Erratic, not dynamic, jurisprudence
What Rey Escobar wrote about the Supreme Court’s exercise of “unbridled” authority to decide cases any way it pleases and without any serious regard for past precedents seemed unthinkable, were it not so true in many instances (“CJ Panganiban’s bold takeaway on ABS-CBN issue,” Letters, 3/3/2020).
I work as an accountant and take up one or two law subjects at night. Our classroom recitations are replete with questions about doctrines laid out in “well-settled” jurisprudence. However confident we may feel about our answers based on those doctrines, the professor is quick to cite later decisions that are “exceptions” to, or “deviations” from, or worse, say the opposite of, what we have earlier learned!
For example: Grant of bail in a capital offense on never-before-heard-of “humanitarian” grounds, never mind the trial court’s finding of strong evidence of guilt. And another: All previous jurisprudence condemning martial law as nothing more than a nightmarish kleptocracy, and now its main character lying buried as a “hero” as ordained by the latest Supreme Court decision thereon.
It always makes us wonder how good “well-settled jurisprudence” really is. How are we ever going to pass the Bar if our knowledge of the law is so fluid it can change anytime depending on the mood of the ponente “solo-writing” for the Supreme Court? (Our professor does have serious misgivings about “collegiality” in its decision-making, as shown by so many conflicting decisions.) Dynamic is hardly the term for it; it’s more like erratic!
Is that perhaps the reason lawyers still go to the Supreme Court even on issues that have long been “settled,” hoping that what has been “settled” might still get “unsettled” in their clients’ favor? How does that work toward decongesting the court dockets? Nay, how else does that speak of the kind of judicial system prevailing in this country, if not wishy-washy?
Gone seems to be the days when priceless gems of jurisprudence were worth the tomes written to enshrine them. Nowadays, those law books have to be revised and rewritten so often to catch up with the personal bias and prejudice of those who produce ephemeral “jurisprudence.” What a mess the study of law has become.
Carmela N. Noblejas
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