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Sara Petrosyan

Doors to New Court in Charentsavan Remain Shut


The doors of the Charentsavan Municipal Court have essentially remained shut after Karen Poghosyan, a judge with the Kotayk Regional Court, was stripped of his powers in October 2010 by the Council of Justice.

The court is being monitored by judicial regulators who told us that since there is no judge, there are no court cases being heard inside.

Plaintiffs now have to travel to Hrazdan, the regional center, located 18 kilometers away.

The court, built with funds from the International Development Agency, opened its doors back on September 18, 2010. It was supposed to serve as the judicial center for Kotayk Marz.

It never got the chance. Just two weeks later, Judge Karen Poghosyan, who hears civil cases, was stripped of his authority. Rumours in the press allege that he was drunk and got into a shouting match with police.

That was nine months ago.  The doors to the court remain shut. No judge has been appointed to replace the disbarred Poghosyan.

According to Article 24 of the RA Judicial Code, the Kotayk Regional Circuit must have 10 judges on the bench. For the last nine months there have only been nine judges.

Vardan Stepanyan, President of the Kotayk Regional Court, told us that only civil cases were being heard at the Charentsavan Court and that new cases are now being handled elsewhere by judges with civil litigation experience.

Mr. Stepanyan assured us that the office of the Charentsavan Court is still open for administrative business but our visit proved otherwise.

Court monitors told us that even the office is closed and that staff have been granted temporary vacation time.

Digging a bit deeper, we found that one the three working administrative courts in Kotayk (Yeghvard, Hrazdan and Abovyan); only the first is equipped with sound recording equipment, as prescribed by law.

This means that attorneys working on cases in Hrazdan and Abovyan must supply recording equipment themselves.

Some attorneys have told us that certain judges, unfamiliar with such equipment, reluctantly allow such devices into the courtroom, often with unpleasant consequences.

But the inclusion of recording equipment is an essential factor in the drive to make courts more transparent and assist in increasing the public’s confidence in the judicial process.

Then too, the efficiency of the courts is greatly aided by such recording equipment. Court stenographers can’t jot down everything by shorthand.

There are constant complaints that court minutes are incomplete and inaccurate.

It remains a mystery to us why the modern court building in Charentsavan, equipped with recording equipment, is being utilized.

Vardan Stepanyan argues that the court isn’t being used because there is a judgeship to be filled.

This is a weak argument at best and would be shot down by any competent lawyer.

The President of the Kotayk Regional Court needs to review his decision.

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