Update about the hearing of Judge Miroslava Todorova

As promised an update about the hearing of colleague Miroslava Todorova before the Supreme Adminstrative Council (SAC) in Sofia. Judges for Judges attended the hearing last Thursday, together with obervers from ICJ and MEDEL. The president of the five members’ panel welcomed the observers and their interpreter explicitly. Todorova was not present herself. The date initially set for the hearing had been postponed and last Thursday, Todorova had court sessions in the Sofia Regional Court herself. The SAC allowed the representative of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), Todorova’s counsel (Mrs. I. Lulcheva) and the prosecutor (who has an advisory role in the disciplinary proceedings) to plea. Subject of appeal was the judgment of the three members’ panel of the SAC of July 1st 2014, holding Todorova’s demotion for a period of one year. Whereas in July 2013, the prosecutor supported Todorova and advised the SAC to annul the dismissal, this time, unfortunately, it underlined the SJC’s view that the (five members’ panel of the) SAC should order Todorova’s demotion for a period of two years. In short, Todorova’s main arguments are that the demotion is in violation with the principle of ne bis in idem (given her salary cut in 2012 for the same act: delay in issuing the reasoning in a number of cases), that the statutory limitation period for initiating discplinary proceedings has not been considered, and that the circumstances of the case (a.o. her heavy caseload and her de facto leave from the court after the dismissal) should be given more weight. It appears that the SAC’s judgment of July 1st, 2014 – which will be translated in English soon – gives space for a full reconsideration. It is not clear when the five members panel of the SAC will deliver its judgment. We will keep you informed. Judges and Judges and ICJ will prepare a trial observation report.