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Judicial clerks will return to courts

THE FUNCTION of judicial clerks and candidates for vacancies of prosecutors, abolished by the previous government in 2011, will return to Slovak courts and prosecutor’s offices. The selection procedures of new judges will, however, remain open also for other juridical professions. This stems from the amendments pertaining to the judiciary passed by the parliament at its October 21 session.

THE FUNCTION of judicial clerks and candidates for vacancies of prosecutors, abolished by the previous government in 2011, will return to Slovak courts and prosecutor’s offices. The selection procedures of new judges will, however, remain open also for other juridical professions. This stems from the amendments pertaining to the judiciary passed by the parliament at its October 21 session.

The amendments also concern several measures that apply to the paragraphs of the law on judges and prosecutors which the Constitutional Court ruled to be at odds with the constitution, the SITA newswire reported.

The re-introduction of the post of judicial clerks and candidates for vacancies of prosecutors was also part of the programme statement of the current ruling government. Justice Minister Tomáš Borec said that the position of judicial clerks will not be the same as in the past when these people automatically became judges. The selection procedure will remain open also for those who do not serve as judicial clerks, Borec said, as reported by SITA.

Moreover, the oral section of the selection procedure of new judges will be recorded and later published together with reports from the procedure. With such a move, the ruling Smer party wants to strengthen the transparency of selecting new judges and extend the possibility of public control of the whole process, SITA wrote.

Former justice minister Lucia Žitňanská (now Most-Híd MP) says the changes will not move the judiciary forward. According to her, the amendments do not contain what the politicians claim they do.

“The judicial laws declare that the selection procedures of new judges will remain open, but they introduce the judicial clerks and the mechanism is set in a way that probably nobody except for judicial clerks and higher judicial officers will become a judge,” Žitňanská said, as quoted by SITA.

Other changes passed by the parliament include the shortening of the term for which judges who served in other public post (such as minister or state secretary) have to wait to apply for the post of president or vice president of the court. While the wait is currently five years after they return to their judicial function, under the new rules it will be only one year.

Moreover, members of the Judicial Council whose tenure will expire will be able to keep the notebooks they received from the state, SITA wrote.

The amendment also responds to the Constitutional Court ruling which ruled that the composition of the committee selecting new judges where the judicial power does not have majority is unconstitutional. Currently, it works in a way that the justice minister and the parliament nominate together three members, while the Judicial Council only two. The new rules stipulate that one member will be picked by the parliament, one by the minister, two by the Judicial Council and one by the council of the court that is seeking new a judge, as reported by SITA.

Source: SITA

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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