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March 13, 2015

How open can a judge be? Meet Judge Cristi Danilet of Romania

I never thought I’d meet a judge like Cristi Danilet.  At an excellent seminar today on the management of judicial images (an academic project led by Professors Moran and Mulcahy), Judge Danilet described his strong and extensive media work.  The Romanian Judiciary were faced with low public confidence, partly because judges under communism had frequently been corrupt.  The judges decided that public engagement should be part of their strategy for promoting trust.  So they determined to engage with mainstream and social media and go out to promote their message.  Judge Danilet has not one but two facebook profiles, over 8000 friends and 19,000 followers.  He posts items about the justice system and films of his interviews.  He will answer questions about the system but not about particular judicial decisions.  He also does interviews for Romanian TV and has a YouTube channel and a blog.  He goes into schools to talk to children about the justice system and encourage them to consider the judiciary as a career.  The only thing I wondered is when he gets time to sit as a judge.  It is a huge contrast to the judiciary in England and Wales who almost never do media interviews, who don’t blog and don’t use twitter.  I understand that the Romanians took their approach for a particular reason (and apparently they have been successful in increasing confidence), but I definitely think we could learn from them.  Confidence in our judiciary in England and Wales is high now, but it is out of step with other institutions in its insularity.  I think this could lead in time to an undermining of confidence.