18 September, 2007
After hearing the information by the General Prosecutor Jānis Maizītis and extensive debates, with majority of votes the Plenary Session of the Supreme Court formed a work group which will work parallel to the General Prosecutor’s Office and evaluate ethics of actions of those judges of the Supreme Court who, possibly, are involved in the telephone tapping scandal which indicated the connection of the judges with the attorney-at-law Andris Grūtups.
Although the goals of the work group have not been set clearly yet, in the press conference after the Plenary Session the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Andris Guļāns acknowledged that the fact that the work group as such was formed is already a result because there is no unanimity among the judges regarding the status of decoding of the published telephone calls and the necessity of its evaluation what was proved also by long debates in the Plenary Session.
Formation of a work group was a proposal of A. Guļāns. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court considers that the response caused by the phone calls published by the journalist Lapsa and submitted to the General Prosecutor’s Office is a serious fact which may not be ignored. The possible phone calls contain more than one third of the names of the Supreme Court judges, the General Prosecutor’s Office requested statement on 13 civil cases reviewed in the Supreme Court, and it has considerably undermined the authority of the Supreme Court. Therefore inactivity will not be tolerated. The General Prosecutor’s Office verifies possible criminal offences in the actions of judges, the work group, in its turn, would evaluate the possible violations of judge’s ethics. The judges must be given a chance to explain their actions, the colleagues will evaluate it, and the Supreme Court will have to express its statement on possible violations of standards of judge’s ethics without waiting for the statement from the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court considers.
Various opinions were expressed during discussions of the judges. Support for formation of the work group was expressed by the senators Valda Eilande, Pēteris Dzalbe, Valerijans Jonikāns, Vilnis Vietnieks. The senator Jautrīte Briede admitted that if she were in a similar situation she would certainly wish to have a chance to explain her actions therefore she supports formation of a work group. In his turn, the Chairman of the Chamber of Criminal Cases Ivars Bičkovičs objected to it considering that lawyers have to work with facts not a literary work. Clear denial for formation of the work group was expressed by the judge Ausma Keiša. She thinks that it would destroy the prestige of the Supreme Court and judges even more, and would escalate confrontation and mutual fights in the Supreme Court itself. The Chairman of the Department of Criminal Cases Pāvels Gruziņš suggested to evaluate also the published discussions of the reporter Ilze Jaunalksne with the Supreme Court employees, however his proposal did not receive support from majority.
To have whole-sided evaluation of actions of the judges, the phone calls published in the books will not be sufficient. Additional information which is at the disposal of the prosecutor’s office will also be necessary, as well as information provided by the judges themselves, and explanation of motivation of their actions. Cooperation with the work group will not be compulsory for judges, however, reluctance to cooperate will also show certain stance requiring argumentation, considers the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court A. Guļāns. According to the information given by the General Prosecutor at the Plenary Session, the amount of print-outs of the phone calls is three times bigger than the dialogues given in the book. When comparing the print-outs, the contents of the book and the data provided by the telephone operators, it could be concluded that most of the phone calls actually were made, however, there are many discrepancies, the verification continues. If the investigation allows, the General Prosecutor’s Office, possibly, could present the materials of the case to the work group. The senator of the Department of Civil Cases of the Senate Roberts Namatēvs, the senator of the Department of Administrative Cases Normunds Salenieks, the senator of the Department of Criminal Cases Voldemārs Čiževskis, the judge of the Chamber of Criminal Cases Eduards Pupovs and the judge of the Chamber of Civil Cases Aivars Keišs were elected to the work group for evaluation of ethics violations. The interim report has to be prepared by the work group till December 1.
Information prepared by the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
Author: Rasma Zvejniece, Manager of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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