The case of Judge Robert Fremr, who was originally headed to the Constitutional Court, sparked interest not only in the president’s nominations, but also in some of Fremr’s judgments. In addition to those known from before 1989, it appears that the judge of the High Court in Prague was also involved in later controversial cases. In one such case, in the 1990s, he participated in the dismissal of a young female judge.
Šárka Weberová was appointed a judge in 1992, and subsequently worked at the District Court for Prague 3. Relatively shortly afterwards, the disciplinary board in her 30s removed her from her position, according to her superiors due to non-fulfillment of duties, according to her after a heated labor dispute about the managerial skills of her superiors, which she led to personal grudges. Weber turned to the Echo24 editors after the media published information about Fremr’s sentences from the socialist era. According to her, he and other judges from the previous regime participated in her unfair dismissal as judge-rapporteur.
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In the case of Šárka Weberová’s appeal, the issue was that she refused to judge several cases after she was reassigned from the criminal section to the civil-law section within the Prague 3 court. “I decided to transfer Dr. Weber because of her unsatisfactory work results, about which I informed her well in advance,” said the then president of the court, Jan Kolařík. However, according to Weber, it was more about personal and work reasons. She was severely prosecuted and dismissed for not agreeing to the fact that the presidents took away criminal cases from her, contrary to the fact that she was a legal judge. She, on the other hand, spoke of the creation of an unpleasant environment and “dispute between the old and young generation”.
The judge later refused to take over the new files at the new section, saying that her superiors had only supplied her with the so-called file tags, and that she would judge only formally without knowledge of the file. Then, on the basis that she requested a transfer protocol for new files, a disciplinary proceeding was initiated against her, which, despite Weber’s appeal, ultimately ended against her.
No audio recording
In 1994, the Disciplinary Chamber of the High Court in Prague confirmed the decision of the Municipal Court in Prague and removed Weber from her position. “Appeal pursuant to § 18 paragraph 4 of Act No. 412/1991 Coll., on the disciplinary liability of judges, as amended by Act No. 22/1993 Coll. rejects,” reads the decision from June 29 of the same year, which is signed by the chairman of the disciplinary board, Jaroslav Látal. A copy of this and other documents is available to the editors.
The President’s former candidate for the Constitutional Court was a member of the appeals disciplinary panel, and he participated in repeated violations of the law to the detriment of Weber’s defense against the then female judge. According to her, given her role in the case, she bears responsibility.
“JUDr. Fremr unexpectedly took over the management of my disciplinary appeal process after JUDr. To Látal. It happened shortly after the make-up started after a short consultation. Apparently he didn’t like the way things had gone so far. It should have been logged and justified in the log. It wasn’t illegal,” she told Echo24.
You can see it in the minutes of the meeting. “Member of the Senate JUDr. Robert Fremr presented the contested decision, stated in which direction the decision is contested and communicated the essential content of the proceedings so far. At 10:30 a.m. the oral hearing was suspended until 10:40 a.m. Continued at 10:40 a.m.,” the document says.
“After that, the proceedings were taken over by Fremr, who was the second-instance judge-rapporteur and, moreover, managed the trial in a substantial part, and therefore bears increased responsibility for the fact that I was illegally removed from the position of judge. This change would also be confirmed by the audio recording, which I requested at the beginning of the make-up. The record was rejected,” adds Weberová.
This also appears in the record. “The lady requests consent to make an audio recording of today’s oral hearing. The president of the senate said that he does not agree to the audio recording of today’s oral hearing. At the same time, he does not give his consent to the video recording of the oral meeting, for the same reasons,” the protocol states.
Weber still criticizes it today. “In the trial led by judge-reporter Fremr, procedural laws were violated like on a conveyor belt. It was literally a massacre of law, a procedural atrocity. Shocked, I asked myself at the time whether it was a judge with below-average legal erudition or whether he was consciously violating procedural norms. It was only after the recent public revelation that he was a ‘political’ judge under the totalitarian regime that I realized he was just continuing the practices he had been showing before November,” she said.
In this case, the composition of the first-instance disciplinary panel was also problematic. The then chairman of the Municipal Court in Prague, Petr Beneš, stood at its head. He thus appeared during the proceedings as the one who filed the disciplinary action against Weberová, and at the same time as the president of the disciplinary court with the authority to appoint other disciplinary judges, which he was not allowed to do according to the ruling of the Constitutional Court.
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The court with Weber also ignored the fact that Stanislava Píchová was also part of the first-instance disciplinary panel, who herself faced disciplinary proceedings with Minister Jiří Novák’s proposal to remove her from the post of judge for managing a political trial in 1978. She later sued Czech Television for the report on the Judge , in which she was associated with political trials against Chartists and members of the Jazz Section. However, the court stated that the plaintiff had indeed participated in political processes.
In retrospect, Weber also doesn’t like the way Fremr and others portrayed her case in 1994, saying it basically set a precedent for the future.
“It is also necessary to take into account the general preventive function of sanctions imposed on other judges who would interpret judicial independence as an opportunity to ignore the obligations imposed by law on judges and which they must respect if they are to enjoy the authority that belongs to this profession in society.” stands in the decision of the High Court in Prague. But according to Weber, the Czech law and subsequent jurisprudence prohibit exemplary punishment.
Memories after 30 years
Judge Fremr himself did not want to comment too much on the matter when asked by the editors. “I can only confirm that I was a member of the disciplinary appeal panel of the High Court in Prague in the case in question, by which I was appointed by the decision of the President of the High Court in Prague. When deciding on the appeal of JUDr. Weber, I participated as a member of the appeal panel. In what way I contributed to the final result, I cannot say, because the vote of the members of the senate is secret,” he wrote in response.
“As for the objections of JUDr. Weber, which she applied in the appeal procedure, I can only refer to the written version of the decision of the disciplinary panel of the High Court in Prague. As for the objections she raised later, I cannot comment on them, and they can be dealt with (or have already been dealt with) by the authorities entitled to review the disciplinary decision. (…) Reconstructing the case based only on the memories of witnesses 30 years later will definitely not lead to a serious result,” he added.
After another question from the editors, Weber insisted that ex-chairman Beneš had illegally accumulated functions and that Fremr had overlooked it. “And that is really very strange when it is said that he is one of the best judges in the Czech Republic,” she said.