“#I’m_an_Ambassador_of_ Law” Initiative26.07.2019
On July 16, 2019, in the office of Judge David Grigoryan, the Special Investigation Service of the Republic of Armenia carried out investigative actions, and this circumstance gained wide public attention due to a non-favorable judicial act of the same judge in another criminal case.
The criminal procedures carried out in the judge’s office were both lawful and unlawful (seizure of a hard disk- prescribed by law, and sealing the office door- not prescribed by law). These actions were carried out under investigation of a criminal case for allegedly forging a document by a judge. At the same time, the criminal case on the same fact was dismissed in February, 2019; the denial was upheld by the prosecutor and the court, and a few days after judge Grigoryan made the not-so-favorable decision about the famous criminal case, on 22 May, the applicant submitted “more substantiated arguments” to the Office of the General Prosecutor (!) and thereon a criminal case was initiated.
The initiation of the criminal case itself was problematic, as it is impossible not to notice the causality between Judge Grigoryan’s non-favorable decision and the right after following initiation of the criminal case.
This causal link is way more clear when one considers the gross violations of the criminal procedure and constitutional law committed during the investigative activities in the judge’s office. Particularly:
1) The investigator first made a decision to seize the hard disk of a judge’s computer and filed a lawsuit to commit his judgement, informing the Supreme Judicial Council about that beforehand, but did not allow the judge in his office to participate in the investigative action of seizing his own computer. This is a gross violation of Articles 227 and 228 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Republic of Armenia, as the person holding the subject of confiscation should be allowed to voluntarily surrender it. It is also a serious problem, whether the data for the criminal case could reasonably be disclosed from a judge’s computer or was it merely a pretext for access to information on the judge’s computer. By depriving the judge of his ability to take part in investigative action, the investigator also deprived the judge of the guarantee provided for in Article 53 of the Judicial Code, that is “In case of necessity of investigative action with the participation of a judge who is not in criminal prosecution the prosecutor shall inform the Supreme Judicial Council and the relevant judge at least one day before the commencement of the investigation. ”
(2) After the “successful” confiscation is completed, the investigator has an incomprehensible and unexplainable intention to search the offices of the judge and his assistant. Its logic is incomprehensible because the investigator had already taken the subject mentioned in his decision. Moreover, in order to carry out this illegal and illogical intent, the investigator seals the judge’s office door and instructs the police to ensure that no one enters the office until the search warrant is obtained. The investigator has no power to seal the judge’s office door, so he has grossly violated Article 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, according to which an official can only perform activities for which he is authorized by law. Apart from the obvious violation of the law, it should be noted that the experience of other countries considers such measures to be permissible only at the crime scene. In fact, the investigator considered the judge’s office to be a crime scene.
3) The justification for the petition to search was such that it would be possible to search every citizen’s apartment or office on the same grounds. Besides, the investigator petitioned to allow the search, with the aim of discovering not a specific subject, but objects of an indefinable scope (“prohibited objects and things in the Criminal Code”). Such a petition would be unpromising to any citizen, but in this case, it satisfied the court “to find things and objects of matter for the criminal case”. It does not seem from the court’s decision that a reasonable balance of existing legitimate interests had been done. Vice versa: the court’s reasoning, “the duty to disclose all the crimes,” can be applicable in all possible and impossible cases, and it is unclear what should have happened, for the court to reject the investigator’s petition. In other words, it remains unclear what the investigator was looking for in his criminal case.
4) Based on the unlawful decision to search the judge’s and his assistant’s offices, the investigator returned to the building and started the search. This time Judge Grigoryan was involved in the search, but the investigator refused to involve Judge Grigoryan’s lawyer in writing, hence violating the guarantees of Article 64 of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia and Article 6 of the European Convention. In general, our legal system has long overcome such tough and illegal barriers to the practice of advocacy, and now they are back again.
5) In the course of the search, the investigator also deprived the judge of the guarantee provided by Article 53 of the Judicial Code, that is, the right to be informed about the investigative actions one day in advance. It can also be interpreted that the investigator did not consider the judge to be “not prosecuted”, since the said guarantee applies only to non-prosecuted judges.
6) The search was carried out not only in the court-authorized areas, which were the judge’s office and the judge’s assistant’s office, but also in the office of the judge’s clerk.
7) As a result of the search, electronic drives were taken, the connection of which with the investigator’s case was not substantiated in any way. Moreover, some of these drives involved a completely different case, and the investigator, convinced of this, nevertheless confiscated them, going beyond the scope of the court’s decision of search, which was illegal, but still restrictive.
8) The RA case law does not consider it lawful to prosecute a judge, bypassing the procedures for the guarantee of independence of the judiciary (authorization to start a prosecution, etc.). If that precedent case (Levik Poghosyan’s precedent, December 22, 2011) was merely a criminal case with the indication of the judge’s name, this one the judge’s computer was confiscated, his office was searched, numerous electronic drives were taken, which apparently is about the actual suspicion of a judge. By the way, the decision to launch a criminal case also contains a statement that Judge Grigoryan “committed official fraud of position”.
Such unlawfulness may turn from an exception to a rule if the public fails to establish their insistence. For this reason, on 26/07/2019 the “Path of Law” NGO launched #I’am_an_ambasador_of_law initiative , appealing to all forces and individuals who value the legal nature of our state and asking to express their insistence about the judge, law and state, using this hashtag.