What you need to know about the June 12 referendum on justice

What you need to know about the June 12 referendum on justice

On June 12, there will be five abrogative referendums on justice, declared admissible by the Constitutional Court on February 16, the same day the Council rejected those on end of life and cannabis. The questions require the total or partial repeal of some laws of the justice system, but to be approved they require the achievement of a quorum, that is, the presence at the polls of 50% plus one of the persons entitled to vote.

I six initial texts - then reduced to five with the refusal of the admissibility of the question that would have given civil liability to judges in the event of judicial errors, rather than to the state - were promoted by nine center-right regional councils and supported by the Radicals. It is therefore not a question of popular initiative referendums, such as those on the end of life and cannabis, but deliberated by the political majorities of the regional councils and automatically approved by the Central Office for the referendum. The promoters are therefore only the regions in the persons of their delegates, as there is no committee composed of the League and the Radicals and the few signatures collected have never been delivered.

The five questions allowed concern the repeal of the law prohibiting candidacy for public office for persons with final criminal sentences exceeding two years in prison, the elimination of pre-trial detention for some crimes, the separation of careers between judges and prosecutors and two reforms of some rules governing activities of the Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSM). Voting takes place only on June 12, from 7 to 23.

The question for the repeal of the Severino law The question for the limitation of pre-trial detention The question for the separation of the careers of judges and prosecutors The question on the evaluation of magistrates The question on signatures to run for the High Council of the judiciary The question for the repeal of the Severino law The first, and most critical, asks for the repeal of the Severino law (from the surname of the former Minister of Justice of the Monti government, Paola Severino). This provision prohibits candidacy and eligibility for any public office for persons definitively sentenced to more than 2 years in prison, for crimes of corruption, extortion, collaboration with organized crime or terrorist organizations and for non-culpable crimes with penalties. 4 years and up. In addition, Severino provides for the suspension of office for 18 months in the event of non-definitive sentences or forfeiture in the event of a definitive sentence.

The question presented by the center-right asks to completely eliminate this rule, to leave the decision to the judges on a case by case basis. If yes, even candidates for serious crimes will be able to compete for public office, unless otherwise indicated by the judge.

The question to limit pre-trial detention The second asks for a reform of pre-trial detention, a preventive measure applied to limit the freedom of a defendant during a trial, in case of danger of escape, pollution of evidence or repetition of crimes such as personal crimes or crimes linked to organized crime.

The question asks for the elimination of preventive custody for crimes punished with a maximum of 5 years in prison or 4 in the case of house arrest. However, as underlined by former magistrate Domenico Gallo on Micro Mega, if approved, the referendum would eliminate "not only custody in prison and house arrest, but also removal from the family home (in the case of a violent spouse), the prohibition of approaching the places frequented by the injured person (in the case of persecutory acts), as well as disqualification measures, such as the temporary ban on exercising certain entrepreneurial activities (in the case of financial companies that defraud investors) would no longer be possible ". A situation that could aggravate gender-based violence and hate crimes, for which Italy does not yet have a sufficiently suitable legislation.

The question for the separation of the careers of judges and prosecutors The third intervenes on the separation of careers of judges and prosecutors. The role of the former is precisely to express an opinion on the cases, while the role of the latter is to promote criminal action against the accused. Currently, the transition between the two roles is limited to a maximum of four times with some rules, including the impossibility of performing both functions within the same judicial district. However, if the reform presented by the Minister of Justice Marta Cartabia were to be approved, the number of possible steps would drop to one.

The question, on the other hand, asks that the possibility for magistrates to change careers from judge to public prosecutor and vice versa, thus imposing the need to make a definitive choice at the beginning of his career whether to become a judge or public prosecutor.

The question on the evaluation of magistrates The fourth wants to intervene on the evaluation of magistrates carried out by the Court of Cassation and by the judicial councils. Every four years the magistrates are evaluated by a disciplinary council, made up of other magistrates, that is judges and prosecutors, lawyers and university professors of law. While all the members of the council collaborate in the formulation of the judgment, the vote on the final evaluation belongs only to the magistrates.

The question therefore wants to extend the voting power on the evaluation of judges also to lawyers and university professors. In L'Espresso, Giuseppe Santalucia, president of the National Association of Magistrates, observes that this could "stimulate feelings of competition" between lawyers and magistrates, which would risk influencing the votes. Not to mention that, if he had the right to vote, the presence of a lawyer who is a member of the disciplinary council during a trial could strongly influence the function of the judge who is before him.

The question about signatures to stand as a candidate for the Superior Council of the judiciary The fifth wants to abolish the obligation to collect signatures for magistrates who intend to stand as candidates for the High Council of the Judiciary. The CSM is made up of 27 members, of which 3 by right - that is, not elected, who are the President of the Republic plus the President and the Attorney General of the Court of Cassation - and the other elected officials. Its role is to govern the judiciary, independently evaluating and managing the actions of judges and prosecutors. Among his duties there is also the management of competitions, career advancement, travel and disciplinary sanctions.

Excluding the three members by right, the other 25 are elected for two thirds by the magistrates and for one third from Parliament. To become a member of the CSM, a candidate must obtain the signatures of at least 25 magistrates who play a role in supporting the candidacy. The question therefore proposes to eliminate the collection of signatures, to allow the candidate to freely submit a candidacy, without the need for support. According to the promoters, this would avoid politicized votes within the CSM.

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