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20 years

Congress rejects re-election of magistrate for the first time in history

Fernando Cruz

November 18th, 2012 ( The Congress rejected on Thursday, for the first time ever, the re-election of a magistrate of the Supreme Court of Justice.


Legislators from various groups were able to tally the 38 votes needed to prevent Fernando Cruz Castillo, magistrate of the 4th Court (“Sala Cuarta”), to remain in his position for 8 more years.


Fabio Molina, chief of the National Liberation Party (PLN), stated last night that this was a measure to reestablish balance in the Legislative Assembly and restore the Legislative Assembly as the first “power” of the Republic.


Molina also said that the constitutional court has overstepped its authority and in doing so has caused non-governability, for which it was “necessary to restore the balance between the branches (of government).”


He added that the Court is not complying with its principle of fair and balanced justice, and as a result he hopes Congress will be able to continue to replace other magistrates in the future.


Cruz, on the other hand, said he did not understand, but respected, Congress’s decision.


The legislators have the constitutional right of selecting the 22 magistrates in the Supreme Court of Justice, and decide whether or not they continue in their positions once their terms have expired.


In order to prevent a re-election of a high-ranking judge, at least 38 votes are required.


Yesterday, legislators from the “Movimiento Libertario” and “PUSC,” as well as a few other legislators from parties such as “Renovacion Costarricense” and “Restauracion Nacional” supported the PLN party in their decision.


Luis Fishman, from “PUSC,” did not support the decision, nor did 7 legislators from “PAC.”


Cruz was popular with many in Costa Rica.  Cruz, in minority, voted against the Free Trade Agreement with the United States.  He also voted in favor of an action seeking to stop the Crucitas mining project.  He has held his position since 2004.


Along with other grievances, students from the University of Costa Rica said his ouster was one of the reasons behind their protests yesterday. 


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