Lawyers. President Marinho e Pinto summons a general assembly today to discuss the Lawyers’ Order’s budget. A document that has already prompted controversy within the class: all the district counsels are against the proposal. A likely refusal will be the reflex of the dissatisfaction that is lived within the class, and may leave Marinho in a frail position
Confrontation with district counsels generates contestation
Today may be a turning point in the mandate of António Marinho e Pinto at the helm of the Lawyers’ Order’s destinies. During the general assembly that was scheduled for 6 p.m. at the institution’s headquarters, in Lisbon, the president will be confronted by the lawyers who have already demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the proposed budget for 2009.
The core issue is the approval of this document for the upcoming year, which foresees budget reductions of around 30% for the District Counsels and the reinforcement of over 558% of the budget for the General Counsel, the entity that the president presides over since the 9th of January, when he took over as the ‘leader’ of the approximately 26 thousand lawyers.
The lawyers who will not be present at this meeting, which promises to be controversial, will vote through procuration, which is delivered to colleagues.
The outcome is unpredictable. But some of the lawyers that were contacted by DN, from the various delegations that are spread throughout the country, including the presidents of District Counsels and lawyers who are not part of this directory, but who will be present, admit that the most likely scenario is the refusal of the document. If that happens, Daniel Andrade and António Cabrita, from the District Counsel of Coimbra and Faro, respectively, defend that the president should reach his deductions. Which means: to ask for his dismissal. This is the only way to make the scenario of anticipated elections plausible.
In order for the mandate of a president of the Order to be suspended, according to the Statutes of the Lawyers’ Order, he must be applied the disciplinary sanction of “censorship”. And even in that case, anticipated elections are not the following step but rather the succession of the vice-president of the Order’s General Counsel. Which, in this case, is Jerónimo Martins.
The environment is tense. All it takes is a look – not even a very close one – at the website of the Lawyers’ Order (www.oa.pt) in order to understand that an open war has broken out between the District Counsels, the Superior Counsel of the Lawyers’ Order and the General Counsel, also known as the president.
The website is a potpourri of criticisms and speeches in an inflamed and threatening tone between Marinho e Pinto, José António Barreiros (president of the Superior Counsel) and the District Counsels. Even in the case of the president of the District Counsel of Lisbon, Carlos Pinto de Abreu, who has been more modest in his attacks against the president over the last few months, he has accused Marinho of prepotency and a lack of rigor. “It’s unacceptable to hear him [Marinho e Pinto] speaking badly about everything and everyone, the others, of course, and now he says that it’s necessary to dismiss employees while hiring a personal assistant and planning to hire remunerated journalists”, according to Carlos Pinto de Abreu.
Among the wave of voices that criticize the president’s behaviour, there are, nevertheless, support cases to be found. Like the well known lawyer Rodrigo Santiago, a legal representative of the institution itself, who defends Leonor Cipriano in the process of alleged aggressions against PJ inspectors.
The jurist defends that the president’s work is “positive” and admits that the Order already needed a remodeling similar to the model that has been foreseen by Marinho e Pinto. “It’s evident that with the president’s nature he can only be contested”, the friend defends.
José António Barreiros, the president of the Order’s Superior Counsel, who was elected in a list that is independent from Marinho e Pinto and with a smashing majority, last week sent a communiqué to the Order’s district counsels, in which he ferociously criticized the president’s “maneuvering logics”.
More precisely, Barreiros criticizes the fact that the Superior Counsel’s opinion about the Order’s budget project – which was sent to Marinho e Pinto two weeks ago – was placed in a “secondary position” in the Order’s portal and was placed by the president very late – four days later – on the same site.
President Marinho e Pinto, who was contacted by DN, declined to make a statement.
source: Diário de Notícias, 26.11.2008