Costa Rica - Judicial system
The judiciary consists of justices of the peace, lower courts, labor courts, a court of cassation, two civil courts of appeal, two penal courts of appeal, and the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court is composed of 22 justices chosen for eight-year terms by the Legislative Assembly. Justices are automatically reelected for an additional eight-year term unless the Legislative Assembly votes to the contrary by a two-thirds majority. The Assembly also names 25 alternates from a list of 50 names submitted by the Supreme Court, and vacancies on the court are then filled by lot from the list of alternates. Relatives of incumbent justices are ineligible for election. The Supreme Court, by a two-thirds majority, can declare legislative and executive acts unconstitutional. Justices of lower courts are appointed by the Supreme Court, but justices of the peace are appointed by the minister of government acting for the president. Capital punishment has been abolished. The judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches and assures fair public trials. Public security forces generally observe procedural safeguards established by law and the 1949 constitution. The constitution prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence. Judges may approve use of wiretaps in limited cases, primarily to combat narcotics trafficking.