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San Juan Gossip Mills Outlet

A veritable fanatic of the Internet. His avocation is teaching while his main vocation is practicing the much maligned law profession. Currently teaching Constitutional Law at the FEU Institute of Law and a guest lecturer at the De La Salle University teaching "Freedom and Regulation in Cyberspace" in the Graduate Program of the Department of Communication. He is married to his beautiful Ateneo law school classmate and is blessed with a daughter and a son.

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Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Scrap Sub Judice

I have often heard in many TV interviews that people cannot comment on a case because it is “sub judice” or literally, under judgment. They refrain from doing so under the theory that to speak about the case will affect the administration of justice or the objectivity of the judges.

I think the Philippine judicial system should scrap sub-judice from our system since it is one useless vestige of a common-law system which we have never really adopted.

Without going to the origins of sub-judice, one of the intentions of the rule was to protect the jury, a group of people unlearned in the law but are tasked to sit in judgment against one of their peers, from various influences outside the court such as but not limited to newspaper articles, TV interviews or such fora that may tend to influence the jury from rendering a judgment based on evidences which were never presented in court.

In the Philippine jurisdiction, we do not have a so called jury of peers. The only person tasked to render judgment is the judge who is schooled in the spirit, letter and procedures of the law. Thus, there is theoretically and realistically no need to gag anyone from speaking about an ongoing case because the judge is aware of what evidence is admissible or can be excluded, he is familiar with the technical rules of evidence and the reception of oral testimonies of witnesses.

In short, the purpose for which sub judice was laid down clearly does not exist in a civil law system where we do not have peers, learned or dumb, to decide a case against a person.

To continue to insist on the sub judice rule is to insult the intelligence of the judge. The continued existence of the rule is to imply that the judge, legally trained and steep in procedural law, is incapable of appreciating the evidences before his court and that an open and frank discussion of a pending case would unduly influence him.

We must give the judges the benefit of the daw, that they are perfectly capable of rendering an objective judgment amidst the media hype. With our judicial system in such a sorry state, what could possibly go so wrong with the removal of that hypocritical rule, where one practically sees lawyers commenting on a case immediately after hearing before the cameras.

To remove sub judice is to enlighten the public. After all, knowledge is power. It is time to remove the shroud of the law. Removing the rule is the first step to democratizing the monopoly of lawyers on the law and legal processes.


2 Comments:

Blogger Punzi said...

Sir,

Is that benefit of the daw or dowry? (Ahem, ahem! Cough! Cough!)

5:50 PM  
Blogger NJbabe said...

It is about time...Anyways I aggree with you...Either that or impose stircter rule such as imposing a larger amount of fine if and when any lawyer or anybody involve divulge anything about the case...well wishful thinking lang ba....

10:17 PM  

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