Access to the judicial profession is regulated by articles 301 et seq of Judicial Power Organization Act 6/1985 of 1 July, and is based on the principles of merit and ability for the exercise of judicial functions. The selection process guarantees, in an objective and transparent manner, equality of access for all citizens that meet the necessary conditions, possess the necessary abilities, and have the required professional competence and aptitude for exercising judicial functions.
Entry is possible through any of the three levels that make up the judicial profession, to wit:
- Supreme Court Magistrate
Entry at the level of magistrate takes place after passing a competition involving jurists of recognized competence with more than ten years of professional experience, as well as a training course in the Judicial School. This mode of access provides one of every four vacant positions for this category, while a third of the positions offered are reserved for first- and second-category members of the corps of court clerks. Tests have traditionally been administered on an approximately bi-annual basis, however the trend has been to establish an annual rhythm in parallel to the administering of the entry tests for the category of judge.
The tests can be taken for specialities, in which case evaluation of merits is limited to the those related to the relevant subject matter, reserving to this end places with the appropriate characteristics. Those persons who enter the judicial profession in this manner cannot occupy positions that correspond to a distinct jurisdictional order or specialty, unless they pass the specialization tests envisaged in the law.
The requirements for participating in the competition are the same as for the open competition, in addition to being a jurist of recognized competence with more than ten years of professional experience.
The convening body is the Steering Committee of the General Council of the Judiciary.
The composition of the qualifying tribunal that will evaluate the entry tests for this level is:
- the President of the Supreme Court or the delegated Supreme Court or High Court Magistrate, who will preside over the tribunal,
- two magistrates,
- a prosecutor.
- two university professors,
- a state attorney,
- a lawyer with more than ten years of professional experience,
- a first-category court clerk,
- a lawyer of the General Council of the Judiciary who holds a law degree and who will act as secretary.
The entry scheme is as follows:
1.Evaluation of merits according to the scale established in the test and that at any rate includes:
1. Advanced university degree in law and academic transcript.
2. Doctor at Law.
3. Years practicing law.
4. Years in actual service as a university professor or university lecturer.
5. Years of service as a career civil servant in any other public administrative body for which possession of a doctorate or university degree is a prerequisite for entry and which involve appearance before the court, either in the career system for prosecutors or in the corps of court clerks.
6. Years of effective exercise of judicial functions without being a member of the judicial profession.
7. Scientific-legal publications.
8. Papers and presentations at conventions and in courses of relevant legal interest.
9. Imparting of legal specialization courses of a duration of no less than 300 hours, as well as possession of a certificate of research competence.
10. Having passed one of the tests included in the entry tests for open admittance to the judicial profession.
2. Judgment.. The basis of which will entail the carrying out of practical tests related to the preparation of a judgment which allow the tribunal to evaluate the aptitude of each candidate.
3. Interview. One hour long. In it the merits of the candidate and his/her professional experience will be discussed. The sole objective of the interview is to verify the candidate's legal training and ability for admittance to the judicial profession, determined through alleged merits. The interview shall not become a general examination of the candidate's legal knowledge.
Training course in the Judicial School. Currently the duration of the course is 12 weeks and includes theoretical and practical modules divided into two phases:
1. Taught course (four weeks).
2. Practice sessions (eight weeks).