Selection of Supreme Court judge candidates: What people in Georgia know and think about the process
The selection process was generally critically received, despite positive assessments of the live-streaming of interviews. The OSCE/ODIHR assessed the Supreme Court judge candidate selection process as “lacking transparency and accountability despite some positive measures to build public trust in the judiciary”. The Coalition for an Independent and Transparency Judiciary was also critical of the process as well as the regulatory framework, which “allowed the formation of a list of candidates suiting the interests of the dominant group of judges and the ruling party”.
What does the public in Georgia know about the process and what is their attitude towards the selection of Supreme Court candidates and judicial institutions? A phone survey conducted on September 5-11, 2019 suggests that people in Georgia are divided in their trust towards judicial institutions, are not knowledgeable about the process, have little trust in it, and largely have not heard of the selected candidates.
Generally, thepublic is divided in whether they trust the High Council of Justice, Supreme Court, and the court system in general. About half of the public trusts and distrusts each of these institutions.
The public is also divided in terms of awareness of the selection process of Supreme Court candidates. Approximately half of the Georgian-speaking adult population (54%) has heard of the selection process of Supreme Court candidates. However, their attitude to it is not particularly positive, as about half of those who have heard about the selection do not trust the process (53%). Similarly, almost half of those who heard about the selection process, say the selection was not unbiased (48%).
The survey asked respondents to share their first association regarding the selection of the Supreme Court candidates. The majority (64%) did not have any association, responding don’t know. Of those who shared their view, there were both positive and negative associations as well as neutral ones. However, negative attitudes predominated. Overall, 3% of respondents reported a positive word, 20%reported a negative association and 10% of responses were neutral. The top three associations were that “appointment should not be lifetime” (6%), “insecurity” (3%), and “distrust” (2%). Positive associations included “hope” (1%), “the process is going in a good direction” (0.6%), and “fair court”. Some of the negative associations were: “negative attitude” (2%), “unfairness” (1%), and “clan” (1%).
After the long selection process, the High Council of Justice finalized the list of 20 candidates to be submitted to the Parliament. The survey asked about whether each candidate should or should not be appointed as a Supreme Court judge. The majority of people in Georgia (over 60% for most candidates) reported that they have not heard of the candidate. Attitudes were most approving of appointment towards: Shalva Tadumadze, Prosecutor General (14% of the population approve of his appointment), Giorgi Mikautadze, Secretary of the High Council of Justice (13% of the population approve of his appointment), and Shota Getsadze, judge of the Tbilisi Court of Appeals (10% of the population approve of his appointment).
About one fifth of the adult Georgian-speaking population (19%) says appointment of these 20 candidates will improve justice in the country. The same share (19%) says the state of justice will get worse. About a third (29%) believe it will stay the same.
Considering the knowledge of the population about the selection process and their attitude to it, it may not be surprising that only 1% of the Georgian-speaking adult population considered it one of the most important events of the summer. [Note: Respondents were not prompted of the events. There was a pre-compiled list for phone operators to mark answers quickly. Several options were added to the list of events after the pilot.] The top five events named during the survey were:
- The devaluation of Georgian Lari,
- Dissolution of the June 20 rally;
- Further moving the administrative boundary line in the Samachablo/South Ossetia region
- The protest rallies “It’s a shame” and;
- Gavrilov’s visit to Parliament.
More than a quarter of people responded “Don’t know” to the question or refused to answer altogether. There were non-relevant answers as well, such as “good weather” and “lack of water and electricity”, etc.
Overall, the public is divided in their trust towards judicial institutions. More than half of the population has heard of the Supreme Court judge selection process, though few find it to be among the most important events over the summer. Among those that are aware of the selection process, attitudes are more negative than positive. A majority of people in Georgia have never heard about the candidates.
Note: This blog post has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of CRRC-Georgia, EMC and IDFI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.
On September 5-11, 2019, within the EU-funded project “Facilitating Implementation of Reforms in the Judiciary (FAIR)”, CRRC-Georgia conducted a phone survey to find out people’s knowledge and attitude about the Supreme Court judge selection process. The survey resulted in 867 completed interviews, and is representative of the adult Georgian-speaking population of the country. The average margin of error of the survey is 2.2%.
Three months before the 2016 Parliamentary elections: Trust in the Central Election Commission and election observers in GeorgiaThe June 2016 CRRC/NDI Public attitudes in Georgia survey, conducted three months before the Parliamentary elections, provides interesting information about trust in the Central Election Commission (CEC) and election observers, both local and international.
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%.
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?