Stressed judges make their case
Recent poll shows that many Spanish magistrates feel overworked and unhappy25 February 2008
MADRID - Despite being some of the country's best paid and most respected civil servants, Spain's judges are not entirely happy with their careers, according to survey carried out among members of the judiciary that found a majority of magistrates believe they are overworked, and a significant number admit to being miserable in their jobs.
Out of Spain's 4,400 judges, seven out of 10 say they are worked too hard, and around one in four admit to being unhappy, the poll by the General Council of the Judiciary, Spain's highest judicial oversight body, shows.
"We are not talking about an average worker in these cases... the profile is similar to that of a manager who has a level of responsibility and independence that cannot be compared to any other position in the Spanish civil service. They are therefore accustomed to taking charge personally of the entire workload of their court," the report states.
It goes on to warn that a significant number of judges are "really and profoundly miserable."
Though that frame of mind may bode ill for anyone they have to sentence, it also has implications for the wider administration of the justice system. Among their specific complaints, judges say they are made to work too many hours, have too much responsibility and receive little assistance. More than 40 percent have come to the conclusion that their work is not highly valued by society.
The survey suggests that the situation is worse at courts that have a high turnover of cases, particularly courts of first instance, civil tribunals and those that resolve complaints against public administrations. Geographically, the most disgruntled judges can be found in the Canary Islands, Valencia, Madrid and Catalonia, while those with the fewest complaints are in La Rioja, Asturias, Navarre, Cantabria and the Basque Country.
[Copyright EL PAÍS / MANUEL ALTOZANO 2008]