Judiciary independence calls for resignation of Hungarian judges in talks with US ambassador

In a Twitter message, US Ambassador David Pressmann reported that he had a meeting with two Hungarian judges, Tamas Matusik and Csaba Vasvari. The case has reportedly caused consternation in judicial circles, and it is difficult to view the case as anything other than a gross interference in the Hungarian justice system. Many are demanding the immediate resignation of the two judges, as they may have violated the Code of Judicial Ethics.

POLITICS OCTOBER 30. 2022 16:26

US Ambassador David Pressmann reported on Thursday, that he met with two Hungarian judges, Tamas Matusik and Csaba Vasvari, who are also members of the Hungarian National Judicial Council (OBT), the Tuzfalcsoport Blog pointed out.

The blog also reported that

the provocative meeting caused consternation in judicial circles, with sources describing the incident as a gross interference in the Hungarian justice system. It’s hard to interpret it any other way.

According to Article 1 of the Code of Judicial Ethics, judges “must at all times uphold even the appearance of impartiality, freedom from influence and freedom from prejudice,” Tuzfalcsoport pointed out.

Following the ambassador’s post, however, the question arises whether there was an attempt to exert influence at the meeting and whether the two judges had violated the code of ethics, the Origo news portal adds.

It is bad enough that the question arises, and that the judges’ visit to the ambassador has undermined confidence in their independence. No wonder, several people are demanding that

the two judges resign immediately.

The reverse scenario is difficult to imagine. Just think of the outrage it would spark if the Hungarian ambassador in Washington were to summon a few judges from a state supreme court, Tuzfalcsoport wrote.

Of course, the senior US diplomat may not be aware that the OBT itself has stated in a resolution that Article 1 of the Code of Judicial Ethics states that “in the exercise of his judicial functions, the judge shall act free from any influence and shall respect the principle of equal treatment of all parties. In the course of his work, he shall avoid even the appearance of favouring anyone, or acting or taking decisions based on partiality or prejudice (…) The judge shall refrain from unnecessary contact with and influence from the legislative and executive branches of government in a manner that is obvious to outsiders. To this end, he must at all times uphold even the appearance of impartiality, freedom from influence and freedom from prejudice.”

However, judges in Hungary should be aware that the US State Department’s script states that the US ambassador is to represent the interests and policies of the United States, and is, in some cases, openly political, as we have seen in the partial moves of Ambassador Pressman.

As for how the visit at the US Embassy of the two judges, who are repeatedly active in public life, are to be construed is a question to be decided, Tuzfalcsoport writes.

This is not the first time that the new US ambassador has tried to interfere in Hungarian domestic affairs. Most recently he caused a scandal with a video, to which Hir TV sent a witty and humiliating response.

POLITICS

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david pressman, Hungary, judge, usa