I simply can’t decide the source of the problem. Every time I hear officials, police chiefs, the chief prosecutor, the spokeswoman for the Supreme Court I can’t quite believe my ears. Everything they utter sounds so alien. Why are things so complicated? The explanations are often confusing and I am convinced that behind confused speech there is usually confused thought. Also, I suspect, there is quite a bit of disorganization. Important pieces of information simply don’t get to those who should know about them.
Here is a prime example. The question of egg throwing. Is it a crime or not? For days after the judge announced that the egg throwers at the Gay Parade were not guilty because they assumed that it was an accepted manifestation of free speech, the media was full of contradictory statements concerning the question. Journalists were confused. But they weren’t alone. It seems that even fellow judges believed that their colleague simply followed an existing ruling backed up by a Constitutional Court decision.
Now we learn from the chief prosecutor that the judge based his decision on earlier prosecutorial error. Here’s the timeline: (1) some time back in a similar case the prosecutor of Budapest’s District III made a mistake. He interpreted a decision of the Constitutional Court incorrectly. (2) It took some time for the chief prosecutor’s office to discover this “mistake.” After all, said the chief prosecutor, there are more than one hundred offices under the jurisdiction of the chief prosecutor’s office (Főügyészség). However, once they discovered the error they immediately rescinded the wrong ruling. That allegedly happened way before the presiding judge, on the basis of the incorrect decision, found the three or four egg throwers not guilty.
So let’s analyze this confusing series of events a bit. First comes a district prosecutor who doesn’t seem to be able to interpret the decisions of the Constitutional Court. Thus one person trained in the law can’t follow the legal explanation of others. That seems to me incompetence. The second question is why it took so long for the central office to discover what happened at one of its branches. Third, how it is possible that the information from the chief prosecutor’s office concerning the invalidation of the wrong decision didn’t reach the courts and the judges? In brief, there seems to have been both professional incompetence and serious problems with communication. The result was a court decision that shook the whole country. People came to believe that the law is lax, that chaos is unavoidable. After all, what kind of country, what kind of judicial system would think that egg throwing is a legitimate expression of free speech?
But one can go even further. How is it possible that it took a whole month to find out what happened? Why was it necessary for two SZDSZ politicians to write to the chief prosecutor and demand an explanation? Why didn’t the chief prosecutor, immediately after the wrong decision, send his spokesman out and explain what happened? I have the sneaking suspicion that he knew nothing from nothing until he got the letter of the SZDSZ politicians and was forced to look into the whole decision-making process. It didn’t seem to bother him that half the country was outraged at the judge’s decision. Admittedly, the chief prosecutor is new and I’m sure that he inherited a mess, but the way he handled this particular case is not impressive. He seems a bit stodgy and not exactly on the ball.