The curious case of the judge who was evicted from his home

The magistrate allegedly never paid a cent of his rent

A recent demonstration organized to protest against evictions.
A recent demonstration organized to protest against evictions.Javier Etxezarreta (EFE)

This is the story of an atypical eviction. It is the tale of a judge who, instead of ordering someone kicked out of their home, was himself thrown out of his apartment for defaulting on his payments.

Elpidio José Silva Pacheco, the examining judge at Madrid's Investigation Court No. 9, was sentenced by a colleague in 2009 to a fine of 7,115 euros for the back rent he owed on his rental home, plus late charges and lawyer fees. The case ended with the judge being officially evicted from the apartment, although he still hasn't paid what he owes. In the meantime, he is one of the judges in charge of the investigation into Gerardo Díaz Ferrán, the former boss of the employers' association CEOE, who is suspected of concealment of assets and money laundering.

But this particular evictee has precious little in common with most of the people who are being thrown out of their homes in Spain for defaulting on their abusive mortgage payments.

"He did not pay us a single month's rent. It's a scandal," complains María Patrocinio Vinaras, 75, who is the owner of Administraciones Inmobiliarias Madrileñas, the real estate management firm that rented out the place, an apartment conveniently located on Madrid's Gran Vía. Vinaras says she never imagined she would end up having to haul a judge to court. "I don't understand it, he never mentioned there being a problem of any kind."

Why Silva Pacheco refused to pay remains a mystery. The salary of a person in his position in Madrid is around 70,700 euros, and that is without taking bonuses into account.

The owner of the family-owned real estate firm says she tried to talk to the judge and to his partner to resolve the situation before resorting to the courts. "I went to see her several times at her workplace to talk about the money that they owed us, and she threatened to sue me," says Vinaras, who ended up suing the two of them instead.

Hindrances to work

Silva Pacheco declined to talk to EL PAÍS to offer his version of events.

The couple eventually moved out of the apartment in October 2008, but the case remained open because the rent was still unpaid. Neither Silva Pacheco nor his partner showed up in court and a default judgment was entered sentencing him to pay what he owed.

On the professional front, Silva Pacheco's career is not without blemish. He was slapped with a 6,000-euro fine by the General Council of the Judiciary for behavior that violates article 418.12 of the Organic Law of the Judicial Power, which sanctions hindrances to the investigative work of the Council, the Supreme Court, the High Court or other higher courts in Spain. Council sources said this is not the only fine Silva Pacheco has received in the past.

Over three years after this eviction took place, María Patrocinio Vinaras says she has still not received the money she is owed for the apartment rental. The courthouse confirmed a few days ago that José Elpidio Silva Pacheco has already allocated the funds but that he has appealed the lawyer fees, which means waiting for this new case to reach the courts. Vinaras sighs: "How could I have known I would have this kind of trouble renting to a judge..."

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