A study conducted by Universidad Austral on federal judges’ removal processes indicates that, in over 160 years of institutional history, 58 impeachment procedures have been carried out against federal judges, but 36 of them took place in the past 25 years alone.
This study spans from Argentina’s National Constitution inception in 1853 to date. The 58 impeachment procedures against federal judges ended in 45 removals from the bench, and 27 of these removals took place in the past 25 years. Removals were conducted by the National Congress, the Impeachment Courts during de-facto regimes, or by the Impeachment Jury.
The number of magistrate removals in Argentina proves alarming. For comparative purposes, in the United States, only 13 federal judges have been impeached and removed ever since the American Constitution came into force in 1787.
Why has this PROCESS ESCALATED OVER THE PAST 25 YEARS?
According to Dr. Alfonso Santiago, Constitutional Law Professor at Universidad Austral and author of this report, “There is a significant increase in the number of impeachment procedures for judges over the past 25 years as a result of a growing number of cases of wrongdoing and poor performance among federal judges in recent years, as well as a relatively better performance of removal procedures since the 1994 reform.”
“It seems that scandals have surrounded federal judges’ proceedings all too often, impairing their public image and consideration,” Dr. Santiago added.
Since the National Constitution’s inception, an yearly average of 350 claims were filed against federal judges, and 93% of those claims were dismissed by the Magistrate Council’s Discipline and Indictment Commission as irrelevant and often filed by disgruntled parties or attorneys who were displeased by judges’ rulings.
However, 80% of the rulings made by the Magistrate Council’s Discipline and Indictment Commission to impeach a judge have been approved unanimously by the Magistrate Council, and 30% of the judges indicted by the Commission resigned after their impeachment trial started.
These are some of the facts revealed by Universidad Austral’s study, which includes more analyses and statistics (see attachment, “Study on the Removal of Federal Judges in Argentina”).
AN ODD FACT
Since the Magistrate Council’s creation in 1998 and until 2014, this agency managed to have 22 judges’ indictments to be dealt with by the Magistrates’ Impeachment Jury. Yet, over 70% of the indictments were made before 2006. Why?
Alfonso Santiago replied, “Starting in 2006, the Magistrate Council has
responde que: “A partir del 2006 el Consejo de la Magistratura ha ejercido de modo insuficiente la función acusatoria como consecuencia de las situaciones de bloqueo interno y de protección política a determinados magistrados judiciales”.
Sin embargo, el académico sostiene que “La introducción del proceso de remoción de jueces federales inferiores a cargo del Consejo de la Magistratura y del Jurado de Enjuiciamiento dispuesto por el Constituyente de 1994, supuso una mejora respecto del anterior sistema a cargo del Congreso”; y agrega que: “Compartimos en general las decisiones adoptadas por el Jurado de Enjuiciamiento de Magistrados, más allá de las dudas que nos surgen de las absoluciones decididas en los casos de los jueces Bustos Fierro, Lona y Axel López”.
Dr. Alfonso Santiago
Abogado (UBA) y constitucionalista, especialista en la historia de la Corte Suprema. Doctor en Derecho (UBA). Miembro Titular de la Academia Nacional de Derecho y Ciencias Sociales de Buenos y Director de su Instituto de Derecho Constitucional. Miembro correspondiente de la Real Academia de Jurisprudencia y Legislación de Madrid. Ex Vicerrector de Asuntos Académicos de la Austral. Ha escrito doce libros, quince capítulos en obras colectivas y más de 70 artículos en revistas nacionales e internacionales de su especialidad. Además, es el actual Director de la Escuela de Política, Gobierno y Relaciones Internacionales de la Universidad Austral.
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