CRRC-Georgia’s report The Judicial System in Georgia: Views of Legal Professionals was published on 11 July, 2016. The report details the results of a baseline study for the USAID-funded project Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia (PROLoG) implemented by East-West Management Institute (EWMI). The study evaluated how the following aspects of the justice system are seen by judges, prosecutors and private, NGO and Legal Aid Service (LAS) lawyers:
- Whether there is an effective balance between parties in law and practice;
- Whether citizens, including minorities and vulnerable groups can benefit from the protection the justice system offers;
- The quality of legal education in Georgia;
- How different judicial institutions perform.
During the survey, 310 lawyers (of which 204 private lawyers, 49 NGO lawyers and 57 LAS lawyers), 108 judges and 102 prosecutors were interviewed. In addition, semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven judges and seven prosecutors and four focus-groups with private, NGO and LAS lawyers.
Overall, prosecutors and judges tended to report the most positive views. The assessments of lawyers, and in particular NGO lawyers, were generally less positive compared to the assessments of prosecutors and judges.
CRRC-Georgia’s researcher Mariam Kobaladze presents the main findings of the PROLoG report at the Frontline Georgia Club in Tbilisi on 11 July 2016. Photo by Mariam Sikharulidze.
The main findings of the report are presented below:
Balance between Parties in Law and in Practice
- With regard to civil and administrative law, the majority of all legal professionals assess that the balance between parties is similar both in law and in practice, but more lawyers say that there is equality of arms neither in law nor in practice;
- With regard to criminal law, the majority of judges and prosecutors assess the balance between the parties as similar both in law and in practice, but fewer than half of lawyers agree with this assessment.
Ability of Citizens to Benefit from the Justice System
- NGO lawyers reported more frequently that the LGBT community and religious minorities are the groups the courts and Prosecutor’s Office do not treat fairly or equally, compared to other social groups. However, the majority of other legal professionals thought all groups were treated mainly or fully fairly/equally;
- Compared to other legal professionals, NGO lawyers less frequently think that representatives of all social groups are treated fairly or equally by the courts and the Prosecutor’s Office;
- Many legal professionals consider the police less effective than other legal institutions. Even some prosecutors, who, overall, reported very positive assessments of justice institutions, called for police reform.
Quality of Legal Education
- Prosecutors were, again, the most positive about the quality of legal education in Georgia, with slightly more than half giving a positive assessment. The majority of judges and lawyers did not provide positive evaluations of legal education, either theoretical or practical.
Performance of Justice System Institutions
- The majority of legal professionals considered the performance of most justice system institutions as largely transparent, but lawyers (private, NGO and LAS) assessed the transparency and performance of these institutions harsher than judges and prosecutors;
- Almost all legal professionals agree that the lack of speedy trials is an impediment to the judicial process that is mainly caused by a shortage of judges and lack of alternative dispute resolution outside of courts;
- The high caseload in the courts was seen as a major issue that has negative effects on the speed, quality and, in the case of the Supreme Court, uniformity of legal decisions.
The full report of the baseline study is available here.