The judicial “Go get ’em” – Spanish judges in their forums

L'”A por ellos” judicial

by Quico Sallés (Barcelona)

Translation into English by Milford Edge @milfordedge

Some of the emails that EI Mon has had access to

Independentism and its leaders are involved in a “coup“, they are “Nazis“, a “virus“, a “germ“. People who are mobilising in Catalonia act like “idiots“, they are “criminals“, “violent” or “extremists” to whom the “Penal Code must be applied” because they have leaders who are “sons of bitches” or “like rapists“. These are not opinions from just any forum or anonymous comments below a newspaper article, but ideas expressed by judges and magistrates all across the State in the corporate email account of the judiciary. They are to be found in the official channel of all Spanish judges before, during and after October 1, right up to Germany’s refusal to execute the European arrest warrant against President Carles Puigdemont.

It is a thread of messages from the official channel of the Official Council of the Judiciary, the third most important independent power of the State, which directs the courts and the Spanish judiciary. To be exact, it is a constitutional body that “exercises the functions of government of the Judicial branch with the purpose of guaranteeing the independence of judges in the exercise of judicial function above all else.” The third pillar of the State, together with the government and parliamentary chambers. Well, on the official website of the judiciary there is an electronic mail system to which any practising judge or magistrate has access. It is a channel shared by all judges, who use it to exchange information and documents. But it is also the place where anxieties are shared and the news is commented upon. And it is here that their animosity for Catalan politicians is palpable and evidence of their antipathy towards the Catalan political process and its main actors can be found. In fact, one of the most common opinions repeated by judges is that ending the process “is not a political issue, it is a matter of State and Democracy“.

September: a report on Justice in the event of independence.

Even before the referendum many magistrates participating in the forum warned that the political process in Catalonia should be acted against. A thread opened on September 11, 2017, stands out: a magistrate in Guadalajara proposes preparing a report on “what the situation of the Judicial Branch would be in the region after the referendum on sovereignty“, a report that would be published before the vote. According to this email, the dossier would deal with “how the working conditions, rights and its institutional position as the authority of the State would be affected.” The judge expresses “concern” and ensures that there are “heartbreaking testimonies“. “Some people are really suffering,” he said.

The proposal received its first response the following day. A.B., a judge in Bilbao, described the situation as “terrifying”. Even more explicit is a magistrate in Catalonia, R.M. In his email, he describes the situation of the judges in Catalonia as “bewildering”. “It seems as if nothing is going to happen, the way things are, something has to happen”, he writes. “It seems crazy”, he stresses after explaining the content of the Law of Juridical Transition and Foundation of the Republic, that “the possibility of incorporating the judges” into the Catalan justice system should be contemplated. In conclusion, he describes events as being of a “unique and historical gravity”.

L.A., investigating judge in the metropolitan area, responds to the request by warning that what the independentists “want to do with the judiciary is terrible.” “But they will not succeed, and I’m sure that the rule of law will work“. She considers it “very serious” that leaders and independentist politicians should “disregard the customs and general principles of the Law of Spain and the independence of the judiciary”. The judge proposes writing a report explaining “what the Generalitat is trying to do” in a “clear and understandable way”. The same judge, however, is sceptical about possible independence. In fact, she is convinced that after the 1 October referendum “nothing will happen.” “The State will act and we will be protected”, the concludes. “I do not consider our democracy to be so weak”, she adds.

The thread continues with an investigating magistrate in Navarre announcing that “in the face of what is happening in Catalonia, I want to show all my support and solidarity with my colleagues in the community who are in the sights of the independentists”. It is a situation that she considers “logical” as judges are the “guarantors of the Constitution, the rights of the citizens, and respect and compliance with the law, and that is something that the independentists cannot like very much”.

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