Referendum: what you need to know - Donnamoderna

D.Sunday 12 June 2022 votes are not only for the administrative authorities, but also for five referendum questions on justice. Here’s what it is

Sunday 12 June there will be a vote in about 1,000 municipalities for the renewal of mayors and councils, but above all it will be the day of the referendums on which all Italians are called to express themselves.

The 5 questions of the referendum

Five questions – all on issues that have to do with justice – admitted last February 16 by the Consulta, which instead rejected two on the legalization of cannabis and on the end of life, and another on justice. They were promoted by radicals and part of the center-right.

They 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 the reform of some proceedings on the activities of the High Council of the Judiciary.

The polls will be open only on 12 June, therefore on a single date, from 7 to 23. For the individual questions to pass, a quorum of 50% of voters among those entitled to vote must be reached.

Here are the questions.

Repeal of the Severino Law

This is the first question and concerns the rules onunlawfulness, ineligibility and automatic forfeiture for parliamentarians, members of the government, regional councilors, mayors and local administrators in the case of sentences of more than 2 years for serious crimes: corruption, extortion, collaboration with organized crime or terrorist activity, or for non-culpable crimes with sentences of more than 4 years.

In fact, the legislative decree (No. 235 of 2012) prescribes that anyone who is definitively convicted of these crimes is incapacitated or that anyone who is definitively convicted for these crimes lapses, if he already holds a position, in the event of a definitive conviction for one of these crimes.

If the “yes” wins in the referendum, the law will be repealed and therefore the ban on candidacy will be lifted in the cases indicated above: the possibility of a ruling by the judge on a case-by-case basis will still remain, as was the case until 2012, ie before entry in force of the Severino Law.

Limits to custody

The second question has to do with the rules on pre-trial detention, that is, preventive arrests in prison or at home or other measures that limit the freedom of a suspect. Today these restrictions are foreseen in three cases: danger of escape, pollution of evidence or repetition of crimes. If the “yes” passes, the last condition for the judges to be able to order pre-trial detention will lapse, while the other two would remain in force, for cases in which the sentences reach a maximum of 5 years in prison or 4 in the case of House arrest.

The opposers underline that the custody provision also applies to crimes of violence and persecutory acts, and that today it translates into measures of removal from the family home or prohibition of approaching the places frequented by the injured person, or to cases of fraud, with the temporary ban on financial or entrepreneurial activities.

The “revolving doors”: separation of the careers of judges and magistrates

The third still concerns justice and in particular the activity of “togates”, that is judges and magistrates. The promoters ask to clearly separate the careers of the two figures, so that there cannot be the possibility of switching from one role to another: in practice, you should choose what to do at the beginning of your career.

At the moment, however, it is possible, for example, to start a career as a magistrate, therefore with an investigative activity (a lawsuit is filed against someone) and then become a judge, therefore with the task of judging “super partes” and issuing a sentence afterwards having listened to magistrates and defense lawyers. To date, this step can take place, following some rules, up to four times. If the “yes” passed, it would no longer be possible to change roles, passing through the so-called “revolving doors”.

It should be borne in mind, however, that the reform promoted by the Minister of Justice, Marta Cartabia, which plans to limit the “change of toga” to just one time, is under discussion.

The evaluation of the judges

This question closely concerns the methods of evaluation of the magistrates’ activity, which currently takes place every four years, by a disciplinary council composed of other togates, that is judges and prosecutors, as well as lawyers and university professors who teach law subjects. But while everyone can express their opinion, only magistrates have the right to cast a final vote.

If the “yes” passes, however, the other members of the disciplinary judicial councils will also be able to evaluate. The magistrates are against it because it would create competition between lawyers and magistrates, but not only: it could happen that a lawyer, who perhaps expressed a non-positive evaluation, finds that toga in the courtroom as a judge, which could affect the latter and invalidate him objectivity in the sentence.

The rules on candidacy for the High Council of the Judiciary

The last question has to do with the ways in which a magistrate can stand as a candidate for the High Council of the Judiciary. In particular, the need, foreseen so far, that at least 25 signatures of as many colleagues must be collected to support the candidacy. The promoters want to eliminate this obligation, with the intention of reducing the “political weight” of the nominations.

The CSM, which has among its tasks deciding the advancement of the careers of magistrates or the disciplinary evaluation, It is made up of 27 members, of which 24 are elected while 3 sit by right, as they are the President of the Republic, the President of the Cassation and the Attorney General of the Cassation itself. Two thirds of the remaining members of the CSM are elected by other magistrates, while one third by Parliament. If the “yes” passes, we will return to the provisions of the 1958 law: all the magistrates in service will be able to propose themselves with a simple candidacy.


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