By: Sara Kovač / Nova24tv
Last week we were reminded of a story in which Judge Milena Turuk, with the help of the President of the Ljubljana District Court, Senior Judge Marjan Pogačnik, allegedly received a promotion – mainly because she ordered only house arrest for Pogačnik’s son. According to unofficial information, he allegedly committed an armed robbery – for which “ordinary mortals” would of course be given the usual detention. It is not known how this story ended, but it is known that Pogačnik allegedly rewarded certain judges, even if they did not work for their “raise”. For some, this “non-work” brought more than an extra thousand a month.
According to information obtained from the court, the president of the Ljubljana District Court, Marjan Pogačnik, supposedly rewards individual judges and assigns them to a specialised department dealing with criminal cases of organised and economic crime, terrorism, corruption and other similar crimes. He paid them the salaries of the Supreme Judges and the Supreme Judges of the Councillors, although they worked on only 50 per cent of the affairs of the Specialised Division. Among these judges was also District Judge Councillor Polona Herman.
Herman has been involved in cases involving minors, domestic violence and sexual crime offenses – allegedly by the end of 2019 and in 2020 she has not resolved a single case within the competence of the specialised department, and all the time she supposedly received the salary of the Supreme Judge Councillor in 100% share. As a district judge, she received a salary of 3,406.45 euros (54th pay grade), and due to her assignment to a specialised department, she received a salary of 4,434.60 euros (61st pay grade), which is a difference of 1,028.13 euros per month. Specialised divisions operate at the District Courts in Maribor, Celje, Nova Gorica and Ljubljana, but no court other than the Ljubljana court has assigned judges to a specialised division with only a 50% burden and a 100% salary.
Herman does not understand jokes – especially when it comes to Janković
We also remember Herman from the case when she sentenced a Delo journalist to pay 1,965 euros for insulting Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković. Borut Tavčar wrote in Delo about the controversial use of money from public companies to finance projects of the City of Ljubljana (MOL). “We are all one big family, said Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković several times about the relationship between the city administration and the Ljubljana Public Holding, which includes four public companies. The companies do not completely agree with this, some even ‘evilly’ hint that Josef Fritzl also had a large family, but the question is whether part of it was happy in the basement,” he wrote in June 2009.
Tavčar’s advocate attributed Janković’s subjective feeling of resentment to the lack of understanding of the text, while Herman said the comparison was inappropriate, painful, and extremely offensive – and Janković also said that he understood it as an insult. The judge assessed the record as an extremely rude, insulting and humiliating attack on the mayor and a negative and underestimating value assessment, which cannot mean a constitutional right to expression. However, then the verdict was taken into the hands of senior judges, who agreed with the journalist or his lawyer, who claimed that the journalist used the well-known criminal affair as a comparison that large families, which seem to be perfectly organised on the outside, might have dark and tragic secrets. They agreed that Tavčar figuratively compared the relationship between the city administration and the Ljubljana Public Holding, which could be understood by the average reader. According to the text, he wrote about Janković’s work as mayor, not about his private life, Delo reported.
The judge should not be chosen by human will, but by chance
We recently also drew attention to another unusual circumstance of Pogačnik’s court. According to some information, the District Court in Ljubljana had so-called ad hoc out-of-court chambers, which were not formally regulated in any act, not even in the annual schedule of judges. This allowed the chambers to be composed without any order – all of which means that the principle of the natural judge was, of course, violated. The judge to whom the case had been assigned as rapporteur chose the President and a member of the Chamber as he saw fit. The operation of the out-of-court panel was determined by the annual schedule, with half of the judges assigned to the panel, which met every Monday, and half to the panel, which held weekly sessions on Fridays. It was determined that the president of the senate is a judge who follows the judge-rapporteur after the initials of the surname, and a member of the senate is a judge who follows the president of the senate after the initials of the surname. This ensured the legitimacy of the senates. However, the above-mentioned ad hoc chambers were not regulated by the annual schedule of judges and were composed in violation of it, as the judge-rapporteur chose the judge himself to participate in the senate.