Lisbon 8-9 June - Lay judges in Administrative Courts
Do you have lay judges in your countries? ( If not: 1. What is the reason for this? 2. If your country has lay judges in general courts you may describe that system instead.)
No, there are no lay judges in the administrative courts in Greece. But lay judges exist in the criminal courts and in some specific cases in the Special Supreme Court, which is an arbitrary ad hoc Court, convened when there is conflicting case-law between the Council of State, the Court of Cassation and the Court of Audit.
In what kind of courts? Which instances?
Lay judges participate to criminal courts in the first and second instance, in a proportion of 4 to 3 with ordinary judges, when judging very serious crimes such as those against life, sexual crimes, human trafficking, drugs etc. In the above Special Supreme Court, 2 professors of Law take part in a 13 members chamber, in which members of the 3 above mentioned Supreme Courts participate as well.
How are the lay judges nominated? Politically or in other ways?
The lay judges are appointed for a specific term (one month) by lot, selected from the electoral list. The only prequisition is an age limit (30 years of age for the court of first instance and 40 years of age for the Court of Appeal and not older than 70). The President of the Republic, members of the Parliament, the Government, the Judiciary, mayors, diplomats, clerics of all religions, administrative staff of the Courts and criminal convicts are excluded by the above selection.
How many lay judges serve in the same bench?
There is always a catalogue of lay judges from which the participants in a specific session of the Court (usually 12 days) are notified to participate to the public hearing, where there is a further selection by lot for nominating the specific lay judges that will hear the cases of the day. The above mentioned Professors of Law are nominated by lot for a term of one year.
What is the purpose with the lay judges? (To represent the public, to possess local knowledge, to have special competence, other?)
The reason is the democratic principle of representing the public. In the case of Special Supreme Court is legal knowledge.
Do they swear an oath?
Yes, they do.
Do they have an individual vote?
Yes, they do.
Can they overrule the professional judge?
Yes, they can and in Greece many lawyers refer to the “4-3 majority” in criminal cases, which, some times, are overturned by the Court of Cassation for being badly justified.
Is there any discussion going on in your country concerning the role of the lay judges?
What is your personal experience of working with lay judges?
Do you have others, besides the professional judges, who may take part in the adjudication process, like experts in different fields?
In the administrative courts two types of other participants of the case could be involved: specialists and experts.
Specialist could be invited by the administrative court when the special knowledge is needed for evaluation, examination and investigation of documents, materials and actions.
Experts are invited by the judge or the court in case an expertise in certain science, art, technics or trade sphere is required. Conclusion of an expert is not binding to the court.