Judge Torruella gains controversy over ‘civil resistance’ remarks
By Eva Lloréns VélezPuerto Rican lawyers criticized Sunday First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Juan Torruella for calling for the organization of a peaceful “civil resistance movement” and “economic boycott” to oppose the fiscal oversight board that will deal with island finances under the the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, or PROMESA.
September 11, 2016
September 11, 2016
One of the harshest critics was Jorge Velázquez, who posted in social media a speech titled “Desde el Trono Federal es un mamey,” (It’s easy from the federal throne) in which he accuses Torruella of engaging in ethical conflicts and trying to “dance with ‘Laura and Georgina’”at the same time, in reference to a 1919 Puerto Rican “danza,” or musical piece.
Velázquez said it is wrong for Torruella to call for civil disobedience against Promesa while exercising his duty to interpret PROMESA, which he says will inevitably be challenged in federal court.
“By publicly urging civil disobedience with a law that he has the ethical, legal and constitutional obligation to defend, Judge Torruella is incurring in crass and clear conflict of interest between his legal obligation and his patriotic passion to defend the rights of Puerto Ricans. No matter how worthy his remarks are to the Puerto Rico Bar Association against the federal oppression of Promesa, he simply cannot wear both hats,” Velázquez said, adding that he believes Torruella should make his judicial seat available.
The lawyer also wondered where Torruella will be in the event Puerto Ricans are arrested for blocking post offices, the Luis Muñoz Marín Airport or the Buchanan U.S. Army installation, noting that he will have to inhibit himself from participating in any proceedings. “Nonetheless, the judge, from his federal seat, has opted to exhort Puerto Ricans to break the law, exposing them to civil and criminal sanctions that he (or his First Circuit colleagues) may have to impose,” he said.
Torruella, he added, has not only urged challenging the law, but is also violating his duty to uphold the laws and constitution.
Political commentator and lawyer Luis Dávila Colón called Torruella’s speech inflammatory and subversive. “Yulín and her revolutionaries are loved,” he said on social media, referring to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto, who morally and economically supports acts of civil disobedience against the board.
Via Twitter, the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Puerto Rico chapter gave the pro-statehood judge a standing ovation for joining the cry against the “colonial control” board and calling for the release of political prisoner Oscar López.
Juan Rafael Torruella del Valle, Sr. is a Puerto Rican jurist, who currently serves as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He is the first and to date only Hispanic to serve in that court.