The Puerto Rico Court System
The appellate courts will be modeled in the same way as the Alaska state, whereby it operates the criminal and civil courts of appeal separately. The state of Florida was primarily utilized to structure circuit courts; however, the familial and juvenile matters were explored from the Tennessee state family court system. Elements of Alaska and Florida municipal courts were used to design the Puerto Rico municipal courts. The discussion below explores the multifaceted dynamics of the expected Puerto Rico court system. In this proposal, the plan will outline Puerto Rico’s court system start from lower courts to the higher court, the Supreme Court. For an individual to be a municipal court judge, he or she must be an attorney and must have served for at least five years in the Puerto Rico bar.
The maximum age limit is seventy years, while there is no minimum age limit (Brantingham, 1977). Also, the judicial candidate must be residing in the municipality he or she wishes to run for the judicial seat. The judicial selection and retention process will be entirely based on merit and will be devoid of any partisan motives. The interested person must have the following qualifications; first, he or she will have to pay a non-refundable fee. These courts are co-located because they explore the same geographical jurisdiction. The circuit courts capture all civil and criminal disputes, which the municipal courts lack statue jurisdiction over. It will be considered to be the highest court where hearings will be conducted in Puerto Rico. Equally, it will be structured to explore all the appeal cases coming from the municipal courts.
All hearings are carried out by the jury except where an appeal has being established. The individual that will garner the highest number of votes will be declared the winner and serve as the circuit court judge (Brantingham, 1977). The elections will always be conducted in a free and fair manner without any influence of partisan motives. Circuit court judges will be expected to serve for only six years after which the retention and re-election procedures used in the municipal courts will be applied. Sitting judges will have a mandate of selecting a chief judge that will carry out oversight roles over the administrative practices used by the circuit court. In case of interim replacement, the Judicial Merit Selection Commission has a duty of forwarding three names to the lawmakers that then votes for the fit person.
Court of appeal does not require the submission of testimonies, the presence of witnesses, and juries. Here, the attorneys present their oral and written testimonials so that they can be considered by the courts. A three-judge panel is usually set to explore the dynamics of appeals. Therefore, the bench reviews the arguments before making their decision on the matter before the court. For a person to be elected as the courts of appeals judge he or she must meet the following requirements; first, he or she must be an attorney. The court will comprise of seven judges, whereby at least five must take part in reviewing the existing cases. In every trial, four votes with the same opinion will be needed to make a decision.
A chief justice will be elected by other judges using a simple majority. The position will be rotational after every two years. It is essential to note that the senior justice will always be allowed to serve as the chief justice while absent. The commission has a duty of screening all the applicants and recommending between three and six nominees that are qualified to the governor for appointment. A similar procedure will be applied in case of an interim replacement. One nominee from the commission’s list will be appointed by the governors. In instances where the governor delays to make the selection, the list of nominees will be posted to Puerto Rico's legislature so that it can undertake the picking process.
The Puerto Rico court structure will be designed in a manner that it will allow for the smooth operation of court-linked mediation frameworks so that to deal with the backlog of cases (LeClercq & Cox, 1978). Discipline will be enforced after the trial process has been completed and based on the order provided by the Puerto Rico's Supreme Court. Judicial ethical standards will be as strict as those of the lawyers. The Judicial Qualifications Commission will have the responsibility of investigating ay form of misconduct leveled against Puerto Rico's judges. The Puerto Rico constitution will be structured in a manner that it will provide means of establishing the Judicial Qualifications Commission as a non-partisan body so that it can explore the aforementioned aim (Gray, 2009).
It is expected to have exclusive authority in disciplining and removing judges that violate the set code of judicial conduct, which makes clear the ethical standards that the judges should follow. The research was entirely based on the realization that Puerto Rico is a newly founded state. Therefore, all commonwealth bar and period dynamics were exhaustively captured. The discussion of the underlying court structure is expected to meet the desires and needs of the Puerto Rico citizens through representatives in the legislature and municipal councils. The governor will play a critical role in the operations of the Supreme Court. Equally, the lawyers and judges will be expected to conduct their duties responsibly. doi: 10. 1111/j. tb00198. x Gordon, W. Establishing a Family Court System.
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