The High Council of Justice has been delaying cases of judges of low priority for months and often covering them up, but the work of the newly established Ethics Council has already shown its effectiveness.
In mid-December, DEJURE Foundation experts sent an appeal to the Ethics Council regarding judge Oleksandr Panasiuk, who had applied to be a member of the High Council of Justice. In particular, our lawyers found out that the judge systematically helped drunk drivers to avoid responsibility despite the obvious evidence of their guilt. After that, judge Panasiuk withdrew his candidacy from the HCJ competition.
What's wrong with Judge Panasiuk?
One of the most telling examples is that during an appeal hearing, judge Panasyuk overturned a first-instance court ruling on a drunk driver who crashed into another car and then tried to flee the scene. He did not succeed: witnesses to the accident blocked the road. Draeger showed 1.91 permille of alcohol - almost 10 times the norm!
In court, the driver claimed that it was not him who was behind the wheel, but his friend. However, the first instance court rejected his testimony, as it was refuted by the case file, deprived him of the right to drive for a year and fined him (case № 127/9633/20).
The violator filed an appeal, which was considered by judge Panasyuk - in August 2020, he revoked the decision and completely released the driver from punishment, because he decided that there was no evidence that he was behind the wheel. However, it was obviously not true.
The first instance court described in detail what was shown in the video from the body cameras of the patrol police officers. It is clear from the description that this particular driver was behind the wheel. Judge Panasyuk did not refute the facts but simply wrote that they did not exist. This is very similar to the usual "purchased" decision. Such actions of judge Panasyuk raise reasonable doubts about his honesty and incorruptibility and significantly undermine the authority of the court.
Why are judge Panasyuk's actions malicious?
The systematic covering up of drunk drivers in courts of appeal, in addition to undermining the authority of the court, sets a precedent and a guideline for judges of the first instance. In essence, they force them to take into account such positions of the courts of appeal.
Moreover, cases of drunk drivers are very corruptogenic. It is only in recent times that the High Anti-Corruption Court has convicted four judges of bribery, which was connected with covering up drunk drivers.
Apparently, judge Panasyuk decided not to continue participating in the HCJ competition as soon as he learned that the Ethics Council received information about his systematic covering up drunk drivers.
An interesting fact
Judge Panasyuk has already been elected a member of the High Qualification Commission of Judges in 2019. And at the last Congress of Judges, he almost became a member of the HCJ and received 110 votes, so under the old procedure he had good chances to be elected.
However, apparently, judge Panasyuk quite reasonably decided that it was unrealistic to pass the Ethics Council vetting. And this is already a great start for the Ethics Council!