Latvia - Judicial system

A 1991 constitution, which supplements the reinstated 1922 constitution, provides for a number of basic rights and freedoms. The courts have been reorganized along democratic lines. Regional courts were added in 1995 to hear appeals of lower court decisions. There are now district courts, regional courts, a Supreme Court, and the Constitutional Court.

More serious criminal cases are heard before a panel consisting of a judge and two lay assessors. There is a provision for a 12-member jury in capital cases. The judiciary is independent, however, it suffers from a lack of personnel and training. In 1996, a seven-member Constitutional Court was established with power to hear cases at the request of the president, the cabinet, prosecutors, the Supreme Court, local government, or one-third of parliament members. The Constitutional Court may also rule on the constitutionality of legislation or its conformity with Latvia's international obligations.

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