The decision of the alternate president of the General Council of the Judiciary (CGPJ), Rafael Mozo, to convene the July plenary session on the 19th of that month, the date scheduled for his retirement, begins to mark the path towards his succession. With the mandate expired since December 2018, the members must elect the third president in a year and there is a debate about whether the substitute should be the next oldest member, the conservative Vicente Guilarte, or if his dedication to the legal profession prevents him from occupying that position. What is already ruled out is that Mozo will explore some way to try to stay in office, a possibility that has remained open for several weeks and that the president closed in the plenary session last Thursday, according to sources of the governing body of the judges.
The July plenary session was not yet convened, but sources of the CGPJ admit that in the provisional calendar made by the technical services it was indicated for the 20th. But Mozo, magistrate of the National Court although currently with exclusive dedication in the CGPJ, turns 72 a day earlier, the age of forced retirement for judges, which forces him to leave the post. Initially, it was assumed that the current president would no longer arrive in office at the regular plenary session in July, but Mozo has chosen to set that session for the 19th, these sources say. That decision, advanced by Europa Press, will allow Mozo to say goodbye and dilutes the possibility that the debate on his succession has to be settled before that day. However, members of the plenary consulted consider that doubts about the relay should be resolved in advance.
The issue is not clear, according to several members. And that, with the division between blocs and within the conservative group in which the Council lives, can lead to a new and long debate with unforeseeable consequences. According to the formula agreed unanimously by the members after the resignation of Carlos Lesmes, the alternate presidency would fall on the oldest member. This is how Mozo was appointed and, with that thesis, his successor would be Guilarte, 70 years old. The problem is that this one, who came to the CGPJ for the quota of jurists of recognized prestige, is a professor at the University of Valladolid and practices law, but the position of alternate president of the CGPJ requires exclusive dedication.
Sources of the plenary assure that the vocal is willing to accept this requirement, although some members do not see "appropriate" that someone who is linked to a private office (Maio legal, specialized in the areas of business law) occupies the position of president of the CGPJ. However, the majority of the members consulted believe that if Guilarte ceases in these tasks, there would be no problem for him to accede to the position.
Judicial sources consulted recall that the post of president of the CGPJ is vacant since Lesmes resigned because the current plenary, being in office, does not have the competence to elect a president. "With Mozo they did not elect the president of the CGPJ but the substitute of Lesmes to lead the plenary, that is why the formula of the oldest member was chosen, which is how the replacement of the president due to absence or illness was always regulated," says a magistrate of the Contentious-Administrative Chamber of the Supreme. In this sense, the requirements to occupy the position are lowered, but Mozo does chair the permanent commission, the main decision-making body of the CGPJ, and the only one whose members are required to dedicate themselves exclusively. And this condition does seem essential for his replacement, according to all the sources consulted.
The debate that does seem to have been closed in recent days is the one that was around the possibility that Mozo tried to stay in the post claiming that, not being an active judge, he is not obliged to retire at 72. In the body there are conflicting versions about who has encouraged this possibility. "I know that he himself made inquiries in this regard to the legal services. And if you ask, it's because there's an interest," says a conservative member. A progressive adviser assures, however, that there has never been such an intention and that it has been the conservatives who have spread the doubt to "splash" the president. In any case, sources of the body explain that in the plenary session last Thursday the vocal José María Macías, one of the most active members of the conservative sector, asked Mozo directly if he planned to stay and he assured that he leaves on July 19.
The departure of Mozo will expand the majority already enjoyed by the block of vowels proposed by the PP: the plenary, which now has 17 members, will remain at 16, of which 10 are conservatives (all proposed by the PP) and six, progressives (five proposed by the PSOE and one, by the PNV). Among some members had spread the hope that the PSOE and the PP will resume the negotiation to renew the body after the regional and municipal elections last Sunday, but the call for the general elections for July 23 has eliminated this possibility. The members of the body already assume that we will have to wait for the new government that came out of the polls to promote the renewal of the CGPJ.
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