On Friday 25 April 2014, Feikje Vellinga-Schootstra received Royal Decoration. Vellinga-Schootstra has been appointed Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau.
Feikje Vellinga-Schootstra (1953) is professor of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law at the University of Groningen. Over a period of 37 years, she has devoted herself to Dutch criminal law and criminal procedure law – as an academic staff member, university lecturer and (since 2007) professor at the University of Groningen, as well as by acting as deputy judge at the subdistrict court, justice and deputy justice.
Through her academic work, Vellinga-Schootstra has made an important contribution to the development and renewal of criminal law and criminal procedural law. She has written authoritative, far-sighted and influential publications. Her 1982 PhD thesis, for example, on seizures and search of premises, 30 years on is still one of the most authoritative publications in the field. The influence of her inaugural lecture, given in 2008 together with her husband and fellow professor Wim Vellinga, is notable in High Court jurisprudence. Although her academic work mainly relates to Dutch criminal law, she tries, wherever possible and relevant, to factor international legal developments into her work. One example is her inaugural lecture, in which she made proposals based on the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights for improvements to Dutch criminal law and criminal procedural law. Another example of her international orientation is the pairing of the Leeuwarden Court of Appeal, the Ghent Court of Appeal and the universities of Ghent and Groningen in 2011, which she organized on the initiative of the Council of Europe.
Vellinga-Schootstra is also an enthusiastic and popular lecturer. She takes her duties extremely seriously, and sets herself a high standard for the quality of her teaching. Training young people to become the judges, public prosecutors and lawyers of the future must satisfy the highest quality requirements. She considers this essential, given the important and responsible social mandate for which she prepares her students. She gives very entertaining, clear and stimulating lectures, and her personal approach encourages the students to think independently and critically. In 2011 she was voted Lecturer of the Year at the Faculty by the students.
All her life Vellinga-Schootstra has worked in the judiciary, including the periods when she was employed by the University. From 2002-2007 she worked exclusively for the judiciary; she was then a justice for the Court of Appeal in Leeuwarden, the highest tribunal after the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. During those years she was chair of the sittings of the three-judge criminal division as well as the justice responsible for various projects and activities in the field of strengthening the quality of jurisdiction, including monthly jurisprudence meetings famous for their inspirational tone and their exceptionally high quality. She set a very high standard as a judge and as a justice. She is profoundly convinced that jurisdiction must satisfy the highest requirements of quality and care. Only then can the administration of law continue to be trusted by citizens and continue to fulfil its stabilizing, organizational and dispute resolutionist function that is so important for society. After more than five years at the Court of Appeal, Vellinga-Schootstra was invited to become a professor at the University of Groningen. However, she continues to be linked to the Court of Appeal as a deputy justice.
Vellinga-Schootstra has also made a significant contribution to society in many other ways, including in her field and in law, as well as in voluntary work. She has been the chair of a participation council for a primary school, chair of a municipal appeals committee and a member of various complaints committees for homes for the elderly in Friesland. This type of social service is typical for her involvement with society.
Particularly characteristic for Prof. Vellinga-Schootstra is her significant personal involvement in the organizations in which she works and with the people in those organizations. As a result she plays a special role in every aspect in which she is involved. Her warm, personal attention, her ability to put things into perspective, her sense of humour, her optimism, her wisdom and her ability to forge connections mean that she is one of those people who form the silent, driving force of an organization.
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