Bersamin to lawyers: Face sanctions for frivolous cases
MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin threatened lawyers with sanctions if they file “clearly frivolous” petitions that would clog the Supreme Court dockets.
“The filings made with the Supreme Court on a monthly basis has simply bloated in recent years, and this has been mainly attributable to the irresponsibility of litigants and their lawyers who have ignored the warnings regularly issued against bringing clearly frivolous or unsubstantial or dilatory petitions,” Bersamin said on Tuesday, May 21, in a speech during the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP)-Judicial Reform Initiative (JRI) Joint General Membership Meeting in Makati.
Bersamin added: “The time for imposing sanctions on such litigants and lawyers may soon be around the corner.”
Bersamin cited a recent decision of the en banc that junked the petition of Visayas fishermen against the bundling of contracts for airport construction in the region.
The en banc zeroed in on the failure of the petition to comply with the rules of constitutional litigation, such as the proper use of transcendental importance.
The case involved the fishermen from Samar, who identified themselves as victims of Yolanda and who said they have a stake as taxpayers in the project they deemed illegal.
The SC en banc denied the petition mainly because of violation of hierarchy of courts, saying that they are not a trier of facts.
“To end, while reflective deliberation is necessary in the judicial process, there is simply no ample time for it given this Court's massive case load,” said the en banc in a decision promulgated March 12.
On Tuesday, Bersamin repeated the warning and said “well disguising causes as raising a constitutional question will no longer be tolerated.”
“The ruling also announces the basis for the Supreme Court to be stricter in rejecting misfiled or unworthy petitions, and to be readier in sanctioning irresponsible litigants and lawyers,” said Bersamin.
As if cracking down on the legal profession, Bersamin boasted of his efforts to discipline judges, court officials, and lawyers.
According to the Supreme Court, from January 1, 2019 to March 31, 2019, there have been 13 judges who were fined, reprimanded, or admonished; 38 court employees who were either admonished, fined, reprimanded, had benefits forfeited, or suspended; 4 court employees who were dismissed for cause from the service; 14 lawyers suspended, 21 lawyers fined, and 14 warned.
“I am acknowledging that having ethical and competent members of the Bar is an imperative that we cannot ignore,” Bersamin said.
Bersamin also acknowledged the criticism of the legal education curriculum in the country, and responded to it by holding a legal education summit, the first of its kind in the country.
“As the Chief Justice, therefore, I cannot simply stand by and watch without doing anything. I have decided to call for the holding of a Legal Education Summit in July or early August of this year,” Bersamin said.
Appointed chief justice by President Rodrigo Duterte, Bersamin will retire October this year. – Rappler.com