For Immediate Release - July 03, 2012

Chief Justice Phillip Rapoza Invited by U.S. State Department To Serve as Election Observer in Timor-Leste

At the invitation of the U.S. State Department, Hon. Phillip Rapoza, Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court, is currently serving as one of two American delegates on an international election observer mission in Timor-Leste, commonly known as East Timor. Timorese authorities requested that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, in which the United States participates, facilitate a team of observers to monitor the July 7 election of the country's 65-member parliament. Timor-Leste recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of the restoration of its independence and the United Nations is scheduled to withdraw its peacekeeping mission from the country by the end of 2012.

"This is a crucial year for Timor-Leste and the upcoming parliamentary election will be an important milestone in the country's development,” Chief Justice Rapoza said. “I am honored to have been asked to participate in this important endeavor.”

Over the last decade, Chief Justice Rapoza has played a prominent role in Timor-Leste, a former Portuguese colony.  From 2003 to 2005, he took an unpaid leave of absence from the Appeals Court and lived in the Timorese capital of Dili, where he served as an international judge on a UN-established war crimes tribunal. Since then he has returned to Timor-Leste at the invitation of the UN on virtually an annual basis to assist in ongoing efforts to improve the country’s justice system.  Chief Justice Rapoza has also participated in international justice initiatives in Mozambique, Cambodia and Haiti. He currently serves as President of the International Penal and Penitentiary Foundation, which is headquartered in Switzerland and promotes studies in the field of crime prevention and the treatment of offenders.

Chief Justice Rapoza, who is of Portuguese descent, was awarded the rank of Commander in the Portuguese Order of Prince Henry the Navigator by the president of Portugal and has received the Brazilian Medal of International Merit.  A Dartmouth native, Chief Justice Rapoza served as a trial judge on the District and Superior Courts before his appointment to the appellate bench in 1998. In 2006, Governor Mitt Romney appointed him Chief Justice of the Appeals Court.