Government of Czechoslovakia - The Judiciary

The Judiciary

The highest judicial organ at the federal level was the Supreme Court of Czechoslovakia. Supreme Court judges were elected by the Federal Assembly to serve ten-year terms of office. The Federal Assembly also selected a chairman and vice chairman of the Supreme Court. If the chairman was from the Czech Socialist Republic, the vice chairman must have been from the Slovak Socialist Republic, and vice versa. The two republics must have been represented by an equal number of Supreme Court judges. Petitions for breach of law against decisions of the republic supreme courts were heard in the Supreme Court at the federal level. In addition to serving as the nation's final court of appeals, the Supreme Court of Czechoslovakia examined the legality of decisions of the federal government and, in general, ensured the uniform interpretation of the laws. It also heard requests for recognition of foreign judgments in Czechoslovakia. The decisions of the Supreme Court emanate from "benches", which comprised the Supreme Court chairman and selected professional judges. The Supreme Court also acted as the final court of appeal in military cases, although below the Supreme Court level military cases are handled in military courts, which were distinct from civil courts.

Below the Supreme Court of Czechoslovakia were the Supreme Court of the Czech Socialist Republic and the Supreme Court of the Slovak Socialist Republic. Below the supreme court of each republic were regional and district courts:

  • District courts (one in each administrative district) were the courts of general civil jurisdiction and limited criminal jurisdiction and are presided over by one professional judge and two lay judges (there were no juries in the Czechoslovak judicial system).
  • Regional courts (one in each administrative kraj) are located in the capitals of each of Czechoslovakia's ten kraje and in Prague. They functioned as appellate courts and also had jurisdiction over trials in serious criminal cases where imprisonment exceeding five years may be imposed.

Regional and district professional judges were chosen by the Czech National Council and the Slovak National Council; lay judges were chosen by district national committees. The Supreme Court of the Czech Socialist Republic and the Supreme Court of the Slovak Socialist Republic serve as appellate courts for their respective regional courts and also heard petitions for breach of law against decisions by the lower courts. The supreme courts of the two republics decided in panels of three professional judges.

Another powerful arm of the judiciary was the Office of the Prosecutor. The general prosecutor, a federal officer, was appointed and removed by the president. In addition to the federal office, an Office of the Prosecutor existed for each republic. The republic office was administered by the republic Ministry of Justice. Prosecutors were responsible for supervising the observance of laws and legal regulations by public bodies and individual citizens. The Office of the Prosecutor was responsible for prosecuting both criminal and civil cases. Prosecutors might recommend modification or repeal of laws, and they had the right to summon citizens to appear before them.

Read more about this topic:  Government Of Czechoslovakia

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