Humanitarian Assistance: A Key Mission for USSOUTHCOM

first_img Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions are a key component of the United States Southern Command’s (USSOUTHCOM) efforts to strengthen regional cooperation and partnerships with Central and South America and the Caribbean. Humanitarian assistance missions provide health care and infrastructure to communities of host nations, offering opportunities for the U.S. and participating nations to work side-by-side, while disaster relief missions help prepare for and respond to natural disasters and enhance the capacity to respond and recover when disaster strikes. The missions usually last several months and generally take place in rural and underprivileged areas to provide services to those who need it most. The exercises contribute to the sustainment of regional partnerships and support the development of civilian infrastructure needed for economic and social development. One such mission is New Horizons, an annual series of joint and combined humanitarian assistance exercises launched in the mid-1980s by the U.S. Southern Command in Latin America and Caribbean nations. In June 2010, New Horizons got underway in Haiti as part the U.S. military’s continued commitment to helping Haiti after a devastating earthquake shattered the nation on January 12. Five hundred National Guard troops are part of the mission responsible for building schools, improving water wells and providing medical care in the vicinity of Gonaives until September 2010. Continuing Promise, created in 2007, is another example of an annual civic assistance exercise supported by the U.S. and international military medical personnel in addition to U.S. government agencies, regional health ministries, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and U.S. academic institutions. Continuing Promise is an annual effort to bring health care, humanitarian assistance and civic support to communities in Latin America and the Caribbean on behalf of the American people. Comprised of U.S. military personnel, forces from participating nations and civilian relief volunteers aboard a U.S. Navy ship, these teams provide medical, surgical, dental and veterinary care throughout the region. Continuing Promise also provides infrastructure and construction improvements, such as building schools, clinics and churches, and repairing roads and water systems. The 2010 mission began on July 12 when the USS Iwo Jima set sail from Norfolk, Virginia. The four-month humanitarian and civic assistance deployment is bringing health care and other relief services to communities in eight Latin American and Caribbean nations. The USS Iwo Jima arrived in Port de Paix, Haiti on July 24 and remained there until Aug. 3. The mission is scheduled to visit Coveñas, Colombia from Aug. 8-18; Limon, Costa Rica from Aug. 20-30; Puerto barrios, Guatemala from Sept. 4-13; Blue Fields, Nicaragua from Sept. 15-25; Chiriquí Grande, Panama from Sept. 27-Oct. 7; Georgetown, Guyana from Oct. 17-27; Paramaribo, Suriname from Oct. 28-Nov. 10, returning to Norfolk, Virginia on November 15. Another mission visiting Latin America and the Caribbean during 2010 is Southern Partnership Station, a naval deployment through which the USS New Orleans is conducting subject matter expert exchanges, community relations projects, Project Handclasp deliveries, and sports activities. Project Handclasp transports educational, humanitarian and goodwill material on U.S. Navy ships to be distributed directly to needy recipients by U.S. service personnel stationed overseas or embarked in U.S. Navy ships which visit given areas. Service members from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay are deployed with the New Orleans to enhance the interaction between these participating nations and the U.S. Navy. The ship recently visited Mexico and Peru, and is currently in Bahía Málaga, Colombia until Aug. 18, ending its three-month deployment with a final visit in Panama. Both the USS New Orleans and the USS Iwo Jima will include emergency aid teams that will carry out joint exercises with the Colombian Navy, as part of an inter-operability initiative to prepare quick and effective responses to natural disasters, particularly in view of the hurricane season that is approaching the Caribbean region during the second half of 2010. The visit of these units form part of multi-national humanitarian relief exercises that are being carried out with the countries of the region, including Operation Unitas and Operation Panamax which provide training for naval crews. By Dialogo August 06, 2010last_img read more

Colombia Renounces Authority to Create Demilitarized Areas for Peace Talks

first_imgBy Dialogo September 02, 2010 The Colombian government has renounced its authority to grant control of areas of the country to illegal armed groups in order to create demilitarized zones to enable progress in peace talks, Interior Minister Germán Vargas announced Tuesday. The official clarified that President Juan Manuel Santos is keeping the door open to negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), but without setting up areas that the police and army would have to leave. “The administration does not want to make use of this authority; there will not be any new cleared areas in the national territory. The administration itself is renouncing this authority that it does not plan to use,” Vargas said. Under the law that the administration renounced, former president Andrés Pastrana turned over to the FARC the territorial control of an area of 42,000 square kilometers, twice the size of El Salvador, which served as the location for failed peace negotiations between 1999 and 2002. In addition to serving as the location for peace talks, the region was used by the guerrillas to hide those they kidnapped, protect their leaders, and traffic in arms and drugs, as well as to evade military operations after attacks committed in the vicinity of the rebel enclave, according to security sources. Former president Alvaro Uribe also used the law to establish an area, in the northern part of the country, in which the chief paramilitary leaders gathered amid controversial negotiations that enabled 31,000 fighters belonging to those illegal armed groups to lay down their arms. CLEAR MESSAGE “It is a message that whatever talks may eventually take place will not be conditioned on clearing areas of the national territory; the administration is not renouncing the possibility of moving forward on talks, but not on the basis of clearing any part of the national territory,” the interior minister affirmed. “The illegal armed groups should understand that without the existence of this authority, the clearing of any area of the national territory will not be something up for negotiation,” he explained. In the past, the FARC demanded that the government withdraw the armed forces and police from a jungle department in the southern part of the country as a condition for peace talks. Subsequently, they asked for the withdrawal of the armed forces from an extensive mountainous area in southwestern Colombia in order to create a security zone in which their representatives and those of the government could meet in order to negotiate a hostage-exchange agreement. However, former president Uribe, who held office from 2002 to 2010, refused to comply with the demands of the FARC, considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. “It is something that the administration is not considering, and therefore it does not consider it useful to have this authority,” Vargas warned. Some analysts thought that the administration’s decision will pose even more difficulties for the possibility of starting a peace process with the guerrillas. Santos has conditioned the start of negotiations with the FARC and the ELN on their release of those they have kidnapped, their suspension of criminal activities such as attacks with explosives and drug trafficking, and their readiness to lay down their arms.last_img read more

Colombian Leader Says FARC Move ‘Not Sufficient’

first_imgBy Dialogo February 28, 2012 Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos welcomed a pledge by FARC rebels on February 26 to end civilian kidnappings and free 10 police and military hostages, but said the moves were “not sufficient.” “We appreciate the announcement by the FARC that it is renouncing kidnapping as an important and necessary step in the right direction, but it is not sufficient,” the Colombian leader wrote on his Twitter account. Santos added that his government was delighted for the hostages and their families and would do everything possible to ensure that there is no “media circus” surrounding their release. Colombia’s largest left-wing rebel group vowed earlier to free 10 remaining police and military hostages — some of whom had been held for more than a decade — and to end once and for all its practice of kidnapping civilians.last_img read more

Ecuador Arrests Colombian National Wanted by Interpol

first_imgBy Dialogo March 08, 2013 The Ecuadoran Police arrested four Colombian citizens on February 6, one of whom is wanted by Interpol to serve a 40–year sentence in his country for leading a drug trafficking network, the government reported. Oscar Alcántara González, aka ‘Mosquito’ and three other suspects were arrested in Quito during a police search, Minister of Interior José Serrano said in a press conference, where the announcement of the man with an international arrest warrant was made. Alcántara, who was driving a private vehicle at the time of his arrest, had entered Ecuador three years ago and was staying in the country illegally, the minister added. ‘Mosquito’ is facing seven convictions in Colombia, including 40 years in prison for murder, as well as accusations of having led a drug trafficking organization in a derelict area in downtown Bogota, known as ‘the Bronx’, Serrano stated. “Here [in Quito], networks started to proliferate within the same structure as in Bogota,” the official said, specifying that Alcántara is also involved in money laundering in both countries. During the police operation, $225,000 and 24 kg of drugs were seized, the minister reported, and added that the detainees will be deported to Colombia.last_img read more

Coca Crops and Cocaine Production Reduced in Colombia

first_img Leonardo Correa, technical coordinator for the study, said, “not only was the sowed coca area reduced, but the crop productivity is also declining. The fields are producing less coca leaves.” By Dialogo August 12, 2013 The departments where coca crops were increased are Norte de Santander (northeast), Caquetá and Chocó (southeast). Colombia has been reducing its coca farming areas for over ten years, from 140,000 hectares in 2001, to 100,000 in 2007; 62,000 in 2010; and 48,000 in 2012. Sown coca fields in Colombia were reduced from 64,000 hectares to 48,000 hectares in 2011 and 2012 respectively, a 25 percent reduction, and cocaine production also dropped from 345 to 309 tons, according to the U.N. Office against Drugs. center_img Although coca crops were maintained in 23 out of 32 departments of the Andean country last year, they were reduced in 17 of them, increased in three and remained stable in another three, according to the U.N. report presented in Bogota, on August 8. However, the expert added, “replanting is still a concern.” According to the joint report between the U.N. and Colombia’s government, there was a yield of between 240 and 377 tons of one hundred percent pure cocaine, but since the actual number is uncertain, “the figure for 2012 should be estimated at 309 tons.”last_img read more

U.S. Army South Trains Armed Force of El Salvador

first_imgBy Lorena Baires/Diálogo May 24, 2018 U.S. Army South (ARSOUTH) is training five specialized commands of the Armed Force of El Salvador (FAES, in Spanish). The courses focus on new search procedures, information, and intelligence gathering in high-crime areas and combating serious emerging threats in the Western Hemisphere. “We designed a training program [starting in February] 2018,” explains Army Colonel Ángel Lima, chief of staff of the FAES General Staff. “The program will strengthen our troops’ tactical leadership skills to improve performance, security levels, positive seizure results, border protection and anti-gang operations, as well as combat drug trafficking.” The five specialized commands participating in the training are part of a strategic effort called New Dawn Campaign Plan (Plan de Campaña Nuevo Amanecer), which focuses on national security. The commands will carry out joint missions with the Civil National Police nationwide. Zeus Command has 3,100 members focused on reinforcing security on the streets of 50 of the country’s most dangerous municipalities. San Carlos Command’s 1,200 service members are deployed along the perimeters of the country’s 19 penitentiaries. Sumpul Command counts with 1,000 soldiers distributed over 300 unofficial border crossings. Águila Command, composed of 2,300 service members, is responsible for patrolling the areas surrounding the schools most affected by gang violence. And with 300 elite officers, Trueno Command directly engages the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs. Officers and noncommissioned officers from each command take part in the training. “ARSOUTH’s support is invaluable,” Salvadoran Minister of Defense David Munguía Payés said. “This year we revamped the training calendar. This allows us to more effectively provide national defense [training] and confront threats such as narcotrafficking, human trafficking, and other crimes.” “These commitments are important to our national security and help promote a more stable region,” U.S. Army Major Jimmy Isakson, desk officer for El Salvador at ARSOUTH, said during training planning. “Criminal networks in Central America cause regional instability and increase the crime rate and drug trafficking, which is of concern to everyone.” Exchange of experiences The training calendar includes 10 courses per year, two for each command, each lasting four weeks. Armies from Central American and Caribbean nations participate in some of these training activities, also seeking to increase security in their respective countries. An example of this was the Regional Course Against Transnational Crime taught in February and March 2018. FAES and the Civil National Police led the course at the Regional Training Center Against Transnational Crime (CRACCT, in Spanish) in the municipality of Ilopango. Fifteen service members from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic attended to learn new border search and control techniques, as well as measures against gang and drug trafficking activities. The objective of the course was to carry out combined practical training exercises to raise the operating level of each participating country. “We performed a combined exercise in which we intercepted a car suspected of transporting drugs. We were able to verify that procedures are similar throughout the region and we shared experiences from each country,” said Salvadoran Army First Lieutenant Edgardo Avilés, one of the participants. “We were able to eliminate mistakes, for instance by checking areas that some had missed, like the tire rims.” The participation of multiple regional armies in this type of exercise helps standardize approaches across similar operations. “We shared all available information to fight emerging crime affecting the region,” said Army Colonel Manfredo Guzmán, CRACCT commander. “They are the same [crimes], but criminals operate differently in every country. Now all of us are attacking them with the same strategy.” Hard numbers Training with ARSOUTH allows for improvements in the work of commands that make up the New Dawn Campaign Plan. In 2016, Zeus Command seized 281 firearms and 5,223 drug packets from gangs. In 2017, it seized 400 firearms and 18,000 drug packets. San Carlos Command seized 500 rounds of ammunition in 2016 and 55,000 in 2017. “The results these commands show derive, in large part, from the training with ARSOUTH, which improves our units’ skills,” said Col. Lima. “Participants transfer their knowledge to fellow service members to strengthen the troops.” Sumpul Command seized 10,000 contraband items along unofficial border crossings in 2016, and increased that number to 60,000 in 2017. In addition, Águila Command boosted its suspicious vehicle searches from 78,000 in 2016 to 135,000 in 2017. FAES incorporates the knowledge gained from these trainings into its Regular Training Program, known as PAR15, in which groups of 100 to 125 service members from all commands participate. “I taught my soldiers everything I learned from ARSOUTH, as well as the errors we corrected. We are all grateful for this professional growth, and we hope to advance even more in future ARSOUTH trainings,” Lt. Avilés said. ARSOUTH provides training for armies of other partner nations, such as Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Peru. The mission is to promote bilateral alliances and analyze how to continue efforts to counter organized transnational threats.last_img read more

Twitter Analysis Reflects Venezuelan, Cuban, Nicaraguan Intervention in Chile’s Protests

first_imgBy Voice of America (VOA) January 06, 2020 An analysis of the tweets posted during the recent protests in Chile, reflecting that most foreign accounts supported the demonstrations and a change of government, could bolster allegations that Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua may be behind much of the unrest in Latin America.The statistical analysis of more than 4 million tweets, conducted by the Chilean company ConnectaLabs, doesn’t focus on the content of the tweets, but indicates that the polarization of messages mainly favored protests and political change or expressed disapproval of the current Chilean government.ConnectaLabs clearly indicates that most foreign accounts were Venezuelan, Nicaraguan, or Cuban, and its findings coincide with a previous investigation from the Atlantic Council think tank, which showed intense activity on Venezuelan accounts, some of them identified as being sympathetic to the disputed government.The Atlantic Council study, which studied fewer messages than ConnectaLabs, as it only covered the period from  October 16-25, indicated that 20 percent of the Venezuelan profiles that tweeted messages about the protests in Chile defined themselves as Chavista or Bolivarian.According to the Spanish newspaper ABC, several accounts that actively tweeted pro-Chavista messages in recent weeks made extensive use of hashtags to talk about the main ongoing crises on the continent, such as #ChileResiste (Resist, Chile), #EcuadorEnResistencia (Ecuador in Resistance), or #BoliviaDecide (Decide, Bolivia).The Cuban digital newspaper 14yMedio, referring to a study on social media, said that Venezuela’s disputed President Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan minister of Culture, and TV network Telesur and its journalists use the hashtags #chiledesperto (Chile Awakens), #chilesecanso (Chile got tired), and #lamarchamasgrandedechile (Chile’s biggest demonstration).One of the most active Cuban accounts encouraging the protests and criticizing the Chilean government is @YanetDCuba, which has also retweeted hundreds of messages from Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, as well as from officials and supporters of the Cuban government, said 14yMedio. According to the online news portal América Digital Noticias, during the protests, the Chilean government identified other hashtags, such as: #ChileViolaLosDerechosHumanos (Chile violates human rights), #LosMilicosNoSonTusAmigos (Security forces are not your friends), #ChileNoQuiereMigajas (Chile doesn’t want leftovers), #RenunciaPiñera (Resign, Piñera), and #ChileQuiereCambios (Chile wants changes).last_img read more

Paraguay: Narcotics Agents Destroy More than 9 Tons of Marijuana Bound for Brazil

first_imgBy Eduardo Szklarz/Diálogo August 06, 2020 The Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat (SENAD, in Spanish) has strengthened operations against narcotraffickers who send drugs to Brazil. On June 19, agents raided a rural property in Yby Yaú, Concepción department, and destroyed more than 9 metric tons of marijuana bound for the neighboring country.In another operation, SENAD personnel seized 906 kilograms of marijuana that was also destined for Brazil. (Photo: Paraguayan National Anti-Drug Secretariat)On site, agents seized 122 kilograms of marijuana divided into 14 bags, 500 kg of marijuana hidden underground, and 7 kg of seeds. Authorities also destroyed 3 hectares of marijuana crops, equivalent to 9,000 kg of the drug.“This means the destruction of 9,622 kg of marijuana that was apparently prepared for the Brazilian market,” SENAD said in a press release. The Paraguayan Ministry of Justice ordered the destroyed plantations to be incinerated.In a joint operation on June 18, the Paraguayan Navy and SENAD arrested a minor who was attempting to send 65 kg of marijuana to Brazil, when service members were patrolling the riverine area known as the San Miguel district.“The minor was apparently waiting for a vessel to take a marijuana shipment to Brazil on the Paraná River,” SENAD reported. Part of the drug was pressed, while the rest was vacuum-packed chopped marijuana.On June 14, narcotics officers seized a marijuana cache at another rural property in Yby Yaú that was also being prepared for shipment to the neighboring country. “In a wooded area, they saw a group of people who opened fired against the agents as soon as they saw them, and then escaped,” SENAD said.Agents found 906 kg of pressed marijuana, divided into 39 bags.last_img read more

Lawyer Referral Service records a banner year

first_img September 1, 2000 Regular News Lawyer Referral Service records a banner year Lawyers participating in the Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service earned nearly $6 million in fees last year, and the Bar is looking to spread the wealth by encouraging more lawyers to participate in the program. Karen Kelly, director of the Bar’s Public Service Programs, said while there are more than 66,000 members of the Bar, just over 1,000 lawyers participate in the service, which covers 48 counties. In 1999, Kelly said, the service made more than 112,900 referrals to areas of the state that are not covered by local bar association lawyer referral programs. The Bar also is working to encourage the public to look to the Bar first when they need assistance finding a lawyer qualified to meet their needs. Barry A. Stein of Miami, a three-time LRS Committee chair, said the Bar’s referral service benefits the profession by helping to improve the public’s perception of lawyers. “These are people who typically don’t go to lawyers, that are very scared of the whole process and we can make is easier for them,” said Stein, who has been a referral service panel member for more than 15 years. “I have gotten some very loyal clients — people who trust and respect and come back to me on a regular basis. You can’t ask for more in a practice than that.” The Bar runs Yellow Page display advertisements across the state that emphasize the need for those looking for a lawyer to learn about a lawyer’s qualifications and experience, explain the role of the Lawyer Referral Service and encourage consumers to look first to the Bar to help them find a lawyer. Stein said the referral service also encourages lawyers to recognize their obligation to provide services to the public and advises people of the value of lawyer consultations. He said many times he derives satisfaction in just knowing he has pointed someone with a problem in the right direction. Kelly said a recent survey found the average age of those lawyers involved in the service is 45, and they run the gambit from new lawyers trying to build a practice to more established practitioners who use it to supplement their client base. “Once they join, lawyers will start getting referrals right away,” Kelly said, noting the number of referrals can be very high if they are in a county where there are only a few panel members. “We had one lawyer in Marion County who averaged 40 referrals a week.” Kelly also said the service refers some cases that can generate substantial attorneys’ fees. “We had one case this year where the lawyer received a fee of $640,000,” she said. Stein said the referral service also is in the process of putting the LRS on the Internet to enable the public to receive a referral 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Stein said this will help to increase the number of referrals made and decrease the amount of telephone traffic to make the service more available to the public. “There are people who are out there surfing the net who are looking for contacts with attorneys who are trying to make an analysis of them, so why should this system not be available 24/7?” Stein said. The referral program is computerized and panel members are grouped by county and area of practice. The service covers counties that do not have a local bar association service, including Dade, Volusia, Lee, Polk, Alachua, Sarasota and Manatee. If calls come in from areas with local bar referral programs, the Bar refers those callers to the local service. Any member in good standing with no pending probable cause complaints who maintains an office in geographical areas not covered by a local bar referral service is eligible to join the panel by completing an application. The participating lawyer also must carry at least $100,000 in professional liability insurance. The number of referrals a participating lawyer receives depends on their area of practice and geographic location. On average, Kelly said, the service makes 500 referrals a day and approximately 50 additional referrals to local bars and other agencies. The service receives approximately 30 calls a day from people who speak only Spanish and keeps a computerized file of Spanish-speaking attorneys and law office staff members. Incoming calls to the referral service are answered by a clerk at the Bar Center in Tallahassee, who takes the caller’s name, address, telephone number and a brief description of the caller’s legal problem. The caller is given the name, address and telephone number of a panel member and advised to contact the lawyer for an appointment. It is then up to the lawyer and prospective client to meet. The Lawyer Referral Service has a staff of 11 part-time clerks. Six are on duty in the morning and five clerks are on duty in the afternoon, two of whom are bilingual in English and Spanish. The service is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. The Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service also has established specialty panels of lawyers who are willing to take elderly, low fee, AIDS law and disability law cases for clients in need. If a caller’s problem can be referred to a specialty panel, the first half-hour consultation is free. To be eligible for the Low Fee Panel, the client’s income must fall within the Low Fee Panel’s income eligibility guidelines. The Bar’s Elderly Referral Panel is designed to help those over 60 on a low or fixed income obtain simple legal services and advice at reduced rates. The Disability Referral Panel is designed to help those who are disabled and on a low or fixed income obtain services for disability-related legal problems. Lawyers participating on the AIDS panel agree to take at least one referred case per year, participate in training to learn the legal and medical aspects of AIDS, and agree to go to the client if the client is unable to meet at the attorney’s office. For more information about the Bar’s Lawyer Referral Service, contact Kelly at The Florida Bar, (800) 342-8060, ext. 5810 or (850) 561-5810 or e-mail To join, fill out and send in the coupon found here.center_img Lawyer Referral Service records a banner yearlast_img read more

Bill would allow governor to appoint Supreme Court justices

first_img Bill would allow governor to appoint Supreme Court justices A constitutional amendment that would replace the merit-based judicial nominating commission system of screening appellate judge and Supreme Court applicants with gubernatorial appointment and Senate confirmation has been filed in the Florida Senate. SJR 162, filed by Sen. Anna Cowin, R-Leesburg, would also require that JNC deliberations be done in public and abolish the mandatory retirement age for judges and justices. It would also limit justices and district court of appeal judges to six-year terms, further subject to gubernatorial-Senate reappointment and with a maximum service of no more than 18 consecutive years. Cowin said the House version of her bill, with a slight change, will be introduced by Rep. Fred Brummer, R-Apopka, and that she’s been promised an early hearing for the 2002 regular session before the Senate Judiciary Committee by its chair, Sen. Locke Burt, R-Ormond Beach. Last year, Cowin introduced three bills incorporating opening JNC deliberations, revamping appointments to JNCs, and term limits for justices and appellate judges. The legislature addressed the JNC appointment issues, she said, and her bill this year addresses the other two issues. Cowin said removing the mandatory retirement age of 70 for judges was part of her term limit proposal, which she said will provide a more orderly progression in a judicial career where the Supreme Court will be the culmination. “I don’t think 70 is all that old,” she added. Last year, Cowin proposed a two-term, or 12-year, term limit for the appellate bench. But after speaking with Chief Justice Charles Wells and others concerned about losing seasoned judicial talent, she decided to expand it to 18. The proposal to have gubernatorial appointment of appellate judges with Senate confirmation is based on the federal system, Cowin said, while the reappointment provision will provide accountability that some think the courts need. “Chances are it’s going to put a little balance to the judiciary to make sure there is a balance in their opinions, because there is an accountability to the legislative and executive branch, just like the legislative is accountable to the courts’ opinions and to the executive branch through the governor’s veto,” she said. As for opening the JNC deliberations, Cowin said she has long believed that will improve public confidence in the JNC process and that open government is better. As drafted, the bill amends Article V to provide that when a vacancy occurs either on a DCA or the Supreme Court, the governor would fill the vacancy, with the Senate confirming the appointment no later than its next regular session. The precise language, which provides that a DCA judge or Supreme Court justice may not be appointed to more than three terms, reads: “Whenever a vacancy occurs in the office of justice of the Supreme Court or judge of a district court of appeal, or whenever a vacancy will occur due to the expiration of the term of office of an incumbent justice or judge, the governor shall fill the vacancy by appointment. The appointee must be confirmed by the Senate no later than during the next regular session of the legislature. The term of office of a justice of the Supreme Court or judge of a district court of appeal is six years, except that if the vacancy occurs before the expiration of the term of office of the incumbent justice or judge, the appointment shall be for the unexpired portion of the term. A justice or judge may be reappointed for two full terms, but a person may not serve as a justice of the supreme court or judge of a district court of appeal for more than eighteen years consecutively.” The bill specifies that the amendment, if approved by voters, would go into effect in January 2003, although no judge or justice who had served for more than 18 years would have to leave the bench until the expiration of his or her term. Currently, the constitution provides that all actions of JNCs are public, except for deliberations. Cowin’s bill strikes the language that exempts the deliberations from being public. The measure also strikes this language from Section 8 of Article V: “No justice or judge shall serve after attaining the age of seventy years except upon temporary assignment or to complete a term, one-half of which has been served.” The Bar has no current legislative position on making public JNC deliberations. The Bar has not taken a position on direct gubernatorial appointment with Senate confirmation of the appellate bench, but that issue collides with an existing Bar position which opposed changes in the current method of merit selection and retention of appellate judges. October 15, 2001 Regular News Bill would allow governor to appoint Supreme Court justiceslast_img read more