Who wants to join the Constitutional Court (apart from Mladen Bajić)?

23. February 2015.

Former three-time State Attorney General Mladen Bajić, Constitutional expert and external Committee on the Constitution member Sanja Barić, former Children's Ombudsman Mila Jelavić, the judge convicting Ivo Sanader and the Croatian Democratic Union Ivana Čalić, former Constitutional Court Justice Nevenka Šernhorst, Municipal Court in Zagreb Justice Zorka Čačić Zagrajski, High Misdemeanour Court Justice Antonija Kovačić, attorney and would-be Ombudsman Boris Kozjak, public notary Anđelko Stanić, attorneys Želimir Brozović and Šime Savić, Senior Constitutional Court Advisor Dubravko Ljubić. All of them would like to join the ranks of the Constitutional Court and the Committee on the Constitution of the Croatian Parliament should establish whether this is the exhaustive list. Considering the fact that Constitutional Court Justices are elected by a two-third majority in the Parliament, consensus between HDZ and SDP is necessary, with additional problems arising from the fact that the thirteenth Justice spot has been empty for several years now and the terms of five more Justices expire in late-2015.

The first round of elections to the Constitutional Court is on the agenda due to the thirteenth seat, unfilled for years, and the fact that Justice Davor Krapac’s term ends this Spring. However, in late-2015, the eight-year terms of Court President Jasna Omejec and Justices Snježana Bagić, Marko Babić, Ivan Matija and Aldo Radolović also expire. In both cases, the procedure is the same – first, the Committee on the Constitution has to check whether all candidates satisfy the formal conditions: Croatian citizenship, Master's degree in Law with at least 15 years of work experience in the legal profession, notable scientific or professional achievements or public work, or, alternatively, a PhD in Law with at least 12 years of work experience in the legal profession. The Committee the publicly interviews all candidates and drafts a short list that the Parliament will choose the Justices from.

Mladen Bajić’s application was among the last to be submitted, with his resume stating, among other things, that he became State Attorney General for the first time in 2002 and remained at the post until last year, when he was appointed Deputy State Attorney General. Apart from Bajić – known to be a candidate for a long time and chastised for political concerns and selective indictments for a longer time, also aspiring to a seat on the Court is Sanja Barić, head of the Constitutional Law department of the Faculty of Law in Rijeka and external member of the Committee on the Constitution. There is also the candidacy of Justice Ivana Čalić, best remembered by the public as the judge who convicted Ivo Sanader, HDZ and others in the Fimi Media case and judging on the case of murder of Ivo Pukanić and Niko Franjić.

Former Children’s Ombudsman Mila Jelavić is also a candidate, currently employed at the Department of Education, Culture and Sport of the City of Zagreb. Other candidates with experience as judges include High Misdemeanour Court Justice Antonija Kovačić and Zorka Čačić Zagrajski, Justice of the Municipal Court in Zagreb, known for her judgement in the Bandić vs. Croatian Television case, with Prime Minister Milanović as a reluctant witness who had missed several court calls.

Two candidates can boast working experience at the Constitutional Court: one is Nevenka Šernhorst, former Constitutional Court Justice from 2002 to 2011, already having applied multiple times in her 18 years of working experience at the Court. The other is Dubravko Ljubić, employed at the Constitutional Court as an advisor since 1996, since 2009 as head of the Previous Procedures Service and since 2014 as Senior Constitutional Court Advisor.

Želimir Brozović, attorney from the island of Krk, has worked as a trainee at the County Court in Rijeka and was once President of the Court in Pag. Boris Kozjak, another attorney who had previously applied for the post of Ombudsman, especially stresses his defences in front of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, where he won six cases on behalf of Croatian citizens.

Attorney Šime Savić also considers himself to be ready for the job, with 15 years of work in the Ministry of the Interior and 20 years in a law practice, representing two major insurance companies. Public notary Anđelko Stanić states in his CV that he served as a sea captain.

Other details from the candidates’ biographies can be found at the web pages of the Parliament. HDZ’s Vladimir Šeks and Independent representative and professor of Law Josip Kregar were also mentioned as potential candidates, but so were Deputy Minister of Defense Zoran Pičuljan, President of the Supervisory Board of INA, advisor for European law and friend of the Prime Minister Siniša Petrović, former SDP Minister of Justice Ingrid Antičević Marinović, Civil Law professor Alan Uzelac and representative of Croatia in the charge against Serbia for genocide Vesna Crnić Grotić. They might get their chances late this year or early next year, when new holders of office in the “fourth branch of government” will be elected.