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March 07, 2023

Honduras Selects New Supreme Court

In Honduras, ABA Representatives met with the Nominating Board of the Supreme Court of Justice, the Supreme Court, and other institutions.

In Honduras, ABA Representatives met with the Nominating Board of the Supreme Court of Justice, the Supreme Court, and other institutions.

October 20

Following weeks of dialogue and negotiations between political parties and civil society, the Honduran Congress has finally reached an agreement and selected the 15 justices that will make up the country’s new Supreme Court. Eight women and seven men were chosen to represent the country’s highest court and defend the interests of the Honduran people.

Honduras selects a full slate of 15 Supreme Court magistrates every seven years through a nomination and selection process conducted by the Nominating Board and then the National Congress. In late 2022, the Nominating Board, composed of representatives of seven bodies, was selected to oversee the selection process and assess the suitability of the magistrates, as well as support judicial independence. The entities included the outgoing Supreme Court, the human rights Ombudsperson, the bar association, the private business association, labor unions, law professors, and civil society.

In January 2023, after several rounds of screening, a series of tests, background checks, and public hearings, the Nominating Board sent a list of 45 candidates – 23 women and 22 men – from a pool of about 185 applicants, to the National Congress, marking the first time that more women than men were nominated.

Through voting that required a two-thirds majority, the National Congress appointed the new justices following a lengthy negotiation process between political parties on how to best distribute the 15 seats among themselves. Gender parity standards were observed when more women than men were elected and selecting the first Afro-Honduran magistrate will improve legal representation and visibility for this vulnerable ethnic group.

The newly elected Supreme Court magistrates will begin their new roles in serving the Honduran people through the administration of justice under the rule of law and the Constitution, while maintaining the highest standards of judicial conduct related to independence, impartiality, integrity, equity, competence, and diligence.

The ABA Center for Global Program staff from the ABA Rule of Law Initiative and the ABA Center for Human Rights provided technical support to the Nominating Board including guidelines for the profile of good and strong Supreme Court justices in Honduras, guidelines on completing a thorough vetting process, and guidelines on best practices for the interview stage, among other tools. These resources were developed in support of an objective, transparent, and fair selection process. Many of our suggestions were incorporated in the final practices of the Nominating Board, whose procedures, while not perfect, were a significant improvement on previous processes in areas such as transparency and public participation.

Honduras Supreme Court Justices 2023-2030

  1. Rebeca Lizette Ráquel Obando – Independent Lawyer
  2. Sonia Marlina Dubón – Supreme Court justice 2002-2009
  3. Rubenia Esperanza Galeano Barralaga – Lawyer and Professor, former Appellate Judge 
  4. Francisca Zavala – Magistrate’s Assistant
  5. Anny Belinda Ochoa – Court Supervisor
  6. Isbela Bustillo Hernández – Graduate Professor
  7. Gaudy Alejandra Bustillo Martinez – Judge for the Electoral Justice Court
  8. Odalis Aleyda Nájera Medina – Court Inspector
  9. Mario Rolando Díaz Flores – Court Judge
  10. Roy Pineda Castro – Magistrate of Superior Court of Accounts
  11. Luis Fernando Padilla Castellanos – Independent Lawyer
  12. Walter Raúl Miranda Sabio – Lawyer representing Garifuna community
  13. Milton Danilo Jiménez Puerto – Lawyer and former Minister of Foreign Affairs
  14. Nelson Danilo Mairena Franco – Independent Lawyer
  15. Wagner Vallecillo Paredes – Legal Adviser for the Electoral Justice Court

This blog was prepared by staff of the American Bar Association Center for Global Programs and reflects their views. It has not been reviewed or approved by the House of Delegates or the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association and, accordingly, should not be construed as representing the position of the Association or any of its entities. Further, nothing in this blog should be considered as legal advice in a specific case.

Spanish: Honduras elige nueva Corte Suprema