Recommendation on Giving Copies of Verdicts to Convicts and Sending Appeals to Court of Appeal without Delay
On October 19, 2015, the Public Defender addressed the Supreme Court Chairman, the Gori District Court Chairman and the Secretary of the High Council of Justice with a recommendation to ensure that the Gori District Court gives copies of verdicts to convicts within the period prescribed by law and sends appeals to the Court of Appeal without delay.
The survey of convicts’ applications by the Public Defender's Office revealed that the Gori District Court does not systematically hand over copies of judgments to the convicts within the period prescribed by law; in addition, the Court unreasonably delays transmission of appeals and cases to the Court of Appeal.
The Public Defender considers that non-transmission of copies of judgments to convicts within the period prescribed by law, even due to technical problems, endangers the realization of the right to fair trial. Transmission of copies of judgments to convicts is important for effective realization of the right to appeal against a decision of the court of first instance to a higher court.
Even though the law does not define a specific deadline for sending an appeal and a criminal case by the court of first instance to the Court of Appeal, the court of first instance should not delay the transmission of materials for several months, which may lead to the delay in consideration of a case by the Court of Appeal for an unreasonable period. Article 42 of the Constitution of Georgia and article 6 of the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms guarantee the right to fair trial within a reasonable time.
A Gori District Court judge named the high number of criminal cases in the Gori District Court as a motive for the abovementioned problem. Delay in transmission of copies of verdicts to convicts and sending of criminal cases to the Court of Appeal for an unreasonable period contradicts the right to fair trial. Accordingly, it is necessary to take specific steps to ensure consideration of criminal cases within a reasonable time, including through defining and appointing a sufficient number of judges and other employees in the Gori District Court.