Impeaching a Supreme Court justice due to plagiarism

Plagiarism a betrayal of public trust - House majority. Read more: Del Castillo accused of 32 counts of plagiarism - lawyer. By Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News Posted at Feb 14 2012 04:41 PM | Updated as of Feb 15 2012 06:47 AM.

MANILA, Philippines - Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo allegedly committed 32 counts of plagiarism in writing the decision on the case of World War II "comfort women", a lawyer said Tuesday.

Four grandmothers who were sexually abused and made to become comfort women during the Japanese occupation, together with their lawyers, attended the House of Representatives committee of justice hearing this morning in the impeachment complaint against del Castillo.
The comfort women were the main complainants against del Castillo for alleged plagiarism as ponente or main author of the decision in the Vinuya case, which denied the petition filed by a group of comfort women seeking to compel the government to espouse their claims against the Japanese government.

Atty. Romel Bagares, lawyer of the comfort women, presented documents that allegedly prove that Justice del Castillo committed 32 counts of plagiarism and worse twisted the plagiarized work to justify his decision.

Among the documentary evidence submitted by Bagares were letters by foreign authors and a matrix or comparison of the plagiarized work.

Members of House majority said that as a justice of the Supreme Court, del Castillo's act of plagiarism is a betrayal of public trust.

Members of the minority bloc including Reps. Danilo Suarez and Mitos Magsaysay, however, said plagiarism is not a crime and that the decision of del Castillo was a collegial decision.

During questioning, one of the comfort women admitted that what they want is to get justice and right a historical mistake but that they did not want del Castillo out of office. Isabelita Vinuya, 82, however, retracted her statement and said that if they still won't get a favorable decision in their case, she wants all the justices impeached.

'Plagiarism not a high crime'

Atty. Louie Oximer, lawyer of del Castillo, said the alleged plagiarized parts of the decision were not used to justify the decision.

He said plagiarism is not a high crime, is not bribery or treason and is not culpable violation of the Constitution therefore it cannot be an impeachable offense.

He also requested that his client skip the hearing because of a scheduled angiogram and heart bypass operation. The motion was granted by the committee.

Rep. Niel Tupas, chairman of the House justice committee, set the next hearing on February 21, 2012. He said that he allowed the postponement for a week for the House members to study the documentary evidence presented by both sides.

He said the voting for probable cause of the case will be conducted on that day and if majority of the members vote for probable cause then the complaint will be transmitted to the plenary for debates.

Tupas, however, said that in case the majority of the congressmen will vote for probable cause, he wants the debate in the plenary be deferred until after the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona. Read more: Del Castillo accused of 32 counts of plagiarism - lawyer. By Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News Posted at Feb 14 2012 04:41 PM | Updated as of Feb 15 2012 06:47 AM.

In May, the House of Representatives’ committee on justice declared an impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo sufficient in form. The vote was 11-10, with one abstention. The complaint stemmed from a decision written by Del Castillo in April 2010, when the high court dismissed a petition filed by 70 Filipino “comfort women” led by Isabelita Vinuya, 79. The women—victims of sexual abuse by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II—had asked the high court to compel the Philippine government to seek a public apology and reparation from Japan. Read more: What Went Before: The impeach rap vs Justice Del Castillo. Philippine Daily Inquirer. 01:43 AM. December 08, 2011. Read more:

In July 2010, the women’s lawyers, Harry Roque and Romel Bagares, filed a supplemental motion for consideration, claiming that the decision had been plagiarized. They said passages had been lifted without attribution from articles in the Yale Law Journal and the Western Reserve Journal of International Law and a portion of a book by the Cambridge University Press. The works from which passages were taken were: “A Fiduciary Theory of Jus Cogens” by Evan J. Criddle and Evan Fox-Decent, “Breaking the Silence: Rape as an International Crime” by Mark Ellis, and “Enforcing Erga Omnes Obligations” by Christian J. Tams.

Roque and Bagares said “at least three sources” were plagiarized to “make it appear that these sources support the judgment’s arguments.” “In truth, the plagiarized sources even make a strong case for the petition’s claims,” they said. The lawyers said the most extensively plagiarized article was the one by Criddle and Fox-Decent. They said the article supported the women’s case—that the state could not set aside such crimes as genocide, torture and similar “grave offenses.” They cited 31 passages that, they said, made no reference to the article. In the same month, author Ellis himself sent an e-mail to the high court saying it “may have misread” his article to justify its position that the comfort women had no legal remedy to press their demand against the Japanese government. Ellis, the executive director of the International Bar Association composed of 198 national bar associations with 40,000 members worldwide, asked the high court to “take the time to carefully study the arguments” he had made in his article, and said he looked forward to a response.

The high court said Ellis’ e-mail would be referred to the ethics committee especially formed to look into the matter.

In a statement issued on Aug. 10, 2010, 37 law professors of the University of the Philippines said Del Castillo’s purported plagiarism was “unacceptable, unethical and in breach of the high standards of moral conduct … expected of the Supreme Court,” and called for his resignation. In October 2010, the high court voted 10-4 to dismiss the plagiarism case filed by Roque and Bagares. (Del Castillo took no part in the proceedings.) It said that there was no acknowledgement of Del Castillo’s sources in the decision because of his legal researcher’s accidental deletion of the footnotes, and that he could not have “twisted” the meaning of the lifted passages because these only provided background facts in international law. On Dec. 14, 2010, 11 members of the House filed an impeachment complaint against Del Castillo for betrayal of public trust. They said that “in twisting the true intents of the sources, [Del Castillo] misled the other members” of the high court. Read more: What Went Before: The impeach rap vs Justice Del Castillo. Philippine Daily Inquirer. 01:43 AM. December 08, 2011. Read more: