Public Defender Refuses to Participate in Parliamentary Hearing of Supreme Court Judicial Candidates
The Parliament of Georgia plans to start the consideration of the issue of Supreme Court judicial candidates, which was submitted to it by the High Council of Justice on June 17. Given the acute unresolved institutional problems in the judiciary, the Public Defender refuses to participate in the hearing of the Supreme Court judicial candidates until the fundamental reform of the High Council of Justice is not carried out and the management of the judiciary by an influential group of judges is not over.
In 2019, the Parliament of Georgia ignored the most principled views of the Public Defender, Venice Commission, OSCE/ODIHR and NGOs relating to the election procedure of Supreme Court judges. In December 2019, the Parliament of Georgia elected 14 new judges of the Supreme Court on the basis of flawed legislation. Some of them, according to the Public Defender, failed to meet even the minimum level of competence.
The Public Defender also filed a constitutional suit regarding the election procedure of Supreme Court judges, but the Supreme Court Plenum, composed of the majority of newly elected judges, appointed a new judge to the Constitutional Court before considering the suit, which had a direct impact on the final outcome and it was one vote that became decisive in rejecting the Public Defender's suit. Subsequent unsystemic legislative changes were pointless. For example, the law of September 30, 2020 defines the rule of appealing against the decisions made by the High Council of Justice relating to the selection of Supreme Court candidates to the Qualifications Chamber of the Supreme Court, although the body was fully staffed in December 2019 with judges elected as a result of a highly problematic process that did not enjoy any trust. Due to the above, the decisions made by them can no longer be trusted and make the existence of an appeal mechanism meaningless.
It has been two years since the Parliament passed legislative changes relating to the selection of Supreme Court judges in 2019 and the situation in the judiciary has worsened. The current situation requires the fundamental reform of the High Council of Justice, which is also provided for in the agreement brokered by Georgia's strategic partners on April 19, 2021 - "A Way Ahead for Georgia”. Until the implementation of reforms, the election of new judges to the Supreme Court is a step towards the further strengthening of the influential group of judges, which is why the Public Defender refuses to participate in the process.