There is a trend to review cases of high public interest in regional courts, while possible crime scene is in Tbilisi. Such practice is initiated by the prosecution. Investigation in the capital city was logical for the two most famous cases, because according to the facts that were put forward by the prosecution the alleged crime happened in Tbilisi; however, these cases were transferred to the regional investigative organs. Hence, the cases were examined in the regional court (Vano Merabishvili case took place in Kutaisi City Court and Tbilisi City Hall employees’ case—in Rustavi City Court). Formally, the Criminal Procedure Code of Georgia allows the mentioned practice (the respective amendments were made in 2010). However, we believe that each such decision made by the investigation should be justified and have specific reasons. The investigation party could not justify their decision in the above-mentioned cases. Despite the statements of the National Movement, the chair of the Supreme Court has not confirmed cases related to pressure on judges.

It should be noted that the Prime Minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili made a positive step in the relation between the executive and judiciary branches by meeting the chief justice. This meeting was especially important given the apprehensive attitude towards the judiciary from the opposing political parties. While meeting the chair of the Supreme Court, the Prime Minister clearly stated his position on the importance of the government’s non-involvement in the judiciary branch. His other statement is noteworthy too: he called on all the involved parties once again to abstain from pressuring the courts.

Amendments to the Law on Common Courts

Amendments to the Law on Common Courts were carried out in a somewhat tense environment. Overall these amendments were very positive and aimed at increasing the degree of independence of the judicial system. Despite this fact certain changes were heavily opposed by the judiciary. The confrontation between judiciary and executive branches of the government became quite clear. The bill was sent to the Venice Commission for an evaluation. After the Venice Commission’s opinion, the judiciary and executive branches held negotiations.  The object of the most discussions was the rule regarding the composition of the High Council of Justice. Despite the fact that Georgia did not take into account all of the recommendations made by the Venice Commission, it is important to note that after several heated discussions, the parliament ratified a consensus version. The bill, despite some remarks, was positively appraised by the representatives of the judiciary.

As mentioned, the rule on composition of the High Council of Justice was the most disputed one. According to the amendment, the tenure of 13 out of 15 members of the old Council was terminated. Based on the new law the judge-members are still in the majority.  The High Council of Justice is comprised of 9 judges (one ex- officio – chair of the Supreme Court and 8 judges that are elected by the Conference of Judges); out of 9 no more than 3 judges are allowed to chair a court chamber/board (Organic Law of Georgia on Common Courts, Article 47, paragraph 4, 41, 08/12/2009). The initial draft of the bill did not consider the special election quotas for the judges with administrative functions. However the text of the draft law regulating the composition of the High Council of Justice was changed in the last moment and stated that 3 judges with administrative functions (chairpersons of the chamber/board) will be elected separately by the Conference of Judges (Organic Law of Georgia on Common Courts, Article 65, paragraph 3). Consequently, the two election quotas for the judge-members of the High Council of Justice were established. One quota was for the judges that did not have any kind of administrative position and the second quota was for the election of the judges that held an administrative position. The public learned about this only after the law was adopted. It should also be noted that the provision in the law is vague and the election process cannot be defined properly. For example, the General Law on Common Courts states that if after the elections of judges with administrative functions set quota won’t be filled and vacant seat/seats remain, new election are held. In this case any judge may participate in the new elections. However, the law does not determine when the quota for judges with administrative functions is filled. The law does not stipulate how many rounds of elections are acceptable and after which round the vacant places occur. Thus, the definition of this provision caused significant disagreement.

On June 3d, 2013, 6 days before the Conference of Judges, two judges of the Supreme Court, Natia Tskepladze and Teimuraz Todria made a special announcement. They negatively appraised the election practice of the High Council of Justice and stated that the existing procedures create an unequal election environment and called judges with administrative function to refuse the benefits of the quota system.

The Conference of Judges of May 9th was preceded by several meetings between the Supreme Court and international and non-governmental organizations. During one of the assemblies, Kote Kublashvili stated that some prosecutors held meetings with several judges, discussing the Council’s elections.

On June 4th, 2013, a group of judges founded an NGO called Unity of Georgian Judges.  The Justice Minister of Georgia, Tea Tsulukiani, Deputy Minister Sandro Baramidze and several leaders of the parliamentary majority attended the presentation of this organization.  Before the election, the mentioned organization made public announcements of several issues and asserted positions different from the high-position officials of the court.

Formation of the High Council of Justice consisted of two phases. The Conference of Judges was held on June 9th and 16th, which has elected 7 judge-members to the High Council of Justice (the chair and one member kept their positions), the secretary of the Council, 3 judge-members of the Disciplinary Board of Judges, members of the Administrative Committee and its chair. On June 14th, the Parliament of Georgia was able to elect only 4 non-judge members to the High Council of Justice for 6 vacant places. A high quorum (2/3 of the Parliament) was necessary to elect the 2 remaining non-judge members, requiring an agreement between majority and the minority, which could not be reached. The representatives of the parliamentary minority left the session in protest. Consequently, only 4 members were elected in the Council.  The members elected by the Parliament were representing NGOs and academic community. The Parliament was also unable to elect 2 non-judge members to the Disciplinary Board of Judges.

Conference of Judges

The Conference of Judges took place on June 9th and 16th, 2013. It has elected judge-members to the organs of the administration of the judicial system.

The aim of the Conference of Judges was to strengthen the judicial self-governance and to introduce a new way of composition of the main organs of the judiciary system. The conference was well-organized. As recommended by the NGOs, respective transparency was ensured, giving opportunity for observer and media monitoring. The election process took place without a hinge.

It is noteworthy that the majority of the conference participants defined responsibility of the highest self-governing structure narrowly. For example, most of the participants did not support changes that proposed that the Conference of Judges could have the right to decide on a special conference agenda. Also, according to the majority, the conference refused the right to ask candidates for the membership in the High Council questions. Hence, the judges that wanted to clarify some issues with the candidates lost their right to do so. Formally, the conference had every right to make those decisions, however, generally, based on the nature of the elections, assuming that voters need to obtain maximum information on the candidates’ views and plans; it would be expedient for each judge to have an opportunity to question the candidates.  

Elected judges to the High Council of Justice by the Conference of Judges and their high profile cases that were disseminated by the press:

Zaza Meishvili — first deputy to the Supreme Court chair, chair of the Criminal Law Chamber. He studied at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (TSU) law school, in 1989-1995. In 2002-2003 he worked in the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, as a head of the Department of citizenship, citizenship state registration and immigration issues. Zaza Meishvili was a judge of the district court from October 2003 to 2005. He became chair of the Tbilisi Appellate Court in 2005.  Zaza Meishvili became member of the Supreme Court of Georgia on May 17th, 2006.

High Profile Case

While being a chair of the Tbilisi Appellate Court in 2006, Zaza Meishvili upheld the decision of the first-instance court on sentencing to 8 years of imprisonment the former chair of the Chamber of Control, Sulkhan Molashvili, charged with the abuse of power. Information on Sulkhan Molashvili being tortured by the penitentiary system is currently spread throughout the media.

Merab Gabinashvili — judge of the Tbilisi Appellate Court and chair of the investigation board of the same court. In 1996 graduated from the TSU law school. He worked in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia in 1992-2005. Merab Gabinashvili worked as an investigator in the investigation department of the financial police of the Ministry of Finances of Georgia, in 2005-2006.  He was a judge in Gori, Kutaisi and Zestafoni regional courts, in 2006-2012 and has been a judge of the Tbilisi Appellate Court and chair of the investigation board of the same court, since November 27th, 2012.

High profile case

Not found.

Shota Getsadze — Tbilisi City Court judge and chair of the administrative board of the same court. In 2004 graduated from the TSU law school. He worked as a secretary and then as a judge assistant in Tbilisi Appellate Court, in 2003-2006. He worked in the High Council of Justice as a consultant in the Department of court ethics and disciplinary litigation. He held the position of the head of the Mtskheta regional court apparatus in 2006-2007 and was the head of the chamber of the secretariat of the court administration and other category of cases of the Supreme Court, in 2006-2007. Since February 2011 he is a judge at Tbilisi City Court and chair of the administrative board of the same court. He was a former member of the High Council of Justice.

High profile case

  • Tbilisi City Court judge Shota Getsadze upheld the President’s ordinance that terminated Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Georgian citizenship in 2011;  
  • Shota Getsadze reviewed cases of administrative proceedings involving fines imposed on the opposition parties, during the pre-election period in 2012.

Tamar Alania — judge of the Tbilisi Appellate Court. She graduated from the TSU law school, in 1998. Tamar Alania worked as prosecution department attorney in the General Prosecutor’s Office and held the position of the attorney in the special service of the criminal prosecution of the legalization of illegal income, in 2000-2006. She has been a judge of the Tbilisi Appellate Court since 2006.  

High profile case

Under her chairmanship, the Tbilisi Appellate Court board upheld the verdict of the first-instance court regarding the Mukhrovani army rebellion in 2010. The case involved prosecution of the military and civilian persons, as a result of a rebellion held in the Mukhrovani army unit, in 2009, aimed at overthrowing the government.   

Ilona Todua — graduated from the TSU Sokhumi division of law and history, in 1999. In 1999 got enrolled in TSU law school graduate program. She worked as a secretary of Tbilisi District Court, in 2000-2005. Later, she worked as a judge assistant at the Tbilisi Appellate Court, in 2007. She has been teaching civil law at Tbilisi Technical University, since 2002. She became a judge of the Sagarejo regional court, in 2007. Currently Ilona Todua is a judge at the Tbilisi City Court.  She was elected as member of the High Council of Justice by the administrative committee of the Conference of Judges, in October 12, 2012.  

High profile cases

  • Based on her decision, political parties that formed the coalition “Georgian Dream” were fined by 2 383 097 Lari, in 2012;
  • Colonel Nika Janjgava was sentenced to an administrative imprisonment, charged for resistance to the police, in 2012.
  • Reviewed the appeal of the TV company “Imedi” to overturn the decision to fine it by the national regulating committee, in 2007. According to the ombudsman, the judge dragged the process by accepting the appeal for a review.   

Paata Silagadze — member of the chamber of criminal cases of the Supreme Court. He graduated from the TSU law school, in 1998. In 1998-1999 he has worked as a specialist in the Supreme Court’s department of material-technical support of common courts. He has worked as a judge assistant of the appellate chamber of criminal cases, in the Tbilisi district court, in 1999-2004.  He worked as a consultant in the department of disciplinary litigation of cases of administrative law of the High Council of Justice court’s ethics and disciplinary litigation branch, until 2006.  He was appointed as judge in the Mtskheta regional court, in 2006. He was a chair of the criminal law cases board and later a court chair, until 2008. Since October of 2008 he has been a member of the chamber of criminal cases of the Supreme Court.

High profile case

Reviewed cases regarding property confiscation of private companies “Arti”, “Piza”, “International Building Company” and “Livo Group”, owned by Kibar Khalvashi (partner of Irakli Okruashvili and former owner of Rustavi 2) in 2009.

Levan Murusidze — member of the Supreme Court of Georgia. He has attended the TSU law school, in 1993-1998. He was a judge assistant in the Tbilisi district court in 2002-2004 and then worked as an attorney of the Gori regional prosecutor’s office, in 2004-2005. He was appointed as Tbilisi City Court judge in 2005. He was a member of the High Council of Justice, in February-June 2006. He was elected as a member of the Supreme Court on April 14th, 2006.

High profile case

Took part in disciplinary and dismissal process of the Supreme Court judges (Merab Turava, Nino Gvenetadze, Tamar LaliaShvili and Murman Isaev), in 2005.

The Conference of Judges elected the following judges to be the members of the Disciplinary Board of Judges:

Merab Jorbenadze — Tbilisi City Court judge. He graduated from Tbilisi Independent University “Iberia” law school, in 1997. He worked as a lawyer in lawyers’ union “Vekili”, in 1998-2006. He was a vice-president of the same union, since 2003. Has been a Tbilisi City Court judge, since 2006.  

High profile case

  • Based on his decision, Tengiz Gunava, a former head of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs’ general inspection and Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti regional police, had to pay a bail of 10 000 Lari. Tengiz Gunava was prosecuted for injuring his own driver and appropriation of 49 500 Lari, in 2013.
  • The case of Akhmed Chataev, arrested during the special operation in the Lopota valley (2012). Chataev was detained in the Lopota valley on August 28th, 2012, as a result of a special operation. Based on the information from the Ministry of the Internal Affairs, a group of armed saboteurs dislocated in Georgia and a special armed operation was carried out against them. According to the final verdict, Chataev was acquitted.
  • Case of Giorgi Kalandadze (2013), former head of the United Headquarters. Giorgi Kalandadze was charged with the abuse of power. The judge did not satisfy prosecution’s appeal on imprisonment as a measure of constraint.   
  • Pre-trial hearing in Gigi Ugulava’s case regarding disposal of TV company “Imedi” (2013).

Natia Kutateladze — judge of Kutaisi Appellate Court. She graduated from the Akaki Tsereteli Kutaisi State University law school, in 1998; worked in Kutaisi district court as a leading specialist, main specialist and assistant to the judge, in 1999-2005. In 2005-2006 she worked as a Kutaisi Appellate Court judge assistant.  She worked as a Tbilisi Appellate Court judge assistant, in 2006-2008. She has been a Samtredia regional court judge, since 2008. She was appointed as Kutaisi Appellate Court judge, in 2010.  

High profile case

Upheld the first-instance court decision on fining Bidzina Ivanishvili for the amount of 21 million Lari and made a decision on cutting Bidzina Ivanishvili’s fine  down to 126 220 190  Million Lari, in 2012.

Giorgi Tkavadze — judge of the Mtskheta regional court. Graduated from TSU art and humanitarian profession division with law specialty, in 2000.  He also graduated from Tbilisi Business and Marketing Institute with a degree in law, in 2001 and from TSU with a degree in commerce and marketing, in 2003. He worked as a lawyer (leading specialist) at Tbilisi City Hall transportation city service, in 2000-2005. In 2005-2007 he worked as a head of legal support branch of legal department of the Labor, Health and Social Care Ministry of Georgia. He worked as the Supreme Court judge assistant, in 2007-2008. He was Tbilisi City Court judge in 2008-2012 and was appointed as a judge of Mtskheta regional court in 2012.

High profile case

Cases of “Vake 5” and “Albatross Group”. It is noteworthy that the owner of these companies left Georgia in 2012 and received a political shelter in Switzerland. The judge released him on bail.

The Conference of Judges elected the following judges as members of the Administrative Committee:

Levan Tevzadze — graduated from the TSU law school, in 2001. He worked in Tbilisi Didube-Chugureti regional prosecutor’s office as an intern investigator, in 2001-2002; worked in Ministry of Justice of Georgia, as a deputy to the head of Tbilisi enforcement bureau of the enforcement department, in April-June 2002; worked in the Ministry of Justice of Georgia as the head of the enforcement unit of the enforcement bureau of enforcement proceedings of Western Georgia, in 2003-2004; worked at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in the general inspection, as a deputy to the head of the anti-drug branch, in July-November of 2004; worked at the Ministry of Internal Affairs general inspection, as a deputy to the head of branch of reaction to the complaints and statements, in 2004-2005; worked at the Ministry of Internal Affairs general inspection’s disciplinary proceedings branch as a leading inspector, in June-May of 2005;  worked as a head investigator, at the Ministry of Internal Affairs general inspection’s  preliminary investigation and disciplinary proceedings branch of financial violations’ investigations, in 2005-2007; worked at the above-mentioned branch as a leading inspector of especially important cases, in 2007-2008; worked at the above-mentioned branch as the head of the financial violations’  investigation division, in 2008. He was appointed as Khelvachauri regional court judge on April 29th, 2008 and was a chair of the Khelvachauri regional court, in 2008-2009. He was a judge at Kutaisi City Court, since 2009 and was a chair of Kutaisi city court. Today he is a judge of the Tbilisi Appellate Court.   

High profile case

Not found.

Besik Bugianishvili — graduated from the TSU Sokhumi division of law, in 2002. He worked as a leading specialist and secretary in the Supreme Court, in 2002-2005. He worked as head of the secretariat of the chamber on criminal cases of the Supreme Court, in 2005-2008. He worked as the head of the Supreme Court chair bureau, in 2008-2009. He attended the justice school, in 2009-2010. He has been a Tbilisi City Court judge, since 2010. In May-November 2012 he was judge in Tetritskaro regional court.

High profile cases

  • The case of the former Minister of Justice, Zurab Adeishvili, prosecuted for the abuse of power, charged with inhumane and degrading treatment and falsification of evidence, is being processed in 2013.
  • Reviewed an incident that took place in a restaurant “Dzveli Saxli” involving former high officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia: Data Akhalaia, Oleg Melnikov, Soso Topuria and Geronti Alania, and the prosecutor’s request about their pre-trial imprisonment, in 2012. The case involved the wife of the former Minster of Internal Affairs, Vano Merabishvili, Tako Salakhaia, who was humiliated and as a result, Data Akhalaia, Oleg Melnikov, Soso Topuria and Geronti Alania physically abused Malkhaz Azarashvili and Zaza Meskhi, who were employed at the Ministry; these events took place in 2005. The judge granted the prosecutor’s request about imprisonment as a measure of constraint.

Composing the High Council of Justice

The Parliament was able to elect only 4 members of the High Council of Justice, on June 14th of this year. Despite the call from the NGOs, the Parliament held elections of the 4 non-judge members while public knew nothing about their plans and views; experience and competence in the judiciary system, some members were entirely unknown. The process that took place in the Parliament was neither public, nor transparent enough. The presented candidates were nominated by the public and society had to know why the legislative branch supported specific candidates.

Before the elections to the High Council of Justice and members of the Disciplinary Board of Judges, Georgian Dream held meetings with the candidates and the lawmakers learned about the candidates’ views and plans. These meetings took place behind the closed doors and the public had no opportunity to listen to the candidates.

35 candidates were up for the election for the Council and five—for the Disciplinary Board. The non-judge members’ election to the High Council of Justice took place in two phases. In the first phase, the necessary 2/3rds of the votes to elect 6 non-judge members were impossible to obtain. The members of parliamentary minority refused to participate in the voting process and left as a sign of protest. It should be noted that several candidates refused to participate before the process of voting began.  

12 candidates that gathered the most votes were revealed after the 1st phase and proceeded to compete in the 2nd phase. Georgian parliament elected 4 non-judge members to fill in 6th vacant positions in the High Council of Justice on June 14th, 2013. Elections of the Disciplinary Board members could not be held at all.

Parliament elected the following non-judge members of the High Council of Justice:

Eva Gotsiridze — graduated from the TSU law school specializing in law, in 1987.  She wrote two dissertations at the same university, in 1998 and 2006, in the field of constitutional law and international law.  She was a researcher at Wane State University (Michigan, USA), in 1996-1997.

She held different positions in the Supreme Court of Georgia, in 1992-1996. She was a member of governmental committee that worked on the Criminal Code of Georgia, in 1994-1997. She taught classes at Wane and Tbilisi State Universities, in 1996-1998. Was a member of the High Council of Justice, in 1997-2000. Was a director of human rights center of the Supreme Court of Georgia in, 2000-2005. She has been a human rights European Court contractor since 2012.  

Additional Information: Eva Gotsiridze worked in Zakaria Kutsnashvili’s law firm, in 2010-2012. They conducted cases before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. (see link)

Vakhtang Todria — graduated from Shevchenko Kiev National University law school, in 1975. He wrote a dissertation at State Academy of Science and Law Institute of Ukraine, in 1981 and was an employee of the mentioned Institute, in 1975-1982.  

He taught at the State and Law Department of the Abkhazia State University, in 1982-1983. He was a senior consultant of the Supreme Court of Georgia, in 1982 and was elected as member of the Supreme Court and a plenum secretary, in 1985; was elected as a Supreme Court judge for the second time, in 1991. She was the chair of the Supreme Court of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia and of the chair of the Supreme Court presidium, in February of 1993. She was elected as chair of the Supreme Court of Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, during the session of the High Council of Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, in July of 1999 and was appointed as chair of the Supreme Court of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, on April 8th, 2005, based on the President’s decree  #265. He was appointed as the Supreme Appellate Court judge of Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, on October 31st, 2005, based on the President’s decree #902. He was appointed as Sokhumi City Court and Sokhumi regional court judge on January 18th, 2006, based on the President’s decree #35. He Was a member of the High Council of Justice of Georgia in 1999-2006.  

Kakhaber Sopromadze — graduated from the Akaki Tsereteli State University law school, in 1998. He worked at various organizations as a lawyer, since 1998. He was regional coordinator in Chiatura at “Fair Elections and International Democratic Society”, in 2000-2004. He was member of the board in 2004-2005 and the executive director’s deputy of the mentioned organization, in 2007-2009. At the same time, he was a founder of the LTD “Samkharadze, Paksadze, Sopromadze and Partners”, in 2008. He is a chair of the board of the “Association of Freedom Development and Human Right Defense”.  

Additional information: According to the available information, Kakhaber Sopromadze worked at the election headquarters of the Georgian Dream with a former first deputy to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Gela Khvedeliani, and whom he later defended in the court (see link).

Gocha Mamulashvili — graduated from the Akaki Tsereteli State University law school, in 1985. He was in graduate school of the same university, in 1989-1993. He was occupied with academic work and was professor at Tbilisi State University in 2005 -2008.

The adopted amendments to the Law on Common Courts have created a real opportunity for an independent judiciary branch. The public had different expectations regarding composition of the organs of the judiciary system.

The transparency of the Conference of Judges is an important step forward in the judiciary system; however it does not ensure its total independence. At this point professionalism, objectivity and attitude of the members elected in the Council and court administration towards their work is much more important.  

In order to increase judges’ independence and strengthen individual judges’ capacity, a final decision on the issue of appointing judges for life, as well as for the timely resolution of their social issues should be taken. It is also imperative to perpetually increase their professionalism and the relevant state authorities and judiciary branch should come up with a special policy, determine priorities and start their consistent implementation. In order to strengthen the judiciary, reforms should take place in the justice school. The school should ensure proper education of new, independent and qualified judges and their effective integration into the court system.  

However, implementing these procedures exerts little influence on the independence of the judiciary system, unless all the political parties realize that it is never justified to influence judiciary or interfere in the judiciary system. The most effective step towards independence of the judiciary system is termination of the outside influence on the courts. The society has to understand that they need to appeal a court’s decision at higher courts. At the same time, judges should provide qualified and unbiased decision, which would unquestionably increase public trust in this institution.

 

Author: Transparency International Georgia