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Conference ‘Improvement of the Position of Judicial Assistants’

19 06 2019

Conference ‘Improvement of the Position of Judicial Assistants’

At a conference held in Hotel ‘Moskva’ today, our partners from the Association of Misdemeanor Judges, the Association of Judicial and Prosecutorial Assistants, and the Belgrade Law Conference presented to assessments on the topic of the current position of judicial assistants and recommendations for its improvement.

Within their grant project ‘Defining a Clear Career Position of Judicial Assistants, Improvement of Transparency and their status in the Judiciary in the Light of the New Constitutional Changes’, the Association of Misdemeanor Judges has, together with the Association of the Judicial and Prosecutorial Assistants, developed the ‘Catalogue and Analysis of Judicial Assistants’ Tasks in Basic, Higher, Appellate, and Misdemeanor courts’ which reflects he wide variety of duties that judicial assistants carry out in courts of different rank and jurisdiction. This document also contains a proposal of future tasks that the judicial assistants could be entrusted with to perform unaided, which could be proscribed within the process laws that are expected to undergo amendments after the constitutional amendments in the area of judiciary will have been adopted.

To complement this initiative of the two professional associations, we have also provided grant funds to the Belgrade Law Conference to develop an 'Assessment of the Position of Judicial Assistants in the Republic of Serbia'. Within their research project, BEKOP based their insights and recommendations on a survey and direct interviews with 64 judges and arrived at a comprehensive current picture related to the position of judicial assistants and proposed measures for its improvement by ntroducing a clear career path, tailor-made training, performance evaluation, as well as identified legal and administrative procedures that require changing in order to enable a more efficient functioning of the judiciary, accompanied by a set of proposals for amendments to the judicial laws that will effect an improvement in the position of the judicial assistants.

The conference was opened by Milan Marinović, president of the Association of Misdemeanor Judges and President of the Belgrade Misdemeanor Court, and Dragana Lukić, Deputy Chief of Party of our Project. As they stated, the two projects and resulting analyses demonstrate that the importance of the work carried out by judicial assistants for the overall functioning of the judiciary in the Republic of Serbia has been duly recognized, rendering them not ‘invisible’ any more. In the light of the impending constitutional changes and the subsequent changes to the set of judicial laws, it is now time to clearly define their role in the court proceedings, as well as their career path for advancing vertically, towards the higher instance calls, as well as horizontally, within the courts of the same rank, for those among them who desire to realize their professional ambitions as judicial assistants. Also, discussions were held on the possibility of having judicial assistants cross over from the ranks of the civil servants and under the auspices of the High Court Council.

The assessment and recommendations have been presented on behalf of BEKOP by Vanja Bojović PhD, docent at the Belgrade Faculty of Law, while Jelena Dunjić, First Basic Court judge, and Milica Milić, Belgrade Misdemeanor Court judge, presented the assessment carried out by the two professional associations.

Discussion on the topic of judicial assistants acting in criminal cases, in the light of impending constitutional cases and changes to the set of criminal procedure laws was opened by Nenad Stefanović, president of the Association of Judges and Prosecutors of Serbia.

This conference marked the end of their grant project for BEKOP, while our partners in the Association of Misdemeanor Judges will continue their activities after the summer break and present their assessment to law students from across Serbia in order to inform them of tasks performed by judicial assistants in the courts and potentially interest them for opting for this profession as the career of choice for starting their work in the judiciary.

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