Since the declaration of Georgia’s independence till 1997, the disciplinary proceedings were regulated by 1990 law on “Judicial system in the Republic of Georgia”, 1991 law on “Disciplinary Liability of Judges of Georgia, Removal of Judges and Jurors and their Pre-term Release” and the 1990 law on “Status of Judges in the Republic of Georgia”.
According to article 17 of the law on Status of Judges, a ground of disciplinary liability was the violation of the law during the examination of the case, other professional breaches and a discrediting behavior.
According to the legislation in force, the right to open disciplinary prosecution was exercised by Chairpersons of Supreme Council, Chairman of the Supreme Court and Ministers of Justice of Georgia and of autonomous republics, while the disciplinary cases were heard on the merits by relevant court qualification boards, which were elected by the conference of judges of the same courts (art. 14 of the law on Status of Judges). As the result of examination of the case, the qualification board was authorized to issue notice, reprimand and severe reprimand. Upon motion of the body invested with the power to open disciplinary prosecution, the qualification boards also considered the issue of pre-term termination of judge’s official duty. This measure could be applied only in case of grave violation of the law or discrediting behavior incompatible with high status of the judge (art. 19 of the law on “Disciplinary Liability of Judges of Georgia, Removal of Judges and Jurors and their Pre-term Release”), while the judge was removed upon the opinion of the qualification board by its appointing authority.
In 1997, the law on Common Courts was adopted, which introduced new regulations for disciplinary liability of judges. According to article 56 of this law, a ground for disciplinary liability is:
a) Violation of law in the course of hearing of the case;
b) Violation of labor discipline;
c) The conduct undermining the authority of the court or dignity of the judge;
d) Disclosure of a secret protected by law, which became known to the judge in the connection with exercise of official duties or authority.
Article 57 of the law granted the power to open disciplinary prosecution to the chairmen of Supreme Court of Georgia and Superior Courts of Autonomous republics, of Courts of Appeals and the High Council of Justice, while the art. 59 entrusted the Disciplinary Committee of Judges with the power to hear disciplinary cases.
Article 58 of the law defined following disciplinary penalties: a) notice b) reprimand c) severe reprimand d) dismissal from office of the court chairman, first chairman, or chairman or panel chairman d) removal of the judge from office.
The regulations stipulated in the law on Common Courts were more refined and extended by regulation on “Disciplinary Liability and Disciplinary Proceedings of Judges of Common Courts of Georgia” approved by presidential decree N 534 of September 23, 1998. The regulation in question has specified the causes for the initiation of disciplinary proceedings, time-limits and stages of disciplinary proceedings, rights and obligations of the parties, procedure for the formation of disciplinary committee and etc. According to article 15 of the regulation, cases against all judges of common courts of Georgia are heard on the merits by the Disciplinary Committee of Supreme Court of Georgia, the members of which are elected by Supreme Court Plenum from judges of the Supreme and lower courts, in accordance with article 16 of the law.
The law on “Disciplinary Liability and Disciplinary Proceedings of judges of Common Courts of Georgia” which was adopted on February 23, 2000 borrowed its significant part from on September 23, 1998 presidential decree, though introduced many novelties. The law envisaged two track systems of disciplinary penalties and measures, mechanism of appeal of Disciplinary Committee’s Decisions, etc.
According to article 10 of the law, the body initiating disciplinary prosecution created a disciplinary commission composed of 3 members, which subsequent to the examination of disciplinary case produced relevant report. On the basis of this report, the High Council of Justice or chairman of the relevant Court decided the question of whether or not to commit the judge to the disciplinary liability. The disciplinary cases were heard on the merits by 3 member panel of Disciplinary Council composed by 12 members elected by the conference of judges of Georgia. The decision of the panel was appealed in the Council where the members of the panel could not participate in the examination of the appeal (art. 62).
Since its adoption, the law in question has undergone many changes, which have affected the grounds of disciplinary liability as well as the case processing rules and the rights and obligations of the participants. By June 30, 2004 amendment, the composition of Disciplinary Council and Disciplinary Panel were defined by 8 and 4 members respectively. March 17, 2005 amendments introduced the possibility of appeal of decision of Disciplinary Council in the Supreme Court of Georgia.
By changes introduced in the law in 2005-2006, the Disciplinary Committee composed of 6 members was entrusted to hear disciplinary cases on the merits. Three judge members were selected by Judicial Conference and 3 non-judge members were selected by High Council of Justice. The term of office of the member of the Disciplinary Committee was defined by 2 years.
Important changes were introduced in the legislation in 2012-2013: Elimination of grave violation of the law, as a type of disciplinary violation; information provided to the author of the complaint; mandatory publication of the decisions of disciplinary committee on the official website, etc.
The May 1, 2013 amendments defined the current composition of Disciplinary Committee by 3 judicial and 2 non-judicial members.
According to article 24 of the law in force, the judicial members of the Disciplinary Committee are selected by Judicial Conference, while the non-judicial members are selected by Parliament by majority on the nominal list. Those members shall be selected from professors and researchers employed in high educational institutions, members of Bar Association of Georgia or/and persons proposed by non commercial legal entities of Georgia, upon recommendation of collegial boards of the relevant entity. A member of Disciplinary Committee shall be elected for 2 year period. Parliament of Georgia may elect as a member of Disciplinary Committee a citizen of Georgia, which has high legal education, no less than 10 years of professional experience, high reputation and is a as recognized specialist of any field of law.