Geneva justice still and always overwhelmed

Back to the ceremonial for the Geneva judiciary. After two years of health interruption, Olivier Jornot has put on his hat as president of the Management Commission – the one that a bill wants to take away from him – to publicly discuss work, needs and projects. This was not the time for angry subjects and the Attorney General, the only major speaker of the morning (Security Minister Mauro Poggia had a few minutes), avoided adding fuel to the fire while suggesting that it is always better to “look each other in the eye” to find the most useful solutions. A very sober speech that above all recalls the magnitude of the tasks resulting from the administrative independence acquired by the institution. Perhaps enough to discourage those who would like to take the reins of this big machine from the boss of the floor.

Earlier in the morning, and before addressing the magistrates, partners and constituted bodies, the Management Commission commented on its 2021 report for the media. A quick glance in the rear view mirror shows that the year was again intense and marked by the effects of the pandemic. In addition to absences and the need to juggle distances, litigation specific to covid generated 98 appeals in terms of reduced working hours at the Social Chamber, 54 appeals to challenge quarantines or school results after suspension of classes face-to-face at the Administrative Chamber and 39 criminal proceedings for fraud in health measures as well as 66 cases for fraud in covid credits. Not to mention the famous case of falsification of certificates and its many defendants.

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Rethinking the civil system

On the menu of needs, it is the criminal sector (again) which concentrates the efforts of the commission, which has already negotiated and obtained, at least in principle, four new magistrate posts (with the collaborators who go with it) to be distributed between the Criminal Court, the Juvenile Court and the Appeal and Review Chamber (which sees the number of its cases increase and the acceptance of appeals against its decisions by the Federal Court climb to 25% in 2021).

The civil sector (54% of all proceedings against 40% for criminal and 6% for public law) is next on the list of areas to be strengthened, in particular to enable it to deal with complex economic and financial matters by creating real specialized rooms (provided for by law) and not only half-rooms as was the case without much success. “The system must be redesigned for these disputes which relate to extremely large amounts”, underlined Milena Guglielmetti, representative of this sector within the management body.

Also read: Geneva justice holds the shock in the face of the pandemic

Dangerous objects in shovel

With regard to major projects, there is the joint creation (with the political authority) of a mediation office in order to promote this mode of conflict resolution, even if it means providing a financial incentive. It is also impossible to escape the evocation of the electronic judicial file (bogged down in a federal legislative process) and the new courthouse, stuck in town planning considerations.

As for the securing of judicial sites – a project that has already been carried out and which regularly makes some visitors complain – Olivier Jornot justified the usefulness of these checks and illustrated concrete situations by scrolling through a few photos of the objects seized for his guests. A litigant thus saw fit to go to a civil hearing with three knives, another had brass knuckles on his way to the Adult and Child Protection Court, a third wanted to bring a truncheon and sharp object into the Palace. , others presented themselves to the Public Ministry with a screwdriver, a family-sized pepper spray or even a tactical pen that turns into a tip. What, paradoxically, relax the atmosphere before closing the presentation.

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