Sunday, February 12, 2012

Judges on trial: Baltasar Garzón

Trying to explain the recent sentence that condemned the Spanish star judge Baltasar Garzón to NorthAmericans ain’t easy.

It's a long and convoluted story, that of Judge Garzón. I met him briefly at a wedding in Baeza some ten years ago. A first cousin of his was member of our hospital staff (head of Neurophysiology). Everybody agrees he is peculiar, often acts as an outsider and his popularity has never been accepted by the judiciary--I should say: the Spanish judiciary, a most strange body of professionals with nothing in common with the Northamerican idea of a judge, still lacking the necessary renewal after the democratic transition some 30 years ago. The hard core of that corporation was out to get him, and they finally did. To me, on trumped charges, as the use of wiretapping is up for interpretation in the Spanish judicial system. Literally the law says:
"Las escuchas telefonicas sólo se podrán realizar cuando sean ordenadas por el juez y en casos de terrorismo", that could well be written:
"Las escuchas telefonicas sólo se podrán realizar cuando sean ordenadas por el juez, (comma) y en casos de terrorismo".
He did ordered the wiretapping at the request of the DA (the public defender, la fiscalía) and was seconded by two other judges. From there on, it's open to interpretation.
Technicalities aside, note that the plaintiffs were corrupted politicians and ultraextreme-right activists. The ones trying to save their hides from different injunctions and the others arguing that Franco's era genocidal murders should not be tried, as what was done was done (!). That served the Supreme Court well to get Garzón and kick him out of the way. A bad deal.
As a funny mayor of Jerez once put it: "la 'ustisia e' un cashondeo". (Justice is a joke, in a rather ribald wording).

One of my correspondants stated “He must have pissed off a lot of people since the verdict was unanimous. (I) imagine that the seven members of the Supreme Court are not all of the same political persuasion”.  “It is so important that the people of a country trust their Supreme Courts”.
I'm afraid he is wrong imagining the Spanish "Tribunal Supremo" members might have different "political" approaches to reality. They are all utterly conservative entrenched in the technicalities of the mostly outdated Spanish body of laws and procedures.
The Spanish judicial system has been up for renewal for some 130 years, has reluctantly accepted some of the premises of the 1979 Constitution and maintains a crawling pace of working habits to the desperation of the constituency. (The fact that the use of computer technology is at a 1988 level is nothing but a post sign. And the reliance on paper is compounded by the fact that still some courts do not have a printer (!) and none uses common wordprocessing programs such as Microsoft Word or Open Office. They use older programs that render computers to the mere use as typewriters with no spelling correction facilities(!!!).
The Tribunal Supremo members are elected the body of the judges ("Poder judicial") a quite conservative bunch. That's true too for the "Tribunal Constiticional", that peculiar overseer body elected by a bi(or tri)partisan agreement of the Spanish parliament. However, political disagreements during the past eight years have prevented the renewal of the members and to cover a couple of vacancies due to death or illness of some members. That took care of the Catalan "Estatut" to our sorry chagrin a couple of years ago.
So no. I, as many of my "paisanos" do not trust neither TS or TC. We have not taken part in their appointment so there is no way we could trust them. So, fuck'em. 
On top of that, some of the technical (judicialy technical) problems that Canon law present as compared with Common law, makes the Spanish justice rather a shambles.
It is going to take years before the Spanish judiciary gains the due respect of the citizenry.

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