16 April, 2021
Taking into account the experience gained during the selection of judges of the Economic Court, upon the recommendation of the selection commission the Judicial Council has improved the procedure for selecting candidates for the position of district and regional court judges, improving both the content of examinations and evaluation criteria and the organization of the process.
"Selection, like any process, is not stagnant and unchanging. Developments and improvements are an opportunity to keep up with the times, with the needs of the judiciary and to adapt to organizational possibilities. The amendments make it all easier,” says Dzintra Balta, Chair of the Selection Commission of Judicial Candidates and Deputy Chair of the Judicial Council.
The conditions for organizing the basic professional knowledge test have been changed within the procedure for selecting candidates, namely the number of questions has been increased in order to cover a wider range of expertise to be tested and to exclude those candidates who lack basic knowledge. According to the number of questions, the test completion time has also been increased and the evaluation system has been equalized with the 10-point system used in other selection stages, so that the proportion of points obtained in the test is not excessive in relation to that obtained in other selection stages.
In order to thoroughly and comprehensively test the professional knowledge necessary for the position of a judge, the section on the evaluation of professional knowledge in the solving of legal cases and in providing answers to the questions prepared by the commission has been improved. The amendments aim to ensure equal conditions for applicants with regard to legal cases to be solved and to the objectively comparable evaluation.
There is a possibility planned to provide all applicants with the same legal case to be solved so that the evaluation would be as comparable as possible. Furthermore, the questions to be answered orally will be made known to candidates in advance when announcing the competition. The questions will be designed in a similar way as in the previous qualification examinations, i.e., the emphasis will be put on the knowledge of the course of legal proceedings and on the application of case law. In this way, applicants will have the opportunity to deepen the professional knowledge required for practical work, already in preparation stage of the competition.
The new procedure also includes the psychological assessment of candidates by inviting a professional specialist in this field. This is based on the positive experience acquired in the selection procedure of candidates for the position of a judge of the Supreme Court.
In order to make more efficient use of the selection commission's working resources, the order of the selection stages has been changed. Namely, the professional knowledge test is performed first, but the evaluation of the answers to the questions provided in the application takes place afterwards, thus making sure of the applicants' motivation and ability to substantiate it. Verification of test results requires less resources than evaluation of the answers provided in the application.
In order to harmonize the approach to the submission of documents as far as possible, guidelines for the submission of documents have been added to the selection procedure. However, this does not change the fact that the applicant is responsible for adding the relevant evidence and for choosing which evidence to submit. As an exception, the commission has the right to ask clarifying questions, which may need to be exercised when assessing the candidate's reputation.
Applicants who successfully pass the selection examinations become candidates for the position of judge and are included in the relevant list of candidates, namely for a court of general jurisdiction, an administrative court or the Economic Court. In order to avoid the possibility of misinterpretation, the procedure by which candidates may move from one list of candidates to another has now been clearly defined.
The new procedure also includes a number of amendments that give the selection board more leeway to find flexible organizational solutions in changing circumstances. When drawing up the previous procedure, it was not possible to anticipate the pandemic and the restrictions adopted in connection with it, which led to the search for solutions for the organization of the process; the implementation of such solutions was prevented by certain rules of procedure.
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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