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Transparency in the Work of Judicial Councils: The Experience of (East) European Countries

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For more content, see Review of Socialist Law.

In many countries of Europe, including especially its Eastern part, in the 21st century judicial councils have replaced ministries of justice as the bodies that manage judicial careers and govern the judiciary. This model may enhance the autonomy of the judicial branch but also weaken its accountability and lead to judicial corporatism. One way to counter the negative trends is to enhance public accountability of judicial councils, by making the work of councils is open and visible. Not surprisingly, judicial reformers have made transparency into a key criterion for a successful judicial council, leading many countries to promote transparency in their judicial councils. This article evaluates this trend−by (1) providing cases studies of four judicial councils, those of Italy, Poland, Moldova, and Latvia; and (2) comparing the work of empowered judicial councils throughout Europe with regard to the openness of judicial disciplinary hearings and public sessions of judicial councils themselves. On this basis I argue that while legal requirements for transparency are becoming the norm, they do not necessarily make the work of judicial councils open, let alone produce public accountability. This outcome requires as well a genuine commitment of council members and staff to transparency arrangements, the cessation of resistance to such arrangements, and the provision of money and staff to support them.

Affiliations: 1: University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, <>


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