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Guide to Legal Research in the Dominican Republic. Previously updated in July and Sept. See the Archive Version!
Structure of the Government. Supreme Court of Justice.
Courts of First Instance. Justices of the Peace. Minors and Juvenile Courts. Primary Sources of Law. Code of Civil Procedure. Code of Criminal Procedure. Code of the Minor. Monetary and Financial Code. Law Reports and Compilations of Legislation. Case Law Reports and Digests. Treaties and International Agreements. It shares with Haiti the island of Hispaniola, occupying two thirds of lwy eastern side of the island.
It occupies 48, square kilometers, making it the second largest island of the Greater Antilles after Cuba. It supports a population of The island was discovered by Christopher Columbus inand was named Hispaniola. Although a Spanish colony, from forward France began to occupy the western side of Hispaniola by taking over large portions of land and 18-07 them into agricultural developments, raising cattle, and stimulating an economy of French commercial goods.
The Treaty of Ryswick divided the island into two leey cultures — The French on the western side of the island and the Spanish on the eastern.
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From tothe Dominican Republic was governed successively by France, Haiti, Spain and then Haiti again, until it finally declared 186-70 independence on 18-607 27, The first Leh Constitution was signed, on October 22, Unable to control the country effectively, the then governing authorities ceded the country back to Spain in 1186-07 Two years later, on August 16,independence was restored and a Second Republic proclaimed.
Thereafter the new republic was subjected to a long power struggle between those who wanted to remain independent The Blues and those who supported the annexation of the country to France, Spain or the United States The Reds.
Trujillo, and finally democracy to present. The Constitution defines the system of government of the Dominican Republic as being civilian, republican, democratic and representative  and describes the State as social and democratic  founded on the respect for the human dignity, fundamental rights, labor, popular sovereignty and separation of powers. The powers of the government are divided into three 1886-07 branches: Legislative power is invested in the National Congress, which is composed of two chambers: Once elected Congressional Members serve for a four-year period and may be re-elected without time limitations.
Each regular session lasts for ninety days, but can be extended up to sixty additional days. The first session begins lley August 16, and the second begins on February In addition to its powers to enact laws, the Congress of the Republic is empowered to increase, or reduce regular or exceptional courts, to approve or reject international treaties and conventions concluded by the Executive Power, and has the authority to review and approve the national budget submitted by the Executive Power.
The Lsy Congress has constitutional authority to legislate over any matter. Any senator or deputy may introduce legislation in either house. The President of the Republic, the Supreme Court of Justice in judicial matters, the Central Electoral Board in electoral matters, also may introduce legislation in either house of the Congress.
Once a bill is approved, it is 186-0 to the President of the Republic for promulgation and subsequent publication in the form established by law. The Senate is composed of 32 members, one Senator elected by each province. The Senate is empowered to select the members of the Central Electoral Board, the members of the Chamber of Accounts and the Ombudsman. An exclusive function of the Chamber of Deputies is to refer impeachments of public officials before the Senate for the commission of grave faults while in exercise of their functions.
Executive power ly exercised by the President of the Republic who is elected with the Vice-President by direct vote for a four-year term. The President and Vice-President can lsy re-elected for the immediately following constitutional period. He appoints the cabinet of Ely who assist him in his function. The President promulgates and publishes laws and resolutions passed by Congress, and he has the lry authority under Article 1b of the Constitution, to issue decrees, regulations and instructions which are binding.
The President also may enter into treaties with foreign nations and international conventions, but unless it is ratified by both houses of the Congress, the treaty will not be binding on the Dominican Republic. The various ministries and decentralized government offices, such as the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic, may issue resolutions and norms which are also binding. Judicial Power is exercised by the Supreme Court of Justice as well as by other courts created by the Constitution or by enacted laws.
The legal system reflects the influence of successive occupancy of the island by foreign nations. During the 22 years of Haitian occupation -the French legal system was imposed on the island, based on the Napoleonic Codes of The French Codes of were adopted as the codes of the Dominican Republic, in their original language, with the modifications set forth by the Constitution, and the 1186-07 system of courts established during the colonial era were maintained.
The Le codification remained in effect until Spanish translations of the five French codes were promulgated in These translated codes, with little adjustment to local needs remained as the law of the Dominican Republic for more than one hundred and fifty years .
A total of Executive Orders were enacted, touching on virtually all aspects of governmental administration. It was modeled after the Philippines and Australian Torrens system, and remains in effect today. Following the United States occupation, during the Trujillo Eraseveral important laws were enacted: The Official Gazette and the Judicial Bulletin were published without interruption during these years, and 186–07 more than 30 years, the basic laws underwent only minor modifications, despite the fact that the Dominican Republic was growing threefold in size.
From tomajor legislative and judicial reforms started taking place to adapt the legal and economic framework of the country to a global and regional integration.
Legislative reforms included updating laws related to the development of critical economic and social sectors focusing on finance, investment and trade, environment, tax and customs, labor and social security.
Main judicial reforms were centered on expediting lye, and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the judiciary. Most notable were the reforms to the criminal and land jurisdictions. Revisions of the Criminal Procedure Code were undertaken to incorporate oral procedures and to guarantee the protection of constitutional rights; the land courts 18607 title registry offices underwent a significant transformation, which resulted in ely enactment of a new registry of property rights law leu its regulations within the Torrens System.
Justice is administered by the Supreme Court of Justice and the other tribunals established by the Constitution or the laws. It designates the lower court judges and administrative personnel and exercises the highest disciplinary authority over all members of the Judicial Power.
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The Constitutional Court Tribunal Constitucional was established by the constitutional reform, to defend the fundamental rights and protect the constitutional order. Its decisions are final and irrevocable and constitute binding precedent for all public authorities and all State agencies.
They hear direct actions of unconstitutionality of laws, decrees, regulations, resolutions and ordinances; the preventive control of international treaties before their ratification by Congress, and hears jurisdictional disputes between the public authorities.
Thirteen judges sit at the Constitutional Court elected by the National Council of the Judiciary Consejo Nacional de la Magistraturafor a nine -year term and cannot be reelected.
Supreme Court of Justice . The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over any cause of action brought against the President, the Vice President, or other public officials, as designated in the Constitution.
It hears appeals of Cassation and ordinary appeals from matters arising in the Courts of Appeals.
The Court of Appeals functions primarily as an appellate body and it hears appeals from decisions issued by Courts of First Instance. Five judges sit on each of the courts, with the 186-077 of the Courts of Appeals for Minors and the Contentious Administrative Court where a minimum of 3 judges sit. Judgments of the Courts of Appeals from the National District since January untiland decisions of the High Administrative Tribunal since January to December have been published electronically on the homepage of the Judicial Power, see under Consultas — Sentencias – Otras Sentencias.
The Courts of First Instance are divided into: The Justices of the Peace are courts authorized to hear small claim cases. They predominantly hear police and labor matters, as well as any other matter, which Congress, through legislation, empowers them to hear. There is at least one small court in each municipality, and one located in the National District.
Only one judge presides on each Court of Peace. There are also special ely courts competent to hear traffic violations. The Land Courts are concerned exclusively with procedures relating to clearing title to property, registering real property, and resolving other questions relating to real property. Administrative Contentious Court . The Administrative Contentious jurisdiction is integrated by higher administrative courts Tribunales Superiores Administrativos and contentious administrative courts of first instance.
These courts have jurisdiction over disputes filed against decisions, actions and provisions of the central government including administrative, tax, financial and municipal 1860-7. Hear and determine in first instance or on appeal the contentious administrative actions that arise from conflicts between the public administration and its officers and civilian employees.
It is functionally independent of the Courts by means of Ley No. The Public Ministry is composed by: For main legislation enacted which governs the Public Ministry see under Transparencia – Marco Legal. The first Lwy of the Dominican Republic was promulgated inimmediately after the nation achieved independence from Haiti. Bythe Dominican Republic had adopted thirty-five constitutional amendments. The Constitution, enacted at the conclusion of the civil war of Aprilprovided the necessary legal basis to ensure democratic stabilization of the country.
In August 14,the Constitution of the Dominican Republic was modified. Among the most important amendments are: The Supreme Court of Justice was given constitutional authority to designate the judges at all levels of the Judiciary, and authorized to exert disciplinary authority over all its members, putting an end to Executive and Legislative control over judges and personnel of the judiciary. Eight years later, inArticles 49, 89 and 90 of the Constitution were amended to provide mainly for the presidential re-election and other electoral matters.
Some of the most significant measures introduced by the constitutional reforms included: The constitutional reform of June 13,modified Article of the Constitution to allow once more the reelection of lley President for a following consecutive term. With amendments, this original code is largely still in effect today.