Minister’s Choice of District Judge Criticized Skip to content

Minister’s Choice of District Judge Criticized

By Iceland Review

Minister of Finance and acting Minister of Justice Árni M. Mathiesen appointed Thorsteinn Davídsson as District Judge yesterday, despite an assessment committee, with the special purpose of assessing the qualifications of applicants for this position, concluding that three other applicants were better qualified.

“I am not aware of that the assessment of the committee has openly been opposed by somebody like this ever before,” one of its members Eggert Óskarsson told Fréttabladid.

Davídsson, who is the son of former Prime Minister and Central Bank director Davíd Oddsson, used to work as a political assistant to Minister of Justice Björn Bjarnason, and Mathiesen said his experience as such was an important factor in his decision.

The assessment committee has three members, one appointed by the Supreme Court, the second by judges and the third by lawyers. They sort applicants into four categories: unqualified, qualified, highly qualified and excellently qualified.

The applicants Gudmundur Kristjánsson, advocate to the Supreme Court, Halldór Björnsson, assistant to the judge of the Supreme Court and lecturer Pétur Dan Leifsson, were all assessed as “excellently qualified.”

The two remaining applicants, Ragnheidur Jónsdóttir, the representative of the sheriff, and Davídsson were both assessed as “qualified” by the committee.

“I strongly disagree with the members of the committee,” Mathiesen told Fréttabladid. “The minister is supposed to appoint, but the committee to assess.”

Mathiesen said serving as political assistant to the Minister of Justice provided Davídsson with extensive experience, which not many people have. “He has been an assistant to the District Judge, and he is a district attorney and divisional manager at the office of the chief of police in the capital region.”

Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde appointed Mathiesen as acting Minister of Justice for this case. Mathiesen has worked in the cabinet alongside Bjarnason since 1999 and with Oddsson for six years.

Davídsson will begin working as District Judge in January 2008 with 75 percent of his duties in the District Court of Northeast Iceland and 25 percent in the District Court of East Iceland.

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