‘Mess’ awaits Swedish courts as judges retire

Sweden is struggling to fill vacancies left by a wave of retiring baby boom-era judges, especially in the country's smaller towns, prompting fears that younger judges will make a "mess" in the country's courts of appeal.

'Mess' awaits Swedish courts as judges retire

One in ten judges currently working in Sweden will retire within the next four years, with about 23 percent of judges already in their sixties, according to figures from the Swedish court system. As a result, many judges who are already retired are occasionally pulling shifts to fill in the staffing gaps, Sveriges Radio (SR) reported on Tuesday.

“The Swedish courts system lives and dies with its pensioners,” Conny Jörneklint, legal counsel at Kalmar District Court (tingsrätt), told The Local.

Jörneklint warned that the impending generational shift could also affect how Swedish law is interpreted, especially in the regional courts of appeals (hovrätt). New graduates know the letter of the law, he pointed out, but have no real-life experience.

“If all court of appeals judges end up being young, we’ll have a mess on our hands because they are more likely to overturn district court rulings,” said Jörneklint.

“Young judges more often interpret the law on a theoretical level and we already see that appeals court overturn district court rulings 50 percent of the time.”

At the Kalmar district court in southern Sweden, Jörneklint is sifting through applications for two judge vacancies.

“Many of them are too young,” he said. “So they instead go to Stockholm and work for the government ministries, but by the time they are professionally mature enough to become judges they’ve built an entire life for themselves up there.”

Jörneklint added that because wages for judges are the same across the entire country, the courts in smaller towns cannot bate talent by waving a fatter pay check in potential candidates’ direction.

Sanna Håkansson

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Bomb rattles home of Swedish prison worker

An explosive device detonated on the steps of the home of an employee of the Swedish prison service early Tuesday morning in what is being described as a threat against the man’s family.

Bomb rattles home of Swedish prison worker

The man has been threatened previously, but Tuesday’s blast is being described by the union representing employees of the Swedish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården) as one the most serious incidents in recent memory.

“Threats are nothing unusual within the prison system. It’s relatively common for threats to be uttered in the heat of the moment in connection with news of a transfer, a denied request, or something similar,” said Roal Nilssen, ombudsman the SEKO union, to the TT news agency.

“But it’s rare that someone goes from words to action. This was also directed at the man’s private life, with a risk that his family could be injured.”

The explosion, which occurred at 2.20am at the man’s home in the Malmö suburb of Oxie in southern Sweden, woke up the man, his wife, and his three children. They looked outside, but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.

They later discovered that the door on the backside of the house had been severely damaged by an explosive device which had been left on the top step.

The man has previously been threatened, but police refused to explain how or why.

According to the county police, investigators have recovered certain pieces of evidence from the blast site which will be analysed further.

An official from the Swedish corrections service also had little to say about the matter.

“It’s naturally very tragic and upsetting in every way, but we’re waiting for the police’s investigation and before then it’s hard to assess what has happened,” the head of Prison and Probation Service in Malmö,

Joachim Moberg, told TT.

According to the local Skånska Dagbladet newspaper, the one of the man’s children served as a witness in an assault trial in which both the victim and the witness changed their testimony. The accused was eventually acquitted.

While the investigation continues, J B Cederholm of the Skåne county police told the newspaper it’s likely the blast was meant to scare the man and his family.

“Our understanding is that the explosive device was directed against the family,” he told the newspaper.