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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Measure would force prosecutors to transfer their investigations

Representative José ‘Quiquito’ Meléndez

By The Star Staff

In order to avoid delays in the processing of criminal cases when the prosecutor and/or attorney for minors or family goes on assignment to another agency, municipality and the legislature, representative José ‘Quiquito’ Meléndez announced the filing of a measure that requires reassigning cases when there is a assignment within a period of up to 48 hours.

“The purpose of this legislation is to amend the ‘Organic Law of the Department of Justice’, in order to provide for the prompt reassignment of cases and investigations urged by the Public Ministry, when a prosecutor, family affairs attorney or juvenile affairs attorney is transferred or assigned to another government agency, municipality or Government Branch. It also provides that all reassignment of cases and investigations must be carried out within the following 48 hours, after the transfer, the detachment or the designation or administrative assignment occurs,” said the Representative by Accumulation.

Law 8-2017, better known as the ‘Law for the Administration and Transformation of Human Resources in the Government of Puerto Rico’, contains provisions on transfers, mobility and other actions that include deployments and designations or administrative assignments. Through these mechanisms, dozens of prosecutors and prosecutors from the Department of Justice have moved to other government agencies, including other branches of the Government, such as the Legislative Assembly.

“Certainly we recognize that there are provisions of law that allow it, but this must be done safeguarding the prompt, effective and successful investigation of all criminal cases in our jurisdiction,” Meléndez said.

“It is not our intention to stop a transfer or appointment that can be classified as meritorious, if this works in favor of the receiving government agency, but rather to ensure that, in a short period of time, and in an expeditious manner, the prosecutors and prosecutors of the Department of Justice reassign the cases that were already being handled by those prosecutors and attorneys who were transferred or assigned, so that said cases are not adversely affected,” added the legislator from the New Progressive Party.

Meléndez stressed that even though due to extraordinary circumstances, the District Attorney had the authority to reassign a case to another prosecutor as long as he informed the Attorney General stating the reasons for doing so.

“Now, we must ask ourselves, what happens with the cases and investigations that are initiated by a certain prosecutor or prosecutor, if any of these are prominent. The reality on this matter is that both the Law and Administrative Order 2010-01 are silent on the matter. What we are looking for with this measure is to clarify this gap,” he concluded.

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