Resident commissioner hopefuls seek funds for Federal Court on the island
SAN JUAN—The candidates for resident commissioner of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and New Progressive Party (PNP), Héctor Ferrer and Jenniffer Gonzalez, respectively, pledged Thursday to seek additional funding to the Federal Court in Puerto Rico and fill vacancies in this forum as well as the bankruptcy court.
Such are the main problems facing the federal court on the island, the politicians acknowledged during a forum of candidates for resident commissioner organized by the Federal Bar Association (FBA), Puerto Rico Chapter, held at a restaurant in Hato Rey.
“(I recognize) the urgency of filling such vacancies because they affect the cluster of cases and how to solve them,” Ferrer said in his speech. The lawyer, who also litigates before the federal court, said the lack of judges also affects lawyers, since there is a specific period to resolve cases.
There is currently a vacancy for a federal court judge and two in the bankruptcy court. The latter could be lost if an appointment is not made soon.
Ferrer said that part of the responsibilities of resident commissioner is addressing the problems of the federal court, so he pledged to seek more funds, because “you cannot bring justice if you do not have the necessary tools.”
For her part, González highlighted the work of the federal court on the island, especially for cases of special education and against drug smuggling. She was also emphatic in the respect that she has for the US Constitution and supported the presence of federal agencies on the island, as well as the strengthening of agreements between federal and state agencies.
The representative criticized the protestors’ camp set up in front of the federal court and protesting the fiscal control board, on the grounds that this affects the work of the court. She argued that, to the extent that the federal court is strengthened on the island, they can better respond to claims submitted by creditors following the debt restructuring the fiscal oversight board will carry out under the Promesa Act.
On the other hand, the candidate for resident commissioner of the Working People’s Party (PPT by its Spanish acronym), Mariana Nogales, stated her opposition to the board of fiscal control and said, in an aside to reporters, that the party’s presence at the forum was due to their interest in espousing a different line of thought than that of most of the FBA members.
For this reason, in her speech she focused on the need for greater female representation in federal courts and advocated a different policy regarding the fight against drugs. Specifically, she said that the PPT supports the legalization of marijuana and decriminalization of controlled substances.
She also called for the eradication of the death penalty in federal court. The death penalty is illegal in Puerto Rico, but can be implemented if it is a federal case.
The president of the FBA in Puerto Rico, Mariano Mier-Romeu, told Caribbean Business that besides the problem of funds and appointments, the federal court on the island looking for new judge positions on the island to handle the huge influx of cases, especially since a new position has not been created for more than two decades.
He also noted the need for repairs in the federal court building and the construction of a new building, for which they would need a million-dollar allocation.
The candidate for resident commissioner of Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), Hugo Rodriguez, did not participate in the forum.