Perceptions of prosecutors’ and judges’ wheelings and dealings
On January 19th, 2019 the Rustavi 2 TV channel broadcast an investigative documentary Studio Monitor and Radio Liberty produced. The documentary “Judges in the Government’s Service” followed up on the government’s attempted confiscation of Constanta Bank from its founders in 2011. It further hinted at alleged misconduct by the prosecutors and judges.
Between January 28 and February 4, 2019 CRRC-Georgia conducted a follow-up phone survey to find out whether and how the public viewed the documentary. The survey asked about a number of issues presented in the documentary including:
- If people knew that the Department to Investigate Offenses Committed in the Course of Legal Proceedings existed in the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia;
- Generally, in their opinion, how likely it was that the Prosecutor’s Office effectively prosecuted representatives of the justice system (judges, prosecutors) if it found they had committed offences in the course of legal proceedings;
- How frequent or rare cases of judges in Georgia making deals with the government to have decisions favorable for them are;
- If they could recall a specific, recent case of government representatives seizing property from private individuals.
The phone survey resulted in 804 completed interviews. Its results are representative of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country. The average margin of error of the survey is 2.6%. Results discussed in this blog are based on all completed interviews (804) and are weighted to the demographic characteristics of the population.
The documentary was broadcast on Rustavi 2 and shared on the websites and social media pages of Radio Liberty and Studio Monitor. Only 3% of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country reported watching the film. Most of them (66%) saw it on Rustavi 2. Most respondents that saw the film (54%) found it convincing.
A small share of the public had heard of the Department to Investigate Offenses Committed in the Course of Legal proceedings. Only 12% of the adult Georgian-speaking population had heard that a special department was established at the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia to investigate offences committed in the course of legal proceedings. A large majority (87%) did not know about it.
People are often uncertain about the Prosecutor’s Office serving as a neutral actor in relation to the judiciary. About a quarter (26%) said it was fully likely or more likely than unlikely that the Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted judges and prosecutors if it found that they had committed offences in the course of legal proceedings. About the same share (27%) reported that it was more unlikely than not or entirely unlikely that the Prosecutor’s Office effectively prosecuted representatives of the justice system. For the most part, people found it hard to respond to this question and the most frequent response was ‘Don’t know’ (46%). One percent of respondents refused to answer the question.
As for judges making deals with the government, about a third (30%) of the population reported that in their opinion it was frequent, 27% said it was rare, and only 6% responded that it was never the case. A plurality (37%) could not answer the question.
Few people can recall a case of the government seizing private property. Respondents were asked to recall a specific, recent case of a government representative seizing property from private individuals. Only 1% could. Respondents generally said they did not know (49%), they could not recall a specific case (46%), or refused to answer the question (4%). Only a few people named specific cases. Those that did pointed to the Omega case, TBC Bank case, and Anzor Kokoladze case.
Overall, the data suggests a small share of the public is aware of the Prosecutor’s Office’s department for investigating crimes committed during legal proceedings. They are also generally uncertain about how the Prosecutor’s Office would deal with issues in the judiciary.
The phone survey conducted in January 28-February 4, 2019 resulted in 804 completed interviews. Its results are representative of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country. The average margin of error of the survey is 2.6%. They survey is part of the “Promoting Prosecutorial Independence through Monitoring and Engagement (PrIME)” project funded by the European Union.
This blog post has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of CRRC-Georgia and IDFI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.
On December 1-13, 2016, CRRC-Georgia asked the population of Georgia about their New Year’s plans. Unsurprisingly, people mostly follow established traditions. A large majority (73%) plan to ring in the New Year at home. Nine per cent will meet it in a friend’s or a relative’s home. Meeting the New Year in the street or in a restaurant or a café is not yet common, and only one per cent of people in Georgia plan to do so. Another 15% had not decided in the first half of December where they would celebrate the New Year.
In early December 2017, two schoolchildren were killed on Khorava Street in Tbilisi. On May 31st, 2018, Tbilisi City Court announced the decision on the Khorava Street murder case. The announcement caused mass demonstrations led by Zaza Saralidze, a father of one of the murdered children.On June 19-26, 2018, within the EU-funded project “Facilitating Implementation of Reforms in the Judiciary (FAIR)”, CRRC-Georgia conducted a phone survey on people’s knowledge about the Court decision and their evaluation. The survey resulted in 1005 completed interviews, and is representative of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country. The average margin of error of the survey is 2.8%.
Selection of Supreme Court judge candidates: What people in Georgia know and think about the processFollowing the constitutional amendments and changes to the organic law of Georgia on common courts, the minimum number of judges at the Supreme Court increased to 28. At the same time, 10-year appointments were changed to lifetime tenures, and the High Council of Justice was given the authority to nominate candidates for parliamentary appointment. Following these changes, the High Council of Justice started the selection of Supreme Court judge candidates and in the beginning of September 2019 provided a list of 20 candidates to be submitted to the Parliament of Georgia for approval. Interviews with candidates were live streamed and the process enjoyed wide media coverage.
Survey experiment: more than a quarter of people in Georgia think that Prosecutor’s Office fulfills its duties non-objectivelySeveral blog posts (see here and here) on Social Science in the South Caucasus have shown that the population of Georgia is split in their views of the Prosecutor’s Office (PO). In the phone survey held in March 2019, carried out for the Promoting Prosecutorial Independence through Monitoring and Engagement (PrIME) project funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information, CRRC-Georgia carried out a survey experiment to better understand under what circumstances people trust and do not trust the Prosecutor’s Office.
But, what does the public in Georgia know about the process of appointment of the Supreme Court Justices, and what is their attitude towards the newly appointed justices and judicial institutions? A phone survey conducted on January 30 - February 10, 2020 suggests that people in Georgia are divided between trusting and distrusting judicial institutions...
On March 4-23, 2020, CRRC-Georgia conducted a phone survey to find out attitudes towards the prosecutor’s office and whether people watched the film. The survey specifically focused on:
- How much people trust or distrust the Prosecutors Office of Georgia;
- How often people think prosecutors abuse power and make deals with judges or government;
- To what extent the restoration of justice investigations were accomplished.
The Georgian public has been in a near-perpetual state of shock in recent years over a stream of high-profile criminal cases. In many of these, the impartiality and effectiveness of the Prosecutor’s Office has come into question, but what do people really think about this vital institution?