The judicial mafia is back: how the Council wants to give control of complaints about judges to the old elites

On May 26, Judge Oleksiy Tandyr, being in a state of alcohol intoxication, exceeded the speed limit and hit a 23-year-old National Guardsman to death
On May 26, Judge Oleksiy Tandyr, being in a state of alcohol intoxication, exceeded the speed limit and hit a 23-year-old National Guardsman to death
© Photo: DBR

Authors: Valeriya Radchenko, communications officer of the Anti-Corruption Center Kateryna Butko, head of the All-Ukrainian Association "Automaidan" Veronika Kreydenkova, advocacy manager of the DEJURE Foundation

On May 26, Judge Oleksiy Tandyr, being in a state of alcohol intoxication, exceeded the speed limit and hit a 23-year-old National Guardsman to death.

Despite all the shock and fury that erupted in society after this incident, Judge Tandyr remains a judge and receives a salary at the expense of taxpayers even when he is in a pre-trial detention center. He was only suspended from the administration of justice.

Decisions on the dismissal of judges in Ukraine must be made by the Supreme Council of Justice (VRP) on the basis of a disciplinary complaint. However, although the VRP resumed its work in January of this year, this, undoubtedly its most important function, is still blocked.

A new law and the creation of a service of disciplinary inspectors would have to resolve issues with complaints. However, at first, people's deputies delayed this process, and then, on the initiative of the head of the legal policy committee, Denys Maslov, they submitted draft law No. 9261 .

Although the legislative initiative is designed to solve the problem of the lack of disciplinary inspectors, it actually creates a new one.

In case of adoption of the draft law in the preliminary version of the committee, the inspectors will actually be under the control of the judicial mafia. And they will be chosen in a manual competition.

However, in order to understand how "manual" inspectors can influence the development of judicial reform, let's explain why they exist in this design at all.

Why is the VRP service of disciplinary inspectors?

There are currently more than 4,400 judges in Ukraine. Another 2,500 must be collected by the newly formed Higher Qualification Commission of Judges (HCQC). According to Hryhoriy Usyk, the head of the VRP , at the end of March of this year, 8,829 disciplinary complaints against the actions of judges were registered in the VRP.

It is obvious that the 17 members of the VRP alone cannot consider all these complaints. Each of them should be studied in detail, the given facts should be checked, etc.

In fact, it works according to a scheme similar to the investigation of crimes. The inspector conducts an investigation (examines the complaint materials) and can either return the complaint, or continue the "investigation" and complete it with an appropriate conclusion.

Everything depends on this work, as well as on the work of the investigator. After all, like an investigator in a criminal case, an inspector can conduct an investigation qualitatively, or maybe not at all; with a vector predetermined by someone, or vice versa - independently and objectively.

In the future, the VRP makes the final decision on the basis of these materials.

As in criminal proceedings, disciplinary measures can be imposed on judges even at the stage of the inspector's conditional "investigation". The same disciplinarians can be turned into a manual punitive tool of pressure on independent judges.

Therefore, the integrity, independence and competence of each of these disciplinary inspectors are critical. After all, we hear about the detention of judges for bribes from NABU and SAP almost every few weeks. And such "staff" will definitely want to "persuade" the inspectors to change their conclusions for a certain "reward".

Each of these complaints requires a truly in-depth analysis. Some of them may indeed indicate real violations by judges.

For example, Pavlo Vovk and some of the judges of the scandalous OASK, against whom the VRP has disciplinary complaints, have not yet been released.

Pavlo Vovk
Pavlo Vovk

The High Council of Justice is also considering a complaint against Odessa judge Ludmila Saltan, who was recently detained by NABU and SAP for a $4,000 bribe. Despite the fact that Saltan herself admits her guilt, she can be released only after the review of disciplinary complaints is resumed.

Odessa judge Ludmila Saltan
Odessa judge Ludmila Saltan

Another judge, whose case is currently under consideration by the Anti-Corruption Court - Volodymyr Pyatkovskyi - has also not been dismissed or even suspended from the administration of justice, although the complaint against him has been in the VRP for more than six months.

Volodymyr Pyatkovskyi
Volodymyr Pyatkovskyi

There are known cases when complaints to the VRP were also used to pressure judges for legal decisions.

So, the story when the Ukrainian People's Party of Ukraine prosecuted VAKS judge Vira Mykhaylenko for allowing an absentee investigation into the infamous ex-minister of Yanukovych Zlochevsky's time is illustrative. The latter has been hiding outside of Ukraine for a long time and has been accused by NABU and SAP for a record-breaking $5 million bribe in the history of our country.

At the same time, the same VRP excoriated the judge of the Solomian court for ruling in the interests of Zlochevskyi. NABU published data that such a decision of the VRP could cost 50 thousand dollars. According to NABU, these decisions of the VRP could take place, in particular, due to the close ties of Zlochevskyi's lawyers with the former member of the VRP Pavel Grechkivskyi.

Pavel Grechkivskyi
Pavel Grechkivskyi

Among those who want to take revenge on honest judges, there may be unscrupulous lawyers who "could not come to an agreement" or fellow judges who were not satisfied.

It should also be understood that as a result of the review of the complaint, the judge may be reprimanded, which will be reflected on his salary, suspended from work or even disgracefully dismissed without the huge benefits that a retired judge receives.

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