Judges refuse to work any faster

Judges declined yesterday to meet the government’s demand that they wrap up more trials each day in an effort to clear the backlog of some 40,000 cases that are clogging up the judicial system. The plenary session of first instance court judges decided to reject an appeal by Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras to try more cases on a daily basis. The judges said that they already have too much work and that more justices need to be appointed. According to yesterday’s decision, single-member first instance courts will hear a maximum of 40 cases a day, while those with more than one judge will hear no more than 25. The Athens first instance court says that it is short of 83 judges, as it should have a total of 418 justices though it currently only has 335. As of the beginning of February, there were almost 40,000 civil court cases outstanding. Papaligouras had demanded that judges speed up the rate at which they issue rulings so that this backlog could at least be reduced, if not totally cleared. However, the court of first instance judges made it clear to the minister yesterday that the process will not speed up unless these vacant positions are filled. Judicial sources told Kathimerini that Papaligouras’s intervention was not well received by justices, who felt that the minister was meddling in their affairs.