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On the dismissal of judges of local courts

Case No. 10/04-12/04-18/04

 

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA

RULING

ON THE COMPLIANCE OF THE DECREE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC (NO. 164) “ON RELEASING JUDGES OF LOCAL COURTS AND PRESIDENTS OF COURTS FROM OFFICE” OF 22 JULY 2003 WITH THE CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA, WITH PARAGRAPH 2 OF ARTICLE 6 OF THE CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS, PARAGRAPHS 1 AND 2 OF ARTICLE 83, PARAGRAPHS 1 AND 6 OF ARTICLE 84, PARAGRAPH 2 OF ARTICLE 86 AND PARAGRAPH 6 (WORDING OF 24 JANUARY 2002) OF ARTICLE 90 OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA’S LAW ON COURTS, AS WELL AS ON THE DISMISSAL OF THE PART OF THE CASE SUBSEQUENT TO THE PETITION OF THE VILNIUS REGIONAL COURT, THE PETITIONER, REQUESTING AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE COMPLIANCE OF THIS DECREE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC WITH PARAGRAPH 7 (WORDING OF 24 JANUARY 2002) OF ARTICLE 90 OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA’S LAW ON COURTS

 

16 January 2007

Vilnius

 

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, composed of the Justices of the Constitutional Court: Armanas Abramavičius, Egidijus Kūris, Kęstutis Lapinskas, Zenonas Namavičius, Ramutė Ruškytė, Vytautas Sinkevičius, Stasys Stačiokas, and Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis

The court reporter—Daiva Pitrėnaitė

Česlovas Atkočaitis and Milda Vainiūtė, advisors to the President of the Republic on legal issues, acting as the representatives of the President of the Republic of Lithuania, the party concerned

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, pursuant to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Article 1 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, in its public hearing, on 8 January 2007, considered case No. 10/04-12/04-18/04 subsequent to the petitions of the Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether:

the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003, to the extent that it provides that Darius Japertas is released from the office of a judge of the Panevėžys City Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court is not in conflict, as to its content and under the procedure of the adoption established in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, with the principles of a just civil society and state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, are entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 and Article 115 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, and with Articles 83, 84 and 86 and Paragraphs 6 and 7 of Article 90 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Courts (petition No. 1B-08);

the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003, to the extent that it provides that Arvydas Gudas is released from the office of a judge of the Lazdijai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court is not in conflict, as to its content and under the procedure of the adoption established in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, with the principles of a just civil society and state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, are entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 and Article 115 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, and with Articles 83, 84 and 86 and Paragraphs 6 and 7 of Article 90 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Courts (petition No. 1B-11);

the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003, to the extent that it provides that Palmira Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court is not in conflict, as to its content and under the procedure of the adoption established in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, with the principles of a just civil society and state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, are entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, with Paragraph 1 of Article 29, Paragraph 1 of Article 31 and Article 115 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and with Articles 83, 84 and 86 and Paragraphs 6 and 7 of Article 90 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Courts (petition No. 1B-19).

The Constitutional Court

has established:

I

1. The Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, considered civil cases. By its rulings, the said court suspended the consideration of the cases and applied to the Constitutional Court with the petition requesting an investigation into whether the provisions of the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” (hereinafter also referred to as the 22 July 2003 decree (No. 164) of the President of the Republic) of 22 July 2003, are not in conflict with the Constitution and with the articles (paragraphs thereof) of the Law on Courts and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (hereinafter also referred to as the Convention).

1.1. The Constitutional Court is requested to investigate (petition No. 1B-08) whether the 22 July 2003 decree (No. 164) of the President of the Republic, to the extent that it provides that Darius Japertas is released from the office of a judge of the Panevėžys City Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court is not in conflict, as to its content and under the procedure of the adoption established in the Constitution, with the principles of a just civil society and state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, are entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution, with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 and Article 115 of the Constitution, and with Articles 83, 84 and 86 and Paragraphs 6 and 7 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts and whether Paragraph 8 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts is not in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 31 of the Constitution and with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution.

1.2. The Constitutional Court is requested to investigate (petition No. 1B-11) whether the 22 July 2003 decree (No. 164) of the President of the Republic, to the extent that it provides that Arvydas Gudas is released from the office of a judge of the Lazdijai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court is not in conflict, as to its content and under the procedure of the adoption established in the Constitution, with the principles of a just civil society and state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, are entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution, with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 and Article 115 of the Constitution, and with Articles 83, 84 and 86 and Paragraphs 6 and 7 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts and whether Paragraph 8 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts is not in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 31 of the Constitution and with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution.

1.3. The Constitutional Court is requested to investigate (petition No. 1B-19) whether the 22 July 2003 decree (No. 164) of the President of the Republic, to the extent that it provides that Palmira Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court is not in conflict, as to its content and under the procedure of the adoption established in the Constitution, with the principles of a just civil society and state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, are entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution, with Paragraph 1 of Article 29, Paragraph 1 of Article 31 and Article 115 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and with Articles 83, 84 and 86 and Paragraphs 6 and 7 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts and whether Paragraph 8 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts is not in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 31 of the Constitution, with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and with the principle of a state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, is entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution.

On 7 April 2004, the Constitutional Court adopted the Decision “On the Petition of the Vilnius Regional Court, the Petitioner, Requesting an Investigation into Whether the Decree of the President of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 164) ‘On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts From Office’ of 22 July 2003 to the Extent that It Provides that Palmira Linkevičienė is Released from the Office of a Judge of the Biržai District Local Court as Well as from the Office of the President of the Same Court is not in Conflict, as to Its Content and the Procedure of the Adoption Established in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the Provisions of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Those of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Courts, and Whether Paragraph 8 of Article 90 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Courts is not in Conflict with the Constitution and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”, whereby it was decided, inter alia, to refuse to consider the petition of the Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether Paragraph 8 of Article 90 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Courts is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and to this extent to return the petition to the petitioner.

2. By the Constitutional Court’s decision of 3 November 2005, the petitions No. 1B-08, 1B-11 and 1B-19 of the Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, were joined into one case and it was given reference number 10/04-12/04-18/04.

3. By the Constitutional Court’s decision of 14 November 2006, a part of the case subsequent to petitions No. 1B-09, No. 1B-11 and No. 1B-19 of the Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, to the extent that it requests an investigation into whether Paragraph 8 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts is not in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 31 of the Constitution and with the principle of a state under the rule of law, which, according to the petitioner, is entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution, was separated into an individual case and given reference number 10/04-12/04-18/04A.

On 27 November 2006, in constitutional justice case No. 10/04-12/04-18/04A, the Constitutional Court adopted the Ruling “On the Compliance of Paragraph 8 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Courts with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania”, in which the provision “when a judge contests his release from office, he shall be entitled <…> to appeal to the Vilnius Regional Court” of Paragraph 8 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Law on Courts was ruled not in conflict with the Constitution.

4. It should also be mentioned that, on 9 May 2006, in constitutional justice case No. 13/04-21/04-43/04, the Constitutional Court adopted the Ruling “On the Compliance of Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002), Paragraph 3 (wording of 21 January 2003), Paragraphs 4, 5 and 6 (wording on 24 January 2002) of Article 56, Paragraph 3 (wording of 28 January 2003) of Article 57, Paragraph 4 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 63, Paragraphs 2 and 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 70, Paragraphs 2 and 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 71, Paragraphs 2 and 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 72, Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 73, Paragraph 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 74, Paragraph 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 75, Paragraph 2 (wording of 21 January 2003) of Article 76, Paragraph 3 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 77, Paragraph 2 (wording of 21 January 2003) of Article 78, Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 79, Paragraphs 3 and 7 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 81, Paragraphs 3 and 7 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90, Paragraphs 2 and 5 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 119, Items 3 and 4 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 120, Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 128 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Courts, of Item 13 (wording of 4 July 1996) of Paragraph 3 of Article 11, Paragraphs 1 and 3 (wording of 18 April 1995) and Paragraph 4 (wording of 4 July 1996) of Article 17, Paragraph 3 (wording of 18 April 1995) of Article 18 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law ‘The Statute of the Supreme Court of Lithuania’ and of Article 1 of the Decree of the President of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 2048) ‘On Releasing a Judge of the Regional Court from Office’ of 10 February 2003 with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania” which recognised, inter alia, that Paragraph 7 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Law on Courts was in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 5 and Paragraph 5 of Article 112 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of the separation of powers, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

II

The petitions of the Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, requesting an investigation into whether the 22 July 2003 decree (No. 164) of the President of the Republic, to the extent that it provides that D. Japertas is released from the office of a judge of the Panevėžys City Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court, A. Gudas is released from the office of a judge of the Lazdijai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court and P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 and Article 115 of the Constitution, with the principles of a just civil society and state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, are entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution, with Articles 83, 84 and 86 and Paragraphs 6 and 7 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts, as well as the petition requesting an investigation into whether the impugned decree of the President of the Republic, to the extent that it provides that P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court is not in conflict also with Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution and with Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms are based on the following arguments.

1. The procedure for the release of judges of local courts from office is regulated by the Law on Courts. In the opinion of the petitioner, under the Law on Courts, before releasing the judge from office on the ground established in Item 5 of Article 115 of the Constitution, i.e. when his conduct discredited the name of judges, the judge should be applied disciplinary liability—a disciplinary case must be instituted against him; the Judicial Court of Honour must adopt a decision to propose the President of the Republic to release the judge from office; until there is no such proposal, the President of the Republic cannot release the judge from office because of the fact that his conduct discredited the name of judges.

2. The impugned decree of the President of the Republic of 22 July 2003, whereby D. Japertas was released from the office of a judge of the Panevėžys City Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court, A. Gudas was released from the office of a judge of the Lazdijai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court and P. Linkevičienė was released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court was issued without prior institution of disciplinary cases against D. Japertas, A. Gudas and P. Linkevičienė and without a decision adopted by the Judicial Court of Honour proposing the President of the Republic to release them from office. Thus, according to the petitioner, there are grounds to doubt whether the President of the Republic, when issuing the said decree and releasing D. Japertas, A. Gudas and P. Linkevičienė from office, did not make an “exception“ in their regard, i.e. whether he did not violate the procedure for releasing judges from office established in the Law on Courts, as well as whether he, as regards P. Linkevičienė, did not violate the presumption of innocence.

III

1. In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, written explanations were received from M. Vainiūtė, the representative of the President of the Republic, the party concerned, wherein it is stated that the 22 July 2003 decree (No. 164) of the President of the Republic, to the extent that it provides that D. Japertas is released from the office of a judge of the Panevėžys City Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court, A. Gudas is released from the office of a judge of the Lazdijai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court and P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court, is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 and Article 115 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, with Articles 83, 84 and 86 and Paragraphs 6 and 7 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts, as well as that this President of the Republic decree, to the extent that it provides that P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court, is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution and with Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The position of the representative of the party concerned is based on the following arguments.

1.1. The President of the Republic, when he was releasing D. Japertas from the office of a judge of the Panevėžys City Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court, A. Gudas—from the office of a judge of the Lazdijai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court and P. Linkevičienė—from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court, was following the powers granted to him by Item 11 of Article 84 and Article 112 of the Constitution, which are related to the appointment and release of judges of local courts. The President of the Republic, taking account of the grounds for release of judges from office which are provided for in Article 115 of the Constitution, assessed only the conduct of D. Japertas, A. Gudas and P. Linkevičienė, which had discredited the name of judges.

The laws do not provide that the President of the Republic has the right of initiative to institute disciplinary cases against judges to be considered in the Judicial Court of Honour. This, according to the petitioner, is in line with the principle of judicial self-governance and self-regulation. In the case at issue, it is important that the Council of Courts advised the President of the Republic to release the judges from office under Item 5 of Paragraph 1 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts, i.e. because of the fact that their conduct discredited the name of judges. The President of the Republic, when he was issuing the impugned decree, took account of the advice from the Council of Courts—self-governance institution of judges provided for in the law—which had assessed the conduct of D. Japertas, A. Gudas and P. Linkevičienė. The President of the Republic, when implementing the powers (which are entrenched in the Constitution) in forming the corps of judges, did not make, as the petitioner groundlessly states, any “exception” either with regard to D. Japertas, or A. Gudas, or P. Linkevičienė, but assessed them equally, i.e. as judges whose conduct discredited the name of judges.

1.2. The President of the Republic, when he was issuing the impugned decree, whereby he released the judge P. Linkevičienė from office, was following the powers established for the President of the Republic in the Constitution and the grounds for release of judges from office which are entrenched in the Constitution and did not decide the question of guilt of P. Linkevičienė, but only assessed her actions as conduct discrediting the name of judges, thus, the principle of presumption of innocence was not violated in her regard.

2. In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, a letter from Č. Atkočaitis, the representative of the President of the Republic, the party concerned, was received, wherein he assented to the written explanations of M. Vainiūtė.

IV

In the course of the preparation of the case for the Constitutional Court’s hearing, the following were received:

letters from Milda Vainiūtė, advisor to the President of the Republic on legal issues, V. Greičius, President of the Supreme Court of Lithuania, A. Pocius, Director General of the State Security Department of the Republic of Lithuania, G. Jasaitis, Deputy Prosecutor General of the Republic of Lithuania and R. Bakšys, Director of the National Administration of Courts, to which information related to the release of the judges D. Japertas, A. Gudas and P. Linkevičienė from office was attached;

written explanations from the members of the then Council of Courts, who were R. Blauzdžius, S. Gagys, A. Gailiūnas, Č. Jokūbauskas, R. Klišauskas, J. Lisas, V. Milius, A. Nevardauskis, R. Preikšaitis, A. Sakalas, N. Stepanavičienė, V. Valančius, A. Valantinas and V. Vasiliauskas;

written explanations from the dismissed judges A. Gudas and P. Linkevičienė;

judgment of the Lithuanian Court of Appeal of 9 June 2006 in criminal case No. 1A-65-2006, whereby D. Japertas, A. Gudas and P. Linkevičienė were recognised guilty of the commission of a crime.

The Constitutional Court

holds that:

I

1. The Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003 provides:

Article 1.

Pursuant to Item 11 of Article 84, Article 112 and Item 5 of Article 115 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and taking account of the advice of the Council of Courts, I shall release:

Darius JAPERTAS—from the office of a judge of the Panevėžys City Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court;

Palmira LINKEVIČIENĖ—from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court;

Arvydas GUDAS—from the office of a judge of the Lazdijai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court.

Article 2.

This decree shall come into force as from the day of its signing.”

2. The Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, requests an investigation (petitions Nos. 1B-08, 1B-11, 1B-19) into whether the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003, to the extent that it provides that Darius Japertas is released from the office of a judge of the Panevėžys City Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court, A. Gudas is released from the office of a judge of the Lazdijai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court and P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court is not in conflict, as to its content and under the procedure of the adoption established in the Constitution, with the principles of a just civil society and state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, are entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution, with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 and Article 115 of the Constitution, and with Articles 83, 84 and 86 and Paragraphs 6 and 7 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts.

The Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, requesting an investigation (petition No. 1B-19) into whether the specified decree of the President of the Republic, to the extent that it provides that P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court is not in conflict also with Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution and Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

3. It is obvious from the arguments of the petitions of the petitioner that the petitioner had doubts regarding the compliance of the 22 July 2003 decree (No. 164) of the President of the Republic with not whole Article 115 of the Constitution, but only with the provision “judges shall be released from office according to the procedure established by law” of this article.

4. The petitioner had doubts regarding the compliance of the 22 July 2003 decree (No. 164) of the President of the Republic, inter alia, with the principles of a just civil society and state under the rule of law which, according to the petitioner, are entrenched in the Preamble to the Constitution. The Constitutional Court has held in its acts more than once that an investigation into the compliance of legal acts (parts thereof) with the enshrined-in-the-Preamble-to-the-Constitution striving for a just civil society and a state under the rule of law implies an investigation into their compliance with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

5. It needs to be noted that the Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, (petitions Nos. 1B-08, 1B-11, 1B-19) disputes the compliance of the 22 July 2003 decree (No. 164) of the President of the Republic with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 and the provision “judges shall be released from office according to the procedure established by law” of Article 115 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law and the corresponding provisions of the Law on Courts only in the aspect that the specified decree of the President of the Republic was issued without prior institution of disciplinary cases against the judges and without a decision adopted by the Judicial Court of Honour proposing the President of the Republic to release them from office, and, thus, in the opinion of the petitioner, by violating the procedure for the release of judges from office established in the Law on Courts.

Moreover, the Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, requests an investigation (petition No. 1B-19) into whether the specified decree of the President of the Republic, to the extent that it provides that P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution and Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms also in the aspect that by this decree of the President of the Republic P. Linkevičienė was released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court prior to the adoption of the court judgment convicting her and before entry into force of such judgment.

The Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, does not request an investigation into whether the 22 July 2003 decree (No. 164) of the President of the Republic is not in conflict with the Constitution and with the articles (paragraphs thereof) of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Law on Courts in any other aspects.

6. The petitioner does not point out with which wordings of Articles 83, 84, 86 and Paragraphs 6 and 7 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts it requests an investigation into the compliance of the impugned decree of the President of the Republic. It is obvious from the arguments of the petition of the petitioner that the petitioner had doubts whether this decree of the President of the Republic is not in conflict with Articles 83, 84 and 86 (wording of 24 January 2002) and Paragraphs 6 and 7 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Law on Courts.

7. It is obvious from the arguments of the petitioner that the petitioner had doubts regarding the compliance of the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003 with the following:

not whole Article 83 (wording of 24 January 2002) of the Law on Courts, but only Paragraph 1 thereof which provides that “the judge shall be brought to disciplinary liability at the Judicial Court of Honour” and the provision “the judge can be brought to disciplinary liability: (1) for the conduct discrediting the name of judges <…>” of Paragraph 2;

not whole Article 84 (wording of 24 January 2002) of the Law on Courts, but only the provision “a disciplinary case may be instituted against a judge immediately after at least one of the violations specified in Paragraph 2 of Article 83 of this Law comes to light <…>” of Paragraph 1 and the provision “the instituted disciplinary case shall be referred to the Judicial Court of Honour” of Paragraph 6 thereof;

not whole Article 86 (wording of 24 January 2002) of the Law on Courts, but only the provision “the Judicial Court of Honour may, by its decision, advise the President of the Republic <…> (2) to release the judge from office <…>” of Paragraph 2 thereof;

not whole Paragraph 6 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Law on Courts, but only the provision “the judge of a local court shall be released from office by the President of the Republic” of this paragraph.

8. It has been mentioned that the petitioner requests an investigation into whether the impugned decree of the President of the Republic is not in conflict, inter alia, with Paragraph 7 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Law on Courts.

In this context, it needs to be noted that, as it was said, by the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 9 May 2006, Paragraph 7 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Law on Courts was ruled in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 5 and Paragraph 5 of Article 112 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of the separation of powers, and the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

After it was recognised by the ruling of the Constitutional Court that Paragraph 7 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Law on Courts is in conflict with the Constitution, any further investigation into the compliance of the impugned decree of the President of the Republic with Paragraph 7 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Law on Courts becomes meaningless: if such investigation were carried out, a virtually wrong presumption would be made that, purportedly, a substatutory legal act must be in line with an unconstitutional law. Such presumption would deny the concept of the hierarchy of legal acts which is entrenched in the Constitution; thus, the essence of constitutional justice itself would be distorted.

Taking account of the arguments set forth, it should be held that this part of the case no longer contains the matter of investigation, thus, the part of the cases regarding the compliance of the 22 July 2003 decree (No. 164) of the President of the Republic with Paragraph 7 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Law on Courts must be dismissed.

9. Subsequent to the petitions of the Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, in this constitutional justice case the Constitutional Court will investigate the following:

whether the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003 is not in conflict (in the aspect specified by the petitioner) with Paragraph 1 of Article 29 and the provision “judges shall be released from office according to the procedure established by law” of Article 115 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, with Paragraph 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 83, the provision “the judge can be brought to disciplinary liability: (1) for the conduct discrediting the name of judges <…>” of Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 83, the provision “a disciplinary case may be instituted against a judge immediately after at least one of the violations specified in Paragraph 2 of Article 83 of this Law comes to light <…>” of Paragraph 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 84, the provision “the instituted disciplinary case shall be referred to the Judicial Court of Honour” of Paragraph 6 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 84, the provision “the Judicial Court of Honour may, by its decision, advise the President of the Republic <…> (2) to release the judge from office <…>” of Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 86 and with the provision “the judge of a local court shall be released from office by the President of the Republic” of Paragraph 6 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Law on Courts;

whether the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003, to the extent that it provides that Palmira Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court as well as from the office of the president of the same court, is not in conflict (in the aspects specified by the petitioner) with Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution and Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

II

1. The following has been established in this constitutional justice case:

On 9 July 2003, the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Lithuania informed the President of the Supreme Court of Lithuania about allegedly committed violations of the Code of Conduct of Judges and the conduct discrediting the name of judges by D. Japertas, president of the Panevėžys City Local Court, P. Linkevičienė, president of the Biržai District Local Court and A. Gudas, president of the Lazdijai District Local Court (the Letter of the Office of the Prosecutor General (No. 8.2-1390 (01)) “On the Allegedly Committed Violations of the Code of Conduct of Judges and the Conduct Discrediting the Name of Judges“ of 9 July 2003 to the President of the Supreme Court of Lithuania);

On 17 July 2003, the Office of the Prosecutor General handed in the 17 July 2003 notice to D. Japertas on signature that he is suspected of commission of criminal deeds that have features of the crimes provided for in Paragraph 1 of Article 228 (“Abuse”), Paragraph 1 of Article 231 (“Interference with the activity of the judge, prosecutor, officer of pre-trial investigation, advocate or court bailiff”) as well as in Paragraph 5 of Article 24 (“Complicity and types of accomplices”), Paragraph 1 of Article 228 (“Abuse”), Paragraph 1 of Article 231 (“Interference with the activity of the judge, prosecutor, officer of pre-trial investigation, advocate or court bailiff”) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania (hereinafter referred to as the CC);

On 17 July 2003, the Office of the Prosecutor General handed in the 17 July 2003 notice to P. Linkevičienė on signature that she is suspected of commission of criminal deeds that have features of the crimes provided for in Paragraph 1 of Article 228 (“Abuse”) and Paragraph 1 of Article 231 (“Interference with the activity of the judge, prosecutor, officer of pre-trial investigation, advocate or court bailiff”) of the CC;

On 17 July 2003, the Office of the Prosecutor General handed in the 17 July 2003 notice to A. Gudas on signature that he is suspected of commission of criminal deeds that have features of the crimes provided for in Paragraph 1 of Article 228 (“Abuse”), Paragraph 1 of Article 231 (“Interference with the activity of the judge, prosecutor, officer of pre-trial investigation, advocate or court bailiff”) as well as in Paragraph 5 of Article 24 (“Complicity and types of accomplices”), Paragraph 1 of Article 228 (“Abuse”) and Paragraph 1 of Article 231 (“Interference with the activity of the judge, prosecutor, officer of pre-trial investigation, advocate or court bailiff”) of the CC;

On 17 July 2003, the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Lithuania informed the President of the Supreme Court of Lithuania about the begun pre-trial investigation upon suspicion that D. Japertas, president of the Panevėžys City Local Court, P. Linkevičienė, president of the Biržai District Local Court and A. Gudas, president of the Lazdijai District Local Court might have committed criminal deeds (the Letter of the Office of the Prosecutor General (No. 8.2-1459 (01)) “On the Begun Pre-trial Investigation Where the Suspects are Judges” of 17 July 2003 to the President of the Supreme Court of Lithuania);

On 17 July 2003, the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Lithuania informed the President of the Republic of Lithuania about the begun pre-trial investigation upon suspicion that D. Japertas, president of the Panevėžys City Local Court, P. Linkevičienė, president of the Biržai District Local Court and A. Gudas, president of the Lazdijai District Local Court might have committed criminal deeds and requested for the consent to bring them to criminal liability and to suspend their powers of judges (the Letter of the Office of the Prosecutor General (No. 8.2-1462 (01)) “On the Begun Pre-trial Investigation Where the Suspects are Judges” of 17 July 2003 to the President of the Republic of Lithuania);

On 17 July 2003, the President of the Republic issued the Decree (No. 161) “On the Suspension of the Powers of Judges”, whereby he suspended the powers of D. Japertas, president of the Panevėžys City Local Court, P. Linkevičienė, president of the Biržai District Local Court and A. Gudas, president of the Lazdijai District Local Court;

On 17 July 2003, the President of the Republic issued the Decree (No. 162) “On the Consent to Bring the Judges to Criminal Liability”, whereby he consented that D. Japertas, president of the Panevėžys City Local Court, P. Linkevičienė, president of the Biržai District Local Court, and A. Gudas, president of the Lazdijai District Local Court, would be brought to criminal liability and that they would be imposed a measure of suppression—arrest or restriction of their freedom in other way;

On 21 July 2003, the advisor to the President of the Republic on legal issues applied to the Council of Courts, upon the assignment of the President of the Republic requesting for advice to the President of the Republic regarding the release of D. Japertas from the office of the president of the Panevėžys City Local Court as well as from the office of a judge of the same court, P. Linkevičienė—from the office of the president of the Biržai District Local Court as well as from the office of a judge of the same court and A. Gudas—from the office of the president of the Lazdijai District Local Court as well as from the office of a judge of the same court under Item 5 of Paragraph 1 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts (the Letter of the Advisor to the President of the Republic on Legal Issues (No. 2D-5482) “On Advice to the President of the Republic” of 21 July 2003 to the Council of Courts);

On 21 July 2003, the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Lithuania informed the President of the Supreme Court of Lithuania about the ongoing pre-trial investigation in criminal case No. 01-2-018-03, where the suspected persons were A. Gudas, president of the Lazdijai District Local Court, D. Japertas, president of the Panevėžys City Local Court, and P. Linkevičienė, president of the Biržai District Local Court, and noted that D. Japertas and A. Gudas had recognised that they had made the actions specified in the written notices regarding the suspicions which were handed in to them, however, they regarded those actions not as criminal deeds, but violations of the Code of Conduct of Judges and conduct discrediting the name of judges (the Letter of the Office of the Prosecutor General (No. 8.2-1484 (01)) “Information Regarding the Ongoing Pre-trial Investigation in Criminal Case No. 01-2-018-03, Where the Suspects are Arvydas Gudas, President of the Lazdijai District Local Court, Darius Japertas, President of the Panevėžys City Local Court, and Palmira Linkevičienė, President of the Biržai District Local Court” of 21 July 2003 to the President of the Supreme Court of Lithuania);

On 21 July 2003, the Council of Courts adopted the Resolution (No. 127) “On the Advice to the President of the Republic to Release the Judge of the District Court, the President of Court from Office” whereby it advised the President of the Republic to release D. Japertas from the office of a judge of the Panevėžys City Local Court and that of the president of the same court; the said resolution of the Council of Courts specifies that the Council of Courts follows, inter alia, Item 5 of Paragraph 1 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts; taking account of the fact that Item 5 of Paragraph 1 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts establishes the grounds for the release of the judge from office, namely “when his conduct discredits the name of judges”, it should be held that, by this 21 July 2003 resolution, the Council of Courts advised the President of the Republic to release D. Japertas from the office of a judge of the Panevėžys City Local Court and the president of the same court because of the fact that the conduct of D. Japertas discredited the name of judges.

On 21 July 2003, the Council of Courts adopted the Resolution (No. 128) “On the Advice to the President of the Republic to Release the Judge of the District Court, the President of Court from Office” whereby it advised the President of the Republic to release P. Linkevičienė from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and that of the president of the same court; the said resolution of the Council of Courts specifies that the Council of Courts follows, inter alia, Item 5 of Paragraph 1 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts; taking account of the fact that Item 5 of Paragraph 1 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts establishes the grounds for the release of the judge from office, namely “when his conduct discredits the name of judges”, it should be held that, by this 21 July 2003 resolution, the Council of Courts advised the President of the Republic to release P. Linkevičienė from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court because of the fact that the conduct of P. Linkevičienė discredited the name of judges;

On 21 July 2003, the Council of Courts adopted the Resolution (No. 129) “On the Advice to the President of the Republic to Release the Judge of the District Court, the President of Court from Office” whereby it advised the President of the Republic to release A. Gudas from the office of a judge of the Lazdijai District Local Court and that of the president of the same court; the said resolution of the Council of Courts specifies that the Council of Courts follows, inter alia, Item 5 of Paragraph 1 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts; taking account of the fact that Item 5 of Paragraph 1 of Article 90 of the Law on Courts establishes the grounds for the release of the judge from office, namely “when his conduct discredits the name of judges”, it should be held that by this 21 July 2003 resolution the Council of Courts advised the President of the Republic to release A. Gudas from the office of a judge of the Lazdijai District Local Court and the president of the same court because of the fact that by the conduct of A. Gudas discredited the name of judges.

2. In its rulings of 9 May 2006 and 21 September 2006, the Constitutional Court held that the fact that by the Constitutional Court’s ruling of 9 May 2006, Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 119 of the Law on Courts, to the extent that not only judges but also other persons compose the Council of Courts, was ruled in conflict with the Constitution, does not mean that the decisions of the Council of Courts, which was composed under the then valid articles (parts thereof) of the Law on Courts (wording of 24 January 2002 with subsequent amendments and supplements) to advise the President of the Republic on the appointment, promotion, transfer of judges or their release from office or any other decisions of such Council of Courts might be questioned only on these grounds.

Thus, the Resolution of the Council of Courts (No. 127) “On the Advice to the President of the Republic to Release the Judge of the District Court, the President of Court from Office” of 21 July 2003, the Resolution of the Council of Courts (No. 128) “On the Advice to the President of the Republic to Release the Judge of the District Court, the President of Court from Office” of 21 July 2003 and the Resolution of the Council of Courts (No. 129) “On the Advice to the President of the Republic to Release the Judge of the District Court, the President of Court from Office” of 21 July 2003 may not be questioned only on the grounds that they were adopted by the Council of Courts composed under the then valid articles (paragraphs thereof) of the Law on Courts (wording of 24 January 2002 with subsequent amendments and supplements), either.

3. On 22 July 2003, the President of the Republic issued the Decree (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office”, whereby, “pursuant to Item 11 of Article 84, Article 112 and Item 5 of Article 115 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and taking account of the advice of the Council of Courts” he released D. Japertas from the office of a judge of the Panevėžys City Local Court and the president of the same court, P. Linkevičienė—from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court and A. Gudas—from the office of a judge of the Lazdijai District Local Court and the president of the same court.

Taking account of the fact that Item 5 of Article 115 of the Constitution, to which reference is made in the impugned decree of the President of the Republic, establishes one of the constitutional grounds for the release of the judge from office, namely “when his conduct discredited the name of judges”, it needs to be held that by this decree the President of the Republic released D. Japertas, P. Linkevičienė and A. Gudas from office because of the fact that their conduct discredited the name of judges.

4. On 9 June 2006, the Court of Appeal of Lithuania adopted a judgment in criminal case No. 1A-65-2006, wherein it held, inter alia, that A. Gudas and D. Japertas, “within the area of their work and professional activity” between July 2002 and December 2002, and P. Linkevičienė—between July 2002 and November 2002—“performed actions discrediting the name of judges of the Republic of Lithuania and degrading the authority of the judiciary”.

By this judgment of the Court of Appeal of Lithuania:

A. Gudas was recognised guilty and sentenced under Paragraph 4 of Article 24 and Paragraph 2 of Article 228 of the CC, as well as under Paragraph 2 of Article 228 of the CC, imposing on him the penalty of deprivation of the right to work in the institutions of law enforcement, law and order and judicial institutions for four years;

D. Japertas was recognised guilty and sentenced under Paragraph 2 of Article 228 of the CC, imposing on him the penalty of deprivation of the right to work in the institutions of law enforcement, law and order and judicial institutions for two years and three months;

P. Linkevičienė was recognised guilty and sentenced under Paragraph 2 of Article 228 of the CC imposing on her the penalty of deprivation of the right to work in the institutions of law enforcement, law and order and judicial institutions for one year and three months.

The said judgment of the Court of Appeal of Lithuania is in effect.

5. It should be noted that the facts established by an effective court judgment are res judicata, they have prejudicial meaning, when this constitutional justice case is decided, they are not proved anew.

Thus, in this constitutional justice case, there is no need to investigate anew whether D. Japertas, P. Linkevičienė and A. Gudas, before the President of the Republic issued the impugned decree, had made the deeds (which were later assessed by the Court of Appeal of Lithuania as criminal) discrediting the name of judges.

III

On the compliance of the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003 with Paragraph 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 83, with the provision „a disciplinary case may be brought against a judge: (1) for the conduct discrediting the name of judges <…>” of Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 83, the provision “a disciplinary case may be instituted against a judge immediately after at least one of the violations specified in Paragraph 2 of Article 83 of this Law comes to light” of Paragraph 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 84, the provision “the instituted disciplinary case shall be referred to the Judicial Court of Honour” of Paragraph 6 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 84, the provision “the Judicial Court of Honour may, by its decision, advise the President of the Republic <…> (2) to release the judge from office <…>” of Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 86 and the provision “the judge of a local court shall be released from office by the President of the Republic” of Paragraph 6 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Law on Courts.

1. It has been mentioned that the Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, doubts whether the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003, whereby D. Japertas was released from the office of a judge of the Panevėžys City Local Court and the president of the same court, P. Linkevičienė—from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court and A. Gudas—from the office of a judge of the Lazdijai District Local Court and the president of the same court, is not in conflict, inter alia, with the articles (paragraphs thereof) of the Law on Courts (wording of 24 January 2002) specified by the petitioner in the aspect that the said decree was issued without prior institution of disciplinary cases against the judges and without a decision adopted by the Judicial Court of Honour proposing the President of the Republic to release them from office, and, thus, in the opinion of the petitioner, by violating the procedure for the release of judges from office established in the Law on Courts.

2. Paragraph 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 83 of the Law on Courts provides that “the judge shall be brought to disciplinary liability at the Judicial Court of Honour”. Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of this article entrenches the provision “the judge can be brought to disciplinary liability: (1) for the conduct discrediting the name of judges <…>”.

Paragraph 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 84 of the Law on Courts entrenches the provision “a disciplinary case may be instituted against a judge immediately after at least one of the violations specified in Paragraph 2 of Article 83 of this Law comes to light” and Paragraph 6 (wording of 24 January 2002) contains the provision “the instituted disciplinary case shall be referred to the Judicial Court of Honour”.

Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 86 of the Law on Courts provides, inter alia, that “the Judicial Court of Honour may, by its decision, advise the President of the Republic <…> (2) to release the judge from office <…>”, Paragraph 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 provides that “the judge shall be released from office <…> (5) when his conduct discredits the name of judges” and Paragraph 6 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 provides that “the judge of a local court shall be released from office by the President of the Republic”.

3. While assessing the legal regulation for the release of judges from office because of the fact that their conduct discredited the name of judges, which was established in the Law on Courts (wording of 24 January 2002 with subsequent amendments and supplements), in a systemic manner, in its ruling of 27 November 2006 the Constitutional Court held the following:

the Law on Courts (wording of 24 January 2002 with subsequent amendments and supplements) entrenches such overall regulation regarding the relations of the release of the judge from office because of the fact that the conduct the judge discredited the name of judges, under which the Judicial Court of Honour has the right, inter alia, to submit proposals for the President of the Republic to release the judge from office because of the fact that his conduct discredited the name of judges, and the President of the Republic, after having received the advice from the special institution of judges provided for by law specified in Paragraph 5 of Article 112 of the Constitution regarding the release of the judge from office because of the fact that his conduct discredited the name of judges, has the powers to decide whether to release the judge from office on the said grounds;

neither Article 90 (wording of 24 January 2002) of the Law on Courts nor other articles of this law provide that the President of the Republic may release the judge from office because of the fact that his conduct discredited the name of judges only upon the proposal from the Judicial Court of Honour to the President of the Republic; neither Article 90 (wording of 24 January 2002) of the Law on Courts nor other articles of this law provide that the President of the Republic may apply to the special institution of judges provided for by law specified in Paragraph 5 of Article 112 of the Constitution regarding the release of the judge from office because of the fact that his conduct discredited the name of judges only in the case when there is a proposal from the Judicial Court of Honour for the President of the Republic to release the judge from office because of the fact that his conduct discredited the name of judges;

the constitutional powers of the President of the Republic to apply to the special institution of judges provided for by law specified in Paragraph 5 of Article 112 of the Constitution for advice regarding the release of a judge from office because of the fact that his conduct discredited the name of judges, cannot be bound by the presence or absence of a corresponding proposal of the Judicial Court of Honour to the President of the Republic; under the Constitution, no decision of the Judicial Court of Honour in a disciplinary case, wherein it was investigated whether the conduct of a judge discredited the name of judges, whatever the content of such decision (inter alia, to dismiss the disciplinary case if there are no grounds for disciplinary liability; to restrict oneself to the consideration of the disciplinary case; to impose a disciplinary sanction on the judge), restricts nor let alone denies the constitutional powers of the President of the Republic to apply to the special institution of judges provided for by law specified in Paragraph 5 of Article 112 of the Constitution for advice regarding the release of the judge from office because of the fact that his conduct discredited the name of judges;

if the said legal regulation established in the Law on Courts (wording of 24 January 2002 with subsequent amendments and supplements) were construed as, purportedly, establishing the prohibition for the President of the Republic to apply to the special institution of judges provided for by law specified in Paragraph 5 of Article 112 of the Constitution for advice regarding the release of the judge from office until the Judicial Court of Honour (after it has considered the disciplinary case instituted against the judge) proposes the President of the Republic to release the judge from office because of the fact that his conduct discredited the name of judges, and as establishing the prohibition for the President of the Republic to release the judge from office because of the fact that his conduct discredited the name of judges if the Judicial Court of Honour (after it has considered the disciplinary case instituted against the judge) does not propose the President of the Republic to release the judge from office because of the fact that his conduct discredited the name of judges, it would mean that Article 86 (wording of 24 January 2002) (we construe it in relation with Article 90) of the Law on Courts establishes such legal regulation that restricts or even denies the powers of the President of the Republic, which are established in the Constitution, to release judges of local and regional courts as well as judges of the Court of Appeal from office whose conduct discredited the name of judges, and that restricts or even denies the powers of the special institution of judges provided for by law specified in Paragraph 5 of Article 112 of the Constitution to advice the President of the Republic regarding the release of the judge from office. If the Law on Courts (wording of 24 January 2002 with subsequent amendments and supplements) established the said legal regulation—restricting or even denying the powers of the President of the Republic, which are established in the Constitution, to release judges of the local and regional courts as well as judges of the Court of Appeal from office whose conduct discredited the name of judges, and restricting or even denying the powers of the special institution of judges provided for by law specified in Paragraph 5 of Article 112 of the Constitution to advice the President of the Republic regarding the release of the judge from office—it could be regarded as being in conflict with the Constitution.

4. Having held that under the Law on Courts (wording of 24 January 2002 with subsequent amendments and supplements), before a judge of a local court is released from office because of the fact that his conduct discredited the name of judges, it is not necessary to institute a disciplinary case against such a judge, and it is not necessary that the Judicial Court of Honour, after it has considered such a case, would adopt a decision to propose the President of the Republic to release that judge from office, as well as that irrespective of the fact whether or not there is a proposal of the Judicial Court of Honour to the President of the Republic to release the judge from office, it does not restrict, let alone deny the constitutional powers of the President of the Republic to apply to the special institution of judges provided for by law specified in Paragraph 5 of Article 112 of the Constitution for advice regarding the release of the judge from office because of the fact that his conduct discredited the name of judges, and upon receiving such advice, to release the said judge from office, it should also be held that the President of the Republic was entitled to issue the decree whereby he released D. Japertas from the office of a judge of the Panevėžys City Local Court and the president of the same court, P. Linkevičienė—from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court and A. Gudas—from the office of a judge of the Lazdijai District Local Court and the president of the same court because of the fact that the conduct of the said judges discredited the name of judges, though the disciplinary cases had not been instituted against these judges due to the actions that they performed and the Judicial Court of Honour had not adopted a decision to propose the President of the Republic to release D. Japertas, P. Linkevičienė and A. Gudas from the offices of judges of corresponding courts and of the presidents of those courts.

5. Taking account of the arguments set forth, the conclusion should be drawn that the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003 is not in conflict (in the aspect specified by the petitioner) with Paragraph 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 83, with the provision “a disciplinary case may be brought against a judge: (1) for the conduct discrediting the name of judges <…>” of Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 83, the provision “a disciplinary case may be instituted against a judge immediately after at least one of the violations specified in Paragraph 2 of Article 83 of this Law comes to light” of Paragraph 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 84, the provision “the instituted disciplinary case shall be referred to the Judicial Court of Honour” of Paragraph 6 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 84, the provision “the Judicial Court of Honour may, by its decision, advise the President of the Republic <…> (2) to release the judge from office <…>” of Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 86 and the provision “the judge of a local court shall be released from office by the President of the Republic” of Paragraph 6 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Law on Courts.

IV

On the compliance of the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003 with the provision “judges of courts shall be released from office according to the procedure established by law” of Article 115, Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution and with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

1. Article 115 of the Constitution entrenches the provision “judges of courts shall be released from office according to the procedure established by law”.

Article 29 of the Constitution provides:

All persons shall be equal before the law, the court, and other State institutions and officials.

The rights of the human being may not be restricted, nor may he be granted any privileges on the ground of gender, race, nationality, language, origin, social status, belief, convictions, or views.”

2. The Constitutional Court held in its ruling of 27 November 2006 that when the requirement to establish the procedure for releasing judges from office by law entrenched in Article 115 of the Constitution is construed in the context of Paragraph 4 of Article 111 of the Constitution, under which the formation and competence of courts shall be established by the Law on Courts, it means that the procedure for the release of judges from office must be established not in any law, but namely in the Law on Courts; in the same ruling it is also held that while establishing the procedure for releasing judges from office in the Law on Courts, the legislature, under the Constitution, has certain discretion, however, while establishing this procedure, the legislature, inter alia, may not deny or restrict the constitutional powers of the President of the Republic, the Seimas and of the special institution of judges specified in Paragraph 5 of Article 112 of the Constitution which are entrenched in the Constitution.

While construing the content of Article 29 of the Constitution, wherein the principle of equal rights of all persons before the law is entrenched, the Constitutional Court has held in its acts more than once that this principle would be violated when a certain group of people for which the legal norm is established, if compared to other addressees of the same legal norm, were treated differently, even though there are not any differences in the character and extent between these groups objectively justifying such unequal treatment.

3. It has been mentioned that the Vilnius Regional Court doubts whether the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003 is not in conflict, inter alia, with the provision “judges of courts shall be released from office according to the procedure established by law” of Article 115 and Paragraph 1 of Article 29 of the Constitution, with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law, as well as with the articles (paragraphs thereof) of the Law on Courts (wording of 24 January 2002) specified by the petitioner in the aspect that it was issued without prior institution of disciplinary cases against the judges and without a decision adopted by the Judicial Court of Honour proposing the President of the Republic to release them from office, and, thus, in the opinion of the petitioner, by violating the procedure for the release of judges from office established in the Law on Courts.

4. It has been held in this ruling of the Constitutional Court that the impugned decree of the President of the Republic is not in conflict (in the aspect specified by the petitioner) with Paragraph 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 83, with the provision „a disciplinary case may be brought against a judge: (1) for the conduct discrediting the name of judges <…>” of Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 83, the provision “a disciplinary case may be instituted against a judge immediately after at least one of the violations specified in Paragraph 2 of Article 83 of this Law comes to light” of Paragraph 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 84, the provision “the instituted disciplinary case shall be referred to the Judicial Court of Honour” of Paragraph 6 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 84, the provision “the Judicial Court of Honour may, by its decision, advise the President of the Republic <…> (2) to release the judge from office <…>” of Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 86 and the provision “the judge of a local court shall be released from office by the President of the Republic” of Paragraph 6 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Law on Courts.

5. Thus, there are no legal grounds to assert that after D. Japertas had been released from the office of a judge of the Panevėžys City Local Court and the president of the same court, P. Linkevičienė—from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court and A. Gudas—from the office of a judge of the Lazdijai District Local Court and the president of the same court by the impugned decree of the President of the Republic, the provision “judges of courts shall be released from office according to the procedure established by law” of Article 115 of the Constitution was disregarded (in the aspect specified by the petitioner).

6. After it has been held that under the Constitution and the Law on Courts (wording of 24 January 2002 with subsequent amendments and supplements), the President of the Republic has the powers to release a judge of a local court from office, who, by his conduct, discredited the name of judges, regardless of the fact whether a disciplinary case was instituted against the judge and whether there is a proposal from the Judicial Court of Honour to the President of the Republic to release the judge from office or a disciplinary case was not instituted against the judge and there is no proposal from the Judicial Court of Honour to the President of the Republic to release the said judge from office, it should also be held that there are no legal grounds to assert that the impugned decree of the President of the Republic, whereby D. Japertas had been released from the office of a judge of the Panevėžys City Local Court and the president of the same court, P. Linkevičienė—from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court and A. Gudas—from the office of a judge of the Lazdijai District Local Court and the president of the same court, discriminated these persons in any way and that the principle of equal rights of all persons before the law which is entrenched in Article 29 of the Constitution, inter alia, Paragraph 1 of this article, was violated in any aspect.

7. After it has been held that the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003 does not violate (in the aspect specified by the petitioner) Paragraph 1 of Article 29, the provision “judges of courts shall be released from office according to the procedure established by law” of Article 115 of the Constitution and the corresponding articles (paragraphs thereof) of the Law on Courts (wording of 24 January 2002), it should also be held that the impugned decree of the President of the Republic is not in conflict (in the aspect specified by the petitioner) with the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law.

V

On the compliance of the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003, to the extent that it provides that P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court, with Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution.

1. The Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, doubts whether the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003, to the extent that it provides that P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court, is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution.

2. Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution provides: “A person shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to the procedure established by law and declared guilty by an effective court judgment.”

This constitutional provision entrenches the principle of presumption of innocence.

The Constitutional Court has held in its acts more than once that the presumption of innocence consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution is one of the most important guarantees of administration of justice in a democratic state under the rule of law and, alongside, an important guarantee for human rights and freedoms, that it is especially important that state institutions and officials follow the presumption of innocence, that public persons should in general restrain from referring to a person as a criminal until the guilt of the person in committing the crime is proven upon the procedure established by law and the person is recognised guilty by an effective court judgment, otherwise, human dignity and honour could be violated and various human rights and freedoms could be undermined.

The Constitutional Court has also held that the presumption of innocence consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution may not be construed only linguistically and as the one which is linked only with administration of justice in the process of criminal cases, that the presumption of innocence consolidated in Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution, when evaluated in the context of other provisions of the Constitution, has broader content, it may not be linked with the penal legal relations only (the Constitutional Court’s rulings of 29 December 2004 and 16 January 2006).

3. It is obvious from the material of the case that the Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, doubts whether the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003, to the extent that it provides that P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court, is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution because of the fact that by the impugned decree of the President of the Republic, P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court without prior institution of a disciplinary case against P. Linkevičienė and without a decision adopted by the Judicial Court of Honour proposing the President of the Republic to release her from office, as well as because of the fact that P. Linkevičienė was released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court without prior adoption of a judgment of conviction in her regard and before entry into force of such judgment.

4. In the context of the constitutional justice case at issue, it should be noted that the content of the principle of presumption of innocence which is entrenched in Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution cannot be construed that it, purportedly, also implies that the President of the Republic may release a judge of a local court from office, who, by his conduct, discredited the name of judges, only after a disciplinary case has been instituted against that judge and the Judicial Court of Honour has adopted the decision to propose to the President of the Republic to release the judge from office because of the fact that by his conduct the said judge discredited the name of judges. Quite to the contrary, as it has been held in this ruling of the Constitutional Court, under the Constitution and the Law on Courts (wording of 24 January 2002 with subsequent amendments and supplements), the President of the Republic has the powers to release such judge of a local court from office regardless of the fact whether a disciplinary case was instituted against the judge and regardless of whether there is a proposal from the Judicial Court of Honour to the President of the Republic to release the judge from office or whether no disciplinary case was instituted against the judge and there is no proposal from the Judicial Court of Honour to the President of the Republic to release the said judge from office.

Moreover, the content of the principle of presumption of innocence which is entrenched in Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution cannot be construed that it, purportedly, implies, inter alia, that the President of the Republic cannot release a judge from office, who by his conduct discredited the name of judges, until a judgment of conviction in regard of that judge is adopted and such judgment comes into force. In this context, it should be noted that Article 115 of the Constitution establishes various grounds for release of judges from office, that judges may be released from office also “when their conduct discredited the name of judges” (Item 5), and “upon the entry into effect of court judgments convicting them” (Item 6). In its ruling of 27 November 2006, the Constitutional Court held that the Constitution does not expressis verbis establish any types of conduct of judges by which the name of judges is discredited; that the formula “conduct discrediting the name of judges” is capacious, it includes not only the conduct of the judge, by which, while implementing his powers as a judge, he discredited the name of judges, but also the conduct which discredited the name of judges with no relation to the implementation of the powers of the judge; that, under the Constitution, the legislature, as well as the self-governance institutions of the judiciary, has the discretion to establish what conduct of a judge should be regarded as such by which the name of judges is discredited, however, neither laws nor decisions of self-governance institutions of the judiciary may establish any thorough (final) list of actions by which a judge discredits the name of judges. In the said Constitutional Court’s ruling it was also held that when deciding whether the conduct of the judge is the one by which the name of judges is discredited, every time all the circumstances related with the said conduct and significant to the case must be assessed.

It should be emphasised that the mere fact that the said grounds for release of judges from office—“when their conduct discredited the name of judges” (Item 5), and “upon the entry into effect of court judgments convicting them” (Item 6)—are separated in Article 115 of the Constitution means that these grounds cannot be identified with each other and that the conduct discrediting the name of judges is not related to the commission of a criminal deed. On the other hand, the conduct discrediting the name of judges may be recognised as a criminal deed later by a court judgment of conviction. Thus, under Item 5 of Article 115 of the Constitution, a judge may be released from office when by his conduct discredits the name of judges, regardless of whether the conduct discrediting the name of judges is later assessed by court as a criminal deed and regardless of whether the corresponding court judgment of conviction comes into effect.

5. Thus, the fact that before the President of the Republic issued the decree whereby P. Linkevičienė was released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court, no disciplinary case had been instituted against her and the Judicial Court of Honour had not adopted a proposal to the President of the Republic to release her from office because of the fact that her conduct discredited the name of judges, and the fact that before the President of the Republic issued a decree whereby P. Linkevičienė was released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court, no court judgment of conviction had been adopted in her regard and such judgment had not come in effect yet, does not mean that by such decree of the President of the Republic, whereby P. Linkevičienė was released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court the principle of presumption of innocence which is entrenched in Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution was violated (in the aspects specified by the petitioner).

6. It has been held in this ruling of the Constitutional Court that the President of the Republic issued the impugned decree only after the then Council of Courts advised the President of the Republic to release P. Linkevičienė from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court because of the fact that by her conduct she discredited the name of judges.

7. It has also been held that by its judgment of 9 June 2006 in criminal case No. 1A-65-2006, the Court of Appeal of Lithuania recognised that “within the area of [her] work and professional activity” between July 2002 and November 2002 P. Linkevičienė “performed actions discrediting the name of judges of the Republic of Lithuania and degrading the authority of the judiciary”; by this judgment of the Court of Appeal of Lithuania, P. Linkevičienė was recognised guilty and sentenced under Paragraph 2 of Article 228 of the CC imposing on her the penalty of deprivation of the right to work in the institutions of law enforcement, law and order and judicial institutions for one year and three months.

8. Also a fact is of essential importance that the impugned decree of the President of the Republic, whereby P. Linkevičienė was released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court, does not state that P. Linkevičienė is guilty of commission of any criminal deed, nor does it state that the fact for which P. Linkevičienė was released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court, is a criminal deed. The President of the Republic, releasing P. Linkevičienė from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court by means of his decree No. 164 of 22 July 2003, implemented the powers established for him in the Constitution to release a judge of a local court whose conduct discredited the name of judges.

9. Taking account of the arguments set forth, the conclusion should be drawn that the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003, to the extent that it provides that P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court (for the conduct discrediting the name of judges) is not in conflict (in the aspects specified by the petitioner) with Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution.

VI

On the compliance of the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003, to the extent that it provides that P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court, with Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

1. The Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, doubts whether the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003, to the extent that it provides that P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court, is not in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention For the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

2. The Convention was ratified by Article 1 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law “On the Ratification of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the Fourth, Seventh and Eleventh Protocols thereof” which was adopted by the Seimas on 27 April 1995. With regard to Lithuania this Convention came into force on 20 June 1995.

Under Paragraph 3 of Article 138 of the Constitution, international treaties ratified by the Seimas shall be a constituent part of the legal system of the Republic of Lithuania. In the Lithuanian legal system, the Convention has the force of a law. Thus, under the Constitution, no substatutory legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania, including decrees of the President of the Republic, may be in conflict with the Convention.

3. Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention provides: “Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.”

Thus, Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention consolidates the principle of presumption of innocence.

4. While deciding whether the impugned decree of the President of the Republic, to the extent that it provides that P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court, is not in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention, the fact is of essential importance that the concept of the principle of presumption of innocence which is consolidated in Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention is virtually the same as the concept of the principle of presumption of innocence which is entrenched in Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

5. After it has been held that the impugned decree of the President of the Republic, to the extent that it provides that P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court does not violate the principle of presumption of innocence which is entrenched in Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution, taking account of the same arguments, it should also be held that there are no legal grounds to assert that the impugned decree of the President of the Republic violates (in the aspects specified by the petitioner) the principle of presumption of innocence, which is consolidated in Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention, nor that it violates Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention.

6. Taking account of the arguments set forth, the conclusion should be drawn that the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003, to the extent that it provides that P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court, is not in conflict (in the aspects specified by the petitioner) with Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

VII

1. It has been mentioned that the Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, disputes the compliance of the Decree of the President of the Republic (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” of 22 July 2003 with the Constitution, and with the articles (paragraphs thereof) of the Law on Courts only in the aspect that the specified decree of the President of the Republic was issued without prior institution of disciplinary cases against the judges and without a decision adopted by the Judicial Court of Honour proposing the President of the Republic to release them from office, and, thus, in the opinion of the petitioner, by violating the procedure for the release of judges from office established in the Law on Courts; the Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner (petition No. 1B-19), disputes the compliance of the said decree of the President of the Republic with Paragraph 1 of Article 31 of the Constitution and Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention also in the aspect that P. Linkevičienė was released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court without prior adoption of a judgment of conviction in her regard and before entry into force of such judgment.

It was also mentioned that the petitioner does not dispute the compliance of the specified decree of the President of the Republic with the Constitution and with the articles (paragraphs thereof) of the Law on Courts and the Convention in any other aspects.

2. The compliance of laws and other legal acts, as well as decrees of the President of the Republic, with legal acts of higher legal force, first of all, with the Constitution, may be investigated in various aspects, quite often also in such, which are not specified in the petition of the petitioner.

The aspects and extent of the investigation into the compliance of the impugned decree of the President of the Republic with the Constitution, and with the articles (paragraphs thereof) of the Law on Courts and the Convention in this constitutional justice case are determined not only by the arguments of the petition of the Vilnius Regional Court, the petitioner, but also by the fact that, as mentioned before, by the judgment of the Lithuanian Court of Appeal of 9 June 2006 in criminal case No. 1A-65-2006, D. Japertas, P. Linkevičienė and A. Gudas were recognised guilty of the commission of criminal deeds and were sentenced.

After D. Japertas, P. Linkevičienė and A. Gudas have been recognised guilty for the commission of the corresponding criminal deeds (whereby, as mentioned before, the name of judges was discredited) by a court judgment of conviction and after they have been sentenced, these persons cannot be restored to the office of the judge. Obviously, under such circumstances, the investigation into whether the impugned decree of the President of the Republic is not in conflict with the Constitution, some articles (paragraphs thereof) of the Law on Courts and the Convention also in any other aspects, which are not specified by the petitioner, would have no sense.

Conforming to Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and Articles 1, 53, 54, 55, 56, 69 and Paragraph 2 of Article 80 of the Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania gives the following

ruling:

1. To recognise that the Decree of the President of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2003, No. 73-3363) of 22 July 2003 is not in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania.

2. To recognise that the Decree of the President of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2003, No. 73-3363) of 22 July 2003, to the extent that it provides that P. Linkevičienė is released from the office of a judge of the Biržai District Local Court and the president of the same court, is not in conflict with Paragraph 2 of Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

3. To recognise that the Decree of the President of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2003, No. 73-3363) of 22 July 2003 is not in conflict with Paragraph 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 83, the provision „a disciplinary case may be brought against a judge: (1) for the conduct discrediting the name of judges <…>” of Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 83, the provision “a disciplinary case may be instituted against a judge immediately after at least one of the violations specified in Paragraph 2 of Article 83 of this Law comes to light” of Paragraph 1 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 84, the provision “the instituted disciplinary case shall be referred to the Judicial Court of Honour” of Paragraph 6 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 84, the provision “the Judicial Court of Honour may, by its decision, advise the President of the Republic <…> (2) to release the judge from office <…>” of Paragraph 2 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 86 and the provision “the judge of a local court shall be released from office by the President of the Republic” of Paragraph 6 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Courts.

4. To dismiss the part of the case on the compliance of the Decree of the President of the Republic of Lithuania (No. 164) “On Releasing Judges of Local Courts and Presidents of Courts from Office” (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2003, No. 73-3363) of 22 July 2003 with Paragraph 7 (wording of 24 January 2002) of Article 90 of the Republic of Lithuania’s Law on Courts.

This ruling of the Constitutional Court is final and not subject to appeal.

The ruling is pronounced in the name of the Republic of Lithuania.

Justices of the Constitutional Court:             Armanas Abramavičius

                                                                                  Egidijus Kūris

                                                                                  Kęstutis Lapinskas

                                                                                  Zenonas Namavičius

                                                                                  Ramutė Ruškytė

                                                                                  Vytautas Sinkevičius

                                                                                  Stasys Stačiokas

                                                                                  Romualdas Kęstutis Urbaitis