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Pros and Cons of Draft Legislation on Jury System

27.06.2008
Shorena Kakabadze, Kutaisi

“Generally the draft law of the Georgian Criminal Procedural Code deserves to be viewed in positive light. It is an attempt to finally establish a fair and actual  judiciary system in Georgia,” stated Georgian lawyers about the new draft law dealing with the Georgian Criminal Procedural Code.

Previous Georgian parliament passed the draft law after two sessions. If the draft law is passed at the third session too it will be finally put in practice. According to the innovation, a new institute-a Jury system will start working in Georgia.

“Of course the innovation is completely acceptable and a new institute, pre-trial investigation will be established in our country. However, there is no final position what sort of institute it will be in the final analysis. Several variants are discussed, and these are based on the current version; a person is authorized serve on a jury if s/he knows the language of Criminal Procedural Law; lives in the territory under the authority of the court, provided if that person is not physically or psychologically disabled to the degree that would prevent the jury member from implementing his/her responsibility,” stated Giorgi Chikaberidze, lawyer for the Kutaisi organization of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association.

The jury system is an appropriated method among leading countries of the world, and as lawyers define, it is can have only bring about positive results. Nana Chapidze, the lawyer for the Human Rights Center’s Kutaisi office thinks that “the institute of jury aims to implement the public justice when ordinary people, the jury members, also participate in decision-making process in addition to the judge. The jury hears the statements of defendant and petitioners, is present during the processes when evidence is introduced and participates in its assessment. It is the members of the jury that finally passes the decision of guilt or innocence based on the presented evidence and arguments.”

According to transitive resolutions in the draft law the institute of jury will work only in Tbilisi city courts before January 1, 2010 and will discuss all criminal cases envisaged under the Article 109 of the Criminal Code.

Apart from the positive features of the draft law, lawyers draw their attention to some negative points. “In fact the draft law introduces the institute of discretion persecution of the prosecutor; that means according to the article 22 while making the decision regarding launching or ceasing a criminal case, the prosecutor does have discretionary authority. In general, everything is open to discussion and is acceptable. However, questions still remain. It is doubtful how the innovation will succeed because there must be some normative protocol enacted at least by the Prosecutor General that would envisage the criteria for opening a prosecution. Moreover, the innovation might become grounds for selective justice and even open the door for corruption,” said Giorgi Chikaberidze.

Lawyers consider that the Article 22 actually increases the authority of the prosecutor. “Based on the authority given, the prosecutor’s office becomes even stronger than it is today.  Much will now depend on the personality of the prosecutor. It is difficult to claim whether the draft law will succeed in the Georgian reality or not. According to the draft law, the Criminal Procedure Code will establish discretionary authority of the prosecutor to launch a criminal prosecution or not, which T means that is left up to the prosecutor the right to launching an investigation. But if the prosecutor considers that the criminal persecution should not be launched; his/her refusal shall not be appealed to a court of law. Establishment of the innovation will reinforce the responsibilities of the prosecutor’s office and it will cause skepticism towards the new draft law,” stated Nana Chapidze.

As soon as the draft law is passed through and made operational, the positive and negative impacts will be self-evident, as well as its overall impact on the Georgian judiciary system. However, introduction of positive amendments into it at the third hearing of the draftlaw at the parliament will finally bring about many positive results. .

 

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