On Friday, June 28, in Cesis, during the Conversation Festival LAMPA, the Supreme Court held a discussion “Court. Justice. The Judge's Backbone” which was attended by 100 people, while it was also possible to follow the discussion and ask questions online.

In the discussion organized by the Supreme Court and lead by Edvins Danovskis, Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Latvia, a part was taken by Ivars Bickovics, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Latvia, Veronika Krumina, Chair of the Department of Administrative Cases, Aigars Strupiss, Chair of the Department of Civil Cases, Artis Eglitis, Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and Gunta Andzane, Doctor-Psychotherapist.

Pastor Artis Eglitis began the discussion by telling about the evolution of courts and justice from the times of King Solomon until the present day. The discussion was continued by Ivars Bickovics, emphasizing that the courage and the backbone of judges have various aspects – the judge must be decisive, independent and have his/her own opinion. A judge must not be exposed to outside influence, as well as he/she must have the courage to renounce the temptation to accept various unlawful benefits. “The administration of a fair trial involves the need, the responsibility of the judge to be bold in his/her decisions. Every party to proceedings must be convinced that his/ her case would be handled by an absolutely unaffectable, courageous and impartial judge,” emphasized Ivars Bickovics.

It was discussed that the judge, when judging a case, should have courage no to think about possible uproar in the mass media regarding the judgement made. Veronika Krumina pointed out that occasionally news stories about court cases appearing in the press are sensationalized, yet the journalist had not fully explored the content and circumstances of the case, such as, for example, in the so-called "home-ship" case. Aigars Strupiss noted that the negative image of the judiciary often created in the press is due to the fact that in any case one party loses a lawsuit, and the losing party usually addresses the press with a complaint. Similarly, problems often arise when the press reflects only one party's point of view.

Edvins Danovskis asked the participants of the discussion, whether the Supreme Court judge has to have the courage to take a decision to change established case-law. Aigars Strupiss agreed that the change of case-law also requires the courage – as a result of handling different cases, experience accumulates and one can see more clearly the overall picture, therefore a critical point is reached and a judge sees that case-law has to be changed. The Department of Civil Cases has changed case-law in a number of issues in recent years, and the Chair emphasized that this is a normal process of law development and is not only a characteristic of Latvia, but occurs in all democratic countries governed by the rule of law. And the Supreme Court has to think about the fact how its decisions would influence the legal system in the future.

In the second part of the discussion, the Supreme Court organized the "People's Court" – judges talked about three different situations where a court decision has to be made, and this time the audience was provided with the decision-making opportunity. Analyzing the decisions of the "People's Court", psychotherapist Gunta Andzane explained that people are social creatures who tend to give judgments based on their conscience, therefore making softer decisions than those required by law. The judges called upon those present to think about how the judge feels, knowing that the justice has to be administrated by rule by law, while feeling that it is not always fair, that is, to think – to what extent the rule of law now involves a balance between justice and lawfulness. At the conclusion of the discussion, Pastor Artis Eglitis wished the judges to always maintain balance between what the heart says and what the the law says, and to trigger the voice of the soul – the conscience of the parties to proceedings.

The record of the discussion can be viewed on the “Latvijas Vēstnesis” Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LatvijasVestnesis/videos/2341207566139338/ (in Latvian) 

The Supreme Court participated in the Conversation Festival LAMPA for the first time. Discussion organized by the Supreme Court was part of the programme “Tent of Justice”, which was a novelty at the Festival. A number of institutions invited by the publishing house “Latvijas Vestnesis” held 12 discussions about justice and law from a variety of perspectives. It is with great satisfaction to note that there is a strong interest shown in the topic regarding the rule of law by the society, and discussions in the “Tent of Justice” were widely attended and captivating. Judges of the Supreme Court participated also in other discussions that took place at the “Tent of Justice”.

Veronika Krumina, Chair of the Department of Administrative Cases, took part in a discussion "Freedom of Information in the Public Sector: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?" organized by the sworn advocates’ office “Fort”. Rudite Vidusa, Judge of the Department of Administrative Cases, in turn, participated in a discussion “The Judge. Are there Limits to Liability?” organized by the Latvian Association of Judges, the Latvian Association of Administrative Judges and the Court Administration.

 

Information prepared by

Janis Supe, Project Manager of the Supreme Court

Rasma Zvejniece, Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court

e-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: +371 67020396, +371 28652211