In two disciplinary cases concerning the failure of judges to present a Covid-19 vaccination or recovery certificate, the Disciplinary Court upheld the decisions of the Judicial Disciplinary Committee to declare the conduct of judges undignified and to impose a disciplinary sanction – a reduction in salary.

The salary of Svetlana Maršāne, Zemgale Regional Court judge, has been reduced for a period of six months, withholding 20% ​​of her salary, while the salary of Iveta Stuberovska, Riga Regional Court judge, will be reduced by 10% for a period of six months.

The Disciplinary Court found the conclusion of the Judicial Disciplinary Committee that the obligation to be able to present an interoperable Covid-19 vaccination or recovery certificate specified in the Cabinet of Ministers Order “On Declaring a State of Emergency” was also applicable to judges.

When assessing this requirement in conjunction with the principle of separation of powers and the principle of independence of judges contained in the Constitution, as well as the procedure for dismissal, removal or suspension of a judge from office, it is concluded that the Cabinet of Ministers Order does not contain a legal basis for dismissal of a judge. However, this does not mean that the obligation to be able to present an interoperable certificate does not apply to judges.

When assessing the failure to fulfil this obligation from the aspect of disciplinary liability of judges, the Disciplinary Court points out that a judge has a special role in society and is empowered to decide on the content of rights and obligations of other members of society, as well as to impose liability for violations. Along with these powers, the judge also has to observe high standards of conduct and obedience to the law. The judge must set an example to other members of society by his or her actions (compliance with the duty of special responsibility). Failure to comply with the requirements of laws and regulations may give an impression to the society that the judge is not bound by laws and regulations, or that non-compliance with the requirements, which the person considers to be unfounded or unlawful, may be acceptable and justifiable.

Failure to comply with the specified requirements during the state of emergency, when the performance of public functions has to be ensured, which includes not endangering other people and observing the special responsibility by public officials, including judges, provides grounds for establishing disciplinary liability and imposing a disciplinary sanction.

Decisions of the Disciplinary Court are not subject to appeal.

 

 

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