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A Global Judicial News Report: June/July 2023


Judicature International (2023) | An online-only publication

Poland 🇵🇱

The European Union’s highest court invalidated parts of Poland’s judicial overhaul legislation, restricting access to billions of euros in EU funds. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision intensifies pressure on Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party as it faces an election this fall. The ECJ’s opinion specifically highlighted the online publication of judges’ affiliations as a breach of privacy that could potentially influence their judgments. For context on the PiS party in Poland, read The Collapse of Judicial Independence in Poland: A Cautionary Tale from Judicature Vol. 104 No. 3 (2020-21). (Reuters)

The European Commission 🌐

The European Commission released its annual rule of law report on July 5, 2023. The full report contains 27 chapters on individual countries and examines developments, both positive and negative, that have occurred over the last year in four key areas for the rule of law: the justice system, the anti-corruption framework, media pluralism and freedom, and other institutional issues related to checks and balances. The report also offers recommendations on how each member nation can internally strengthen the rule of law. (European Commission; The Nation)

United Kingdom 🇬🇧

Dame Sue Carr was appointed the first female lord chief justice in England and Wales, effective Oct. 1. She will be the first woman to lead the judiciary in the history of the role dating back to the 13th century. As the most senior judge of England and Wales, her main responsibilities will be to represent the views of the judiciary to parliament and government, the welfare, training and guidance of judges, and discussing the provision of resources to the judiciary. Whether she will take the traditional title of lord chief justice is yet to be determined. (The Guardian)

Sir Geoffrey Vos, Master of the Rolls and head of civil justice in England and Wales, wrote an op-ed about the usefulness of AI in conducting legal research and providing litigants with information to help guide them through the complexities of court. “People ask questions online in such diverse ways that AI can be invaluable in deciding where to send confused inquirers to get help,” Sir Vos writes. He added that while AI can” smooth the pathways for users of the digital justice system” it will never replace the need for individuals and businesses “to receive human advice.” For more on the legal advice versus legal information dichotomy, read Legal Information vs. Legal Advice: A 25 Year Retrospective from Judicature Vol. 106 No. 2 (2022). (The Times)

Guatemala 🇬🇹

A court in Guatemala sentenced prominent newspaper publisher José Ruben Zamora Marroquin on Wednesday to six years in prison after he was convicted of money laundering charges in a case that rights groups have criticized as an attack on free speech, Reuters reported. Zamora has said the case against him amounts to “political persecution” by Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei over his reporting on alleged corruption by Giammattei and his allies. Zamora, who has already been jailed for nearly 11 months, said he would appeal the sentence and possibly take the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. (Reuters)

United States 🇺🇸

Speaking at a three-part webinar series hosted by the Berkeley Judicial Institute, current and former United States federal judges recounted how cooperating with journalists and remaining open to answering questions benefited the public and the judicial system. “We just have ethical constraints, but there’s a lot we can do in the aid of helping the press … to do their jobs and get accurate information,” said Judge Bernice Donald, a retired judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Recordings of the event, “Judges and the Press,” are available to watch on the Berkley Judicial Institute’s website. (Law360)

International Court of Justice 🌐

This year, the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) is hearing its first cases concerning international climate commitments. Activist groups, mostly from developing nations, are bringing climate cases before the ICJ by arguing that such cases involve human rights. These cases will set a precedent for future international climate cases, although there remains uncertainty around the Courts’ enforcement abilities. (The Conversation)

Brazil 🇧🇷

Brazil’s electoral court banned former President Jair Bolsonaro from seeking office until 2030 for spreading false claims about the nation’s voting system, reported The New York Times. “This response will confirm our faith in the democracy,” said Alexandre de Moraes, a Supreme Court justice who leads the electoral court, as he cast his vote against Mr. Bolsonaro. Under the ruling, former President Bolsonaro will next be able to run for president when he is 75. Brazil’s next presidential election is scheduled for 2026. (The New York Times)

The June/July 2023 Global Judicial News Report was compiled and written by Eric Surber, website and social media specialist for Judicature and Judicature International.