Remember last Sunday, when we gave approval for the appointment of new authorities? Well, the game is on. The issue, a hot potato between different MUD factions, took place today.

You may recall the chavista National Assembly appointing 33 woefully unfit individuals as new TSJ justices in December 2015, violating its own procedures. The new National Assembly declared that appointment illegal and announced that they would appoint 33 new justices. A year and a half later, we’ve reached the day.

These are our new justices.

What do we know about our new highest judges, the ones who will be up for the monumental challenge of restoring the rule of law in Venezuela? Well, I know a truckload of lawyers and I have no idea who these guys are.

The new justices are rather obscure individuals, and I don’t mean “obscure” to casual viewers, I mean people unknown in Venezuelan legal circles. Prominent lawyers associated with MUD, like Jesús María Casal or Tamara Adrián, are not included.

Part of me can’t stop thinking that we needed the best people for this job and we didn’t get it.

Regrettably, most of the big names from the candidates list such as Tulio Álvarez Ledo, well-known practitioner and academic; Nelson Chitty la Roche, former copeyano congressman and university professor; Sonia Sgambatti, former congresswoman and feminist scholar; and Mildred Camero, former head of the National Anti-Drugs Commission and retired criminal judge, did not make the cut.

The reasons are nebulous. I can think of many brilliant lawyers, from academia and private practice, who’d make terrific justices. One can cynically think that the cogollo practices of the cuarta that led to the corrupt and unprofessional justice we had before chavismo played a role in this selection. However, I think the real culprit here is fear. And a very rational one for that matter. We have a sad history of incredibly accomplished, honest and law-abiding citizens imprisoned under kafkaesque circumstances for the sole crime of daring to oppose the government and, in this case, the knives were out even before today’s appointment.

I mean, it’s understandable to not want to switch your corner office at the law firm for a cell in Ramo Verde, and I recognize the bravery of the new justices in accepting their appointments in spite of almost-certain criminal prosecution. A sad irony is that the fact that they are mostly unknown will make it easier for the government to prosecute them. However, part of me can’t stop thinking that we needed the best people for this job and we didn’t get them. I hope to be proven wrong.

55 COMMENTS

  1. Personally, I think that the best persons to be TSJ justices would not be well-known public figures. I want judges with proven track records who labor mightily and strive for excellence outside of the limelight and have no desire for celebrity.

    • I don’t mean we need celebrities, but most people who move in legal circles in Caracas have no idea of who this people are, and regretably in Venezuela and specially during chavismo, the least thing you want is a former or current judge as justice, most worthy candidates I can think of are in academia or private practice.

      • Character is more important that brilliancy! Most of the time the law is clear and it is the brilliancy of the lawyers that twist the meaning of the laws to benefit their clients.

      • “Regrettably, most of the big names from the candidates list such as Tulio Álvarez Ledo, well-known practitioner and academic; Nelson Chitty la Roche, former copeyano congressman and university professor; Sonia Sgambatti, former congresswoman and feminist scholar; and Mildred Camero, former head of the National Anti-Drugs Commission and retired criminal judge, did not make the cut.”

        Yeah but we can´t have former copeyano congressmen apponted in the tsj, it would be extremely cynical to disqualify an illegaly appointed tsj because they were members of psuv and then appoint justices that were members of any other parties. It´s better to have unknown and hopefully clean names in the courts

        • Unlike the distorted chavista narrative a lot of people seem to be spouting here not everything that happened before 1998 was crap. Chitty La Roche was a deputy almost 20 years ago and I understand he is no longer a member of Copei, and he is Department Head in a major Venezuelan law school and has credentials. Sonia Sgambatti was in Congress in the 70s for AD, she was also a former justice in the 70s and while she was in congress she along with other women like Mercedes Pulido de Briceño (a great Venezuelan) fought to reform the Civil Code and thanks to them in 1981 Venezuela got one of the first Civil Codes in Latin America that did not treat women as second-class citizens They were not my ideal candidates, but at least I know something about them

  2. I find appalling that you regret not having Nelson Chitty la Roche as a TSJ justice, that dude is a perfect example of the worst from the 4th republic and yet you want it in the TSJ.

  3. The important thing is that it’s a move in the right direction and without know the details, one might venture to say “well they can’t be any less qualified than the PSUV appointees.” I suspect these actually have qualifications, unlike many of the PSUV seat warmers.

  4. WSJ does not help things either when they say “opposition” appoints new judges. The AN appointed the judges. When is the media going to catch on?

    • Yup… pretty pathetic for a (formerly) well regarded news outlet. Then there is the issue of glossing over the rights of the AN to do its job. That was pretty much missing in the whole context of their report.

      On behalf of the other gringos in the land to the north, I apologize for our leftist treatment of the VZ AN.

  5. Maybe they didnt want to go for figures that already have some weight in politics, to make it less “partisan”?

    Dont know. In any case, the ones that took the job are now risking a lot. I understand your reserves, but well… they kinda need our support now. I dont think all of them are going to remain free in the next few days.

    • Agreed Jesus. The current kangaroo court is nothing but political appointees. Hopefully this court will be so grateful for the opportunity that they’ll bust their tails to make the country proud.

      I read the article hoping the author would answer some key procedural questions like: when do they get started, where will they convene, what’s likely to be their first case heard, who appoints the chief justice, etc.

  6. Sigh.

    One of the “Justices” used to be the crooked lawyer of an oppo-labeled crook in Carabobo. This ilk is supposed to be the best they can come up with? It only goes to show how the Venezuelan society is rotten to the very core, and any hopes of having something resembling a country in the next generation or so are not well founded.

    If you can, get out of that country. Now!

    • A crooked lawyer? I’m going to report you to the Department of Redundancy Department for that comment.

      Years ago I hired a well-known attorney in Maturin to handle a business issue with a former employee. My girlfriend at the time said, “Ive heard of him, they say he’s a son-of-bitch”. My response was that that’s exactly the kind of guy I was looking for. Point being of course that one’s view of an attorney is often influenced by an individual case or a noteworthy client he once handled.

  7. If any are arrested, then acting replacements should be installed quickly. Let Maduro know that this cannot be stopped by force.

    Maduro’s TSJ has already nulled the new TSJ but they have no power anymore. Sorry.

  8. Right now, the efficacy of these appointments, while absolutely necessary, is questionable–two trains are charging full-steam at each other, and the near-term outcome is uncertain….

  9. And were are the cne rectors they promised? And what is tgis bullshit about primaries with the constituyente next week? They are letting it pass, like always there are the dinosaurs demonstrating exactly why people were sick of them in 98 and why people would rather vote 4 times for PSUV than for them.

    We thought we were doing the plesbicito to finally bring an end an end to this kind of stuff, but no bamboozled again!

    We were voting for more cogollo, more nepotism, more shady deals and more status quo making the ordeal longer for everyone else just so they can play to be warriors in fancy parrilladas eating tequeños for all the time they want.

  10. Dont let perfection be the enemy of good enough.
    Not knowing anything about them is a good speculation to say they are of good moral character given the risk they are taking.
    The opportunists and corrupt ones are in the Maduro band.
    I am not concerned but thanks for the warning.

  11. ” Character is more important that brilliancy! Most of the time the law is clear and it is the brilliancy of the lawyers that twist the meaning of the laws to benefit their clients.”

    Correct. And moral character is way more important than fame, reputation or professional connections.

    The biggest, fundamental problem in Kleptozuela is massive corruption. And that includes the “justices” and the putrid TSJ. The Law is the Law, the Constitution is what it is. In most cases, it ain’t rocket science. When in doubt, there are 13 attorneys (plus 20 replacements): get together, brain-storm the issue, y listo el pollo.

    As long a they are all HONEST and without special interests or political affiliations.

    The TSJ must be, above all, a totally independent branch of the government. Complete Separacion de Poderes is indispensable for any decent democratic republic to function. That and zero tolerance for any form of corruption, bribes, regalitos, guisitos o favorcitos..

    Sadly, the TSJ has never been perfectly detached and honest in Venezuela. Certainly not during the 4 decades and ‘republicas’ when the previous MUDs were in power (AD/Copey). Thus, knowing our country and our people, and going by history, we can’t expect the next Muddy TSJ to be efficient, perfectly independent and above all, HONEST. I bet about half of these new ‘magistrados’ are corruptible, and will engage in various forms of our typical tropical Guisos, segundas, palancas. Many will not be perfectly honest, impartial or virtuous, some will prove totally rotten. As always.

    Hopefully the level of corruption and ineptitude will be much lower than with Chavismo now. It can’t be any worse, any Muddy TSJ will be better. But make no mistake: Venezuela ain’t Finland or Sweden. There will be lots of corruption and incompetence with the next MUD government and the next TSJ. Yet much better than Chavismo, of course.

  12. So your solution to solving the “cogollo” problem is to appoint a “former copeyano congressman,” or a “former congresswoman”? So basically let’s do what the PSUV did, appoint individuals who openly are/were members of a political party? Chavez vive.

  13. I hate to say it, but we have arrived at the point that we have to be partisans. Maduro and the Chavistas have to go. Bickering over this is what the high priests of Chavismo wants us to do.

    If anything, the judges on this list were the only ones to risk death or being sent to military tribunals. Even if they are corrupt, at least they are taking a stand against this dictatorship, which is a lot more than most of the armchair quarterbacks (especially those not living in Venezuela) on the CCS Chronicles message board are doing.

  14. With some noteable exceptions (Nelson Mandela, Ghandi) lawyers are not the types to volunteer for the position of defendant under most circumstances, and especially not these. Brave people to put not only their careers but their personal safety on the line- we can say that much about them.

  15. I remember joking around with a bartender once a few years back: “hey wouldn’t it be nice to return to good old fashioned corruption here”

    I will take these guys over the express judges any day of the week.

  16. Now is not the time to knit pick over this. This is what the Chavistas want us to do. Now we have to be 100% united, even if we have to hold our nose. Once the rojo rojitos are thrown out, then we can start cleaning house. This week will be the most important week in the history of Venezuela, now is not the time for internal divisions.

    • Constructive criticism is different from nitpicking or internal divisions. Often times I fear Chavez’ legacy is so entrenched within our nation that we justify making the same moves that we once criticized for the sake of a “greater good,” much like chavistas, who justified many of their unconstitutional actions for the the sake of their greater good, their “revolution.”

  17. One aspect to keep in mind is that these are only 13 of the 32 seats of the TSJ. For instance, the 13 include only 3 of the 7 seats of the Constitutional Chamber. It is not a new TSJ at all.

    • Hopefully that is true. The sad thing is, they waited this long to take bold steps and ended up looking like idiots along the way.

    • You are asking if the Lawyer’s Union was consulted about who would decide what the law is? Conflict of interest, much?

      • Not a conflict of interest at all. If you want to know who would make a good judge, it makes perfect sense to consult with lawyers. This is not an unusual practice and in fact, used to be the practice in Venezuela as I understand it.

  18. I know we have to appear to be doing something, but can anyone explain me how is this not a dead end? until the incumbent justices are removed from the tsj building this appointment is less than symbolic

    • This is the outcome from the July16 mandate. They are carry on with what was planned.
      They have yet to elect the new CNE, but clock is ticking too fast.
      I think the MUD is still putting their hopes in laying the groundwork for some of the military to rise up and join our side.
      Right now is anyone’s guess if that would ever happen but they have to try.
      My personal opinion is that the narco regime has a tight control of the armed forces and will stay put til the bitter end. Picture Venezuela as a bus heading to a cliff with Maduro and his cronies at the driver’s seat.
      I think the MUD at this point should start considering an armed solution to this conflict, be on denial of this dire situation could be a deadly irresponsible and naive mistake.
      In other words, we need to kill those at the driver seat and take control before is too late.
      There is such thing as radical pacifists, many of them buried and forgotten in lost battles through history.
      But that is just my opinion and I hope the MUD know waht they are doing.

  19. ”The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” As Shakespeare said in his “Henry VI”. God sped your quest. From a country (USA) that has too many lawyers..

  20. Now that we have new justices ( yes I know it’s a partial court, but nominated and sworn in accordance with the Constitution), we need to nominate and take the oath of 3 CNE ” rectores ” in accordance with the Law. Keep acting – in line with the Constitution -and then – maybe – worry about the regime’s reaction.

    Regarding lawyers, yes, they are vilified and in great many times with good reason, but, It seems we are litigious by nature and can’t live without them.

    One of the necessary transition steps is justice, and I’d love to witness special prosecutors start the People’s case as Justice R.H. Jackson….yes, it is on sketchy ethical grounds to take his intro verbatim but it would work…

    “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that Venezuela cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated. We citizens of Venezuela, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit ( here name all regime principals) to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason.

    Left out on purpose all that bolivarian baloney. Cant wait to go back to just the name Venezuela.

  21. The problem with this post is that you infer that these guys aren’t good enough because they are no celebrities in Caracas. That thinking is the same applied to “Caracas es Caracas y el resto es monte y culebra”.

    Well, I know at least 3 from Carabobo, well-know lawyers and academics here. One is Dean of the School of Law in a private university and has PhD.

    Venezuela has countless of excellent professionals which don’t appear on TV and the popular radio shows, and not living in Caracas (shocking, ah?).

    It will be good for your mental tranquility, as you are inferring that these guys were appointed in dark circumstances and suggesting that they are not best guys for the job, to do some research about their careers. But please, leave the “celebrity factor and I never heard of that guy in my Facebook or Twitter” out of the equation.

    Maybe you will be surprised and maybe these brave guys are the ones we really need in this moment.

    • I read the post again and I think you are doing an injustice to the author to suggest that he was saying that judges are to be nominated based on celebrity or from being Caraqueno. Nor is he saying these are bad choices. He’s just raising a point which is the choices are not known to him and his circle. It’s sort of like a football player being unable to identify anyone on the starting roster of the Vinotinto. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad team, but it naturally raises some questions.

      I don’t know where the author is from but you validly point out that Caraquenos sometimes view the rest of the country as populated by bumpkins. (That applies in any large city, by the way). But my guess is, lawyers are terrible gossips and like to ask around, even to their colleagues in Monte y Culebra.

    • I read the post in the same way that Rubén did. And I would suggest that Oscar get a bigger truck. @ibepacheco dug a little to come up with a comparison of traits between the “express” magistrates of 2015 and the newly appointed ones by the AN. I was impressed with the choices in the latter, and I applaud their bravery, especially that of Angel Zerpa.

  22. Maduro just said on TV that they are having conversations with the MUD. That the MUD asked for the ANC to be delayed so they could participate, but later changed their minds.

  23. According to the script. Regime detained a magistrate,trying to intimidate (clean shot to the foot in the eyes of the world) This obviously reinforces Monkeyda and Tibi arguments in the UN….denouncing US aggression to a peace loving country…..Hahahaha

    Will they detain all magistrates? highly unlikely. Courage and p’ lante! New CNE rectores soon!

    • Actually, I expect they will arrest ALL of them. My understanding is that detention orders for all of them have been issued.

  24. I am with FGB, this is a huge mistake and will only further isolate the Maduristas.

    The better move would have been to do what the MP did with Katherine Harrington and just get catty with them. Deny entrance. Make a public spectacle when they do. Put it all over VTV and all other state controlled networks and twitter bots…

    This will only backfire and now they have a hostage to take care of and international pressure will be mounting. Tomorrow will be a great day to announce something big from abroad because ferriada here tomorrow.

    All that said, I do not think there is centralized control in this regime and stuff like this is bound to happen. I hope it does. They are not all speaking with one voice and will make mistakes because they are panicking.

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