European Court of Human Rights - case of Goddi v. Italy (1984) (excerpts)

European Court of Human Rights - case of Goddi v. Italy (1984) (excerpts)

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31. As regards the defence provided for Mr. Goddi on 3 December 1977

by the officially-appointed lawyer, it is not the Court's task to

express an opinion on the manner in which Mr. Straziani, a member of a

liberal profession who was acting in accordance with the dictates of

his conscience as a participant in the administration of justice,

considered that he should conduct the case. On the other hand, the

Court does have to determine whether the Bologna Court of Appeal

took steps to ensure that the accused had the benefit of a fair

trial, including an opportunity for an adequate defence.


In fact, Mr. Straziani did not have the time and facilities he

would have needed to study the case-file, prepare his pleadings

and, if appropriate, consult his client (cf. Article 6 para. 3 (b)

of the Convention) (art. 6-3-b). Short of notifying Mr. Bezicheri

of the date of the hearing, the Court of Appeal should - whilst

respecting the basic principle of the independence of the Bar -

at least have taken measures, of a positive nature, calculated to

permit the officially-appointed lawyer to fulfil his obligations

in the best possible conditions (see, mutatis mutandis, the

above-mentioned Artico judgment, p. 16, para. 33). It could have

adjourned the hearing, as the public prosecutor's office requested

(see paragraph 15 above), or it could have directed on its own

initiative that the sitting be suspended for a sufficient period of

time.


No inference can be drawn from the fact that Mr. Straziani himself

made no such request. The exceptional circumstances of the case

- the absence of Mr. Goddi and the failure to notify Mr. Bezicheri -

required the Court of Appeal not to remain passive.