Judge Cristi Danileț from the Cluj Tribunal has been thrown off the bench by the Superior Council of Magistracy due to two videos posted on TikTok last year.
While CSM considered that the two videos depicted a “conduct that harms the image of justice”, Cristi Danileț argues that the videos featured him while mowing the hedge at home, respectively while cleaning the swimming pool.
The magistrate replied that his private life has nothing to do with the judiciary and announced he will challenge the CSM ruling to the High Court of Cassation and Justice.
“I did not make any statement then about justice and the images have nothing to do with the profession. It is just my private life, for which I do not consider I have to be held accountable”, says Cristi Danileț in a post on Facebook.
“Obviously, I will appeal to the High Court and I am sure that this solution will be remedied. I will continue to fulfill my duties until the final decision is taken“, added the judge from the Cluj Tribunal.
According to the CSM spokesperson, Iulia Craiu, Cristi Danileț is banned from judging, from going to work and he doesn’t receive his salary anymore until a ruling by the Supreme Court.
Cristi Danileț’s sanction was made upon the proposal of the Judicial Inspection, which accused him of two deviations: “900 days of uninterrupted siege on the Romanian judiciary” and “the defendant’s manifestations on social networks”. The CSM rejected the disciplinary action for the first reason.
“The solution was taken by a majority of votes, because some SCM members found that the irregularities invoked by me regarding the way in which the investigation was carried out by the Judicial Inspection are real“, commented Cristi Danileț. Instead, the CSM decided to sanction the judge for posts on social media.
The Opposition parties and civil society retorted to Danilet’ ousting from magistracy, denouncing it as a political lynching. The former USR minister of Justice, Stelian Ion said that the CSM Judge Section wanted to strike a tough blow to the magistrates who endorse the reform of the judiciary.
“PNL, PSD and UDMR are starting to destroy the judiciary. The scarce reform carried out so far will take huge steps back due to the coalition vouched by President Iohannis”, also said USR chairman Dacian Ciolos.
Justice Minister, Cătălin Predoiu, said on Tuesday that through its decision to expel Cristi Danilet from magistracy, CSM “has risked very much”, and that “if this is the new exigency level” that it wants to impose, then it has to be done in general and without exceptions.
Other five judges sanctioned
Along with Judge Cristi Danileț, who was expelled from the judiciary, five other judges from the Criminal Section of the Constanța Court of Appeal were sanctioned by the Section for Judges of the CSM, and namely Ciprian Coadă, Valentina Boboc, Anghel Tudor Georgiana, Iulia – Cezara Suciu and Marius Virgil Ungureanu, judges in the Criminal Section of the Constanţa Court of Appeal. They tried high sounding cases such as Mircea Băsescu, Sorin Strutinsky, Nicușor Constantinescu, Roșu Iancu Tiberiu or the Beirut / George Karam case.
US Embassy in Bucharest, the EC react
The US Embassy is deeply concerned about the exclusion of Judge Cristi Danileț from the judiciary, reads a Facebook post of the embassy. “An independent judiciary that respects the rule of law is essential for any prosperous democracy (…) We encourage the new Romanian Government to continue the necessary judiciary and anti-corruption reforms. Romanian citizens deserve an independent judiciary system, that should observe the rule of law and the democratic values”.
The European Commission told Hotnews.ro that “ensuring the independence of judges is an obligation of the member states pursuant to the treaties and it is a key element of the rule of law”. “We follow with serious concern the latest developments on the disciplinary actions against Romanian judges,” said the EC spokesperson for Hotnews.ro.