Richterwahlen in der Schweiz: Wo liegt das Problem?

Sind Schweizer Richter zu wenig unabhängig von den Parteien, die sie nominieren? Eine Volksinitiative will die Politik aus dem Verfahren der Richterwahl verbannen. Die Initianten hängen offenbar der Vorstellung an, dass eine Richterwahl durch politische Verfassungsorgane per se die richterliche Unabhängigkeit berührt. Das stimmt aber nicht.

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A Hungarian Judge Seeks Protection from the CJEU – Part II

In 2012, Hungary introduced a unique system of judicial administration that was criticized by domestic and international actors. This criticism has been validated by events since then which have shown that the National Judicial Council, the highest collective body of judges, is practically unable to counter-balance the broad powers of the President of the National Judicial Office (NJO). This has caused tensions between judges and the judicial administration, something that was predictable in 2012 when the system was introduced and has led to what can only be described as a ‘constitutional crisis’.

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A Hungarian Judge Seeks Protection from the CJEU – Part I

For the first time, a Hungarian judge stayed proceedings to ask the CJEU preliminary questions about the independence of Hungarian courts. The questions concern the appointment of court presidents and the low salary of judges. The response of Hungarian authorities was quick: Within a week, the Prosecutor General requested the Kúria (Hungary’s Supreme Court) to review the reference with the possible effect of deterring other judges from asking similar questions.

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Judges Depending on Judges

Since the beginning of 2018 the CJEU has finally been putting flesh on the bones of the EU principle of judicial independence. Most recently, the Court has been widely praised for its ruling against the Polish attempt of removing the, presumably, disloyal judges by a general measure of lowering their retirement age from 70 to 65. While the decision is indeed praiseworthy, it is nevertheless necessary to emphasize its notable doctrinal lacuna with potential negative practical implications – particularly in those EU member states with a weak democratic and rule of law tradition, a low degree of legal and political culture as well as with a small and tightly-knit legal elite.

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Turning the Lights Off

On 14 June the Bulgarian minister of justice finally took the step to present to the public its long-awaited draft of the new accountability mechanism intended to ensure independent investigation for to the top three Bulgarian magistrates. The draft legislation proves that the concerns regarding the consequences for Bugaria’s judicial independence were entirely justified.

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France Criminalises Research on Judges

In March, France made a controversial move and became the first country in the world to explicitly ban research on individual judicial behaviour. It is now a criminal offence to ‘evaluate, analyse, compare or predict’ the behaviour of individual judges. The result is a flagrant violation of the freedom of expression, represents an affront to basic values of academic freedom, and disregards basic principles of the rule of law.

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CVM Here, CVM There: The European Commission in Bulgaria’s Legal Wonderland

On 13 June 2019, Bulgaria’s Minister of Justice Danail Kirilov declared that he would resign unless the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism to which Bulgaria was subjected was lifted before the end of the Juncker Commission’s term. This statement comes in the middle of a highly controversial reform proposed by Kirilov. The reform is one of the key arguments Bulgaria intends to use to persuade the European Commission that the CVM should be terminated this year.

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This is how Bulgarian Judicial Independence Ends…Not with a Bang but a Whimper

Bulgaria notoriously ranks at the bottom of all judicial independence and corruption indexes in the EU, even lagging far behind Member States such as Hungary and Poland. Under the guise of implementing EU recommendations and the case-law of the European of Human Rights, a reform proposal by Bulgaria’s Ministry of Justice is about to threaten Bulgaria’s judicial independence even further.

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Commission v. Poland – A Stepping Stone Towards a Strong “Union of Values”?

Commission v. Poland gives the Court not only the opportunity to put ASJP into practice but also to clarify the doctrinal framework for finally addressing the developments in “backsliding” Member States under EU law. This contribution will shed some light on these two uncertainties, suggest ways of how the Court could resolve them and explore the potential repercussions for the EU legal order.

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