Concepción Sáez, acting member of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), presented her “resignation” as a member of the governing body of judges on March 13. The vocal she transferred her decision to the president, Rafael Mozo, through a letter, to which elDiario.es has had access, in which she justifies her resignation due to the “unsustainable” situation of the institution. The mandate of the CGPJ expired in December 2018 and maintains a correlation of forces with a conservative majority that does not respond to the current parliamentary reality. Since then, the Popular Party has prevented any possibility of a pact with a battery of changing excuses.
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The member considers its continuity “useless” in what she considers a scenario of “radical and perhaps already irreversible degradation of the institution.” And he explains that the “inability to make certain decisions in the ordinary exercise of powers” of the body “while calling for the recovery of improper powers of a Council in office” [en alusión a la pretensión de algunos vocales de pedir la derogación de la ley le impide nombrar jueces] they have ended up exhausting their “patience”. The vowel is given until the end of March to close its exit.
Sáez is a lawyer for the administration of justice and was appointed a member of this institution in 2013 at the proposal of Izquierda Unida, a formation that Cayo Lara led at the time. In his letter, he explains that he has been pondering “for a long time” the meaning of continuing in this position and explains that, if he has not resigned before, it is because of his “excessive and perhaps mistaken sense of responsibility” and because he was confident that the renewal would come. at some point in successive occasions when it seemed imminent.
But at this moment, he maintains, “it is difficult to predict when and how it will be resolved” what he defines as a “long crisis” that “so much delegitimization” is “provoking” the judicial system. The latest movements of the PP show that its leaders are willing to extend this situation until the end of the legislature after blowing up at the last moment the most recent agreement attempt at the end of last October.
The member considered resigning in 2018, when the term of her mandate expired, although she gave up due to the lack of support from other members, especially from the progressive sector. Nor is it now expected that there will be resignations en bloc, as associations such as the progressive Judges and Judges for Democracy have been insistently demanding to facilitate the renewal of the institution.
The possibility that the members would resign to force the renewal was addressed without success in a plenary session held in December 2020, in full anger with the parties that support the Government regarding the reform that ended up removing powers from the CGPJ when it is in office. Then, the progressive member Álvaro Cuesta raised a resolution proposal for all its members to announce their “resignation” as of January 1, when two years had passed since their mandate expired. That initiative, however, was only supported by four other members of the progressive sector —Clara Martínez de Careaga, Rafael Mozo, Pilar Sepúlveda and Sáez herself— and it never materialized into a concrete initiative.
The one who did end up resigning a year and a half later and after having been in office for almost four years was the president, Carlos Lesmes. He resigned last October distributing blame equally to the Government and the PP, whom he reproached for their “repeated indifference” to his calls to tackle a situation that “weakens and erodes the main institutions of Justice and the Rule of Law”. He was replaced by the progressive Rafael Mozo after an agreement between the members of both sensibilities. A figure that, however, members of both blocks now view with reluctance due to his “undecided” character.
Predictably, Sáez’s seat will now be vacant, which will help to enlarge the conservative majority of the body. In March of last year, Congress refused to replace a member who had retired, the conservative Rafael Fernández Valverde. The Chamber followed the criteria set by the lawyers, who considered that since they are in office, the regulation on the replacement of members does not apply. Nor was the seat of the progressive Victoria Cinto, who died last June, replaced. Before, the members Merce Pigem (2014) and Fernando Grande-Marlaska (2018) who resigned during the ordinary mandate were replaced. If there are no more resignations, the body will be made up of ten members chosen at the proposal of the PP, six from the PSOE, and another from the PNV, which is usually placed in the progressive sector.
In any case, it is a majority that has few practical effects due to the limitation of powers to which the body is subject due to its interim situation. Mainly, its essential function of making appointments in the judicial leadership, which has led to a threat of collapse in the Supreme Court because vacancies cannot be filled. The body is dedicated to dispatching pending administrative issues and preparing some reports on laws that are still pending. However, some members of the conservative sector do not give up using the speaker that gives them their membership in the highest institution of the third power of the State to try to wear down the Government. They have done so, for example, regarding the controversial reductions in sentences for sexual offenders.
Without exclusive dedication
During his almost ten years as a vocal, Sáez has made his professional activity compatible inside and outside the organ. She only dedicated exclusively to the CGPJ the five months that she was a member of the Permanent Commission, the main decision-making body, in 2018. But she resigned to serve as manager of the General Judicial Mutual Fund, a position for which she was proposed by the Secretary of State for the Ministry of Justice that was then headed by Dolores Delgado. Her current destination is in the National Court.
In the CGPJ he has been part of the Equality Commission, in charge of advising the plenary on this matter. During this time she has broken the unanimity of the vote on several occasions and she was especially critical of the fact that the body continued to make appointments to the judicial leadership with its mandate expired. Recently, he has shown his rejection of the Permanente’s decision not to take action in the face of the exchange of messages between the former number two of the Interior Francisco Martínez and the president of the National Court, José Ramón Navarro, in which the former dealt with to obtain information on the case opened in the special court on parapolice espionage against Luis Bárcenas with reserved funds.
With an annual budget of 76 million euros, the CGPJ offers some of the highest salaries in the Administration. The president and the six members with exclusive dedication earn more than 120,000 euros per year — to which must be added the three-year period or the complement of seniority — and they have an official car and secretarial staff at their disposal. The rest of the members are only part-time, with a lower salary. They receive per diems solely for attending the plenary sessions or the commissions of which they are a part, set at 975 euros and 312 euros respectively.
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