The High Council of Justice (HCoJ), the body overseeing the judiciary, named six candidates of the Supreme Court judges through secret ballot held on December 26. The candidates should now be submitted to the Parliament of Georgia for approval.
As part of the competition announced in May 2019, the High Council of Justice planned to fill 20 vacancies of the Supreme Court judicial candidates, but the Parliament elected only 14 judges during its December 12 plenary session.
The HCoJ selected incumbent judges of the Tbilisi Court of Appeals – Nino Sandodze, Giorgi Tkavadze, Ilona Todua, Tea Dzimistarashvili, Genadi Makaridze and Paata Silagadze – to fill the remaining vacant positions.
The judicial candidates were selected among those applicants with whom the HCoJ held public interviews in July and August. In addition, Paata Silagadze’s nominee, who failed to gain support during the Parliament’s December 12 session, will be submitted to the legislature again.
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The Parliament’s Legal Issues Committee will hold committee hearings with selected candidates after which the Parliament’s plenary session will hold a voting.
To be appointed in the Supreme Court, a candidate needs the support of the majority of lawmakers. If approved, the elected candidates will become the Supreme Court judges for lifetime tenure.
The process of selection of the Supreme Court judicial candidates was marred by strong criticism from the opposition and civil society organizations, accusing the ruling Georgian Dream party of making a deal with influential groups of judges and exerting influence on the judiciary.
Parliament’s selection of 14 judges of the Supreme Court also triggered criticism from the European Union and the United States.
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The position of the Supreme Court Chair has been vacant since August 2018.
According to the law, the High Council of Justice will submit the candidates of the Supreme Court Chair to the Parliament from among incumbent judges of the court.
It is unknown so far when the HCoJ plans to submit the candidates of the Supreme Court Chair to the Parliament.