On the 95th anniversary of the Senate of Latvia its legacy – succession, judicature and understanding of judge’s mission in legal state – is stressed
20 December, 2013
Legacy left by the highest court instance of the first era of Free State of Latvia – by the Senate of Latvia – is values learned and resumed by the Supreme Court of restored Republic of Latvia, - Ivars Bickovics, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court stressed in the ceremonial sitting dedicated to the 95th anniversary of the Senate of Latvia.
The value is succession of Latvian legal and court system, and, having returned to it, it was not necessary to create new court system in restored Latvia, but it was possible to improve system established in 1918-1940. The value is judicature of the Senate of Latvia, as use of it became habitual in practice of the Senate of the Supreme Court. The value is example of life of lawyers of first era of Free State of Latvia as of bright, strong and proof personalities. On the 95th anniversary of the Senate the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court stressed another value left in legacy of the Senate of Latvia – and it is judge’s mission in democratic legal state, which was marked demonstratively by the Senate of Latvia. The Senate of Latvia had always consistently protected principle of independence of courts – both prohibiting to combine judicial duties with political activities in 20-ties already and not bending before ideas of K.Ulmanis of 15 May 1934.
It is significant, as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court pointed out, that this aspect about role of courts in democratic legal society is topical also today and the Supreme Court, the Board of Justice and the Constitutional Court have to pay attention to protection of independence of judiciary as of constitutional value and respectful cooperation of three branches of state power on strengthening of this value.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court indicated that at present Latvian court system stands in front of drastic reform, as the legislator decided to decline from such court system, which existed in first era of Free State of Latvia and for 20 years in second era of Free State of Latvia. This reform affects the Supreme Court significantly –Chambers have been liquidated gradually, but as from January 1 already, the cassation instance has been divested of its historical title of the Senate. “Unfortunately, the legislator did not listen to call of the Board of Justice and the Supreme Court to preserve historical title of the Senate in new structure, which is not only related to name and language, but also to historical succession. Possibly, we were not insistent enough, when justifying our opinion. As a result, we have lost some part of our history”, I.Bickovics said.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court ended his speech with positive certainty that, despite titles, the Supreme Court has always been aware of its mission and task in democratic and legal state and has always executed it meritoriously. “I hope and believe that we, who are on board of legal ship built by the Senate of Latvia 95 years ago now, will also succeed to hold right direction, do not lose our goal and to keep the best crew in changes, which lay in front of us, with dignity,” I.Bickovics said.
Zigmants Gencs, the Chair of the Department of Civil Cases of the Senate, Peteris Dzalbe, the Chair of the Department of Criminal Cases and Veronika Krumina, the Chair of the Department of Administrative Cases in speeches at the ceremonial sitting stressed succession of the Senate of Latvia of the first era of Free State of Latvia.
“Fundamental values of the institution and its legal culture develop in long period of time. So that we, who now belong to the Senate, would understand our mission better, it is important for us to understand, what are values included at its dawn. The Senate is only the shape. Its content and fundamental values have been and are determined by people, who work there”, V.Krumina said. Impartiality, steadiness, respect towards human, honour, sense of duty and justice, adherence to principles and independence, merging of theoretical knowledge with praxis, versatility – these are values, which are put in fundamentals of the Senate. “On these fundamentals we further build and strengthen values of the Supreme Court as of cassation instance. And it depends on us only, how brightly we will bring it through our time”, the Chair of the Department of Administrative Cases of the Senate said.
On December 19, celebrating the 95th anniversary of the Senate of Latvia, ceremonial sitting of the Supreme Court took place. Andris Berzins, the President of Latvia and Solvita Aboltina, the Speaker of the Parliament, sent their greeting notes to the Supreme Court. Greeting speech was said by Janis Bordans, the Minister of Justice, Gvido Zemribo and Andris Gulans, former Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, lingered in their memories and conclusions. Special allocution was said by Anna Zigure, representative of family of Peteris Sterste, the senator of the Senate of Latvia.
In the end of the sitting, muster watched video movie “The Senate of Latvia is 95. Yesterday and Today”, created by TV Kursa in cooperation with the Supreme Court.
The President of the State and the Speaker of the Saeima greet the Supreme Court on the 95th anniversary of the Senate
The Supreme Court has received greetings of the President of the State and the Speaker of the Saeima (the Parliament) on the 95th anniversary of the Senate of Latvia. Enunciation of the President Andris Berzins was read at the ceremonial sitting by his adviser Reinis Berzins, but Solvita Aboltina, the Speaker of the Saeima, had sent written allocution.
In his allocution, the President indicated that at the dawn of development of statehood of Latvia first senators of the Senate of Latvia involved in process of making laws for new state actively, at the same time supervising correct and uniform application of newly adopted laws and creating independent, Latvian court system. The President invited judges not to be only observers and faultfinders today, but to involve in creation of legislation more actively. The President pointed out that judiciary speaks with intermediation of ruling adopted and conclusions given in case-law. “Using conclusions of the highest court instance within regulation of concrete legal situation it is possible not only to eliminate imperfections in application of legal provision, but also to draw attention to errors made by legislator. It is an opportunity for the society to impact legislative power in legitimate way”, the President indicates.
However, the Speaker of the Saeima, when greeting the Senate on its significant anniversary, wished to each judge to be able to hold sense of justice firmly and to be proud of success achieved. “Latvian history shows that values put in fundamentals of our state and existence of those has not been guaranteed irreversibly and forever, so I wish to you always be wakeful for justice and strengthening of democracy in our state”, greeting of the Speaker of the Saeima says.
The Minister of Justice considers change of the title of the Senate to be mistake
“This year will stay in history with reforms of court system which hopefully will be fruitful and long-term. However, there were also mistakes, and one of those was change of the title of the Senate, which probably could be corrected”, Janis Bordans, the Minister of Justice, said, when addressing those present at the ceremonial sitting dedicated to the 95th anniversary of the Senate of Latvia.
The Minister indicated that both in the first era of the Free State of Latvia and now legislative power, executive power and judiciary have to work for one joint aim, and this aim is people’s trust to legal state. People should have trust that judgement will not simply be received, but that it will be fair and complying with understanding of justice, the Minister stressed.
Representative of family of the senator Sterste wishes to judiciary to retrieve trust of the society
Successors and relatives of senators of the Senate of Latvia, namely, Gaida Skudre, daughter of the senator Janis Skudre and his granddaughter Vera Mihejeva, Sigma and Granma Ankrava, granddaughters of the senator Janis Ankravs, Andris Grots, grandson of the senator Jekabs Grots and Anna Zigure, representative of family of the senator Peteris Sterste, also participated in ceremonial sitting dedicated to the 95th anniversary of the Senate of Latvia.
Anna Zigure, writer, translator and diplomat, who comes from family of Peteris Sterste, the lawyer, writer and collaborator of the first Awakening, was invited to address the muster with allocution. The senator Peteris Sterste was son of Sterstu Andrejs.
“Two Thursdays – December 19, 1918 and today, December 19, 2013, differ as day from night”, Anna Zigure said, when characterising hard and even danger time of creation of Latvian State. “However, confidence about necessity and success of their task sparkled in eyes of those people, whose destiny was to build foundation-stones of court system of our state. Trust of the society gave them wings and grounded their ideals”.
Comparing history and nowadays, impression is left that today judges of different ranks and those associated to court system have to work in much more muddy environment – in circumstances of distrust, which is extreme and uncharacteristic for democratic states. As one of reasons, why it happened so, Anna Zigure mentioned long terms or review of cases, which waste credit of social trust even faster. “It will be difficult to regain trust, but it must be done, if we do not want to lose our state. I do not think that citizens pine for revenge, but, if awareness of justice has been invaded, it has been great insult,” Anna Zigure said. She wished to Latvian court system to work in such a manner, so that states of democratic culture would look at Latvia with respect and admiration.
Anna Zigure appreciated the fact that the Supreme Court maintains succession of the Senate of Latvia, as “it is good that we remember our commencement, respect doers of yesterday and today, as, not remembering past and not assessing present, future building may prove to be very unstable”.
At the end of the ceremonial sitting, blessings to the muster and the Senate were given by pastor Andris Grots, grandson of the senator Jekabs Grots.
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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