Chief Justice ‘strongly rejects chaotic and highly irregular tract’ in NPP general scrutiny appeal

Dissenting justices rebuke Supreme Court majority

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @PCorreaHenry

Special to The Star

Puerto Rico Supreme Court Chief Justice Maite Oronoz Rodríguez and Associate Justices Anabelle Rodríguez Rodríguez and Ángel Colón Martínez, who were appointed by the Popular Democratic Party, criticized in dissenting opinions Monday the determination from the remaining six members appointed by the New Progressive Party (NPP) on the general scrutiny appeals issued by both the NPP and the State Elections Commission.

Oronoz Rodríguez said that if the Supreme Court was in administrative recess, the requests sent electronically to issue the determination could not be accepted. Furthermore, she said she “strongly rejects the chaotic and highly irregular tract in this case; especially when our own regulations make it possible to attend to it with the speed that the matter demands without violating our own regulations or giving preferential treatment to some parties.”

“Although we are certainly facing a controversy of high public interest that deserves to be resolved quickly, the procedure of this Court when accepting a case that was not validly presented, instead of providing confidence, damages the impartiality that should characterize this institution and ends up throwing more shade and weakening its judicial determination,” Oronoz Rodríguez said.

The chief justice said that while there should be no doubt that the Supreme Court will always be open or available to issue any mandate, “insisting that this Court has the authority to ‘accept’ resources that it ‘received’ without its Secretariat being in office is contrary to the regulations and sets a dangerous precedent.”

“There is no doubt that such a procedure on the part of this Court gives the impression and, in fact, creates a privileged class of citizens or groups with access to the Court at all times, while the extreme majority of citizens are required to confine themselves to the Secretariat’s hours of operation or the availability of a presentation box, as provided by administrative order,” Oronoz Rodríguez said.

Likewise, Colón Martínez accused the Supreme Court majority of “serving” NPP Electoral Commissioner Héctor Joaquín Sánchez Álvarez.

“Briefcases [ballot containers] popping up. Briefcases to search. Ballots counted. Ballots not counted. Votes awarded. Unallocated votes. Electoral records adding up. Electoral records not adding up. Certified ‘winning’ candidates. Uncertified winning candidates,” Colón Martínez said. “Fraud knocks on doors. Some want to let it in. An illegitimate government, the end result? A resolution issued by this Court on Nov. 20, 2020 where, in order to bring an incorrect message to the public, the statements issued by the dissident judges were ignored.”

Colón Martínez added that four of his colleagues gave access to “Sánchez Álvarez’s whims, opting to rewrite the Puerto Rican electoral system.”

The associate justice said such a determination had “the sole purpose of limiting certain political parties, but particularly the Citizen Victory Movement, access to the updated lists of voters who requested an absentee vote in advance in all its modalities, as well as the lists of voters who, in effect, voted under any of these modalities.”

Rodríguez Rodríguez, meanwhile, said “never in my 16 years was a resolution certified, particularly in cases of great resonance, without considering the criteria of those who did not agree.”

“Dissenting opinions were always circulated prior to the resolution being certified,” Rodríguez Rodríguez said. “It was always expected, even if it meant a delay in the proposed certification time. That had been the immemorial practice of THIS Court and its Justices, at least until last Friday. On this occasion, the majority of the Court censured the Justices’ dissenting opinions that were not answered with the majority course, stating, erroneously, that we had not intervened.”