Final Word from Thursday, June 17, 2004

The judicial system is one aspect of Czech society that has changed the least since the Velvet Revolution. Judges are in a world of their own, protected by the aura of "independence." When Karel Čermák resigned as justice minister this week, he cited his disagreement with the cabinet's decision to eliminate the 13th and 14th paychecks of judges. This support of the judiciary had a legal basis but was nevertheless a bit odd. Two of Čermák's biggest reforms, the commercial registry and bankruptcy, had been a direct attack on the power structure of judges. Those running the commercial registry would be reduced to clerks, and the omnipotent bankruptcy judges would be overruled by creditors. In this light, the more likely reason for Čermák's resignation, we are told, is that he feared the repercussions his clash with judges would have on his private law practice.


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