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Way to make judges and justices move cases faster

/ 12:10 AM August 05, 2016

I agree with Rene Azurin (“Reforming our ineffectual justice system,” Opinion, 7/5/16) and Janno Montecristo (“Most obvious reason justice system ‘ineffectual,’” Opinion, 7/30/16). But aside from blaming unscrupulous lawyers who seem to “specialize” in dilatory tactics in defense of their clients and the sheer incompetence of trial court judges who get away with shameful decisions because the Supreme Court does not mind their shamelessness, there is that much-overlooked aspect that also causes huge delays in the administration of justice in general.

Given the despicable ways most lawyers in this country have been “educated” (profit-driven) and the careless ways lower courts are already used to, the remedies to such maladies may take more than our lifetime to find. But more immediate, there is one thing we can point a finger at: the egotistic and power-tripping ways of Supreme Court justices who are fond of making kilometric and long-winded decisions that take up so much of their time. Except for earthshaking or trail-blazing cases that understandably consume more brainpower to piece together, we cannot understand why cut-and-dried  cases that require mere reiteration of past precedents to resolve core issues should necessitate 60 or 70 pages to write and, consequently, years to promulgate.

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Confucius might say: Be brief, bring fast relief. The need in these extremely frustrating times is for perspicuity, not verbosity.

The trouble is, each magistrate seems to want to leave his mark on jurisprudence. The more pages he uses in writing a decision which “forms part of the law of the land,” the more he thinks his name can be immortalized. It is thus not unusual to read in any such decision a clutter of settled principles of law laid down eons ago in previous cases and now still relied upon to write finis to a current controversy. A page or two would surely have sufficed and so, next case, please!

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In a month or so, many such cases could be disposed of more quickly and litigants could be allowed to move on with their lives sooner. As it is happening now, generations of litigants are dying without seeing the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, as Supreme Court justices also retire leaving so many cases assigned to them unresolved without consequence to them. Those cases end up being dumped on their successors who then have to start studying the cases all over again.

We earnestly hope President Duterte’s order to all government functionaries, both high and low, to cut their “BS” and stop making the people wait so long for government action, can also penetrate the “hallowed halls” of the Supreme Court, supposedly the final dispenser of justice. Making the justices pay out of their retirement benefits (said to be in the tens of millions of pesos) for their indolence may not be such a bad idea. That’s right, hit them where it hurts. Isn’t that a great way to deter many of them from starting to “retire” and “taking it easy” years before reaching 70?

—MARIA MARGARITA AYTONA, [email protected]

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