The subject of random allocation of Court cases is vile for the Bulgarian justice system. Suspicions of manipulation of the software Law Choice, introduced by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), have been circulating for quite a while. As early as 2013, the Union of Judges and several NGOs requested an independent evaluation of the software, introduced by the SJC in 2007. So far, two expert reports proved that the software can be manipulated without leaving traces, but the SJC kept persisting that it must be preserved. The subject was also included in the European Commission’s (EC) Monitoring Report for 2014.
“The reaction of the SJC in autumn 2014 suggested that this is a low priority for the Council, in spite of the potential for criminal as well as disciplinary offences. It seems likely that the reputation of the judiciary in Bulgaria will continue to be damaged until a fully secure system is in place,” the report said.
So far, however, no clear evidence that the possibility of non-random allocation is used and implemented has been revealed and published. Bivol’s analysis proves undeniably and with mathematical tools that in the Sofia City Court (SCC) the software produces absurd and absolutely impossible results.
This cannot be firmly established from the primary distribution of cases, where a judge shall be given a case. Law Choice, however, is used in some Courts for the secondary distribution of jurors in penal cases. Since 2010, an option for random selection of jurors, with the possibility of printing the protocol that is attached to the case, has been introduced in the software. This is done to comply with the requirement in the Judiciary Act in article 72 paragraph 2, which states that for every Court panel, jurors must be drawn by lot.
According to Bulgarian legislation, the juror is not just an accessory. He/she is an integral part of the panel in more serious penal cases and represents the public interest as a corrective and counterpoint of the legal one. The votes of the jury are equal in right to that of the judge. To rule the sentence that the judge wants, he/she will need the support of at least one of the two jurors. If both jurors believe that the defendant is not guilty, and the judge considers him/her guilty (or vice versa), the votes of the jurors prevail, at least this is what the law says. In particularly important cases, there are expanded panels of two judges and three jurors. Therefore, the random distribution of jurors is equally crucial for a fair and independent trial, as is the random assignment of a judge in a case.
In practice, the system is completely discredited and jurors are simply “dead souls” who get paid to vote in the way requested by the judge. They are appointed by party quotas and have no public opinion or civic conscience. If one placed dummies on the bench instead, the result will be the same. However, in order to prevent an even theoretical flop in the final rule of the Court, the jurors must be pre-screened, proven and secure.
In many Courts, the norm of article 72 paragraph 2 of the Judiciary Act is not observed, which is a big problem, well-known to the SJC, which has conducted inspections and has given instructions. In the Sofia District Court, for example, the jurors are “allocated” to a judge at the beginning of their mandate and the same jury administers justice throughout its term of five years. This completely discredits the objectivity of the decisions. In other Courts “the draw” is exemplified by picking up the phone and making arrangements with the available jurors.
In the most important Court in the country – the Sofia City Court, where key criminal cases and cases against politicians are tried, on paper there is good practice and jurors are randomly assigned by the software Law Choice. A total of 250 judges are assigned to SCC. In theory, everything is perfect, but it turns out that the jurors of
some judges are less random than the age of the Universe
Bivol analyzed the cases of Petya Kruncheva, Head of the Penal Division and Deputy Chair of the Sofia City Court. She is part of the 4th panel of the Penal Division of the SCC. The table below includes her cases for a period of two years, from early 2012 to early 2014, or a total of 27 non-classified cases with jurors.
For the purposes of the experiment, we assume that Law Choice is used for random allocation in accordance with Article 72 of the Judiciary Act. That is there is a draw for any case. Ask yourself what is the probability that in 24 out of 27 cases, Low Choice has assigned as juror Margarita Kolarska?
Ideal scenario – 250 jurors
According to the binomial law, the mathematical probability for Kolarska to be assigned to 24 out of 27 cases in real-random distribution among 250 candidates is
one in 1 229 295 586 637 710 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
This number is difficult to visualize, but for comparison, all atoms of planet Earth are less in number.
Ilina Koleva, on her part, appears in 13 out of 27 cases. The probability of this happening is
one in the 785 769 653 485 987 000 000 000
In comparison, the age of the Universe is estimated at only 13 billion years.
Real scenario – 100 jurors
In real life, some jurors fall ill, others are overwhelmed with work, and others withdraw. Therefore we assume that not all 250, but 100 from the list of jurors of SCC are assigned randomly. In this situation, the likelihood for Kolarska to get 24 out of 27 cases is
one in 352 345 351 154 998 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
This is also a startling number. Indeed, with such luck, Kruncheva should be banned from playing the lottery as she can bankrupt it. Her hits with the jurors are the equivalent of hitting several consecutive jackpots.
We must make a note here. According to the information of Bivol, the allocations in the SCC do not always happen on the principle of one allocation per case (which is also a violation of the Judiciary Act). The allocation is made to a judge on a particular trial day and if on that day two or three cases are launched, the jurors remain the same.
Evidenced by the numbers of Kruncheva’s cases, such phenomenon could have happened with cases 2635, 2636, 2637, and 2638 in 2012. All other intervals in the numbers of the cases undertaken by the Head of the Penal Division are not consecutive, not even close, and it is very unlikely that they were launched on the same day.
Therefore, for greater credibility we grouped these four cases in one allocation and computed the probability of Kolarska being assigned to 21 out of 24 cases in the real scenario with 100 jurors. And it is
one in 509 194 739 193 861 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000
The Sofia City Court promised to provide accurate data on the methodology and distribution of Kruncheva’s jurors on Monday, when the employee in charge of the random allocation returns from leave. Then we will repeat the calculations with the data for the number of Petya Kruncheva’s allocations.
Randomness in SCC prevails over natural laws?
“Assuming that the random allocation that occurs in SCC is legitimate, this would mean that they have discovered a new law of nature there,” mathematician Lyubomir Gavrilov, a professor at the University of Toulouse, commented on these results for Bivol.
“In the whole planet Earth there are 1.33E50 atoms What has happened with the draw is like looking for a particular atom on Earth, and managing to find it straight through, without knowing in advance where it is,” is how computer expert Deliyan Delchev illustrated the numbers.
We can reproduce the calculations easily and quickly for any judge from any Court with a special program prepared for Bivol by mathematician Georgi Nedev, consultant with a major international financial services company. Whoever wishes may upload it in an Excel file lawchoice-randomness, use it and improve it for more sophisticated checks. For example, Kolarska and Koleva being assigned together to 11 cases out of 27, is just beyond our notions of measurability and cannot fit into our abstract thinking.
Naturally, there is a much more straightforward explanation – there is no random choice for Kruncheva, everything is set and the draw is cast in advance.
Is the manipulated selection of jurors a rigged process?
The ability to manipulate the selection of jurors and for a judge to work with certain controlled people is not at all without harmless consequences. Besides being important in sentencing, jurors are not randomly selected, but are in a “team” with the judge and can have a significant influence on the trial.
As an example, we can cite the case against martial arts champion Victor Trayanov, who has been on trial for double homicide for five years. Trayanov was convicted on first instance to 21 years in prison, but the sentence was revoked by the Court of Appeals and the case was returned to the SCC. In November 2014, Trayanov was released under house arrest. His case was tried by an expanded panel, chaired by Petya Kruncheva and Marina Manolova as second judge. In early December, the case was postponed again due to illness of one of the jurors. And who are they? It turns out that in this case the “random” allocation has honored Kruncheva with the not-so-random Margarita Kolarska, Naiden Ivanov and Ilina Koleva.
Another landmark case, where Kruncheva’s jury (and herself) are often ill, is the one of the former Director of the Road Fund, Veselin Georgiev. This case has also been dragging on for years and has been repeatedly postponed. Petya Kruncheva, herself, is known for her infamous delays of serious cases, one of the most emblematic of which was the murder of college student Stoyan Baltov in Paris. It aged in trial stage for years and has been postponed 20 times. The mother of the murdered boy said on this occasion before the media that Kruncheva has derided them for six years. Baltov’s killers were released and that enabled the two of them to vanish. The case against the former Head of Sofia’s Heating Utility Valentin Dimitrov is also one of Kruncheva’s notorious ones and has been postponed more than 30 times over the years. A check of the Inspectorate of SJC showed that Kruncheva has delayed 93 cases on different grounds, most of them being the unavailability of a juror, his/her illness or other commitment.
What to do?
It is imperative that the SJC launches full and detailed probe in all Courts, where Law Choice is used for random allocation of jurors and the results to be made public. It is very likely that the problem is affecting the entire system, while postponing measures and sanctions against the manipulators will destroy the last specks of credibility.
In all cases, another blur can no longer work. No arguments and paltering can work against mathematics. There is turmoil ahead. And yet perhaps, the long expected catharsis in the system # WHO; this time not a mock one, but true, leading to the ultimate removal of its non-random tentacles at all levels.
The judicial system in Bulgaria has since long become a “Bad Apple” not only for Bulgarian society, but also internationally. The damage is overwhelming – mass emigration and outflow of foreign investment. Honest magistrates also suffer greatly from this vicious system, because there are many such magistrates, but their opinion is marginalized by mafia and lobbies. This is actually the impossible reality in a country which, ironically, is in Europe, but where crime has become a norm of life and behavior.
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