Nova24TV English

Slovenian News In ENGLISH

Confrontation at the Supreme Court – Judges Đorđević and Florjančič Against Judge Zobec

Supreme Court Judge Jan Zobec has found himself in a confrontation with the Vice President of the Supreme Court, Judge Miodrag Đorđević, and President of the Supreme Court, Judge Damijan Florjančič. What the latter two found problematic is the interview that Zobec had for the Siol web portal. The duo has submitted an initiative to the Ethics and Integrity Commission of the Judicial Council to adopt an opinion on the conduct of Supreme Court Judge Jan Zobec. “The independence of judges is not threatened by the executive or the legislature but is threatened and even degraded by the management structure of the judiciary itself,” Zobec commented on the case after the commission accepted the initiative of the two aforementioned judges.

In an interview in early February, Supreme Court Judge Jan Zobec said that regarding the matter of Supreme Court Judge Branko Masleša‘s education, doubts still remain because Judge Masleša has still not shown anyone a certificate of passing the state legal exam, which would be in accordance with the State Legal Exam Act of the Republic of Slovenia. “He should have submitted this certificate, but he did not,” Zobec was clear, adding that Masleša did not have the postulate ability to appear before the Supreme Court. “Even as a client in his own matter, the door to the Supreme Court is closed to him. He, who, even in his own name, could not appeal to the Supreme Court, is at the same time still a Supreme Court Judge, who decides on these legal remedies.”

According to judges Miodrag Đorđević and Damijan Florjančič, Zobec’s statements brought up the question of the ethics of judges’ public expressing regarding their colleagues and, consequently, the question of protecting the reputation of the judiciary. According to them, it is also a question of whether such a way of communicating – by directly addressing the media – corresponds to the guidelines for mutual communication and public expression of judges on the functioning of the judiciary. They wrote that “a judge is expected to show appropriate loyalty, restraint and discretion towards his fellow judges and their work in a critical dialogue on issues related to the functioning of the judiciary.”

This is something that the history of the civilised world has never seen before
In his response to the complaint submitted to the Ethics Commission, Zobec explained to the Siol web portal that the President and Vice-President of the Supreme Court are demanding his conviction, even though he publicly expressed a legal position, “which is nothing more than a repetition of the position that the same court, the highest court in our country, has adopted in two separate decisions, from which it has not yet withdrawn.” However, since, according to Zobec, this position is not in line with current interests, the two judges decided to file a complaint against the person who said it with the Ethics Commission and demand a conviction. “Instead of the power of argument, we are faced with the argument of power. And in the most brutal and degrading way for the heart of the idea of the rule of law. This is something that the history of the civilised world has never seen before. At least I do not remember anything like that ever happening before,” Zobec critically pointed out.

According to Zobec, the actions of the two judges, in the context of the aggression of the totalitarian autocracy against the democratic neighbouring country, are gaining frightening proportions. He is convinced that everyone’s alarms should be ringing right now – not only the judges’ but also the alarms of every democratically oriented and thoughtful citizen. “All politics – left and right, should resolutely oppose this. And on the other hand, this conduct only confirms what some lawyers have been pointing out for a long time, namely, the autocracy of the leadership structure of the Slovenian judiciary and the escalation of this authoritarianism.” Zobec then said that, despite everything, he remains an optimist and that even sceptics will come to the realisation that the independence of judges is not only threatened by the executive or the legislature but also by the governing structure of the judiciary itself. “I hope that everyone who elected or confirmed the current governing structure – those in the Judicial Council in the National Assembly, and elsewhere, are feeling embarrassed.”

Will Zobec even be able to lecture?
In light of what is going on, Zobec asked the ethics commission whether he could even hold a lecture at the judge’s school, where he intends to lecture next month on the very topic for which Florjančič and Đorđević are persecuting him. “The question is whether the judge has the right to a different legal position than that taken in the unsubstantiated claim of the proponents. Do I have to cancel the announced lecture and inform the school organiser, the registered participants, and especially the respondent, who will, following the example of lectures from abroad, take and present the opposite position from mine. The question is also whether I can build further arguments on this argument, which is allegedly controversial, even though it was taken by the Supreme Court, and whether I can test this position with a test, developed by the European Court of Human Rights, on the protection of the right to a trial in a court established by law,” Zobec wrote, adding that he hopes to receive an answer as soon as possible, as the judicial school will already begin next month.

Sara Kovač

Share on social media