Judges to be evaluated under new rules

In effort to upgrade the quality of justice, planned legislation envisions more meritocracy

Judges to be evaluated under new rules

As part of the effort to upgrade efficiency and the quality of the judiciary, the government plans via the Justice Ministry to table a new law after the holidays that will determine everything from the evaluation of judges, to the functioning of justice and its organization.

But this modernization of the justice system for the first time in many decades is expected to be ferociously opposed by unions, which have already shown their intent with their response to a provision in the new law for the National School of Judges, which stipulates that judges must attend compulsory training seminars for new subjects and be graded after their completion. 

Outraged unions of judges, especially the largest, the Union of Judges and Prosecutors, have even organized a mini-referendum on the issue.

The reactions have again brought to the fore the contentious issue of evaluations of judicial officials.

For the last two years, the leadership of the Supreme Court has been fighting against an unwritten rule that has prevailed in recent decades whereby almost all judges climb the ranks based only on tenure, regardless of ability.

Tellingly, in less than two years, Supreme Court prosecutor Vassilios Pliotas has argued nine cases before the plenary for the removal of judges deemed unsuitable for the job. Indeed, breaking with past practices, the plenary session of the Supreme Court decided to dismiss them.

The effort by the Supreme Court prosecutor to remove unsuitable judges and prosecutors from the judiciary is ongoing and in tandem with the endeavors of Supreme Court President Maria Georgiou, who from the very first day she assumed office last July has sought to set the framework governing the performance of judicial officials.

Realizing the consequences that the poor performance of many judges may have regarding delays in the delivery of justice, she has publicly stated that those who do not perform their duties and meet their deadlines to administer justice will be audited.

Meanwhile the judiciary, which despite its problems has many competent and educated judges, is being equipped, albeit at some delay, with new technological capabilities, such as electronic monitoring of court procedures, which was launched Wednesday.

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