The National Association of Magistrates has recently seen the results of its internal elections, which determined a rotation of top positions. The appointment of Davigo, famous Milanese magistrate symbol of the period of “Mani Pulite” (clean hands) investigation, can be seen as a change of direction with respect to the path of associated Judiciary, which transformed dialogue into the reference point of its action.
Yet, on closer inspection, the situation is different. The line of conduct of the Association of Magistrates, in which the president has certainly a major role, is dictated by a collegial body, where each membership component, unlike in the past few years, sees one or more representatives. And this line has been expressed in a unified program that does not deviate, if not in some points that are important, but not decisive, from that previously implemented ones.
Certainly, Magistrates’ sensitivity has changed over time: for a long time they have felt subject to delegitimization on a daily basis, saw how resources available to the service-Justice be depleted (we cannot forget the words of Minister of Justice Castelli whi said that we should not invest in a system that has not reached satisfactory goals, thus uniting the work and the product of a function of the state with that of a company), they have negatively assessed the decision to reduce administrative staff with a parallel increase of their duties.
The passing of the seasons had created the feeling that the tone of conflict between politics and the judiciary had attenuated, that it was possible to re-open a dialogue with all the institutional forces, that it was possible to open a discussion that could be useful for the country and for the strengthening of the Judiciary’s action both in the criminal and in the civil sectors. But above all, that it was possible to recognize not only the dignity the Magistrate’s role, but that of every Justice operator.
Unfortunately, some attitudes have shattered those expectations more than political decisions. I wish to tell one of them, as an emblematic example.
Last year, with the decree-law mechanism which, according to the Constitution, can be used only in emergency cases, the magistrates’ leave was shortened. It is not about merits, that is, whether such a policy choice was right or not, but about the methods they used. The decree, in fact, made in urgency, established that the norm entered in force the year after, because of its urgency, in the opinion of the Judges, but I would logically say that there were none. It was read as a choice of de-legitimization of the judicial work, the peculiarities of judicial activity that imposes writing sentences after the last working day was ignored. Thus, today, during a holiday period, the head of the government defined as “ridiculous” the fact that the magistrates’ advance doubts on the correctness of this change.
But we should repeat it that it was not the choice that offended the judges, but the manner in which this initiative was taken, to represent the judiciary as slackers, a criticism that was deemed as unjust, offensive, and delegitimizing, a real slap in the face of those who lend their work every day to their country. It was a rude awakening for those hoping for a change in the relations. Politics realized it and conciliatory expressions were pronounced by the Minister of Justice and from the President of the Judiciary Committee of the Chamber. The latter explicitly stated, only to vote afterwards in favor of the measure of conversion, that the reduction of the holiday period for the judiciary “has little to do with the efficiency of the process.”
In immediate sequence, the President of the Council, in a well-known TV program, answered those who presented him the criticism of the Judiciary on the offensive character of that choice, that with the phrase “Oh, I’m terrified”, thus explicating his attitude and disinterest in the choice, as well as unwillingness to dialogue with the judiciary. It was no accident that some of the CSM components institutionally defined those expressions as “mocking and humiliating” and “demeaning the task of the Judiciary”.
That conducted of the Prime Minister was the beginning of a process which found its counterpart in subsequent behaviors and choices that it is futile to summarize here, but which were placed too under the critical lens of a judiciary that had perhaps deluded itself that it was possible to reopen constructive dialogue with politics.
The last election campaign for the appointment of associative leaders is the direct fruit of this climate; on the one hand, there are those who see the need not to raise voices and renew the line of dialogue, whereas on the other hand, there are those who believe that it would be cowardly to continue to suffer, quoting Hamlet, “the proud man’s contumely”.
The election results of the National Association of Magistrates ANM, in the election of a different representation, is the result of all this and the President Davigo, who in this first phase was an expression of this malaise, has the difficult but essential task to heal the rift and at the same time claim respect not only for the magistrates, but for all those who dedicate their passion, efforts to the justice system every day, and who bind their dignity to this function: Lawyers, administrative and judicial police.
It is a difficult but essential task, since the credibility of the State institutions is the result of mutual legitimacy founded on the recognition of the other’s dignity. Overcoming conflicts is the duty of every servant of the country.
All those things are not a hope, but a goal we must ask from those who, albeit in different roles, represent the people, or pronounce – through sentences – decisions in court in its name.