COSTA RICA NEWS – Legislators on Monday night approved unanimously to remove Supreme Court Justice Óscar González from the bench.
The 53 legislators of 57 present in the Legislative Assembly publicly expressed their position after a motion was presented. Missing the session were Marta Arauz and Danny Hayling of the Partido Liberación Nacional (PLN); Óscar López, of the Accesibilidad Sin Exclusión (PASE); and, Humberto Vargas, of the Unidad Social Cristiana (PUSC).
González is accused of sexual abuse of a subordinate, judge Priscilla Quirós. In addition to administrative proceedings against González, the Fiscalia (prosecutor’s office) charged him in September 2013 with six counts of rape and one of attempted rape.
However, for the case to be tried in criminal court, the Corte Plena asked the Legislative Assembly to lift the judge’s immunity. With yesterday’s vote to effectively fire González from the bench, he automatically loses his immunity as a member of the supreme power.
Last week, the vote was suspended when González notified the president of the Legislative Assembly, Henry Mora, of his medical disability for the day. Yesterday, González’s daughter, Katherine González Coto sent a letter and certification to the Legislature advising that her father was in hospital, interned at the Hospital Nacional Psiquiátrico (National Psychiatric Hospital).
However, Mora, said he would not suspend the voting. The urgency of yesterday’s voting is because González was expected to take an early retirement, leaving the sexual abuse case unpunished.
Legislators agreed that Monday’s decision by the Legislature was historic because it is the first time a judge, who are appointed by the Legislature, has been dismissed.
Costa Rica’s Constitution requires a vote of 38 legislators for a judicial appointment that is for an eight-year period.
Frente Amplio legislator, Edgardo Araya, summed it up “shame a judge of this stature goes out this way.”
Antonio Alvarez Desanti, leader of the PLN caucus said that the facts were proven to have taken place and his dismissal warranted.