Spain, Garzon (April 2012)

The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses its concern that the conviction of Judge Garzón may have a negative impact on the independence of the judiciary in Spain.

Judge Garzón was convicted of abuse of power on February 9, 2012 as a result of his involvement in a high-profile corruption case. Judge Garzón ordered that conversations between detainees and their lawyers be monitored as an exception to the rule protecting attorney-client privilege.

This is not the first time that Judge Garzón has been the subject of a criminal prosecution as a result of discharging his duties as a judge. Judge Garzón was recently acquitted of abuse of power for ordering an investigation of Franco-era human rights abuses.

The Law Society of Upper Canada takes no position on the correctness of the decision to convict Judge Garzón of abuse of power. However, it is essential to the preservation of judicial independence that judges issuing decisions should only be criminally prosecuted in the most extreme cases. Judges frequently have to rule on controversial matters and interpret the law in areas where there is legal uncertainty. Judges must be able to make controversial rulings within the scope of their authority, without fear of criminal sanctions.

The Law Society of Upper Canada is especially concerned that Judge Garzón was prosecuted by way of private prosecution, in proceedings that were opposed by the public prosecutor, and from which there is no right of appeal.

Letter to President