The Secretary General for the Innovation and Quality of the Public Service of Justice, Manuel Olmedo, has pointed out that the “current” General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ) is not complying with the regulations by having a “deficit” of 300 places for judges without convening since in 2013 for the fourth shift, access intended for jurists of recognized competence, because “they should have been summoned during these new years if they respected the law.”
During his speech this Thursday at the Justice Commission of Congress, Olmedo stressed that “the competition” for the final call and the selection of judges is not from the Ministry, but from the CGPJ, which has been in office for “nine years.”
“According to our calculations, the current CGPJ has a deficit of 300 positions that it should have convened during these nine years if it respected the organic law of the Judiciary, that is, if it convened one of every four vacant positions in the category of magistrate”, has Olmedo specified when referring to the “fourth shift”, a method of entry into the judicial career through competition for jurists of recognized competence who have more than ten years of professional experience.
He has said it in response to the spokesman for Citizens, Edmundo Bal, who has made Justice ugly that few places are called for judges and prosecutors. To this, Olmedo has recalled that in 2022 the Government of Pedro Sánchez has summoned 200 and that in 2023 there will be 300, compared to zero in 2012, when the PP of Mariano Rajoy governed.
From Citizens and also from Vox they have insisted, as on previous occasions, that the problem is not so much one of investment, but of resource management, since in Spain there are 11 operational judges for every 100,000 inhabitants and the European average is 17 , when Spain invests more money than the average in Justice.
For the secretary of innovation, these comparative data with Europe “do not refer to the degree of substitution by substitute judges and substitute magistrates that exist in Spain.” “If we took them into account, they would be close to the European averages,” he said.
However, Olmedo has replied to the parliamentary spokesmen that “posts cannot be created without more”, because creating a post for a judge “means creating a judicial unit, which costs a lot of money.”
“If we have the traffic jam in the judges, the first thing we have to do is go through and transform our current first instance into a court of instance, where it will be much easier to create a position for a judge without having to create more positions for lawyers, officials …”, added Olmedo, who has considered it “necessary” for the bills of the Justice 2030 plan to go forward.
Order costs if mediation is avoided
Olmedo, who has appeared to discuss the procedural efficiency measures bill, has stated that the Spanish Justice has two major problems, to be improved with these projects: the “disastrous” judicial organization and the high level of litigation. For this reason, he has advocated “intensifying efforts to encourage the use of mediation” and other appropriate means of dispute resolution before finally going to court.
Olmedo explained that these media represent a “cultural paradigm shift” in the actions of the courts and has detailed that with this project “costs can be ordered when the existence of an abuse of the public service of justice is detected, although the party have seen all their claims upheld at trial.”
He has said that it is a novel concept that can overlap in some aspects other traditional concepts such as recklessness, bad faith or abuse of the Law, but that “it has its own scope of action and the jurisprudence will decant it opportunely”.
This sentence, as Olmedo has specified, will be applied when a party avoids “unjustifiably” recourse to an adequate means of solution to resolve their conflict before going to court.
The proposed regulation establishes a procedural requirement in civil and commercial procedures that requires having tried a consensual solution before filing a lawsuit. To this end, the parties may meet this requirement through direct negotiation, the opinion of an independent expert, conciliation, mediation or a confidential binding offer.
The future of video conferencing
On the other hand, and to questions from the deputy of Podemos Martina Velarde, the secretary of the Ministry has acknowledged that there is concern among legal operators about the regulation of videoconferencing after its normalization as a result of the pandemic, but has pointed out that the Government’s proposal requires the physical presence of the accused at trial “in certain cases”.
They will be, he added, “the trials for a serious crime and at his or her defense’s request at the hearing when prison is requested and in trials when a prison sentence of more than two years is requested.”
Olmedo has responded to Podemos that there are jurisdictional bodies where presence “is not as delicate as in the criminal order”, pointing out that in civil “many times only lawyers go”.
“I do not see any problem in that it can be done electronically, but in any case, in most cases, the final decision is left in the hands of the judge or court”, the innovation secretary has settled, not without first pointing out that the The identity of whoever appears by videoconference will be guaranteed with an electronic signature system, in order to have “absolute certainty” that the person on the other side “is who they say they are.”