The magistrates of the Judiciary Power
The Judiciary Power is exercised by the judicial magistrates, assisted in their activities by the staff. It is composed of permanent judges, deputy judges, assessor judges and Tribunal des prud'hommes judges.
- The tenured judges are the career judges and public prosecutors, whose sole activity is to dispense justice. They may work on a full or part-time basis.
- The deputy judges reinforce the instances and are assigned on an ad hoc basis, for example to deal with temporary backlogs. They then perform the same task as the tenured judges. The former tenured judges or lawyers carry out this task as a secondary occupation.
- The assessor judges sit in certain instances where the law so provides. They provide the judicial authority with specific technical expertise (e.g. health, psychiatry, education, social work, taxation, construction) or bring the sensitivity of the concerned circles (e.g. tenancy law or social insurance law). They carry out this function as a secondary occupation.
- The Tribunal des prud'hommes judges are the judges of the competent Geneva court who settle private employment law disputes. They belong to the same branches of activity as the parties to the litigation and are divided into 5 professional activity groups. They exercise this activity as a secondary occupation.
The magistrates are independent in the exercise of their functions and article 117 of the Geneva Constitution enshrines this principle. Their actions and decisions must not be subject to any pressure or influence.
Elections of the judges of the Judiciary Power
The judicial magistrates are elected by the population every 6 years, with the exception of the Tribunal des prud'hommes judges, elected separately by the Cantonal Parliament for also 6 years.
When the number of candidates does not exceed the number of magistrate's positions to be filled at the time of the elections, the State Council proclaims the magistrates of the Judiciary Power to have been tacitly elected, in accordance with article 55, paragraph 5 of the Geneva Constitution (list of elected magistrates in the 2020 general elections/list of Tribunal des prud'hommes judges elected in the 2018 elections).
When a magistrate's position becomes vacant during the 6-year term, for example after resignation, the Cantonal Parliament holds a supplementary election to elect the person replacing the magistrate who has left office.
More information on the procedure and the documents to be provided can be found here and on the page of the corresponding session. In particular, an advance notice must be provided by the Conseil supérieur de la magistrature.
To be eligible, the permanent magistrates and the deputy judges should:
- Be of Swiss nationality
- Be entitled to exercise political rights and domiciled in the canton
- Hold a lawyer's licence
- Be able to prove 3 years of professional practice
- Have a good reputation
- Not be convicted of any felony or misdemeanor relating to acts prejudicial to probity and honour
- Not be subject to an unpaid debt certificate
The conditions of eligibility of assessor magistrates vary from one instance to another. Professional knowledge of the law is not necessarily required. Nor is it necessary to have professional knowledge of law in order to be elected as a Tribunal des prud'hommes judge.
The conditions of eligibility must be met by magistrates throughout their term of office.