The Culture of Permanent Provisionality

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Quico says: Probably the most shocking aspect of the Supreme Tribunal’s unceremonial dumping of Judge Alicia Torres is that no laws were even broken in this travesty of justice. As a “provisional judge”, Judge Torres had no tenure. She worked “at the pleasure” of TSJ’s Judicial Commission, which means it was perfectly legal for the chivos in TSJ to fire her for any reason, or for none at all. Like 80% of lower court judges in Venezuela, Judge Torres had less job security than the janitor who mopped her courtroom’s floor at the end of the day. He is protected by Chávez’s inamovilidad laboral decrees…she isn’t!

Ten years ago, when Manuel Quijada and Luis Miquilena were appointed to oversee a wholesale overhaul of the judicial system, chavismo claimed ending this culture of permanent provisionality was among their top priorities. But nothing has changed. The vast majority of lower court judges remain, essentially, disposable…absolutely in the hands of their patrons on TSJ and the higher ranking courts.

Of course, cases like Torres’s, where a straightforward order is refused and matters come to a head, are a very small minority. Like anyone else, lower court judges need to pay the rent: in Chávez era Venezuela, where the state controls more and more people’s ability to make a living, people don’t imperil their livelihoods lightly. Only sporadically does a case like Torres’s come up, and then the government finds itself compelled to make an example of her, pour encourager les autres.

Under normal circumstances, judges aren’t kamikaze. They do what they’re told.

Post 28 of 100. I think I can, I think I can…

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