“Time of wake was not easy for courts, but judges showed civil braveness and steadiness. It is a satisfaction that finally the state, giving highest state awards, remembered judges and evaluated their difficult work”, said the first Chief Justice of the restored Supreme Court of the Republic of Latvia Gvido Zemribo during the afternoon of memories in the Supreme Court. He marked trust of society that court felt during restoration of state independence, and wished, so that court would be the instance, which people trust and relies on.

The start of work of the restored Supreme Court of the Republic of Latvia considered to be May 17, 1990, when the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia elected Gvido Zemribo for the post of the Chair of the highest court instance of new Latvian state and directed him to submit suggestions on the staff and presidium of the Supreme Court. On May 17, afternoon in the Supreme Court there has been remembered a significant time 20 years ago, events, people and feelings of that time.

The role of the Supreme Court in the history of restoration of independence of Latvia and creation on independent state has not been evaluated yet seriously, thinks Pavels Gruzins, the deputy of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, who has been in this post for 20 years already. Unlike Prosecutor’s Office and Ministry of Interior, the court was not divided and didn’t take for review cases that came from Prosecutor’s Office, lead by Inter-front. Before restoration of independence of Latvia the Supreme Court made a decision about depoliticisation of courts and incompatibility of the post of the judge with party membership. Gvido Zemribo admitted that he didn’t hear such applauses in his life as those at the plenum of the Supreme Court, when judges made this decision.

The ex-Chief Justice and judges of the Supreme Court remembered also court cases, when courts didn’t sanction actions of militia, while arresting demonstrators of organisations of national uprising, and released picketers. In 1988 the Supreme Court reviewed case of Lujans that, in evaluation of lawyers, has been written in the history of justice of Latvia with golden letters. Case, reviewed by the judge Luca Lotko, started turning to independence and political neutrality of judges. Neither officials of the rule and communistic party, nor hundreds of listeners that came together in the hall of the court hearing and around the Supreme Court for several days, didn’t expect of what happened. Never before, both in Latvia and in the Soviet Union, the court dared to vindicate someone. Sympathisers brought the Lujans out of the hall on hands.

Present judge of the Supreme Court Marika Senkane was the secretary of court hearing in the case of Lujans. She remembered that unshakable peace the judge L. Lotko led the hearing with. He was as a rock in the hall of the court, overwhelmed with emotions and passions. The silence was kept only for a moment, when the judge announced the verdict of not guilty.

It was something novel, of course, and unacceptable for officials of the communistic party, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was called for a conversation. But the opinion of Gvido Zemribo was that his post made him to be unbreakable and take full responsibility for decisions made by court.

Judges of that time admitted that, while reviewing cases, they took into account legal standards being in force, but, while interpreting them, they acted according to conscience and feelings that coincided to efforts of Latvian nation. Loyalty and active national position of the Supreme Court has been explained also by national composition of the court that even in Soviet times was much more Latvian than in other legal institutions. “I am grateful to the fate that I had opportunity to live at that time”, said the ex-judge Ausma Keisa about her 20 years old feelings.

In his turn, the present Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Ivars Bickovics admitted that his luck was that several years later, having entered group of judges of the Supreme Court in 1992, he had opportunity to work beside and learn from such balanced and intelligent judges with strong spine as his teachers in this profession – Luca Lotko, Georgijs Kuznecovs and other judges that worked in the Supreme Court that time.

Remembering restoration of the Supreme Court in 1990, in the Supreme Court there has also been created photo gallery, in which there are photos of noticeable events that took place in life of the court for last 20 years. The first photo, placed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Ivars Bickovics in present of many participants of that historical event, was made on April 8, 1991, when judges of the Supreme Court gave a vow of the judge of the Republic of Latvia for the first time. Gvido Zemribo, who worked out the text of the vow, that later had been included in the “Law on Judicial Power”, stressed that for him it was very important to include in a vow words that judge swears always to find the truth and never betray it.


Information prepared by

Head of the Division of Communications of the Supreme Court Rasma Zvejniece

E-mail: rasma.zvejniece@at.gov.lv, telephone: 67020396, 28652211