Country Listing

Romania Table of Contents



The court system was organized at national, judet, and local levels. It operated for a long time under the 1947 Law on the Organization of the Judiciary, which placed many professional judicial functions in the hands of ordinary citizens, who were selected and instructed by the PCR. The 1947 law put two lay judges alongside one professional jurist on 16,000 local judicial commissions that heard cases involving labor disputes, civil complaints, family law, and minor crimes and violations of public order. A judicial reform implemented in 1978 established panels of between three and seven "popular" judges, recruited from the masses of workers and peasants, to serve as local working people's judicial councils for two-year terms. These judges were appointed by and responded to local PCR committees or people's councils, the UTC, official trade unions, and other PCR-controlled mass organizations.

Operating in small municipalities, towns, and large industrial and agricultural enterprises, working people's judicial councils played a significant role in dispensing justice. They handled up to 50 percent of all court cases. The management of a work unit investigated and presented the facts of a case, and a co-worker defended the accused. Unlike the larger municipal, judet, and military courts over which professional judges presided, working people's judicial councils could impose only light sentences short of prison terms. Nevertheless, whether filled by a professional or an ordinary citizen, the judge's bench in Romania was subject to virtually irresistible pressure to decide cases according to the PCR's political preferences.

Data as of July 1989