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On the Filling of Judicial Vacancies


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OPINION: Corrupt. self-serving lawmakers


Posted 24/04/2019

WITH  just to days of the general elections, the deputies of the main banks show their true colors. As if a confirmation of the indifference with which the most serious matters of the country are considered, again the Credentials Committee was unable to make the quorum to consider the ratification or rejection of a Supreme Court Justice.

The crisis of Panamanian politics has many roots, however, a large percentage is due to personal selfish decisions of the protagonists of this plot. For more than 15 months, the National Assembly has prevented the Supreme Court from being renewed, all with the purpose of negotiating prebends and immunities.

Such impudence only indicates that most of the deputies are still in their cloud, totally divorced from reality and the real needs of this country. A bag of cement, a bag of food or a handful of dollars in exchange for a vote are keys that open the dungeons of a corrupt country, a mediocre government and a desperate society. Why do they want to be deputies, if so much indifference is caused by State affairs? The answer is that they do not do it for the common good, but to serve themselves hands-full. -LA PRENSA, Apl. 24



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Martinelli ally hopes to thwart Varela appointments


Chello Galvez

Posted 23/05/2019

The  controversial chairman president of the National Assembly  Credentials

Committee the deputy Sergio "Chello" Gálvez, the self-described “sexual buffalo” and close collaborator with ex-president Ricardo Martinelli, is also an affirmed opponent of President Juan Carlos Varela who takes pleasure in butting heads with the Executive.

His latest disruptive tactic as the Assembly in its dying days prepares for extraordinary sessions so that long-delayed appointments made by Varela can be ratified was aired by TVN Noticias, on Thursday, May 23. He said that the Executive Organ and the bench of the Panameñista Party will have to bend the knee before the Committee and  "lobby" to get the designations ratified. "It will depend on the executive itself and if the Panameñista Party's caucus shows interest in lobbying," Gálvez said.

The Cabinet Council called the Assembly to extraordinary sessions from Monday, May 27 until June 30, where a 12-point agenda should be discussed, of which eight relate to appointments.

Gálvezsaid that he will call a meeting of to the nine members of the Credentials Committee, but  "my political calculation tells me that there is no atmosphere at all for this approval,"  he said.

"In my case, my vote will be against the entire designations of Varela, so you do not have to talk to me,  you are going to waste your time," said the Democratic Change  (CD) deputy.

The appointments that should be discussed in extraordinary sessions are:

Luis Antonio Camargo Vergara, as substitute judge of the First Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court of  (CSJ).

Katia del Carmen Di Bello Becerra as substitute judge of the Third Chamber of Contentious Administrative Matters of the CSJ.

Judith Esther Cossú as substitute judge of the First Civil Chamber of the CSJ.

Luis Fernando Tapia González as a judge of the Second Criminal Chamber of the CSJ.

María Eugenia Pérez as  Electoral Attorney General. Miguel Ángel Esbrí as a member of the Board of Directors of the Superintendence of Insurance and Reinsurance

Roberto Roy as a member of the Board of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).

Marietta Jaén member of the ACP Board

 Finally, "Chello" Gálvez said that the deputies must comply with the call for extraordinary sessions, but as the majority of deputies did not achieve re-election, he considers that they could choose not to attend or send alternates.



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As justice staggers President  gearing-up to nominate new magistrates


President Cortizo

Posted 12/08/2019

As Panama’s fractured  judicial system is  viewed  with increasing  concern by international  bodies and the country tries to slide from under the gray-list blanket President Laurentino Cortizo says he  is meeting with   the State Pact for Justice to make the designations to replace three  Supreme Court judges one of whose term has already expired and two are due to finish their ten-year terms in December.

He was attending an International Youth Day celebration at the Technological University of Panama (UTP) on Monday, August 12.

Cortizo also referred to the creation of the Youth Institute and the future installation of the School of

Excellence in the City of Knowledge which will start with a pilot school of 100 to 150 students, which aims to prepare them for the entrance exams to universities worldwide.

The Monday event activity had space where young participants from different schools, made requests to President Cortizo, concerning particularly in health, safety, and education.



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14 candidates to fill 3  Supreme Court  vacancies


Posted 09/09/2019

Fourteen candidates have put their names forward to replace three judges exiting Panama’s  Supreme Court (CSJ), widely seen as a flawed institution with an investigation currently underway into alleged bribery of at least three sitting members.

Among the aspirants, the best known is María de Lourdes Estrada, magistrate of the Second Superior Court who has been constantly criticized for her controversial decisions in corruption cases, reports TVN.

Estrada was criticized for having endorsed a ruling that annulled an investigation into  14 people in the case of accounts linked to former Court Judge Alejandro Moncada Luna who was jailed for five years

Also on the list is Nelly Cedeño de Paredes, who has worked as a substitute magistrate in the Third Chamber and mainly in the Superior Family Court, is a university professor.

The call for applicants was made Monday, September 2. to fill the vacant posts of Jerónimo Mejía and Harry Díaz, both of the Criminal Chamber; and Abel Zamorano, of the Third Chamber whose name has surfaced in reports of bribery allegations.



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48 in scramble for 3 Supreme Court seats


Posted 11/09/2019

By 4,30 pm on Monday, September 11, the list of applicants aspiring to fill three vacancies in Panama’s Supreme Court (had swelled says the Attorney General's Office.

The application period began on September 2 with the call for the pre-selection of candidates for main and alternate magistrates and closes this Monday, September 16. 

The resumes of the applicants must be taken to the Research and Training Center of this institution, located in Llanos de Curundú, reiterated the Office of the Attorney General. 

This call launched the process for the selection of the people who will replace Judges Jerónimo Mejía and Harry Díaz, both from the Criminal Chamber, and Abel Zamorano, from the Third Chamber of Administrative Litigation. 

Mejía's 10-year term expired in December 2017. Díaz and Zamorano complete their terms in  December.  

The new magistrates must be ratified by the National Assembly and would take office on January 2, 2020.



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Judge in eye of alleged corruption probe seeks re-election


Abel Samorano

Posted 13/09/2019

A judge in the eye of a storm over alleged access to magistrates  is among some 97 candidates seeking a seat in the Supreme  Court

Judge Abel Zamorano, whose term expires in December, aspires to remain in the plenary of the Court of Justice.

On Friday, September 13, Zamorano presented his documents to run for one of the vacancies in the Court.

His name arose in the revelations of Panama e lawyer  Janio Lescure  in which, among other things, he presumed to have four magistrates (Zamorano would be one of them) with whom he could count to deal in alleged acts of judicial corruption reports La Prensa

On Wednesday,, September 11  Zamorano accused Lescure before the Court of Honor of the National Bar Association (CNA), for alleged ethical violations.

Zamorano bases his complaint on Lescure's revelations, published by La Prensa on September 6.

With Zamorano, there are 97 applicants: 37 women and 60 men, according to the  Office of the Attorney General. which is spreading the updated list of candidates every day.

The period to deliver resumes closes Monday, September 16.

The process is for the selection of the people to replace Judges  Jerónimo Mejía and Harry Díaz, both of the Criminal Chamber, and Zamorano, of the Third Administrative Dispute Chamber. Three alternate magistrates will also be chosen.

The special commission that will have the responsibility of interviewing the candidates for these positions was installed Friday, in order to establish the methodology and the respective questionnaire that will be applied.

The new magistrates must be ratified by the National Assembly and would take office on January 2, 2020.



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President seeks judges with backbone


Posted 16/09/2019

At least 100  lawyers are vying for three vacancies in Panama’s Supreme Court including a  current judge in the eye of an investigation and others whose controversial rulings have raised citizen concerns.

The Cabinet Council opened the application process to appoint the replacements of the judges Jerónimo Mejía (Criminal Chamber), whose term expired on December 31, 2017; Harry Diaz (Criminal Chamber) and Abel Augusto Zamorano (Civil Chamber whose terms expir in December.

On Monday, September 16 the Special Evaluation Commission held its second meeting to refine the methodology for the interviewing phase of the applicants.

The committee has s already announced the questionnaire that the postulates should answer, which includes questions related to their professional experience, if they have been denounced or investigated for breaches of ethics before the Court of Honor of the National Bar Association or before the Judicial Branch, the Public Ministry or some administrative instance; or have  been investigated for any criminal case and its strategies to maintain independence in the administration of justice, among other questions.

Meanwhile, President Laurentino Cortizo said that while his administration makes efforts to improve the economy and fight crime, but if the country does not have a good administration system of justice, “we will hardly move forward”.

On the appointment of new magistrates for the Supreme Court of Justice, Cortizo Cohen said that it will be up to the Commission to make the evaluation and select a shortlist of 15 , and then select three.

The president said he hopes that the selected magistrates have the knowledge, that there is a commitment to the administration of justice, “and they have the character they … have to know how to say yes and know how to say no”.

" I do not want any magistrate with a jelly-like spine," said Cortizo.  He referred to the release of people who are detained by security agencies. Cortizo said "the culprits are expected to be punished, respecting the process and the presumption of innocence, but we need to make adjustments in the administration of justice,"



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