Wednesday
April 23, 2014

According to supreme court sources

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The 2014 battle: Magistrates Council

By Luciana Bertoia
Herald Staff

The Supreme Court yesterday made it clear the Magistrates Council will probably be the next controversial issue the country’s highest judges will likely take up in 2014.

Court sources spoke about the issue at the end of the judicial calendar with a ceremony honouring the two justices who have sat at the high tribunal during the entire 30 years of democratic rule.

“The year is over,” was heard throughout the day in the corridors of the courthouse, while justices toasted with their employees. Yesterday was the last meeting of the year for the seven justices.

They did not make any newsworthy decisions, but they adopted resolutions aimed at pleasing judicial workers: for instance, a five percent raise. The decision was celebrated by Julio Piumato, the head of the Judicial Employees’ Union (UEJN), though his group had demanded a 10 percent increase.

“What will explode next year is the Magistrates Council situation,” a source from the high tribunal told the Herald.

The council in charge of selecting and punishing judges has been one of the topics that made the Executive and the Judiciary lock horns throughout the year.

First, the Kirchnerite administration sponsored the so-called judicial reforms package — which included the direct election of those aiming to obtain a seat on the Magistrates Council — but that reform was quashed by the justices in June.

Last month, the tribunal urged the government to take the necessary measures to deal with drug-trafficking in the northern provinces of the country, which also included the appointment of judges.

Last week, Chief Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti and his colleagues met with Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich. Once again, the justices requested the slowness in the appointment of judges to be addressed.

Yesterday, they discussed the topic and, according to some sources, decided to proceed with their request next year.

A source said they consider that they were investing more than the Executive in the maintenance of the Magistrates Council.

Both parties agree on one point: the Magistrates Council is not as profitable as it was supposed to be. But they seem not to agree on the solution.

Lorenzetti yesterday thanked the Cabinet chief’s office for sending the funding for the wage hike, in what seemed to be a message of peace with the Executive.

Justices also paid tribute to Enrique Petracchi and Carlos Fayt, the two members who began in the tribunal in 1983, when democracy was restored in the country.

“Both represent the Court and we want them to continue working with us,” Lorenzetti said yesterday.

“Since the return of democracy, the Judiciary has played a central role,” he highlighted. Those were the words chosen in the Court to celebrate the 30 continuous years of democracy.

Last Tuesday, the only justice who attended the ceremony headed by Fernández de Kirchner was Eugenio Zaffaroni.

@LucianaBertoia

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