Examination of a disciplinary complaint

The High Council of Justice is authorized to start disciplinary proceedings against any judge of Georgian common courts, and on any ground prescribed by law.

The following organs are also authorized to commence disciplinary proceedings against a judge (except for on the ground of commission of a gross violation of law): Chair or acting Chair of the Supreme Court of Georgia – in relation to judges of the Supreme Court, appeals courts and district (town) courts; a chair or an acting chair of an appeals court – in relation to a judge of the respective appeals court or a judge of a common court located within the territorial jurisdiction of the respective appeals court.

A reason for commencing disciplinary proceedings

Disciplinary proceedings may be commenced against a judges for the following reasons:

(a) any person’s application or complaint, except for anonymous applications or complaints;

(b) an official report of another judge, court or a servant of the High Council of Justice about the commission of disciplinary misconduct by a judge;

(c) a private order or other judicial act of a higher court finding gross violation of law by a judge in the course of discharging judicial powers;

(d) a notification from an investigator or a prosecutor;

(e) a private resolution (order) of another judge or court concerning the existence of a well-founded belief that a judge has committed disciplinary misconduct;

(f) information spread by the mass media about the commission of conduct by a judge that may be deemed to constitute disciplinary misconduct;

(g) a recommendation of the Disciplinary Panel to initiate disciplinary prosecution against a judge based on a new ground.

Time frames

Within 2 months after an application, a complaint or other information about alleged commission of disciplinary misconduct by a judge, the body or the official in charge of disciplinary proceedings pre-checks reasonableness of the application, complaint or the information.

The time frame of a pre-checking procedure may be extended for 2 weeks.

If pre-checking is impossible, the flow of the pre-checking term may be suspended.

Proceedings in a disciplinary case will be suspended if:

(a) Materials of examination of a disciplinary case clearly point to commission of a crime by a judge in which case materials of the disciplinary case will be forwarded to an investigatory authority;

(b) An objective difficulty or obstacle rendering the examination of the case temporarily impossible (such as illness of the judge subject to the disciplinary review or some other circumstance) has occurred in the course of examination of the disciplinary case. Wherever this is the case, the relevant authorized body or official will issue a resolution (decision) suspending disciplinary proceedings in the case. When the reasons based on which the proceedings have been suspended are eliminated, the authorized body or official is obliged to renew the proceedings in the case.

(c) Materials of examination of a disciplinary case clearly point to gross violation of law by a judge in the course of performance of judicial powers. Whenever this is the case, disciplinary proceedings will be suspended until a higher court makes a decision on this matter or the decision of the court becomes final.

Termination of disciplinary proceedings

Through the pre-checking procedure, the authorized body evaluates validity of reasons to commence disciplinary proceedings. The authorized body will decide to terminate disciplinary proceedings against a judge if

(a) as a result of having examined the disciplinary case, the fact of commission of disciplinary misconduct envisaged by this Law, or its culpable commission, is not confirmed;

(c) based on the forwarded materials, criminal prosecution has been commenced against the judge;

(d) the judge’s official tenure has been terminated.

A decision of the Secretary of the High Council of Justice terminating disciplinary proceedings in a case is subject to approval by the High Council of Justice.

Measures of disciplinary effect

A private recommendation letter

If, as a result of the pre-checking of the reasonableness of commencing disciplinary proceedings or the examination of a disciplinary case materials, it is ascertained without any doubt that a judge committed disciplinary misconduct which will be considered imprudent to pursue with holding the judge liable under disciplinary rule, the authorized body or official is empowered to terminate the disciplinary proceedings and address the judge with a private recommendation letter.

Requesting a judge to provide explanation

Through the pre-checking procedure, the Secretary of the High Council of Justice evaluates reasonableness of commencing disciplinary prosecution against a judge and decides to request explanation from the judge in question (also, if the High Council of Justice does not approve the decision of the Secretary of the High Council of Justice terminating disciplinary proceedings in a case, the Secretary of the Council will renew disciplinary prosecution in the case and decide to request explanation from the judge under review).

If it is decided to request explanation from a judge, the examination of the disciplinary case must be completed within 1 month after the decision to request explanation from the judge has been made. Where necessary, this period may be extended for no more than 2 weeks.

A decision to request explanation from a judge must immediately be notified to a body or official authorized to commence disciplinary proceedings against the judge for the same misconduct. If two or more authorized bodies or officials have already started disciplinary proceedings about the same fact, the body or the official who was earlier to start the proceedings will continue pursuing the case.

After the examination of a disciplinary case has been completed, the Secretary of the High Council of Justice will address the High Council of Justice with a recommendation to hold the judge liable under disciplinary rule.

A judge may be held liable under disciplinary rule also based on grounds, which have not been indicated in the application, complaint or other information concerning the commission of disciplinary misconduct by the judge but which have been revealed during the pre-checking procedure.