The most frequent and the most typical practices of court management which may easily lead to violation of independence have provided the basis for compiling, by contrast, “A Collection of Good Management Practices” . The last four items represent the most blatant examples of interfering with independence. The collection is a result of the work of the Forum for the Cooperation of Judges. Judges Cooperation Forum and have been sent to the National Council for the Judiciary (NCJ) for consideration whether an appropriate resolution should not be adopted.
Here is the full list of the good practices:
GOOD SUPERVISION PRACTICES (PROPOSITIONS)
A judge should perform his/her duties related to court management with diligence, bearing in mind the authority of the office of a judge and the interest of the judiciary.
A judge who performs managerial functions in the judiciary should take care of organisational matters in a way that facilitates the achievement of the best possible results while respecting the principle of judicial independence.
Such a judge shall be obliged to examine every communication concerning circumstances that might endanger the independent performance of duties and shall notify the national Council for the Judiciary about such communication and the facts established. The judge who reported the above mentioned circumstances should also be acquainted with the contents of the notification sent to the National Council of the Judiciary.
A judge who performs managerial functions in the judiciary should:
- aim to ensure that the judges and other staff under his/her supervision perform their duties efficiently,
- maintain friendly atmosphere and work culture, respecting the dignity of the staff,
- combat all forms of discrimination and mobbing,
- avoid actions that could undermine trust in his/her impartiality and objectivity,
- be transparent in taking staffing decisions and base these decisions on objective criteria, disclosing the reasons to the interested parties.
Delegating managerial duties to other persons should be preceded by obtaining their consent. Such delegation is allowed only if it does not have a negative effect on the performance of the main duties of such persons, in particular, their adjudicating duties.
The manager should ensure fair distribution of work among judges and other staff in the unit under his/her management, respecting the right to rest guaranteed by the provisions of labour law.
Dialogue based on mutual trust, respect for one’s duties and workload, taking into account the individual approach to a judge or another member of staff, should be the basis for resolving problems and conflicts in a given judiciary unit. Decisions on individual issues should be taken after the persons to whom the decisions apply have been heard.
A judge who performs managerial functions in the judiciary should attach particular importance to ensuring safe working conditions for judges and staff of the unit under his/her management. Law enforcement services shall be notified upon discovery of any activity that might constitute an offence.
The manager should ensure the provision of professional psychological support to persons affected by consequences of working under stressful conditions and traumatic events connected with the performance of duties.
A judge who performs managerial functions must not enter into agreements that result in circumventing the law or tolerate behaviour at workplace that violates the rules of social co-existence and good morals.
The judge who manages a given judiciary unit should provide support to judges examining cases that raise the interest of the media, especially during the so called media crisis. It is a duty of the manager to ensure that the adjudicating judge has the best possible conditions to effectively hear and decide such a case. He or she should make sure that an action plan for such a crisis situation is in place, should appoint a crisis management team with clearly defined tasks. In each unit a contact person for the media should be appointed, a person who is properly prepared and capable of explaining, in a straightforward manner, the rules of procedure and reasons for the decisions issued. Incorrect information, especially undermining the reputation of the judge or other court staff, should be rectified.
A judge who performs managerial functions may not provide guidance as to the priority of taking action in cases about which telephone or written inquiry has been made nor may he/she place such cases under his/her supervision unless it is necessary to ensure proper course of the proceedings.
Administrative supervision should be performed in a balanced manner so that it does not interfere with judicial independence; in particular, supervisory actions may not lead to influencing the manner in which a specific case is proceeded, examined and decided. Court orders which aim to improve the efficiency of proceedings may not be combined with an instruction or even a suggestion as to the conclusion of the case or the type or contents of procedural acts to be carried out.
When assessing the efficiency, the supervising person should not make an assessment of the way the judge applies the provisions of procedural and substantive law, especially if there are discrepancies in jurisprudence; supervision recommendations should not impose the interpretation of a provision preferred by the supervising judge as the only correct interpretation.
Supervision actions should be a response to the detected irregularities, should be focused on effective performance of procedural actions to ensure the case is heard without undue delay. They cannot contain unreal orders. Supervision orders issued should be realistic and possible to perform for a judge, considering his/her working conditions, in particular his/her caseload and the current burden of adjudicating duties. In case of doubts, the person performing supervision functions should set a realistic time limit for the performance of the acts in question together with the judge rapporteur.
A judge should not be burdened with an obligation to prepare reports on actions which can be determined on the basis of the case file. The practice whereby judges prepare materials for supervision reports for their managers should be considered unacceptable.
Administrative supervision may not aim at ensuring efficiency of proceedings at the expense of the quality of adjudicating. Supervisory actions should avoid all the risk of exerting adverse influence on the quality of adjudication.