The supreme court did not take very kindly to last week’s criticism by the president of the Bar Association about procedures it followed for the recruitment of new judges. It issued an announcement last Friday responding to this criticism, which it said, “does not reflect in any way the reality”.
It had no choice but to respond considering the president of the Bar Association, Doros Ioannides, had written to President Anastasiades alleging that the recruitment procedure for judges was unfair.
“The best (lawyers) avoid submitting candidacies because it has been imprinted in the minds of all lawyers that they will not be treated fairly,” said Ioannides in his letter, in a clear dig at the supreme court judges who make up the supreme council of judicature that appoints judges.
He had also argued that the supreme council should have waited until the new laws governing the appointment of judges had been approved by the legislature, instead of hiring 13 new judges using the old methods. This may cast a shadow over the appointments, but if there was a need for new judges, perhaps the supreme court decided it could not wait until bills had been discussed and approved by legislature as this may have taken many months.
Things were not helped by the fact the offspring of a supreme court judge was one of the candidates. This may have been the best candidate on the list, but people would be more likely to conclude that that the appointment added substance to Ioannides’ claim that the recruitment procedure was unfair. Perhaps Ioannides should have been urged by the supreme court to substantiate his claims.
Instead the supreme court took the line that it should be above criticism. “Having the procedures continuously attacked, does not serve the best interests of justice and does not surround with confidence the choices made by the supreme council of judicature, and in the final analysis, hurts the confidence of the public in institutions.” It is as if the supreme court has no responsibility to earn the confidence of the public through its actions and decisions, especially after all the controversies of last year which shook people’s faith in the judiciary.
Confidence in institutions like the courts will not be restored by decree or by the wave of a magic wand. It has to be won through actions that are seen to be fair and objective, not by complaining when the judges are criticised.