The main topic of the Latvian Judges Conference, which took place on May 20, was the independence of the judiciary in the interests of a democratic society. Both the Judge of the Court of Justice of the European Union Ineta Ziemele and representatives of the institution of judicial self-government, including Senators Dzintra Balta and Rudīte Vīduša, spoke about the role of judicial self-government in strengthening the independence of the judiciary.

Dzintra Balta, Chair of the Judicial Selection Commission, spoke about topical issues in the selection procedure and career development of judges. The first topicality addressed was the influence of the legislator on the career development of judges, which has been exacerbated by the vote of the Saeima (Parliament) against the approval of the former President of the Constitutional Court as a senator of the Supreme Court. This is seen as a signal of a threat to the judicial independence, so the issue to be considered is whether to allow democracy to mature through dialogue with the legislature or to improve the procedure for approving existing judges in the office by granting the Saeima the right to decide on approving a judge only at the first stage of appointment and empowering the Judicial Council to decide on judge’s appointment for life.

What regards the new procedure for the selection of judges, which has been in operation since 2020, the Chair of the Commission dispelled the myth with facts and comparisons that the new selection procedure takes long time and does not give the expected result. However, more emphasis was placed on the content and the criteria of the new selection procedure through which the judiciary should be able to select the most professional colleagues for the office of future judges. Dzintra Balta recommended that these criteria, which cover professional, social and personal skills required of an independent national judge, be learnt by existing judges to reinforce their professional self-confidence and use it as a tool for self-analysis, analysing their strengths and competencies to be further developed. The senator emphasized that the description of competencies characterizes the ideal judge, but it is understandable that not all qualities can be manifested in the same way in all judges, therefore the ideal judge consists of the entire corps of judges as a whole, complementing each other, interacting and cooperating. Therefore, Dzintra Balta also called on the judges to take an active part in improving the selection procedure of judges and in supporting new colleagues, so that there would always be true professionals in the right place in the judiciary, allowing to take pride in a job well done for the common good of society and the state.

Whereas, Senator Rudīte Vīduša, a member of the Judicial Qualification Committee, spoke about the current issues of judges' qualification and evaluation of performance results. The Senator shared her opinion on the conclusions of evaluating the performance of colleagues according both regular and extraordinary evaluations. She encouraged to consider with a deeper understanding the always relevant concepts to the profession of judge – accountability only before the law and understanding of the content of law, as well as the broader essence and significance of the professional development of judges. Professionalism creates confidence in the quality of one's decisions, and it strengthens the professional backbone that allows a judge to be truly independent, as emphasized by the Senator.

Judge Dace Skrauple, Chair of the Judicial Ethics Commission, and judge Ilze Freimane, a member of the Judicial Disciplinary Committee, spoke at the Conference on topical issues of judicial ethics.

  • Video recording of the Judges' Conference: here
  • More about the Conference of Judges: here

 

Information prepared by

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

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: +371 67020396, +371 286522