Special independent prosecutor can bring criminal charges against private individuals
By The Star Staff
The Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruled late last week that special independent prosecutors have jurisdiction to bring criminal charges against private individuals. The decision reverses an earlier judgment of the Court of Appeals and returns the case to the lower court for future proceedings.
“In this way, we advance that we reverse the Judgment issued by the Court of Appeals and resolve that the Panel, through the Special Prosecutors, has jurisdiction to investigate, denounce and criminally prosecute the private individuals in this case,” said Associate Justice Roberto Feliberti Cintrón in the top court’s opinion.
The decision was supported by a concurring opinion issued by Associate Justice Rafael Martínez Torres, along with Associate Justices Mildred Pabón Charneco, Erick Kolthoff Caraballo and Edgardo Rivera García. They argue that the decision respects the text of the Law to Create the Office of the Special Independent Prosecutor Panel and legislative intent.
On the other hand, Chief Justice Maite Oronoz Rodríguez issued a dissenting opinion, criticized the court’s majority decision for implementing an “absurdly broad standard” and suggested that the Justice Department could have handled the case without jurisdictional impediments.
“Today, the majority of this Court implements an absurdly broad standard that not only ignores the clear text of the law by granting jurisdiction where there is clearly none, but completely omits the discussion of the only contemporary imputation of public officials or former public officials that exists in the text of Law No. 2,” Oronoz Rodríguez wrote in part of the dissenting opinion.