Chaos over judge’s absence

Around 100 lawsuits could be left at a standstill and several trials may have to be postponed or go back to court in the Faro, Olhão, Tavira and Vila Real de Santo António areas, after the only preliminary judge working in these Algarve municipalities went on sick leave last week, according to a report by the Correio da Manhã newspaper.

Speaking to the Portuguese daily newspaper, the Higher Judicial Council confirmed that there are no available judges to replace the magistrate, who appears to be suffering from a nervous breakdown. The judge presented her sick leave, which should last from September 3 to October 2, at a court in Évora.

However, according to Correio da Manhã, the judge’s absence might be longer than anticipated as this was not the first time that the judge, who works for Faro’s Judicial Circle and is in charge of around 100 lawsuits at the moment, needed medical assistance.

“If she is not replaced by another judge, the preliminary inquiries will be interrupted and many trials will have to be cancelled, because other judges will have to turn their attention to the preliminary inquiries of people taken into custody, as well as urgent lawsuits,” a judicial source told the Portuguese newspaper.

According to the same source, whilst “there are no judges available” to replace the magistrate “because they were assigned to other areas”, urgent cases will be dealt with by the sick judge’s colleagues in each of the affected municipalities.

The judicial source also added that it is likely that a replacement will be available in November.