12 May, 2020
According to the information provided by the Court Administration, there are currently 9 vacancies for judges in regional courts and 14 vacancies in district (city) courts. Vacancies are not filled quickly – some stay available even for more than two years, and there is no clear system regarding who makes a decision to start the process to fill a vacancy, who directs the process and how it involves the Judicial Council, which by law determines the number of judges in each court.
Given that one judge hears an average of 100 cases a year, such failure to use potential resources creates confusion, regarding which the Judicial Council has begun a discussion that shall be continued at its next meetings.
The procedure specified in the Regulations of Selection of District (City) Court and Regional Court Judges for filling vacancies of judges in the first and second instance courts was also discussed. The discussion was about whether the regulations approved by the Judicial Council in 2012 narrow the circle of candidates for the position of a judge of a regional court specified in the Law “On Judicial Power”. The Regulations stipulate that in case of a vacancy, an internal competition between all Latvian judges must be announced first, and only if no interested person from among the judges applies for the competition or no one is recognized as suitable for the position, other candidates provided by law, such as advocates, prosecutors, academics, former judges of international courts, etc. may apply for the position.
The Chair of the Judicial Council Ivars Bickovics reminded that in 2012 the Judicial Council adopted such a decision, thinking primarily about wider career development opportunities for judges. The Judicial Council agreed that this issue should be decided conceptually and that a wider discussion should therefore take place.
The Judicial Council reviewed an issue in the meeting of 11 May 2020.
Information prepared by
Rasma Zvejniece, the Head of the Division of Communication of the Supreme Court
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