ORGANIZATIONAL STUDY OF THE ALBANIAN JUDICIAL SECTOR

6. COURT ADMINISTRATION

Court Administration as it functions in the West is not really known in Albania. The Chief Judge is the person responsible for the random assignment of cases. The judges have secretaries who record hearings and type decisions. Many judges particularly at the Tirana District Court, complain that the secretaries/clerks are unprofessional.2

The few people who serve as court administrators do not have a clear understanding of their role in a judicial system. This means that most Albanian judges serve as both judges and court administrators, leaving them with little time to focus on their case load.

The poor working environment (especially the Tirana District Court that covers almost 60% of the workload of all Albania) is a major concern of the judges. Buildings are not adequate; there are insufficient telephone lines, computers etc. When improvements are made, the judges were not consulted. For example, the Tirana District Court judges do not know that there are plans to build a new court. They said they have no voice in planning the new building to accommodate the practical needs of the judges.

Security is a major concern the courts. The judges have requested that security guards placed in the courts not be part of the local police. They complain that the police have no respect for the judiciary and will only take instruction from the Ministry of Public Order.

Meanwhile, many judges think that the government has been shifting the blame for the lawlessness to the judiciary. An incident in Shkoder, which took place on July 28, is an example of disorder. After the Shkoder District Court released several persons who were arrested by the local police, the police staged a demonstration in front of courthouse. The event was widely covered by the media. The judges from Shkoder explained to the Institute for Policy & Legal Studies (IPLS) that there was not enough evidence to keep the suspects in jail (something overlooked in most the media coverage of the event). The judges also said that the media reports concerning the fines issued were incorrect and that they were actually lower than the prescribed minimum.

The Shkoder incident demonstrates the on-going tension between the police, the government and the judiciary, as well as the inability of the judiciary to speak with unified voice when faced with such problems. The poor conditions of the courts, insufficient support at all levels and an overall lack o respect for the judiciary are some of the on-going problems that confront Albanian judges on a daily basis.

Recently, the Minister of Public Order, Mr. Spartak Poçi has accepted the appeal of the Tirana District Court Chief Judges and put at their disposal a special police force under direct authority of the Chief Judges themselves. This is a good precedent, which has distinctively improved the situation.

Information technology

The courts have had very few computers and little if any practical experience using them. This year, the government bought 120 computers for the courts and it is planned to purchase 150 more computers next year. The government has not been able to fund training in computer skills to the court administrators, despite a strong need for it. At present, the USAID Judicial Training and Strengthening Project (East-West Management Institute), are providing such training. There is no question that computerization is essential to improve the efficiency of operations in the administrative offices supporting the Albanian Courts.

Categories of court administrators

Even that there is no any clear-cut classification of court administrators, the Institute for Policy & Legal Studies has identified the following groups of court administrators that in general are called "secretaries":

  • Court Messengers
  • Security Personnel/Police
  • Court Secretaries
  • Chief Secretaries/Chancellors
  • Archive Personnel
  • Budget Staff
  • Execution Office Staff
  • Company Register Staff

Need for training and areas of training for Court Administrators

Training programs for court administrators/clerks could include:

  • Workflow/budgetary assistance;
  • Case management and docketing assistance;
  • How to develop an annual court budget;
  • How to manage other court employees, such as secretaries and filling clerks
  • How to ensure that decisions and other orders are disseminated to the right parties;
  • Collection of filing fees;
  • How statistics are compiled and computed;
  • How cases are assigned randomly;
  • Development of court room procedures;
  • Development of simple filing systems.

2IPLS met with the Chief Judge of the Tirana District Court, Mr. Pajtim Hoxha and His Deputy In-Charge of Administrative matters, Mr. Filip Lako.

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Institute for Policy & Legal Studies 2000