Legislative Assembly president annuls vote on Supreme Court judge

November 20, 2012

Víctor Emilio Granados, president of Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly, said Tuesday that “Judge Fernando Cruz was re-elected in October.” Following that statement, Granados annulled a vote last Thursday that blocked the re-election of Cruz to the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV.

Setting off a political firestorm, 38 lawmakers last week voted not to reappoint Cruz for another eight-year term at the Sala IV. On Monday, several members of the judicial branch, dressed in black, denounced the legislative vote as an affront to the country’s separation of powers.

Lawmaker Luis Fishman, of the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC), challenged the assembly vote, saying the term limit had expired, and according to the Costa Rican Constitution, Cruz was automatically re-elected in October. Granados’ announcement on Tuesday agreed with that position.

In the assembly, 40 lawmakers attended the Tuesday session where last week’s vote was reversed. According to Granados, Article 158 of Costa Rica’s Constitution states that “the reelection of judges occurs automatically for periods of eight years if, when that period is over, at least 38 lawmakers are silent on the matter.”

Last Thursday’s vote took place one month after Cruz’s eight-year term had expired. Granados ordered Cruz to be sworn in for another eight years next Thursday.

Ruling party lawmakers said they would likely appeal.

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