Ukrinform continues the project, which acquaints Ukrainians with the new faces of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, tells about those who will wear judge gowns for the first time, and those who came to the country's highest judicial body from scientific and educational institutions, from the bar and other spheres of social activity.
Tetiana Antsupova called the night to July 27, 2017 the "New Year's Eve," because it was then, during a live broadcast of the session of the High Qualifications Commission of Ukraine, that they named those appointed to the new composition of the Supreme Court of Ukraine. Her surname was also among the winners of the competition. She spoke with Ukrinform about her new status as a judge, personal experience and expectations of a new job.
In my opinion, jurisprudence is not only the sphere of activity, but also the philosophy of life, and the world is perceived through this prism. Once, when I worked in the library, I received a textbook on Roman law, and I was so admired that I took it home and read it overnight. It is clear that this matter is familiar to me and I want to study it. So I chose the future profession and became a student at the Law Institute of the Odesa Mechnikov State University. I studied with enthusiasm, and during my student days (in 1995) I was sent to the University of Maryland (the United States) to study in a joint educational program of several universities during one semester. Upon return to Ukraine, I finally decided that my specialization would be the protection of human rights in the global dimension and international justice.
I began to study in Odesa in 1993 when I was 16. It seemed to me that I would never be able to explore the city map and would wander through unfamiliar streets. I did not consider myself a resident of Odesa for a very long time - it seemed to me that the city had not accepted me. In fact, it was only my fear - I lived in Odesa for 25 happy years. I spent my youth here, and I learned the laws of life here. Odesa became my home. And now, when I had to leave my house, it was harder for me to survive this than it seemed.
Like any resident of Odesa, I am proud of the city's architectural and cultural heritage. Of course, there are museums and theaters that I adore. I'm worried about the old architecture of the city, a long struggle for the Rusov's House and the Green Theater.
Meanwhile, in my memories there is Odesa, which belongs only to me, which is connected with important events in my life - this connection will remain forever.
About disappointment and choice of the future
I was disappointed after the studies were over. I liked diplomacy, international relations, and, besides, I graduated from the faculty of international legal relations. However, I realized that when I was in Odesa, I had very little chance of finding a job according to my specialization. It was even impossible to get to a regional branch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1998 for an internship (or practice), unlike the present.
I did not consider advocacy as my future, so I decided to stay in the academic environment and continue to improve my knowledge and skills. So I spent some time thinking over what to do next, but, as you know, there is nothing more permanent than "temporary." I immediately began to write my Ph.D. thesis and to teach.
About students and legal education
I am proud of my students. I am very pleased when they are aware of their vocation and like their profession. It's good when we maintain contact. I was very pleased when my former students subsequently became judges and phoned me to consult on the use of European law sources. After all, I taught international law, the law of the Council of Europe, the practice of the European Court of Human Rights.
There are talented students with whom I continue to collaborate scientifically, and I do not want to part with them.
There are, of course, serious difficulties in the field of education. The topic of legal education reform is the topic of a separate conversation. Every year, the Ukrainian labor market gets several tens of thousands of new lawyers, and many of them do not stand competition. During my life I taught at five universities in Ukraine and at Torun University in Poland. I visited universities in Greece, Latvia, the United States, France, and Finland. I believe that scientists and lecturers of higher educational institutions from Ukraine lack academic freedom, which is a necessary condition for improving the skills and quality of teaching.
After I was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court, I decided to suspend my teaching activities for a while. I want to devote myself to my new job.
About top 30 and personal chances
Did I feel confident when I applied for the competition? If I thought that I had no chance at all, I would not file any documents. Of course, I understood that there are chances. How big these chances were depended on whether my knowledge and experience would be "competitive" in comparison with the knowledge and experience of other candidates.
I believe that in fact there were more than 30 worthy candidates. Did I think from the beginning that I would enter the top 30? Of course, I did not.
About "New Year's Eve" in July
In fact, we learned about the victory in the competition from a live broadcast of the session of the High Qualifications Commission of Ukraine. The commission meeting was held late in the evening and all candidates watched a live broadcast on Youtube.
This night was very reminiscent of the "New Year's Eve" in the summer, on July 27, because the winners received the greetings with all possible means of communication until the morning. It was a moment of absolute joy.
Psychologically, we have already got used to overcome every stage, but we were equally ready for any decision.
About reaction of relatives
My relatives asked me why I needed that, as it meant tension, great responsibility and it was a new thing for me. My mother recently asked me: "Tell me, are you happy now?" I replied that I was quite happy and filled with a lot of feelings. Happiness is just a moment.
Of course, my relatives are my great support, and they are very loyal and loving.
About abstract thinking and journalistic attention
An important feature of a judge is abstract thinking. Otherwise, he or she will not be able to take an independent, unbiased decision. The judge must decide the case fairly, on the basis of the law, in accordance with the rule of law, international standards, abstracting from a particular person. However, one should always remember about a person "on the other side" of a complaint or a claim.
The first steps during the competition were accompanied by a very unusual reaction from society and the media. Then I felt and realized that the "presumption of guilt" was probably such a traditional reaction. That is, the other should not even be expected. We tried to abstract from intense attention so as to focus on the tasks.
About dislike for conflicts
I do not consider myself a conflicting person. However, if it comes to fundamental questions related to protecting my values, then I will defend them. I do not create a conflict for the sake of a conflict. By the way, constructive approaches, not destructive ones, are now very much in demand in the Supreme Court, especially when we receive dozens of new complaints per day and need to process them quickly and qualitatively.
About life outside of work
I would like to get everything done, but after the Supreme Court has begun its work, we do not even dream of things that are affordable, understandable, anticipated and even natural to ordinary people. First of all, I mean rest, travel, communication with relatives and friends, hobbies.
I like to draw with a pencil the portraits of loved ones, those who impressed me, and those who I find interesting to draw. I last drew a portrait last summer.
I have another hobby - flowers. I had many home plants in Odesa, but they all cannot be transported. I do not have enough plants in the office, but later I will definitely correct it.
I love walking around the sea. I was born and lived all my life in coastal cities. The sea inspires me.
I'm a demanding person. A positive assessment will not convince me if I feel that this could have been done better. When it comes to judgments, it is important that there is an inner feeling, that I have done everything correctly, fairly, with due observance of all procedural requirements, that I coped with the task that I set for myself.
About statistics and judges' activity
I set the task of effective and high-quality work, so I am very frustrated when the judge's performance indicators are evaluated, first and foremost, by the number of cases reviewed per year. Still, statistics do not indicate the essence and content of activity and the quality of decisions.
About people and judicial power
I have recently asked myself - who forms a negative public opinion about judges?
Firstly, traditionally Ukrainian society does not support the authorities. No matter what kind of power Ukrainians elect, after the first days or months this power becomes bad in the eyes of the people.
Secondly, "betrayal" or "victory" is formed by the media, as well as by some public and political figures, who try to earn the desired "bonuses" on populism.
Of course, one cannot say that the judicial system is perfect and that there are no shortcomings at all. Otherwise, judicial reform would not have to be carried out. But there is also a lot that cannot be criticized, never even approaching the court. I do not know if my colleagues would be willing to support me, so I would express my own opinion that internships in court (for at least a few days) for those who form a public opinion on judicial reform and related issues would change their understanding of the situation for the better.
I would support the creation of a program for visitors - "A Day with a Judge." I'm sure that they would have remembered the lunch break late in the evening.
About expectation of changes
Ordinary people can expect changes in the work of the Supreme Court when they file a lawsuit or cassation appeal to the court and see that everything happens in line with the law and procedural deadlines.
The parties must feel that justice has really taken place. Even if a lawsuit or complaint of one of the parties was rejected by the court, there should be no doubt that the court reviewed and responded to the arguments that this party had.
All procedural actions of the court should be clear and accessible, as well as the language of the court decision and the motivation of the conclusion.
About work of the judiciary
In order to adequately regard the results of the work of the new Supreme Court, the average person must understand that the court can make a just and legitimate decision, but it cannot change the unjust law that has already given rise to a systemic problem. It cannot directly influence the process of executing court decisions. And it is very important to bring it to society.
The Supreme Court has no direct legislative initiative. The execution of court decisions is entrusted to the executive branch of government, or rather to the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.
About status of judges and their "advantages"
We are trying to follow the principle of openness as part of a communication strategy of the new Supreme Court, actively communicating with the media. I watch with interest how the tone of the comments of the readers has changed. There are almost no positive comments. This happened even the day before I passed the first procedural decision.
It's strange how it happened automatically. I am the same person as I was before my appointment as a judge. My values and attitude to life and the case have not changed. My status has changed. Yesterday I was a scientist, today I became a judge.
We will try to change such a negative stereotype.