27/12/2021

The problem of the lack of Catalan judges

3 min
A courtroom in an archival image

BarcelonaIt is no secret that in Catalonia there is no tradition of taking competitive examinations for State bodies as there is in other territories, and this causes an under-representation of Catalans in groups that end up being decisive, such as judges or state attorneys. Thus, of the 188 judges who graduated from Barcelona Judicial School, only 11 are Catalan. This means Catalonia is also the place where there are most vacancies every year (80 our of 195 this year), which are usually taken by the last to choose, since the best usually choose postings closer to home. The exception was in 2018, when the best result was obtained by Catalan judge Marta Nadal, who chose the court of Mollet.

In the end many judges who start their career here will end up asking for a transfer, and this causes a particularly precarious situation in Catalonia in the administration of justice, with many vacant courts and a very high turnover. As a collateral effect, we can also highlight the minimal use of Catalan in the justice system, one of the areas that has proved most impervious to normalisation.

There are obviously many factors that contribute to this fact. Firstly, the strong business and entrepreneurial tradition means that in Catalonia the private sector is preferred to the public sector. And secondly, and no less important, the fact that in Catalonia the State has always been seen as an alien, if not directly hostile, entity. The result is a lack of these profiles that are key to the functioning of any society. In the same way that the slogan "We want Catalan bishops" was popularised in the 1960s, perhaps we should now chant "We want Catalan judges"There are obviously many factors that contribute to this fact. Firstly, the strong business and entrepreneurial tradition means that in Catalonia the private sector is preferred to the public sector. And secondly, and no less important, the fact that in Catalonia the State has always been seen as an alien, if not directly hostile, entity. The result is a lack of these profiles that are key to the functioning of any society. In the same way that the slogan "We want Catalan bishops" was popularised in the 1960s, perhaps we should now chant "We want Catalan judges", who would bring the exercise of justice closer to Catalan society. It goes without saying that there are judges in other parts of the State who are absolutely respectful of the Catalan language and reality. Here it is not so much a question of origins as of sensitivity, as we could also find examples of calamitous Catalan judges.

In recent years we have seen the problem of the judicialisation of the Independence bid and the gulf that has opened up between the vision of the judiciary and that of the Catalan social majority. As a curiosity we can highlight that none of the 7 members of the criminal chamber of the Supreme Court who judged the leaders of the Independence bid was Catalan. And that one of the only two magistrates of the Constitutional Court who has dared to question the rulings is Juan Antonio Xiol, from Barcelona. It also recalls the dissenting opinion which was particularly critical of the Constitutional Court's ruling on the Catalan Statute of Autonomy was signed by the only Catalan member of that court, the Barcelona jurist Eugeni Gay. In that dissenting opinion, Gay, who is far from being an unredeemed pro-independence advocate, simply considered the definition of Catalonia as a nation to be "logical", which earned him strong criticism from the conservative bloc.

In short, if anything has been proven in recent years, it is that it would be good to have more Catalan judges, more magistrates to compensate for the nationalist and centralist vision that prevails in the Spanish judiciary. And the Generalitat ought to think of strategies to encourage more Catalan jurists to become judges.

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