Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Can we finish a trial in one year?

The Inquirer reports that the Subic rape trial case has been scheduled for hearings three times a week every afternoon before the Regional Trial Court of Makati. Click here. The report adds that the hearings will be made daily if the trial does not progress to beat the one-year deadline under the Visiting Forces Agreement.

In my ten-year career as a lawyer, I have yet to encounter a trial completed in one year. I have seen all sorts of disappearing acts done by judges, counsels, and litigants who are the principal causes of delay in the administration of justice in this country. The classic excuse is the loose bowel movement. I've heard it so many times, that it makes me think that lawyers have the most sensitive stomachs. They are the only ones who often experience this, and they even have medical certificates to back them up.

On a different note, I once encountered a lawyer whose case was dismissed for his absence in a pre-trial hearing; his excuse -- he had an unexplained pain on his right foot. To support his claim, he sent an x-ray to the court. The trouble was he sent an x-ray of his hand instead. Yet, in spite of the obvious lie, the court relented and reinstated his case.

And so now, we have a case that has a deadline of one year, which cannot be extended even if we appealed to the President of the United States. And it would seem, even if the court burned down, the judge, lawyers, and litigants are determined to finish the case before the deadline.

Finally we are learning that speeding up our court processes is all a matter of political will.

1 comment:

Major Tom said...

Hi counsel. Maybe this is a test-case or experiment if our legal system could make that seemingly impossible feat; deciding a case within a year. If it can be done, then we can learn from it.