Vacancies exceed 20% of the workforce, while resolution times rise and its Social Room is on the verge of “total collapse”
The Constitutional Court has reiterated on many occasions in its doctrine that delayed justice is not true justice, because it undermines effective judicial protection, that is, the fundamental right that every person has to exercise the defense of their interests before the courts. and courts.
Well, the lack of renewal of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), which is on its way to completing its fourth year in office despite the reactivation of negotiations between PSOE and PP after the resignation of Carlos Lesmes, and the reform that prevents the body to make discretionary appointments of magistrates due to the interim situation -case of the Supreme Court or the presidencies of superior courts and provincial hearings- is already having direct consequences on the functioning of the high court.
According to the data handled by the technical cabinet of the Supreme Court, the “serious damage” caused by the existing vacancies, with more than 20% of the vacancies without replacing -15 of the 79 magistrates on staff, to which two more will be added before by the end of the year – implies that some 800 fewer sentences are already handed down in four of the five courtrooms.
The room that resolves the appeals against the acts of the Government has 30% of vacancies and enters about 35 daily cases
The reason alluded to by the department headed by Judge Juan Manuel San Cristóbal is the extraordinary difficulty that the Supreme Court is having in configuring the rooms, both for admission and decision, in the Civil, Social, Contentious-Administrative and Military jurisdictions; that is, all except Penal.
In the same way, the chain effect of the vacancies is causing a lengthening of the response times in the substantive questions and an “enormous” delay in the decisions of inadmission, which are counted by several tens of thousands a year. And all this in a context of economic, social and health crisis, which has increased litigation.
In these 18 months since the entry into force of Organic Law 4/2021 of March 29, promoted at the time by the PSOE to pressure the PP in the negotiation to renew the CGPJ, the 15 vacancies in the Supreme are broken down in this order according to the number of casualties. In the Third Chamber there are nine vacancies pending to be filled out of a staff of 32 magistrates, about 30% of the total. This Chamber deals with resolving the contentious-administrative appeals against the acts and decisions of the Council of Ministers, the delegated commissions of the Government, the Courts, the Constitutional Court, the CGPJ, the Court of Accounts or the Ombudsman.
To date, the average resolution time for cases was close to nine months. However, in this period the delay has increased, both in the admission phase and in the prosecution and resolution phase. To this is added that more than 6,000 procedures are registered each semester, an average of about 35 each day. The main drawbacks are in the admission room and in the second section, specialized in Tax Law. The estimate is that since October of last year some 450 fewer sentences have been handed down.
Effects of the pandemic
In the Fourth Chamber, Social, the staff is made up of 13 magistrates and there are three vacancies. Of these ten togados, two more will be forced to retire in the coming weeks, including President María Luisa Segoviano when she turns 72, so there will be eight left. This jurisdiction deals with labor and commercial matters. The reduction of personnel has forced the suppression of one of the four sections (courts) of admission and has gone from four to three judges each.
The social jurisdiction is close to losing 40% of the workforce and has reduced sections to see labor or commercial issues
Similarly, before the 2021 reform that prevents the CGPJ from replacing vacancies, the lawyers attached to this room made an average of about 4,000 reports per year and 3,500 drafts of orders on appeals. But the lack of an intake section has overloaded the work of the other three bodies. In addition, with the current situation, only two sections of five judges can be formed to resolve the issues. Therefore, up to now some 240 fewer sentences have been handed down in the last year. Added to this is the increase in litigation due to the consequences of the pandemic, a perfect storm that could lead the room to “total collapse” this October.
The First Chamber, which sees all civil matters, is made up of ten magistrates and there is currently one vacancy. This situation is complicated by the accumulation of the tasks of President Francisco Marín Castán, who since last week has also assumed the role of Lesmes after his resignation. The main difficulties are found in the rotation of magistrates in the two existing sections: admission and justice. The average response time exceeds two years in admission for non-preferential matters and it is estimated that a hundred fewer sentences have been issued in the last year.
Finally, waiting for the PSOE and PP to carry out the negotiation of the CGPJ, the Fifth Chamber (Military) is on the verge of inaction. The reason is that of the eight magistrates, four from the judicial career and another four from the military legal body, there are two vacancies and, in addition, there have been two sick leaves for months. For this reason, the room has had to take all matters to plenary session due to lack of a quorum.
Seven TSJ presidencies and 21 hearings, in office
The Supreme Court is the body most affected by the blockage situation in the renewal of the CGPJ, since the discretionary appointments of vacant positions can only be made by the Council and a reform of March 2021 prevents it because it is in office. Despite not having the same impact as in the high court, this situation also affects 30 appointments pending to be made in the superior courts of justice (TSJ), seven of them as presidents, another 21 as presidents of the provincial hearings, one in the direction of the Criminal Chamber of the National High Court and five in the Constitutional Court (TC): the one pending due to the resignation due to illness of Judge Alfredo Montoya, from the Senate shift, and the four appointments that fall to the Government and the CGPJ.
It should be noted that the presidencies of the Supreme Courts of Andalusia, Castilla y León, Castilla-La Mancha, Catalonia, the Valencian Community, the Region of Murcia and La Rioja are in office after the five-year mandate has elapsed. And if the blockage persists in the governing body of the judges, that of the Balearic Islands will be added before the end of the year.
Regarding the presidencies of the hearings, the list is broader: Cádiz, Seville, Málaga, Huelva, Huesca, Teruel, Tenerife, Cuenca, Guadalajara, Badajoz, Ávila, Zamora, Girona, Barcelona, Alicante, Lugo, La Rioja , Murcia, Álava and Guipúzcoa.
The renewal of the Constitutional Court is very important for the Government, since it will mean a change of majorities, from conservative to progressive, in the plenary session of the court of guarantees (made up of twelve magistrates) and the election of a new president. While the changes materialize, the TC must resolve in this course relevant issues that have been on its table for some time, such as the appeal presented by the PP in 2010 against the abortion law, the norm that regulates euthanasia, the new educational law or the reform that limits the action of the CGPJ in office.
#Supreme #dictates #sentences #due #lack #renewal #Judicial #Power