Professional Associations

Professional associations

General remarks

In maintaining the independence of the system and the internal regulation of the dysfunctions, a special role belongs to the professional associations of magistrates. In Romania, there is no real judicial body and, as a result, an associative spirit. The body of judges and prosecutors have not yet developed a mature professional conscience and have not yet become accustomed to the natural participatory actions, in the common professional interest combined with the public, to respond to their new responsibilities for defending the independence of justice, ensuring the effective application of law and ensuring a high professional standard throughout the system.

Until 2004, judges could not even be part of non-governmental organizations, but only of professional forms of organization. this has contributed to their isolation from the environment of public ideas, to the inhibition of their public involvement and to the confusion of the purpose of professional associations, which are generally expected to solve trade union problems, such as wage increases. , improving material conditions, reducing its workload

An inhibitory factor was also the reaction of the ministers of justice, as well as of the heads of courts and prosecutor’s offices (appointed by the minister at that time), who saw by forming associations under the leadership of a leader, a destabilizing factor and undermining their own influence on the system. . Many times, those enrolled in associates have been and still are categorized as rebels, revolutionaries, etc. What is certain is that without such “revolutionaries”, many strange things in the judiciary would not have been revealed.

Although there are several associations of magistrates in Romania [31] , many did not stand out through any activity, and others were limited especially to requests of a trade union nature [32] . Their ignorance is also reflected in the fact that the Ministry of Justice and the SCM [33] have organized a single meeting with all these associations in the last five years. Moreover, the associations represent an indisputable reality in the life of many courts, but the SCM did not find it necessary to regulate by the internal regulation the way of allowing and official support of the activity by the associations.

The publicity of their activity is ensured in the public space only for two associations, AMR [34] (but with a website not updated since February 2005) and AMI [35] .

The issue of the representativeness of these associations has often been raised, especially in the context in which AMR has claimed for many years that it is the only association of magistrates, the local ones being only its subsidiaries. SoJust has solved this dilemma. According to the law, the magistrates are obliged to submit declarations of interests, which contain mentions regarding the associations they belong to. Monitoring these statements, we make the following findings:

– some magistrates did not comply with the legal obligation to publish their declarations of assets and interests (courts in Bucharest, Craiova, Prahova, Buzau, Dolj, Calarasi); this violation of the law constitutes a disciplinary violation, but so far the Judicial Inspection has not made any verification;

– some magistrates do not know the name of the association they belong to. Some cannot specify exactly (Mangalia), others declare that they are members in the “Association of Magistrates” (Constanta, Calarasi), in the “Association of Magistrates” (Calarasi), others in the “National Association of Magistrates” (C-lung Moldovenesc, Pucioasa) or the “Arges Magistrates’ Association”, but these associations do not exist;

– some state that they are part of a union of judges’ associations; or, such a union cannot bring individuals together!

– some are part of the associations, but have not stated this; thus, for example, the association of Magistrates from Iasi has approximately 83 members (according to the official website), but only 6 declared membership in this organization; another example is of the “Brasov-Covasna association” where only two judges declared themselves members, while the law shows that the minimum number of people in an association is three;

– some magistrates do not know what positions they hold in these associations [36] .

The importance of declaring the association of which a magistrate belongs consists in avoiding the conflict of interests. Unfortunately, even those called to verify compliance with the law in this regard are often themselves in conflict of interest: the SCM is notified by the AMR with various petitions, and the AMR members of the SCM have never refrained from deciding on those issues. .

The type of actions of the associations are either declarative, even noisy, oral (AMR) or strictly professional (AMI); there is no mature associative thinking, coherent in influencing public policies and debates on justice. the associations do not have a charter and have not issued any code of ethics.

Romanian Magistrates Association (AMR)

AMR, founded in 1993, is the oldest association of magistrates in the country. AMR declared itself at the establishment as the successor of the former association of Magistrates and Lawyers (aMa) from the post-war period, but this aspect was not established in contradiction with the descendants of aMa. incorporating AMR which would be a big mistake.

Along with the recent association of Romanian Prosecutors (founded in 2005), it is an association established at national level, comprising county branches. There is no public or clear internal information on the number of branches, the number of members of the association and even less of those who pay dues and actually work to achieve the proposed goals. Surprisingly, although the current legislation on associations and foundations obliges the branches to have legal personality, only 8 territorial structures have submitted to this obligation, thus having an autonomous organization.

AMR is a member of the International Union of Magistrates and the European Association of Magistrates. Unlike most associations in these international organizations, AMR includes both judges (638) and prosecutors (414) [37] . Contrary to the public statements of the AMR leadership on countless occasions that the association would include over 3000 members, less than 1100 declared their membership in the organization. Even so, this significant number includes members who have never participated at the level of the organization, both locally, where there are branches that for years have not had the meetings provided by the statute, and at the central level.

From the data collected by SoJust, in which even AMR members are active, AMR’s activity is seen by judges as contradictory, incoherent and, in general, too little known and unpredictable even for its own members. The president of the association proved in time to be an extremely strong voice on the public stage, being strongly publicized and attracting the sympathy of judges for its firm interventions in favor of specific rights and interests of the judiciary.

However, the association does not carry out activities typical of forms of professional organization, such as publishing magazines or newsletters, organizing training programs for magistrates, legal education of the public. The AMR does not have a clear, coherent, easy public message. to be identified by any institutional or citizen dialogue partner. The AMR does not have a strategy for developing policies in the field of justice and has not developed a system of values ​​to support and substantiate and legitimize its public actions. AMR does not seem concerned with the elaboration of a strategy to respond to the foreseeable evolution of the judicial system, to its necessary changes, determined by the compatibility with the European legal systems. Through the voice of its President,

However, AMR is an organization with an important potential to influence public debates on the course of justice. it could probably be optimally valued when it finds forms of public expression that take into account the common interests of its members, following consultations that highlight the real needs of the professional body.

The most controversial activity of AMR is the support by the president of the association of some persons before the SCM in order to be promoted to the ICCJ. SoJust’s observations are: this activity is not done with the endorsement of AMR members; supporters are not always AMR members; the support is not based on some objective criteria (just as CMS does not use such criteria either); the husband of the AMR president is part of the Board of Directors of the ICCJ which gives the opinion on the candidates.

It is also worth mentioning that on 11.02.2004, AMR founded the Alliance for a European Justice in Romania (AJER) – an unregistered organization – together with non-governmental organizations with a well-known activity in the field of human rights and the rule of law: Center for Legal Resources ( CRJ ), the Romanian Association for Transparency ( TI-Romania ), the Pro-Democracy Association ( APD ), the Institute for Public Policies ( IPP ), the Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Romania – Helsinki Committee ( APADOR-CH ), the Romanian Academic Society SAR ), Press Monitoring Agency “Catavencu Academy “, Foundation for an Open Society ( FSD ). Unfortunately, the different visions of these organizations made the alliance to be limited only to observations and negotiations on draft laws that would be included in the 2004 justice reform package. AJER is no longer working.

AMR subsidiaries

A natural reaction to some internal dysfunctions of the association was the separate evolution of some branches with legal personality of AMR, which developed on their own a portfolio of specific public actions, declaring more and more functional independence from the central organization. . The process of decentralization and strengthening of the forms of local associative organization is still predictable.

The strongest branches were concentrated in Transylvania: AMR Cluj and AMR Mures are well known for their independent activity. Reactions to the main policy interference, to the policy of wage discrimination or non-objective granting of monetary incentives, actions at the ECHR or meetings with European officials are among the concerns. The most impressive activities of the last year were the immediate reaction to the accusations of the Romanian president of corruption at the level of the courts [38] and the initiation of the procedure for revoking a judge collaborating with the security from the position of SCM member [39] .

Although the AMR records show that a branch would operate in Harghita, in reality in this county there is a distinct association of AMR, namely the “Association of Magistrates from Harghita”.

A general observation regarding the AMR branches: it seems that the large number of prosecutors in some areas ensures the strength of this association: in Galati there are 2 member judges and 17 prosecutors, in Timisoara there are only prosecutors, in Alba there are 9 judges and 40 prosecutors, in Craiova there are 30 judges and 57 prosecutors.

Iasi Association of Magistrates (aMI)

A regional association of judges with an important professional activity is aMI. it is situated, through its preoccupations and activities, at the opposite pole from AMR, impressing by the number of professional projects developed – we mention here only the experimental program Court for Minors Iasi. the association does not have public positions on the various general topics of interest regarding justice or the status of judges.

AMI was founded in 1997, and currently includes only judges from the courts of the Iasi Court of Appeal. Although the official website shows that the association has a number of 83 members, from the declarations of interests given by judges it results that only a number of 6 acknowledge their membership (these inconsistencies are common to judges’ associations; the level of Iasi there is a confusion regarding the affiliation of the judges to the IMA, respectively to AMR, Iasi branch).

“Constantin Statescu” Professional Association of Judges, Targoviste (APJCS)

APJCS is an organization that includes judges from Dambovita County. It is the only association that publishes its own magazine, where the activities of the association are regularly described and points of view on the legislation or judicial practice are presented. In fact, the purpose of the association is to ensure the continuous training of members. has a long collaboration with the Romanian Lawyers Union, manifested in joint symposia. Since 2004 he organizes events for the European Day of Civil Justice.

At the end of June 2006, he organized the first National Conference of Judges in Romania (Targoviste, June 29-30, 2006), where topics of important interest such as the role of judges, the independence of the judiciary, unitary practice were debated. was the first sign of the need for self-regulation of the system.

The Association for the Defense of the Rights and Independence of Judges from Bihor

Born in 2005 from the desire to lay the foundations of a unique association of judges and on the background of a hostile local press, the Oradea association organizes meetings with counterparts from Hungary and collaborates in joint actions with AMR Cluj and AMR Mures. He also organized several roundtables with media representatives, insisting on transparent judicial activity.

Timisoara Magistrates Association

The association has developed local projects through which it measured for the first time in Romania the trust of the population in justice. He also edited brochures containing minimal elements for citizens who go to court. however, from the official statements it results that there are only two members in the association, although the data of the association reveal a much higher number.

The conclusion is that in Romania there is no body for self-regulation of the judiciary. There are no congresses or councils of judges, which exercise a minimal influence in the matter of the administrative organization of the courts. SoJust is of the opinion that professional associations should place greater emphasis on their role as vectors of transformation and progress in the organization of justice and public ideas about it. Also, as I have already shown, the president of the ICCJ, the only representative of the judiciary, and therefore of the judges, should play a major role in the debates on public policies in the field of justice.