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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor appoints Supreme Court justice, Labor secretary

Appeals Court Judge Roberto Rodríguez Casillas

By John McPhaul

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced on Sunday the appointment of the Appeals Court Judge Roberto Rodríguez Casillas to the position of associate justice of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court.

Likewise, he appointed Gabriel Maldonado González as secretary of the Department of Labor and Human Resources.

“As governor, it is an immense honor for me to announce that I will be nominating Judge Rodríguez Casillas to the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico,” Pierluisi said at a press conference. “His record and service, as well as his knowledge and life history, speak for themselves. Judge Rodríguez Casillas has been practicing the legal profession for 24 years, a position that he has held with the highest standards of ethics and justice. His appointments as municipal judge, superior judge and then judge of the Court of Appeals have had the endorsement of all those who have evaluated his credentials and his work, without distinction of political ideologies.”

Pierluisi also asked the members of the island Senate that when they receive the appointment of Judge Rodríguez Casillas, they make a fair evaluation on his merits and that they examine his extraordinary trajectory for the good of Puerto Rico.

Rodríguez Casillas, who is a product of the island’s public education system, has a bachelor’s degree in arts and business administration from Inter-American University (UIPR) and a juris doctor from the University of Puerto Rico. He also has a master’s degree in criminal justice from UIPR and a second master’s degree in the humanities from Universidad del Sagrado Corazón.

The current professor of criminal justice has a master’s degree in current and comparative Spanish law from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) and a diploma for advanced studies from the Public and Private Law Studies doctoral program from UCM’s University Institute of Comparative Law.

Rodríguez Casillas is also in the process of presenting his doctoral thesis for the UCM Law Doctorate Program.

Rodríguez Casillas’ judicial career began when he served as a legal officer at the San Juan Judicial Center and later worked as a legal officer for the former judge of the Court of Appeals, Ygrí Rivera. Later, in 1997, he was nominated by former Gov. Pedro Rosselló González as a municipal judge of the Carolina Superior Court and in 2004 he was promoted by then-Gov. Sila María Calderón to Superior Court judge. From 2011 to the present, Rodríguez Casillas has served as a judge in the Court of Appeals. He has been president of the Panel of Judges of the appellate court and president of the Puerto Rican Judiciary Association.

Maldonado González, the governor’s appointed Labor secretary, has extensive government and private experience, as well as experience in the field of labor law, both in the state and federal forums.

Maldonado González has a bachelor of arts degree with a concentration in labor relations and a Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law. One of his first work experiences was in the Department of Labor, specifically in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bureau, and he has specialized in the areas of labor and employment law, taxes, litigation of civil and commercial cases, arbitration, appeals, and administrative law.

Maldonado González currently serves as chief of staff for the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience. He has previously stood out in his functions as general counsel and in legislative affairs of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, the Industrial Development Co. and the Commerce and Export Co. He was also a legal officer of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court and served as legal adviser and worked with special projects in the Governor’s Office in 2012.

Senate President José Luis Dalmau Santiago insisted on Sunday that he will not attend the inauguration of the new Supreme Court justice.

“I reiterate my position, expressed personally to the Governor of Puerto Rico on Jan. 5, in the sense that at this time it is unnecessary to fill a vacancy for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico,” Dalmau Santiago said in a written statement. “Consequently, it is not a priority issue on the agenda of the Senate of Puerto Rico.”

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