Monday, February 11, 2013

When You Stack the Court...

You win.

The special Supreme Court organized from mostly non Supreme Court justices by Chief Justice Jorge Rivera Aviles, unsurprisingly voted 13-2 not to admit the appeal of the Supreme Court justices removed by Congress on December 12, 2012.

We say unsurprisingly because Rivera Aviles hand-picked all but two of the justices on the panel from the lower courts.

The justices who voted to admit the appeal were Raúl Antonio Henríquez, from the Penal branch of the Supreme Court, and Adela Kaffaty, of the Appeals court.

The thirteen who voted against admitting the appeal consisted of Rivera Aviles and his hand picked appeals court judges. Only one sitting Supreme Court justice supported him. But that was all he needed.

Adela Kaffaty (already then an appeals court judge) in 2011 argued in the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for the de facto government of Honduras. She urged the IACHR to not admit a human rights appeal from four magistrates dismissed by Rivera Aviles in 2009, under the de facto regime, for speaking out against the coup.  She told the IACHR that to admit the appeal would "convert the IACHR into a political organization and would contribute to discrediting Honduras".

There is a case to be made that discrediting Honduras internationally was promoted by actions like the removal of those magistrates, the involvement of the Rivera Aviles court in post-facto rationalization of the coup, and the series of confrontations that led to the spectacle of a not-so-Supreme Court refusing to reinstate four justices removed because Congress didn't like their decision.

It isn't just our opinion that this is bad for government in Honduras.

Before the latest decision continuing the dismantling of the judicial branch had been announced, Salvador Nasralla, the Anti-Corruption party candidate for president, said of the judges making the decision:
They think it's a soccer match, but internationally, if today the justices are not returned, Honduras will be considered a dictatorship and that is serious because it removes the rule of law we've boasted about.
Rivera Aviles' court ignored him and decided against the appeal anyway.

Justice Rosalinda Cruz, who was dismissed in December, said of the decision:
It's totally arbitrary, an illegal, unconstitutional decision lacking any legal foundation.
She indicated that the next step would be to seek a reconsideration, but that too is likely to fail.  She noted that they have an expedited path to the international courts once they've exhausted this appeal.

One avenue would be to take a human rights appeal to the IACHR. Maybe Adela Kaffaty would like to testify, this time on the right side?

1 comment:

RNS said...

And today the court acted to reject the reconsideration request of the dismissed justices. This terminates any possibility of a national solution.

The empaneled justices did not present their legal reasoning in rejecting the original appeal, which in itself is a violation of law. Nor did they provide legal reasoning to support their decision for a reconsideration, thus breaking Honduran law again.

This also removes any impediment to the four justices filing an appeal with the IACHR court.