On November 25th the Constitutional branch of the Honduran Supreme Court emitted a ruling finding the government responsible for defaulting on a payment to a Honduran pharmaceutical company, and ordering it to pay immediately 126 million lempiras.
Or did they?
On December 3 of this year, the Honduran press covered the release of a Constitutional Branch of the Supreme Court legal decision, upholding a lower court ruling that the government of Honduras owed Farmasula S.A. de C.V. 126 million lempiras (about $6 million) based on the government defaulting on a payment of about 61.5 million lempiras (about $2.9 million) to the company.
The order was "signed" by Justices Silvia Trinidad Santos Moncada (president of the Constitutional branch of the Supreme Court), Jose Elmer Lizardo Carranza, Jorge Alberto Rivera Aviles, Tomas Arita Valle, Reina Sagrario Solarzano Juarez, and Lidia Estela Cardona Padilla.
Now, there are several problems with this order. First, it supposedly has six signatures of justices, but each branch of the Honduran Supreme Court consists of five justices, not six. Where did that sixth justice come from?
Second, there are the names of several justices there that don't ordinarily belong on a Constitutional branch opinion. I refer of course to justices Alberto Rivera Aviles, Tomas Arita Valle, and Reina Sagrario Solarzano Juarez. They are not listed as members of the Constitutional branch, and so could come to sign an opinion there only if some of the assigned justices were absent.
This turns out to be the case. Three of the justices assigned to the case, Lidia Estela Cardona Padilla, German Padilla, and Victor Lozano, were out of the country the day the case was supposedly decided, attending a judicial seminar.
By being out the country with her colleagues at a judicial seminar, Lidia Estela Cardona Padilla could not have participated in any debate or signed the decision on November 25th. She flat out denies that her legitimate signature appears on the document.
The accuracy of the order is supposedly guaranteed by the signature and seal of Carlos Alberto Almendarez Calix, secretary of the Constitutional branch. Did he goof and add her name to the list of signatories?
But more importantly, why was this case, which had been tabled for further study and not scheduled to be decided, suddenly brought up and replacement justices assigned while the three normal members of the Constitutional branch were out of the country attending a legal seminar?
Someone needs to ask Justice Silvia Santos Moncada that question.