The Slovenian judiciary was shocked by a new court scandal, which supposedly brought to light the “cowboy” manners of some Slovenian judges. It is known that the President of the Court has no legal basis for confiscating a legal file or even interfering in a trial of any judge. The latter is certainly obliged to resist any such order, as this is illegal. Namely, judges are independent in their work and protected by Article 125 of the Slovenian Constitution. And this is also what the Judicial Council unanimously decided after a judge filed a complaint, saying that the President of the District Court dared to interfere in her independence in her professional work.
However, in its decision, which clearly stated that both the law and the Constitution had been violated, the Judicial Council chose to not reveal was the judge in question and who was her boss in the court, who is also the person who broke the law. However, the circumstances of the case clearly indicate that this concerns judge Ana Testen and the President of the District Court in Ljubljana, Marjan Pogačnik. The fact is that Testen was forced to leave her job at the Ljubljana District Court. Namely, Pogačnik assigned her to a position at the District Court in Kamnik without explaining his decision to her in writing. However, as it is now known, there was no actual shortage of staff in Kamnik, SIOL reports.
The decision was probably censored by the Supreme Court Judge Erik Kerševan due to an unreasonable law concerning data protection and privacy. That is why it is still not officially clear who acted illegally and unconstitutionally and why the name of the judge in whose work her boss interfered is also still hidden. The unlawful conduct of the head of the court should certainly not be a matter of privacy, and therefore, the names should also not be hidden from the public. It is known that Pogačnik called the aforementioned judge and the head of the criminal department at his court, Deja Kozjek, to his office in October. The case in question allegedly referred to the official note of the police officer Rok M., who works in Grosuplje.
Namely, the police officer approached Pogačnik in connection with the alleged inappropriate behaviour of the judge when he and his colleagues were conducting a house search. He stated that the judge was in a bar not far away, where she was commenting on the investigation that the police officer and his colleagues were conducting. It was also said that she was in the bar because of a private matter, and not as an official, and in her private conversations, she allegedly revealed that many mistakes were made in their work and that the work of the police officer in question, as well as that of his colleagues in this investigation, was unprofessional.
Pogačnik was allegedly ordered to revoke his disputed decision by order of the Judicial Council
Pogačnik allegedly decided to take action against the judge due to the alleged wrongful conduct. According to the allegations, he did not even allow her to speak or present her version of the events. At the same time, Pogačnik took away all of her cases without any written order and told her that she should cancel all hearings that had already been called. When the judge returned to her workplace, boxes were waiting for her there. She was forced to file her court files in them, which were then allegedly assigned to other judges. In any case, the reassignment was extremely unusual, and Pogačnik was allegedly forced to cancel it by the order of the Judicial Council.
When asked about the decision of the Judicial Council and the expected rectification of the aforementioned violations by the President of the District Court, Pogačnik, the District Court sent us the following answer: “Regarding the question you addressed to the District Court in Ljubljana on the 10th of March 2021, the answer is that based on the minutes of the 59th session of the Judicial Council of the Republic of Slovenia, dated the 4th of March 2021, written in anonymised form, the President of the District Court, Senior Judge Marjan Pogačnik, has been informed of the content of the 11th resolution of the said minutes, which explains the findings you also mentioned in your question. The President of the Court expects the Judicial Council of the Republic of Slovenia to provide a substantive explanation of the adopted position, which can be the basis for possible further decisions.”
Former judge Zvjezdan Radonjić called Pogačnik a member of UDBAmafia
“We would also like to point out that according to the available information, an administrative dispute has been initiated before the Administrative Court, regarding a substantively identical issue, and that the decision, once adopted, may represent a further direction or limitation of the President of the Court’s competence to adopt the annual work schedules for the judges. In view of the above and the fact that this is an anonymised record of the Judicial Council of the Republic of Slovenia and given the position we have adopted, we cannot provide any further answers and explanations for your questions at this time.”
In the past, former judge Zvjezdan Radonjić already pointed out the alleged unprofessionalism of judge Pogačnik and also called him a member of the UDBAmafia. “I called him that because that is what he is. He did not sue me. He will calmly wait to be re-elected, and in the future, he will continue to do whatever he wants. Why would he put his position at risk by engaging in unnecessary controversy with me, since practically nothing happens just because of my words.” According to the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia, our country is a democratic republic, a state governed by the rule of law, and a social state. If this were to also apply in practice, then the independent judiciary should represent the indisputable foundation of the rule of law.
Pogačnik ignored the inadmissible pressures in the case of Milko Novič
Sadly, that is not the case in Slovenia, as judge Radonjić, who acquitted Milko Novič, Ph.D., in the case of the murder of Janko Jamnik, the director of the National Institute of Chemistry, was later criticised and punished because he dared speak about the inadmissible pressures that were put on him by certain people, who wanted him to convict Novič. Instead of this being a warning sign for the President of the District Court Pogačnik and the judiciary as a whole, Radonjić is now supposedly the problem. On the 5th of September this year, Pogačnik filed a complaint against judge Radonjić, on suspicion of committing several disciplinary violations under the Judicial Service Act, to the disciplinary prosecutor at the Judicial Council to initiate disciplinary proceedings.