VSTV Started to Monitor Court Appointment of Attorneys

High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has begun monitoring the selection process of court-appointed attorneys who have not been chosen by defendants.

A roster of attorneys from different regional bar chambers has been created. The regional lists will be presented to defendants at court. If a defendant for some reason does not choose a lawyer from the roster, the computer will make a random selection. Until now, judges did his.

Every lawyer from the roster was given a unique ID number. The HJPC’s IT and Communication Department is tasked with updating the list.

The system will also register all accepted or rejected offers with explanations, while it will be possible to view the amount of fees the attorneys earned per a case.

Almost all courts contacted by the Reporters from Center for Investigative Reporting in Sarajevo (CIN) said that they already started using the new system. One exception is the Cantonal Court in Sarajevo whose secretary Slobodan Nikolić said that the Court was still assigning attorneys to defendants who have not chosen themselves.

Because of Bar Chamber’s decision, the cantonal and municipal court in Sarajevo made some changes regarding court-appointed attorneys – all layers in the alphabetical order are divided in three lists which are changed in the courts every three months.

The Bar Chamber’s letters to the courts said that this was a key move “which would decrease potential misuses and tampering with selection of court-appointed attorneys and would give a chance to a greater number of peers to be selected as court-appointed attorneys”.

Along with this change, the municipal court in Sarajevo started implementing the new HJPC’s system.

CIN reporters have already written about big gap in the earning of court-appointed layers, as well about the cases in which law-enforcement officers suggested the choice of lawyers.

CIN collected data from 41 courts between 2005 and 2010 and found that they spent at least 32 million KM on court-appointed defenses. The highest paid court-appointed defense attorney for the past six years is Omar Mehmedbašić, whose total revenue amounted to 864,000 KM. Izet Baždarević was next with 548,000 KM and Selman Zijadić with 530,000 KM Some 85 percent of lawyers or 753 of those from the list earned less than 50,000 KM in six years.

After CIN’s writing HJPC ushered in a new system of the selection of court-appointed attorneys in July 2011.