THE PRESIDENT OF THE TRIBUNAL
Judge Theodor Meron, President
Mr Hans Holthuis
16 October 2003
DECISION ON ASSIGNMENT OF DEFENCE COUNSEL
1. Slavisa Prodanovic has sought a review of the Registrarís decision refusing to assign him as counsel for Mitar Rasevic. For the reasons given below, the Registrarís decision is affirmed.
2. Rasevic was transferred into the custody of the Tribunal on 15 August 2003. He requested that Prodanovic be assigned as his defence counsel. On 18 August 2003, the Registrar filed a complaint against Prodanovic before the Disciplinary Panel established pursuant to the Code of Professional Conduct for Defence Counsel Appearing Before the International Tribunal (IT/125 Rev. 1). On 26 August 2003, the Registrar decided to deny assignment of Prodanovic as Rasevicís counsel. The decision was made orally. On 1 September 2003, Prodanovic sought Presidential review of the Registrarís decision. The Registrar has waived his right to respond.
3. Article 14(D) of the Directive on Assignment of Defence Counsel (IT/73/Rev. 9) ("Defence Counsel Directive") provides, in relevant part, that the Registrar "may refuse a request for assignment of counsel where [Ö] in accordance with Article 45 of the Code of Conduct [Ö] a disciplinary procedure under Part III of the Code of Professional Conduct has been initiated against that counsel." It also provides that "[c]ounsel may seek recourse against the Registrarís decision before the President within two weeks of having been notified of that decision."
4. Although the Registrarís decision was not written, both the minutes of the meeting between Registry representatives and Rasevic on 26 August 2003 and Prodanovicís 1 September 2003 letter to the President indicate that the Registrar based his refusal to assign Rasevic on the fact that a disciplinary hearing had been initiated against him. Under Article 14(D), Prodanovic is entitled to seek review of the Registrarís decision by the President.
5. Prodanovic raises several claims. His principal one seems to be that the Registrar has acted improperly in temporarily suspending him from practicing before the Tribunal because, under Article 45 of the Code of Conduct, the authority to issue orders of temporary suspension rests with the Disciplinary Panel. Prodanovic is correct that it is the Disciplinary Panel that has the authority under Article 45 to temporarily suspend defence counsel from practicing before the Tribunal, but he is mistaken in asserting that the Registrar has issued such an order. The Registrarís decision denied Prodanovic assignment as defence counsel in a particular case, pursuant to Article 14(D) of the Defence Counsel Directive; it did not suspend him from practicing before the Tribunal generally under Article 45 of the Code of Conduct.
6. Article 14(D) of the Defence Counsel Directive permits the Registrar to refuse assignment when a disciplinary procedure has been "initiated" against counsel under Article 45 of the Code of Conduct. Although his pleading is not entirely clear, Prodanovic may be arguing that the Registrar may only refuse assignment under Article 14(D) of the Defence Counsel Directive once an order of temporary suspension has been issued pursuant to Article 45 of the Code of Conduct. If so, he is mistaken. The fact that such a procedure is initiated is sufficient. There is no further requirement that that procedure be concluded for the Registrar to be empowered to refuse an assignment of counsel pursuant to Article 14(D) of the Defence Counsel Directive. In any event, the Disciplinary Panel has since issued its decision on 6 October 2003 suspending the Respondent with immediate effect.
Done in English and French, the English text being authoritative.
Dated this 16th day of October 2003,
At The Hague,
Judge Theodor Meron
[Seal of the Tribunal]