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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Chief justice seeks pay raises for court employees

Puerto Rico Supreme Court Chief Justice Maite Oronoz Rodríguez

By The Star Staff

Puerto Rico Supreme Court Chief Justice Maite Oronoz Rodríguez on Monday requested funds in her budget with which to increase the salary of her employees under House Bill 1343, recently signed into law.

“Once again, we call on the Governor and the Fiscal Oversight Board to include judicial officials in the salary reform they have announced for other government employees,” Oronoz Rodríguez said in a written statement. “Wage dignity cannot be just for some. Our secretaries, social workers, maintenance workers, sheriffs, lawyers, mediators and other staff are essential to ensuring that justice is done every day in Puerto Rico.”

In the same way, judges, who, like prosecutors, have not received a raise for 20 years, also deserve a competitive remuneration that is on par with that of the rest of the officials of the justice system, she said.

“Fair remuneration for all officials of the Judiciary is essential so that the operation of the courts is not hindered, and we have reiterated this to the Fiscal Oversight Board, the Executive [branch] and the Legislative Assembly so that they take urgent action,” the chief justice said. “I will not tire of waging this battle on all fronts until fair compensation is recognized for all officials of the Judiciary who daily administer justice through their attention to cases, controversies and conflicts, and who guarantee the rights and freedoms of people.”

Judicial branch funds are administered by the chief justice, but are allocated by the Financial Oversight and Management Board and the Legislative Assembly. House Bill 1343, signed into law by Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, authorizes salary increases, through a competitive salary structure, for prosecutors, attorneys for minors and family matters, as well as property registrars and general attorneys attached to the Department of Justice.

Currently, and by provision of the law for the Administration and Transformation of Human Resources in the Government of Puerto Rico (Law 8 of 2017), the positions of prosecutors, juvenile and family attorneys are not considered career posts and their appointments have a term of 12 years. Therefore, there is a disparity between those legal professionals and other attorneys working in other areas of government.

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