Our explanations on the summoning of the Poti City Court Judge by the Prosecutor's Office - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Our explanations on the summoning of the Poti City Court Judge by the Prosecutor's Office

13 March, 2013

The prosecutor’s office has publicly criticized a court decision by the presiding judge of the Poti city court, Revaz Nadaraia, and subsequently summoned him for questioning twice, according to media reports.

In an interview, the prosecutor stated that the case against Nadaraia concerned the illegal conviction of an individual who had been granted an amnesty in October 2009. Despite the fact that the amnesty was freeing the person from a conviction, the judge nonetheless sentenced him. The appellate court overruled the decision of the city court and the accused was acquitted.

The chairman of the Supreme Court has commented on Nadaraia’s questioning, saying that the action of the Poti prosecutor’s office is a violation of the constitution. The civil society coalition for an Independent and Transparent Judiciary also expressed its concern over actions taken by the prosecutor’s office against the judge.

As it is known, the prosecutor’s office intended to ask the judge questions regarding his decision, which constitutes as a severe infringement of the law.

Article 84(1) of the constitution protects the independence of the judiciary, stating: “A judge shall be independent in his/her activity and shall be subject only to the Constitution and law. Any pressure upon the judge or interference in his/her activity with the view of influencing his/her decision shall be prohibited and punishable by law.” According to Article 84(3), “No one shall have the right to demand from a judge an account as to a particular case.”

Only a court of higher instance can assess the legality of a judge’s decision. An investigation by the prosecutor’s office cannot affect a court decision in any way; therefore, they will not bring any other legal outcome. Thus, the actions of the prosecutor’s office were unjustified and constituted as an infringement of the law.

The constitution aims to provide a maximum of independence for courts and to forbid any kind of influence from external investigative bodies. The established routes to appeal a court decision provide a guarantee for avoiding any wrong decisions made by a lower court.

Obviously, the prosecutor’s office is responsible for investigating specific cases, which are suspected of including any signs of criminality. However, along with that, the prosecutor’s office is not entitled to question judges, regarding the content of court decisions, or assess them in terms of their legality. Apparently, a violation of this provision took place in this case.

Even if there are apparent indications that a judge has committed a crime of any nature, requiring an investigation by the prosecutor, the prosecutor’s office is responsible for providing a proper investigation of the case. In all other cases, it is forbidden to require an explanation, or even additional information, intended to ascertain the legality of the decision rendered by the judge.

It is our opinion that the problems existing for years in the judiciary should not be a ground for severe interference in their work. We believe that the prosecutor’s office needs to terminate the case if there is no sufficient proof that the judge committed a specific criminal offense. Any action addressed to the court needs to be carefully executed in order to avoid having a precedent of imposing liability on judges by prosecutors. This precedent would ensure the separation of powers between the courts and the government, which was a major problem in previous years and represented an obstacle to the democratic development of the country.

Author: TI Georgia