Judges without justice

A true storm is approaching —I'm referring to the independence process— and the season of the undecided, those who hope to be classified as impartial by sitting on the fence, is upon us

A true storm is approaching —I'm referring to the independence process— and the season of the undecided, those who hope to be classified as impartial by sitting on the fence, is upon us. It is a good excuse for those who do not want to rock the boat. Those who insist on the ineffectual solution of giving half a guide-dog to the one-eyed, so as to seem fair, are merely following their master’s voice. They have immediately taken to criticising the demonstrations outside the court house or the fact that the entire cabinet accompanied the Catalan President when he was summoned. They were not nearly as cutting in their comments when a party member, acting as a public prosecutor, ridiculously accused the Catalan President of allegedly engaging in illegal actions. No sir. However, that is what you get, if you want to be part of the media which receives subsidies in exchange for opinions and, for now, Madrid pays the most. 

Proper democracies devise systems that are resistant to people. The rest, such as our own, have to elect people who are resistant to the system. If you read how the American Constitution was drafted, you will realise how wise its authors were two-hundred and fifty years ago. It is a system which does not rely so much on the people who hold office —which it does— but on a mechanism that purges those who do not respect the pillars of democracy —including a free press—. This is the only way to explain Nixon's inevitable impeachment. Here things are very different. We must always pray that whoever comes to power is honest and democratic, because the system offers no guarantees and will allow them to do as they please. They will be able to manipulate the governing bodies of the various state powers and control public prosecutors and judiciary powers remotely, if they so wish. They will even be able to remove the editor-in-chief of a newspaper whenever they wish to (Mr. Pedro J. Ramírez, but also, of course, Mr. José Antich (1).

Which is why we find ourselves in this annoying situation. We have a very high percentage of sound judges, who are independent and brave (I mean those who take risks), but are embedded in a system designed to stop anything that doesn’t suit some. The powerful in the private sector tend to ignore market rules, democracy and the principle of equal rights. And we must consider that the powerful in the public sector are equally dangerous, too: the state and its ramifications. The state can act alone or in collusion with powerful, private people. This is why we liberals are as reticent of oligopolies as we are of the State. The crisis, I think, has proved us right.

A few months ago I had the opportunity to have dinner with one of these famous and important judges who take risks. One of those whom the General Council of the Judiciary (on political instruction) is going after. I was frank with the judge and I asked him the question of a lifetime —I wanted to confirm what I already thought—. I asked him: "I suspect, I am almost certain, that the way Spain’s judiciary power is designed, the lack of new methods and procedures, the inefficiency of judiciary procedures (especially for lack of means), in short, the fact that our judiciary system is slow and incompetent, is the result of an intentional act by our politicians. In their day, politicians designed a politicised, perverse and ineffectual system —whose low profile is maintained thanks to minimal budgetary funds—  with the objective that they, and their parties, could act, if necessary, outside the law, with certain impunity. Irregular financing, governing subject only to political agreements, etc." The judge's response was as short as it was conclusive: “ Tú lo has dicho” ("You said it") (sic).

Anyone who does not start from the premise that everything that is currently bad about Spanish justice comes from a political intent, from the will of those who flaunt, and have flaunted, influential public posts —not just those who govern, but also members of parliament who have woven what they like to call "mutual understandings"—, anyone who does not accept this fact, will not understand anything. They will be fooled and will accuse judges of being incompetent, rather than blaming the existing system and those who devised it.

I am not in favour of movements that advocate radical revolutions. They tend to perish, victims of their own fiery verbosity. Also, they tend to go hand in hand with anti-capitalist ideas that seek to give too much power to the dangerous state. On the other hand, I fear that all those who, for their own gain, designed and now want to perpetuate a judiciary system that is completely ineffectual for citizens, will just carry on as they are. A breath of fresh air is definitely needed.


(1) N.T. Pedro J. Ramírez and José Antich were editor-in-chief of newspapers El Mundo and La Vanguardia.