Panama Supreme Court

Sunday, April 14, 2013, dawned dark, sticky, and warm; not a very good day for picture-taking.  But everything was planned for a foray into the former Canal Zone in search of subjects to capture for our blog.  Postponement was out of the question. I had ran out of pictures and that was a grave problem, since I’m not very good with words.  I started my white Corolla, accompanied with my wife, and hoped for the best. (Vaya con Diós)

It was a tricky trip, since many of the highways in this area have been modified as a result of the modernization program of Panama City.  It’s an absolute  nightmare driving in the city with all these “cambios” taking place at once.  Even with a talkative Garmin GPS, driving in the city is still a dangerous adventure.  A wrong turn could be the difference between life and death.  Panamanians are not the best drivers in the world.  It’s amazing how well-educated and most polite persons, turn into irresponsible kamikaze drivers once they sit behind a wheel.  The transformation is difficult to describe in printed words.

Trying to be cautious, I selected an early Sunday morning for my photo walk.  Few if no cars on the streets.  The only problem was the overcast day, but I was willing to take my chances.  One of the subjects was the magnificent edifice that houses the Panama Supreme Court.  As you probably know, the rulings of the Supreme Court are final; there are no appeals regarding their legal decisions.  The nine Magistrates of the Supreme Court (Justices of the Supreme Court) are chosen by the President of the Republic for ten years.

The nine magistrates of the Panama Supreme Court are:

  1. Oyden Ortega Durán
  2. Hernán Antonio De León Batista
  3. Harley James Mitchell Dale
  4. José Ayú Prado
  5. Harry Alberto Díaz González de Mendoza
  6. Jerónimo Emilio Mejía Edward
  7. Alejandro Moncada Luna
  8. Luis Ramón Fábrega Sánchez
  9. Víctor Leonel Benavides Pinilla

It’s interesting to point out that there is not a single woman  in our Supreme Court at this moment.  We still have a long way to go to break the glass ceiling in our Judicial Branch.  The “macho” idiosyncrasy still prevails in Latin America—and that is wrong.

Below are the pictures taken during an overcast lazy day in a sleepy city in Middle America.  Here we go.

Snapshot of the edifice that houses the Panama Supreme Court. This building was turned over by the United States to Panama as a result of the Torrijos-Carter Treaty of September 7, 1977. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
In this black and white picture you can clearly notice the formal name of the building: Palacio de Justicia Gil Ponce. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
This structure is in Balboa on the Pacific Side of the former Panama Canal Zone beside the late Gorgas Hospital. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

2 thoughts on “Panama Supreme Court”

  1. I was reminded immediately of some of the governmental buildings in Liberia. Since their form of government is modeled after the US, many of their buildings tend to echo our older bureaucratic architecture, modified in some cases by the demands of the climate and a preference for concrete!

    Interesting that your justices aren’t appointed for life. Ten year terms seems unusual to me, but I’m not sure it wouldn’t be better.

  2. Morning Linda:

    Most if not not all the administrative buildings in the late Panama Canal Zone had this architectural style. Thick walls, red tile roofs, high ceilings and straight lines. They were built for the long haul.

    The Administration Building in Balboa is a typical example of this wonderful architectural style.

    Warm Regards,


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