21 August, 2007
On 21st of August Supreme Court was visited by the President Valdis Zaltlers. The President desire was to become acquainted with Supreme Court experience in forming the court as easy of access and comprehendible establishment.
Acquaintance with Supreme Court by President started in vestibule, where Chief Justice Andris Gulans and Head of Administration Anita Kehre showed him the wide information on information stand and home page of Supreme Court that are available for visitors. Then the President became acquainted with the work of Division of Communication, Division of Document Administration and Division of Complaints. An overall view in organization of courts work President has obtained by taking a look in work of Chamber of Civil cases and number of judge offices.
“The responsibility of administering the justice apply not only when proclaiming the sentence, it is a responsibility if front of all people.” There words were written by Valdis Zatlers in Supreme Courts museum guestbook. When the visit of the President was planned, the discussion about other actualities was planned, though the recent scandal related to published conversations between judges and advocates brought some corrections to the topics of the visit, and Presidents conversation with senators, judges and court officials was mainly devoted to this shocking legal system of Latvia and country in the whole actuality.
The President has stressed out three questions: if Latvian courts are independent, if matters are adjudicated justly and if sentences are taken in courts room or out of it. Present senators and judges have confessed that they feel very unpleasant for negative conclusions were taken about the whole legal system. The have expressed confidence that not all working in legal system are lead by principles, that are shown in published phone conversations. Senator of Department of Administrative cases Jautrite Briede has expressed a satisfaction that senators of her department remained above suspicion and her colleges have never felt any pressure or influence before passing the sentence. Chair of the Chamber of Criminal Cases and president of Latvian Judge Association Ivars Bickovics has noted that published conversations possibly show the situation as it was ten years ago, but if to express figuratively, if to take this picture now, its quality would be different.
In its own part Chief Justice Andris Gulans has confessed that ongoing shows that there is a serious crisis in Latvian legal system. He invites judges mentioned in a book “Tiesāšanās kā ķēķis” to analyze their behavior with decency, evaluate the content of conversations and take the appropriate decision, considering not only its own prestige but the prestige of the court and the country, or to be able to explain and motivate their behavior in public. Chief Justice has confessed that he had a conversation with one of the senators involved in published phone conversations, that is possibly getting ready to take the decision of leaving the position. A conversation with judges that are not involved in the scandal also took place, though they feel impossible to continue working together with colleges whose reputation is under suspicion. Chief Justice expressed concern that, after all happened a courts self –cleaning might occur, and court might be left by skilled and honest judges, and that would be a great loss both for Supreme Court both for country in the whole.
The State President Valdis Zatlers also stressed that the time has come when judges and senators have to think not only about themselves, but about the state and the court system. He acknowledged that during the discussion with the senators and the judges of the Supreme Court he received answers to the raised questions, got approval that the court system has changed essentially during the last years. The State President considers that the published scandal regarding the telephone conversations may serve to clear, strengthen the court system, and to raise the prestige of the courts. When asked to what extent he himself trusts the court system, Zatlers replied that his personal experience in relations with courts has been positive even in the cases when he lost in the court proceedings.
The visit of the State President Valdis Zatlers in the Supreme Court was followed by tens of journalists.
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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