Amicus Curiae

Court of Appeal Considers Public Defender's Amicus Curiae Brief

The ChamberofCriminalCases of the Tbilisi Court of Appeal, after getting familiarized itself with the argumentation presented in the Public Defender's amicus curiae brief, by the decision of February 16, 2024, considered the deadline missed by convict M. K. for appealing the verdict of the Tbilisi Court of Appeal to be excusable and restored the appeal deadline.

As the Public Defender’s Office established, the deadline for appealing the verdict was violated by the lawyer appointed by the State. On the basis of the request of the Office, the Legal Aid Service transferred the case to a new lawyer and also began to study the issue of missed deadline, in accordance with appropriate legal procedures. At the same time, the new lawyer mediated with the Court of Appeal with the request to consider the missed deadline as excusable and to restore the deadline.

Based on the analysis of legislation and the factual circumstances of the case, the Public Defender’s Office considered that, although the right of access to the court is subject to certain limitations, and one of those limitations is related to time limits, a rigid limitation in relation to the missed time limit and disregard for the individual circumstances may violate the requirements of the European Convention, if there is no reasonable relationship of proportionality between the available opportunities and the goal.

In the amicus curiae brief, the Public Defender emphasizes that the convicted person, since he is in a closed institution, has a limited opportunity to be effectively involved in the processes, he cannot go to certain institutions and instantly check the progress of his case. Based on the above, qualified legal assistance is a guarantee of effective defence and real involvement in the processes.

According to the opinion of the friend of the court, taking into account that there was a need for mandatory defence in the case, the State assumed the responsibility to provide effective defence by a licensed lawyer, thus, the State recognized in advance and expressed confidence in the professionalism and quality of public lawyers. The Public Defender considers that the very presumable and legitimate expectation for the provision of a qualified and high-quality service by the appointed lawyer gives the defendant the feeling of trust towards the lawyer in meeting the procedural deadlines.

The Public Defender welcomes the positive decision made by the Tbilisi Court of Appeal and hopes that the said decision will contribute to the development of correct judicial practice in the above-mentioned direction and the protection of citizens' rights in terms of access to the court.

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