The suspension of Judge Radonjić and reassignment of his court cases is a major scandal and a blow to the rule of law

Miodrag Đorđević (Photo: STA)

All current cases which were previously assigned to Judge Radonjić will be reassigned. However, the Court Rules do not stipulate for the option of reassignment of the file due to suspension (which is a temporary measure by its nature). The possible reasons for reassignment are overburdening, prolonged absence, or the dismissal of a judge,” lawyer Blaž Kovačič Mlinar commented of the suspension of Judge Zvjezdan Radonjić and the reassignment of his 60 court cases to other judges, who will, therefore, have to restart the trials of all the cases. As the Court Rules do not stipulate for the reassignment of cases due to suspension, there is the possible danger of the Slovenian taxpayers having to pay for the unprofessional decisions of the judiciary once again.

In recent days, the suspension of Judge Zvjezdan Radonjić has caused quite a stir in the Slovenian public. The suspension has resulted in the reassignment of his cases to other judges, and thus, the restarting of some cases before the District Court of Ljubljana that have practically been completed before the reassignment. This is a hitherto unknown practice (there has only been one case similar to this one beforehand), as it is not even defined in the Court Rules, lawyer Blaž Kovačič Mlinar warns, but it seems that Judge Radonjić is such a big thorn in the side of the judicial elite, that they are even willing to violate the judicial norms in order to remove him from his position.

As lawyer Kovačič Mlinar wrote, the Court Rules do not stipulate for the option of reassignment of the file due to suspension, which is a temporary measure by its nature. The possible reasons for reassignment, according to the Court Rules, are overburdening, prolonged absence, or the dismissal of a judge

Will the court stop the controversial decision?
The lawyer’s remark thus already indicates that the Slovenian taxpayers will once again have to pay the costs of the judicial errors if Judge Radonjić decides to seek justice in court. Prime Minister Janez Janša has also responded to this news, writing that the case in question is a major scandal and a mockery of the rule of law, a mockery of justice. “A great injustice has also been inflicted on all those who will have to repeat the hearings that have already taken place. We will do everything in our power to prevent the self-proclaimed clique in the judiciary from burying Slovenia with its totalitarian tactics,” the Slovenian Prime Minister wrote.

This suspension hurt not only Radonjić but also all of the participants in the cases that were assigned to him. Many people, some perhaps even wrongfully accused, will have to go through the painful processes again, and some may be worse off because of it.

You can read the official explanation for Radonjić’s suspension here:

“On August 12th, I received the decision on my suspension, which was sent from the Supreme Court of Slovenia, signed by Miodrag Đorđević, stating that the suspension starts on August 13th. I have also been banned from going to court, along with other restrictive measures. This confirms all of the previous statements that I have made in public. To all this, to the consequences that I have explained in the previous issue of Demokracija, we can now add this suspension as well. Personally, I even expected it to come a little sooner, so I cannot say I am surprised, but I have to correct a statement I made, my conclusion was that this was all about protecting some 50, 60-year-old interests, which should be continued, according to the communist method of work. Now I would like to correct the statement I made: this is more reminiscent of the Stone Age, that is, of the times which happened much earlier, when this idea took hold. These people are basically living in the Stone Age. They are completely convinced of their own omnipotence and believe no one can touch them. 

The suspension was introduced precisely because of the disciplinary proceedings which are underway. These have been going on for two years now, but the suspension came with a bit of a delay. Of course, this is all the result of the trial in the Novič case, which did not go according to their wishes, where a completely innocent person was supposed to be convicted, in order to protect their employers. I expect the suspension to last at least until my decision to leave the judiciary on March 31st, 2021. If you were to read the expert opinion, you would find on pages 13, 14, that I am basically incapable of participating in the disciplinary proceedings, except for the fact that a defence counsel is appointed to me ex officio, without whom I cannot participate. However, my ex-officio defence counsel has still not been appointed, and now I am waiting for that decision to happen. Then the counsel has to study the files, and then he will probably enforce the removal of the presiding judge and the disciplinary prosecutor, after which everything will only be able to start when it will already be too late. This is what makes the suspension pointless.

I basically do not even have a problem with the suspension, because, despite the fact that I will only be getting 60 percent of my salary, I can work on some other things and prepare for my new job during this time. However, I was particularly surprised by the fact that they were bothered by the public letters, that is, what was published in the newspaper Demokracija and other similar newspapers, but they were not bothered by what was published in the newspapers Dnevnik, Mladina, and Večer. No one who published in those newspapers is in any kind of proceedings – including the president of the District Court, Marjan Pogačnik, and some other judges, who constantly talked to their journalists and fed them fresh information, on the basis of which my reputation was repeatedly smeared; of course, that is not enough for the introduction of any procedure. Namely, the judiciary still explicitly represents only the left-wing positions, while, for everything that has been said and published on the right, it demands the introduction of disciplinary proceedings and suspensions. That is, they are the slaves to a doctrine they will never get rid of.

I would also like to cite another quote from the decision on my suspension, which I find particularly interesting, namely “the violation of judicial duty is also related to the fact that I professionally discredited the president of the Ljubljana District Court, Marjan Pogačnik, and important institutions of the judicial system.” Thus, even before the introduction of the disciplinary proceedings, in which this is yet to be established, they have decided that I have already discredited these people, so they had already made their judgement in this case, and Miodrag Đorđević has already ruled on how the disciplinary proceedings would end in a year or two. If this was not the case, they would have chosen another form of expression, for example, instead of stating that I professionally discredited the president, they could have said that I personally discredited him, or that it was likely that I have or that I have perhaps discredited him personally, etc. This still testifies to their totalitarian forms, which they somehow inherited from the Stone Age, way before the left got involved in the whole affair.”

Radonjić did not keep quiet about the judiciary in public
A top Slovenian legal expert, former President of the Third Chamber at the European Court of Human Rights, Boštjan M. Zupančič, has also spoken about Radonjić, his suspension, and the problems with the “pantocrators” of the Slovenian judiciary. In one interview, he praised Radonjić’s interview for the national television (such interviews are supposed to be, to put it simply, the indirect reason for his suspension).

Those who are defending the official explanation for Radonjić’s suspension will surely try to deny the hypothesis that he was suspended because he stepped on the toes of the aforementioned “pantocrators” who have no interest in the judges acting autonomously, which is what Judge Radonjić has undoubtedly been doing, especially in the Novič case. The defenders of the official explanation will claim that this is all just a conspiracy theory. This hypothesis may seem hyperbolized to some at first glance, but if you were to talk about it with certain Slovenian legal experts unofficially, many would agree with it.

Aleš Ernecl