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The Federal Court in Puerto Rico

I read the letter or Mr. Héctor Benítez with great concern. His letter addressed the transfer of cases from Judge García Gregory to Judge Pérez Giménez and Judge Fusté involving charges against members of former Governor Rosselló’s administration. I do not know Mr. Benítez and he clearly does not know much about the Federal Court in Puerto Rico.

I have had the high privilege of practicing before this Court for 21 years. Though I write in my personal capacity, I have been an active member of the Puerto Rico Chapter of the Federal Bar Association for many of those years. Our Chapter is the third largest in the entire United States. Much of the reason for the success of our Chapter lies in the fundamental fact that practitioners before our Federal Court hold that institution in high regard.

The 17 District Judges, Senior Judges, Magistrate Judges and Bankruptcy Judges of our Federal Court are among the finest in the United States. Mr. Benítez’s statements are so factually inaccurate as to render a reply difficult because they reveal the depth of his ignorance as to how the federal system works. Judge Pérez Giménez has been on the bench for 23 years and has been a public servant his entire legal career. Judge Fusté joined the bench 17 years ago after being a successful litigator in maritime and other matters. Accusations of partisanship ignore the fact that all federal judges are appointed by the President of the United States, undergo rigorous scrutiny by the Congress of the United States and are appointed for life. Once they take the bench, they are free to make decisions based on the law and the facts presented to them, neither owing anything to, nor needing approval from, anyone. I am quite confident that a review of the records of these two experienced, studious and fair-minded judges would reveal that they have impartially decided cases both for and against people of every political persuasion.

When Judge García Gregory was appointed, he met with nearly universal approval across party lines. His personal integrity is unassailable. Mr. Benítez apparently is unaware of judicial canons that encourage judges to remove themselves from cases when even the appearance of impropriety exists. The exercise of an overabundance of caution by a federal judge gives no basis for criticism and should, rather, be applauded.

Historically, the Federal Court in Puerto Rico is one of the most respected institutions in Puerto Rico; and for good reasons. Citizens of all countries, states and territories go there for justice regardless of their political affiliation. All of us in Puerto Rico should thank our lucky stars (and the United States Constitution) for providing us access to justice in the federal system. Letters such as those from Mr. Benítez do nothing but misinform and mislead the public.

David C. Indiano