Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Law School Condemns Supreme Court

In the continuing mess over the "comfort women" case in the Phillipines, the ManilaStandardToday (Jojo A. Robles) reports that the University of the Philippines College of Law has condemned the actions of Justice Del Castillo and of the Supreme Court:

In a statement, the current UP law dean, Marvic Leonen, four of his predecessors and the college’s regular faculty and lecturers alleged that Del Castillo’s plagiarism is not only an affront “to the individual scholars whose work have been appropriated without correct attribution, but also a serious threat to the integrity and credibility of the Philippine judicial system.” What Del Castillo did constitutes “dishonesty, pure and simple,” they said.

“A judicial system that allows plagiarism in any form is one that allows dishonesty,” the statement continued. “Since all judicial decisions form part of the law of the land, to allow plagiarism in the Supreme Court is to allow the production of laws by dishonest means. Evidently, this is a complete perversion and falsification of the ends of justice.”

And because Del Castillo’s Vinuya decision was approved by the court, the entire tribunal should share the blame for his action, the UP Law faculty said. “The court cannot regain its credibility and maintain its moral authority without ensuring that its own conduct, whether collectively or through its members, is beyond reproach,” they said. “This necessarily includes ensuring that not only the content, but also the processes of preparing and writing its own decisions, are credible and beyond question.”

Because the Supreme Court is “the final arbiter of all controversies,” those who serve on it are required to have “competence and integrity completely above any and all reproach, in accordance with the exacting demands of judicial and professional ethics.” And the plagiarism committed in the case is “unacceptable, unethical and in breach of the high standards of moral conduct and judicial and professional competence expected of the Supreme Court.”

Apart from the unattributed copying (plagiarism), there is a second level problem. The Supreme Court decision (ponente) reached a conclusion OPPOSITE to that of the copied authors. Evan Criddle, one of the copied authors, noted: “Our article emphatically asserts the opposite.”


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