Courts of Limited Jurisdiction in a Post-Transition Cuba

By Travieso-Diaz, Matias F.; Musa, Armando A. | Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, January 2006 | Go to article overview

Courts of Limited Jurisdiction in a Post-Transition Cuba


Travieso-Diaz, Matias F., Musa, Armando A., Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


ABSTRACT

Cuba's eventual transition to a free-market society will likely be accompanied by a flood of litigation in areas such as property rights, privatization of state-owned enterprises, and human rights violation claims. Courts of limited jurisdiction should be established to hear these specialized matters and alleviate the burden on regular courts. As the transition unfolds, there will also be a need to create specialized tribunals to handle disputes in areas such as taxation, bankrtupcy, and intellectual property. The creation of the various courts of limited jurisdiction will have to be supported by creative strategies for retraining existing judges, training new ones, and supplementing the bench through the appropriate use of nonjudicial personnel.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I.   INTRODUCTION
II.  COURTS OF LIMITED JURISDICTION AND LIMITED
     DURATION
     A. Introduction
     B. Property Right Adjudication Courts
     C. Privatization Program Courts
     D. Handling of Human Rights Claims
        1. Special Agency: The Ethiopian
           Special Prosecutor's Office
        2. Special Agency Plus Limited
           Jurisdiction Court: Sierra Leone
        3. Truth and Reconciliation Commissions:
           South Africa
        4. Lessons for Cuba
III. PERMANENT COURTS OF LIMITED JURISDICTION
     A. Introduction
     B. Tax Courts
     C. Bankruptcy Courts
     D. Intellectual Property Courts
IV.  STAFFING OF COURTS OF LIMITED JURISDICTION
     A. Introduction
     B. Training of Existing Judges
        1. Short-Term Retraining
        2. Continuing Legal Education
           a. Government versus Non-Government
              Sponsorship
           b. Teachers
           c. Mandatory versus Non-Mandatory
              CLE
     C. Training of New Judges
     D. Use of Non-Judicial Personnel in Courts of
        Limited Jurisdiction
V.   CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

I. INTRODUCTION

Courts in the judicial system of a modern state have different levels of authority. Legal disputes are originally presented to "lower courts"; "higher courts" provide a means for reviewing the lower courts' decisions. Courts are also distinguished by their jurisdiction--that is, the subjects that a court may hear and decide or the parties who are subject to the court's power. A court's power to hear a case is dependent on whether it has both subject-matter and personal jurisdiction. Courts are classified as having one of two types of subject-matter jurisdiction: (1) general jurisdiction, which confers upon courts the power to hear all types of controversies or (2) special, or limited, jurisdiction, which confers upon courts the power to hear only certain types of cases. (1)

Judicial institutions may also exist within executive departments and other administrative agencies. Administrative tribunals and boards enforce proposed actions by the agencies against private parties and hear petitions by private parties seeking redress for such actions. In many legal systems, those seeking to appeal from actions by a governmental agency or department are required to pursue all available remedies within the agency before bringing an action in a court of general or limited jurisdiction or an appellate court.

Courts of limited jurisdiction exist in virtually all modern nations. (2) In the United States, for instance, the federal court system includes several important courts of limited jurisdiction, including the U.S. Tax Court, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the U.S. Court of International Trade, and the U.S. Court of Military Appeals. (3) Courts of limited jurisdiction exist in Spain (4) and in many Latin American countries, such as Mexico, (5) Chile, (6) Venezuela, (7) and Brazil. (8)

Cuba currently has a unified judicial system consisting of three levels of courts. (9) At the highest level is the People's Supreme Court, which is divided into six different chambers: (1) criminal, (2) civil and administrative, (3) labor, (4) state security, (5) military, and (6) economic. …

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