Pavel described Josef Baxa as one of the most respected lawyers in the country. Credit: Hrad.cz.

Prague, Aug 5 (CTK) – Czech President Petr Pavel yesterday appointed former Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) head Josef Baxa as chairman of the Constitutional Court, to replace Pavel Rychetsky in the post as of Tuesday. Civil law professor Katerina Ronovska was appointed as the deputy chair of the court.

The Constitutional Court will therefore have two vice-chairs, whereas the post was previously held only by judge Vojtech Simicek.

Baxa has been a Constitutional Court judge for almost exactly two months. He has worked in the judiciary since 1984, and between 1998 and 2002 he was also first deputy to justice ministers Otakar Motejl, Jaroslav Bures and Pavel Rychetsky. He participated, among other things, in the preparation of a major amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure and in the creation of a new institutional and procedural framework for the administrative judicial system.

President Vaclav Havel appointed Baxa as the chairman of the newly established Supreme Administrative Court in January 2003, and he served in the position for 15 years, after which he became the chairman of one of the NSS panels.

Pavel said the way Baxa had built and led the NSS played a significant role in the decision to appoint him as the new head of the Constitutional Court. He described Baxa as one of the most respected lawyers in the country, who has experience not only in defending individual law but also in attempting to improve the state administration.

Pavel thanked the outgoing head, Pavel Rychetsky. His professional and personal qualities had significantly influenced the entire court and he was its most visible representative, said Pavel, adding that the court has long enjoyed high authority in the Czech Republic, due to both the decisions it makes and also their justification and presentation.

Rychetsky said in an interview with Czech Television that he believed Baxa would be a great successor. “I think that Josef Baxa will be in the right place in the role of a person who can bring the collective together and at the same time preserve diversity of opinion, discussion and discourse,” he said.

Ronovska is the head of the civil law department at the Faculty of Law of Brno’s Masaryk University, which recommended her as a Constitutional Court judge in April. Since last September, she has also been a member of the government’s Council for Research, Development and Innovation (RVVI). Ronovska cooperates with a number of Czech foundations and other non-profit organisations.

Pavel said he believed Ronovska could be a great asset to the court. He said she has spent her entire life defending private law, preparing new representatives of the judicial system, has experience abroad and has a lot of experience in civil society and non-profit organisations.

In the 15-member team of constitutional judges, there is now a vacant post after the departure of judge Vladimir Sladecek, whose ten-year term ended on 4 June. The terms of office of Rychetsky and Ludvik David will end at the beginning of August .

Pavel will have to submit one more candidate for the post of Constitutional Court judge later this year, given that Radovan Suchanek’s mandate will end on 26 November.

Constitutional Court judges are appointed by the president with the consent of the Senate for a ten-year term of office, and the constitution does not prohibit their reappointment.

The Senate has so far approved all six of the new president’s nominees. In June, Pavel was able to add Baxa, former president of the Judges’ Union Daniela Zemanova and constitutional lawyer Jan Wintr to the Constitutional Court. Along with Ronovska’s nomination, the nominations of Veronika Krestanova, vice-chairwoman of the Prague Municipal Court, and Robert Fremr, former vice-chairman of the International Criminal Court, were approved by the upper house of parliament this week and the two judges are waiting to be appointed.

rtj, buj/dr/buj, rtj

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