A case initiated with regard to the accessibility of information regarding judicial disciplinary cases
On 27 January 2015 the 2nd Panel of the Constitutional Court initiated a case “On Compliance of Section 116 (1) of the Judicial Disciplinary Liability Law with Article 100 of the Satversme of the Republic of Latvia.”
The Contested Norm
The contested norm provides: “Until the moment when the decision of the Judicial Disciplinary Board in a disciplinary case has entered into force, the decisions on initiating a disciplinary case and the materials of the disciplinary case shall be accessible only to those persons, who have been granted such right by this Law.”
The Norm of Higher Legal Force
Article 100 of the Satversme: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes the right to freely receive, keep and distribute information and to express his or her views. Censorship is prohibited.”
The case has been initiated with regard to the application submitted by the Department of Administrative Cases of the Supreme Court. The Department of Administrative Cases, examining a cases linked to imposing disciplinary liability upon a judge, established that the restrictions on the accessibility of information set out by the contested norm were incompatible with Article 100 of the Satversme, i.e., the right to receive information. It is mentioned in the application that the contested norm has a legitimate aim, i.e., it protects a judge and the judicial power from ungrounded injury to reputation. However, the norm does not envisage any mechanism or principles for assessing, when information regarding a disciplinary case should be provided to society and when – not. Thus, it is alleged that the norm fails to reach its aim, since confidentiality creates an impression that undermines public trust in the judicial power.
The Constitutional Court has requested the Saeima to submit a written reply on the facts of the case and legal substantiation by 27 March 2015.
The term for preparing the case is 27 June 2015. The Court shall decide upon the type of procedure and the date for hearing the case after the case has been prepared.
Linked case: 2015-06-01