Monday, January 7, 2013

Supreme Recusal

When the US Embassy stated that a solution to the crisis about separation of powers would come from the Honduran Supreme Court, they endorsed a ludicrous legal process that got underway today.

To catch up: last week Chief Justice Rivera Aviles seated the four new de facto justices appointed by Congress, without comment. 

He did so despite his so-called statement of solidarity with the deposed justices, at least one of whom was sitting in her office in the Supreme Court building at the time.  No surprise since we surmised Rivera Aviles was actually in favor of the Congressional action.

In his role as Chief Justice he assigned the new judges to the Sala Constitucional, replacing the four deposed justices. He then asked them to determine if they could hear the appeal of unconstitutionality submitted on behalf of the four justices dismissed, and if they ruled they could, to issue their ruling on said appeal.

Let's be sure you understand this: the four justices whose appointment is at issue were asked by the Chief Justice of the Honduran Supreme Court to decide whether to hear an appeal of their appointment.

Today that group of four judges, plus Oscar Chinchilla, the lone justice in the Sala Constitucional not fired, took up the appeal of the four justices fired by Congress. They promptly recused themselves, sending the appeal back to Rivera Aviles for disposition.

Rivera Aviles' next step will either be to try and conform a special Sala Constitucional to hear just this appeal, selecting from the remaining justices, or he may turn to the list of 30 or so judges nominated by Congress as potential candidates for the court who were not chosen, to compose a special bench to hear this one appeal.

Since eight of the remaining justices on the Supreme Court wrote a letter supporting the fired justices, and therefore should recuse themselves from hearing this appeal, Rivera Aviles should be able to choose the judges he wants to hear the case from this judicial back bench, to craft the outcome he desires.

Meanwhile, Ramon Custodio, the Human Rights ombudsman, stated that if this case gets to the Interamerican Court of Human Rights at the OAS, it is given that the government of Honduras will lose the case and be condemned, yet again, by the court.  Custodio releases his own report on the incident tomorrow, so stay tuned.

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