Friday, November 25, 2016

Republic Act No. 10707 - new provisions on Probation


SECTION 1. Section 4 of Presidential Decree No. 968, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:

SEC. 4. Grant of Probation. — Subject to the provisions of this Decree, the trial court may, after it shall have convicted and sentenced a defendant for a probationable penalty and upon application by said defendant within the period for perfecting an appeal, suspend the execution of the sentence and place the defendant on probation for such period and upon such terms and conditions as it may deem best. 

No application for probation shall be entertained or granted if the defendant has perfected the appeal from the judgment of conviction

Provided, That when a judgment of conviction imposing a non-probationable penalty is appealed or reviewed, and such judgment is modified through the imposition of a probationable penalty, the defendant shall be allowed to apply for probation based on the modified decision before such decision becomes final. 

The application for probation based on the modified decision shall be filed in the trial court where the judgment of conviction imposing a non-probationable penalty was rendered, or in the trial court where such case has since been re-raffled. 

In a case involving several defendants where some have taken further appeal, the other defendants may apply for probation by submitting a written application and attaching thereto a certified true copy of the judgment of conviction.

“The trial court shall, upon receipt of the application filed, suspend the execution of the sentence imposed in the judgment.

“This notwithstanding, the accused shall lose the benefit of probation should he seek a review of the modified decision which already imposes a probationable penalty.

“Probation may be granted whether the sentence imposes a term of imprisonment or a fine only. The filing of the application shall be deemed a waiver of the right to appeal.

An order granting or denying probation shall not be appealable.

SECTION 2. Section 9 of the same Decree, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:

SEC. 9. Disqualified Offenders. — The benefits of this Decree shall not be extended to those:

a. sentenced to serve a maximum term of imprisonment of more than six (6) years;

“b. convicted of any crime against the national security;

“c. who have previously been convicted by final judgment of an offense punished by imprisonment of more than six (6) months and one (1) day and/or a fine of more than one thousand pesos (P1,000.00);

“d. who have been once on probation under the provisions of this Decree; and

“e. who are already serving sentence at the time the substantive provisions of this Decree became applicable pursuant to Section 33 hereof.

SECTION 3. Section 16 of the same Decree, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:

“SEC. 16. Termination of Probation. — After the period of probation and upon consideration of the report and recommendation of the probation officer, the court may order the final discharge of the probationer upon finding that he has fulfilled the terms and conditions of his probation and thereupon the case is deemed terminated.

“The final discharge of the probationer shall operate to restore to him all civil rights lost or suspended as a result of his conviction and to totally extinguish his criminal liability as to the offense for which probation was granted.

“The probationer and the probation officer shall each be furnished with a copy of such order.”

x x x."

RA 10172 -Data Privacy Act of 2012 - Implementing Rules and Regulations

See - Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 10173 | Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines

Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 10173, known as the “Data Privacy Act of 2012”

Changing from Inside - Vipassana meditation courses in prisons.

Vipassana meditation courses in US prisons.
"Changing from Inside"

Vipassana meditation courses in prisons. - "Doing Time Doing Vipassana" - Full official version

See -

"Doing Time Doing Vipassana" - Full official version
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Vipassana Meditation Courses in Prisons

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CIDG has no power to issue subpoena

See - DOJ: CIDG has no power to issue subpoena :: Department of Justice - Republic of the Philippines :: Tel: (+632) 523 8481, (+632) 523 6826

"x x x.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II clarified that the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Director and his deputies may not issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum in the absence of an authority granted by the Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The clarification was issued upon the request for a legal opinion of P/Chief Supt. Roel Obusan, Acting Director of the PNP-CIDG on whether the CIDG Director and his deputies may issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum.

Aguirre stated that Republic Act No. 6975 (Department of the Interior and Local Government Act of 1990) established the PNP under a reorganized Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). He said the law provides that the PNP shall absorb the functions of the Philippine Constabulary (PC), the Integrated National Police (INP) and the Narcotics Command, including the power to issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum.

However, Aguirre said such power is not granted to all the members of the PNP. "Thus, when the PNP absorbed the functions of the PC and the INP, such does not necessarily mean that the officials authorized therein to issue subpoena continue to exist. Indeed, nowhere in the law is there correlation or basis to say that the CIDG inherited the powers and functions of the defunct CIS [Criminal Investigation Service]."

He further clarified that under RA 6975, the powers granted to the CIDG is limited to monitoring, investigation and prosecution of serious crimes.

Aguirre stressed that "xxx in the absence of a grant of authority to a particular officer, the exercise of such absorbed power is reserved to the Chief PNP, which herein includes the issuance of subpoena and subpoena duces tecum. Thereafter, the Chief PNP may delegate such power to a subordinate xxx.”

x x x."

Palace launches freedom of info online -

See -

"x x x.

Starting today, people seeking information from agencies under the Office of the President may file their requests online.

Malacañang on Thursday announced it would begin implementing the Freedom of Information (FOI) in the executive department with the launch of the "electronic FOI" or e-FOI system of 15 pilot agencies.

Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Kris Ablan said the project was intended to carry out President Duterte's Executive Order No. 2, which mandated FOI in the executive branch.

He said the launching of the government website would be held exactly 120 days after the President issued the order, allowing public access to documents, reports and projects of government offices.

"The e-FOI is an online facility wherein citizens are able to lodge their (FOI requests)," Ablan told a news briefing in Malacañang.

Due to technical limitations, he said only 15 agencies were currently ready to accept and process FOI requests sent through the Internet.

These are the Presidential Communications Operations Office, the Department of Information and Communications Technology, the Department of Budget and Management, the Department of Finance, the Department of Justice, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Health.

Also included in the list were the Philippine Statistics Authority, the National Archives of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, the Presidential Commission on Good Government, the Office of the Solicitor General and the Public Attorney's Office.

x x x."

Can the Ombudsman dismiss a senator? | Freeman Opinion, The Freeman Sections, The Freeman |

See - Can the Ombudsman dismiss a senator? | Freeman Opinion, The Freeman Sections, The Freeman |

"x x x.

If I were the bar examiner in political Law or in remedial law in the ongoing bar examinations, I would perhaps ask this question of whether or not existing laws and jurisprudence are clear on the grant of legal powers on the part of the ombudsman to remove a duly-elected senator from his office. The constitutional provision as well as the organic law that created this office must be studied carefully by our country's leading legal scholars and luminaries. The people should be informed on the scope as well as limits of the powers of the ombudsman. May a senator, and for that matter, a congressman, be legally removed from office even before they are heard?

What happens if the Senate President or the Speaker of the House would refuse to implement the dismissal order? Could the ombudsman compulsorily enforce its order, and if so, how would it proceed to do so? Could it order its sheriff or bailiff to barge into the Senate or the House in plenary sessions, and physically remove a senator from those august bodies? Would that scenario not constitute a constitutional crisis? Well, we have all the respect for the ombudsman, especially the incumbent, who is a retired senior Supreme Court Justice with impeccable credentials and unquestionable integrity.

x x x."

Towards a Rational Legal Philosophy of Individual Rights | Dissident Voice

See - Towards a Rational Legal Philosophy of Individual Rights | Dissident Voice

"x x x.


I briefly describe the anthropological origin and recent statutory embodiments of human rights of individuals. I show that the modern “democratic” state moderates the rights of individuals by both:

(1) violating the said rights in order to maintain and enforce the societal dominance hierarchy, and (2) preventing disproportionate violations, to avoid inciting rebellion.

The courts are charged with these tasks but must not appear to represent an oppressive state. The courts’ practical solution has been to develop the legal artifice of “balancing conflicting rights”, where the court presents itself as a neutral arbitrator providing “access to justice”, rather than the enforcer that it is.

I develop several examples involving the human rights of freedom of thought, expression, and movement, and the right to a fair trial.

I show that the said legal artifice is best dismantled by a method of compartmentalization where a given act producing harm that is a crime (or offence or civil liability) is compartmentalized into its distinct elements that either constitute the crime or are human-rights freedoms that are not in play at trial or in sentencing.

x x x."

Does machine-learning-powered software make good research decisions? Lawyers can't know for sure

See - Does machine-learning-powered software make good research decisions? Lawyers can't know for sure

"x x x.

A primer on algorithm-powered legal search

An algorithm is a set of rules that a machine will follow. When lawyers perform e-research, they input information into a search field. Algorithms shape how computers interpret that information, which alters the results of the search. They might change how many cases are selected, which cases they are, and in what order.

Algorithms play a crucial role in natural language searching. They change the substance of the search itself, perhaps placing greater weight on certain words or supplementing the search with synonymous or logically related terms. Indeed, the bleeding edge of search innovation seeks to incorporate the semantic or conceptual relations between words and phrases.

For the natural language search “duties of truck drivers”, the algorithm might add to the search terms like “responsibility” or “commercial motor vehicle operator,” or it might favor cases that use “truck driver” frequently over cases that use “duty” frequently. These algorithmic functions happen behind the curtain, and they are subject to the strategic decisions of the product designer—decisions that need to be made even before the search even happens.

Compare this to good old terms-and-connectors searching. The search

dut! /s ‘truck driver”

will retrieve all cases within the selected database containing words beginning with the root “dut” that are in the same sentences as the phrase “truck driver.” Nothing more. Nothing less.

Algorithm-powered searches can improve a search, but they can make important search decisions automatically and without the searcher’s knowledge. As a result, they lack transparency, particularly compared to terms-and-connectors searches.

But does transparency even matter? Lawyers have been performing natural language searches for a long time without issue.

It might matter.

x x x."

Maryland May Soon Permit the Practice of "Foreign Legal Consultants" - Lexology

See - Maryland May Soon Permit the Practice of "Foreign Legal Consultants" - Lexology

"x x x.

Why Is This Important?

A "foreign lawyer" is a lawyer educated solely in a non-U.S. law school who is not admitted to the bar of another U.S. state. A "foreign legal consultant" is a foreign lawyer who, subject to certain considerations, is licensed to practice in the state. Permitting foreign lawyers to practice as foreign legal consultants in Maryland would be a radical departure from existing rules.

Among other things, it would permit foreign lawyers to partner with Maryland lawyers, and it would enable foreign lawyers to provide guidance that is protected by the attorney-client and work-product privileges. By becoming "foreign legal consultants" licensed in Maryland, those foreign lawyers would be entitled and subject to the same rights and obligations set forth in the Maryland Lawyer's Rules of Professional Conduct that apply to a member of the Maryland bar. Such lawyers would also be subject to professional discipline in the same manner and to the same extent as a member of the Maryland bar. For example, foreign legal consultants would be required to name a resident agent for service of process and possess adequate professional liability insurance

What Is the Current Law?

Currently Maryland prohibits foreign lawyers from practicing in the state, even if they were admitted to practice for years in their home jurisdiction. The only exception is for those foreign lawyers who are also admitted to the bar of another U.S. state. In an increasingly global economy, the majority of U.S. states view such prohibitions as antiquated. Maryland might soon agree.

In April 2015, the Chief Judge of Maryland's highest court tasked the Rules Committee in Maryland with examining the issue. The Rules Committee, in turn, sought comments from the bar association. By fall 2015, the International Law Committee of the MSBA began assembling a task force to prepare the report. Venable lawyers were active in the task force, and Alex Koff (a Venable partner in Washington, DC and Baltimore) served as its chair.

The task force began examining the issue in earnest in January 2016. The comprehensive report prepared by the task force is available here. It examines the rules in Maryland, the rules in other U.S. states, the model rules of the American Bar Association (ABA), the Conference of Chief Justices' Resolution Regarding Permitting Practice by Foreign Lawyers, the rules of selected foreign jurisdictions, and other background data relevant to the issue. It then focused on the economic impact of changing the rules and reasons for objecting to such authorization. The Task Force, working collegially and on the basis of consensus, ultimately recommended, subject to certain provisos, that Maryland should allow foreign lawyers to gain "foreign legal consultant" status within the state. Among other things, some key conditions are that the foreign lawyer demonstrate membership in good standing of the legal profession in her or his home country and that the practice of that lawyer in Maryland be limited to the subject matter and experience developed in her or his home country over the last 5 to 7 years.

The MSBA Board of Governors formally adopted the report of the task force on November 15, 2016. It is transmitting its recommendation supporting the admission of foreign legal consultants to Maryland's Rules Committee. If approved by the Rules Committee, the issue moves to the Court of Appeals, Maryland's highest court.

What Is Being Recommended?

The Task Force and MSBA Board of Governors recommend implementing the ABA Model Rules for the Licensing and Practice of Foreign Legal Consultants. If adopted by the Court of Appeals, a foreign lawyer would, among other things, be permitted to practice and maintain an office in the state after meeting certain licensing requirements. The scope of that lawyer's practice is limited, however. Among other things, the foreign legal consultant may render legal services but is not considered admitted to practice law. Specifically, the lawyer is prohibited from rendering legal advice on Maryland or U.S. federal law unless such advice is on the basis of advice from a person duly qualified in Maryland or another U.S. bar (such as a partner of the foreign lawyer). Foreign legal consultants also may not prepare documents related to U.S. real estate, wills and trusts, or family law. But they would be permitted to provide legal advice subject to the attorney-client and work-product privilege and may become partners in Maryland law firms.

x x x."

Where are our legal philosophers? - The Hindu

See - Where are our legal philosophers? - The Hindu

"x x x.

In recent times, when our most fundamental understanding of concepts of law and its interplay with perceptions of justice, morality, humanism, freedom, honour and virtue are being questioned with fierce candour in the media and every conceivable public space, legal philosophy is all we have to guide our path. Sadly, a country that once based its laws on the commentaries of legal philosophers has allowed that tribe to become almost extinct.

In a society that seeks to rest its foundations in justice, a legal philosopher performs three essential functions. First, he expounds the relationship between law, justice and other concepts so fundamental to explain the nature of human existence in society. Second, he critically examines existing legal philosophies. Third, he examines decisions of courts and legislations from the point of philosophic principles.

Propounding legal principles

Through the centuries, many legal philosophers left their indelible mark on shaping institutions of governance. Many of the systems of governance and rule of law as are familiar today have been developed by applying principles expounded by legal philosophers. To Aristotle, justice was all about “giving every person his due” and the purpose of law was to develop a just society that made this possible. Kautilya’s Arthashastra postulated that the king was the fountainhead of justice but with the limitation that even he was obliged to rule according to the Dharmashastras. William Blackstone, through his book, Commentaries on the Laws of England, guided the growth and development of English law in no small measure; John Austin popularised the theory that law was command of the sovereign made credible by threats of punishment for its disobedience. The horrors of the World Wars galvanised dialogue on a new wave of legal philosophy that recognised the existence of some inalienable rights in every individual that could not be eliminated even by state-made laws. One could also discern their application in the famous Nuremberg trials where the defence of the Nazi officers — that they could not be punished because everything they did was in execution of valid legal commands — found no acceptance. The path-breaking work of several legal philosophers of that time had their impact in the promulgation of certain important international documents and treaties like the Charter of the United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, European Convention on Human Rights and the 1959 Declaration of Delhi on the rule of law.

This leads us to perceive the second function of a legal philosopher, to examine the validity of claims put forth by other legal philosophers. Take the theories of Lon Fuller in The Morality of Law. In this work Fuller creates a fictional King Rex who fails in the exercise of his lawmaking powers because (a) the laws do not have universal application, with the result that every case gets decided on an ad hoc basis; (b) his subjects remain ignorant of the rules he makes; (c) his law-making is an abuse of authority as he constantly keeps making retrospective legislation; (d) his rules suffer from lack of clarity; (e) his rules contradict each other; (f) his rules are subject to such frequent changes with the result that they give little time for subjects to adjust their actions; (g) he fails to ensure that the rules as administered are rules that have been enacted. Fuller claimed that a just king in his administration of justice avoids completely the debacles of King Rex’s system. Initially applauded, latter-day critics dissented from his views, pointing at apartheid rule in South Africa which was, applying Fuller’s prescriptions, undoubtedly effective but still far from being just.

Legal philosophy and court verdicts

The third function of a legal philosopher is to examine closely judicial pronouncements and legislations from philosophical perspectives. For instance, in India, a legal philosopher would have possibly raised the following questions about the National Judicial Appointments Commission judgment: If the Constitution of India is the social contract between the state and the citizen, through which provision of this social contract has the citizen vested “primacy” in the judiciary to select judges? If the source is not to be found in the written Constitution but in the “basic structure” doctrine, then is that doctrine a supplementary social contract that can be traced to a source other than the will of the people? If so, what is this source and what are its contours? Can Parliament bring in a legislation exhaustively declaring the “basic structure” on the plea that it needs guidance to its legislative exercise? Would that legislation itself be likely to be struck down as offending the principle of “basic structure”?

Or take the recent decision of the Supreme Court which holds that a wife demanding that her husband be separated from his parents is a ground for divorce. A legal philosopher would ask: Can this observation of the court be treated as a general norm? Is a wife to be treated as a means by the husband and/or his family to achieve their “cultural aspirations”, or is she to be recognised as an individual deserving mutual respect and dignity? A legal philosopher may even expand the scope of his inquiry to ask, is any human being entitled to treat another human being, or even our sentient fellow creatures and environment, as merely a means to their happiness and well-being, or is the dignity and mutual respect of the entities we interact with to be the prime focus of a just and law-abiding society? The questions are perplexing and a quest to find answers can be daunting… but where are our legal philosophers to question and to seek?

N.L. Rajah is a senior advocate of the Madras High Court.

x x x."

What can the legal profession do to address its big challenges?

See - Law's Challenges Are Global. A Broader Perspective Would Help Solve Them. -

"x x x.

The legal profession is territorial. Regulation has focused on protecting lawyers from outside competition (read: new delivery models) rather than serving the public. That no longer works for a number of reasons, not least of which is that IT and globalization have created profound changes in the way people work. This is not a national phenomenon; it is global. And if you doubt that, consider ‘Brexit’, the recent US election, and the rise of populism across the globe. The collision of globalization and a xenophobic form of nationalism by the displaced wanting to ‘turn the clock back’ is creating instability. Add that to the list of common challenges confronting the legal profession– it must protect and preserve the rule of law. That too requires a global perspective.

What, then, can the legal profession do to address its big challenges? Short answer: see what works across the globe and adapt it; focus on solutions, not regulatory barriers; and collaborate with technologists, process experts, and other ‘non-lawyers’ to identify and implement more accessible, efficient, and cost effective ways to deliver legal services. Here are some suggested areas of focus.

x x x."

Legal Education

See - Law's Challenges Are Global. A Broader Perspective Would Help Solve Them. -

"x x x.

Legal education must be better aligned with student and market needs. This involves two key components for legal training: (1) acquiring new skills necessary to function successfully in the marketplace– whether as a young graduate or as a seasoned lawyer; and (2) gaining practical experience in advance of market entry. Knowledge of the law is no longer the sole requisite for attorneys; they must also be conversant in how technology and process affect its efficient delivery. These new skill sets must be integrated into legal education. Lawyers must also develop their social skills and learn to work collaboratively—with their peers as well as with other professionals and paraprofessionals. Clients expect solutions to their problems that often require input from a multidisciplinary team of professionals –tax, finance, technological, regulatory, etc. Doctors serve as model; they collaborate with technicians, paraprofessionals, and other specialists to render health care services. Law students, likewise, must acquire practical skills to be more ‘practice ready’ when they hit the marketplace.

x x x."

Things to know about Duterte's pet peeve International Criminal Court

See - Things to know about Duterte's pet peeve ICC -

"x x x.

How was the ICC established?

The ICC is the world’s first treaty-based permanent international criminal court. Its founding document is the Rome Statute that, among others, identifies jurisdiction and other rules on how to carry out prosecution.

The Rome Statute was adopted by 120 states in 1998 and took effect in 2002 after at least 60 ratifications from various countries.

Its creation, according to the ICC website, stemmed from the many violations of international law during conflicts across the world, that were left unpunished .

The Philippines became the 117th country to ratify the Rome Statute in 2011 when then president Benigno Aquino III signed the Instrument of Ratification. Congress then concurred in the same year.

The late senator Miriam Defensor Santiago sponsored Senate Resolution No. 546 which pushed for the ratification of the Rome Statute.

Santiago eventually became the first Filipino and first Southeast Asian to be elected ICC judge. Three years later in 2014, however, she stepped down without even assuming the position due to health reasons. She complained of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Former University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law dean Raul Pangalangan, meanwhile, was elected to the ICC in 2015. A delegate to the 1998 Rome conference, the Philippine government nominated Pangalangan based on his "established competence in international law."

What are the types of crimes covered by the ICC?

The court’s main goal is to “help put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes.”

These crimes, based on the Rome Statute, include genocide, crime against humanity, war crimes, and recently, crime of aggression.

Genocide is having “specific intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group” by killing its members, inflicting serious physical and mental harm, contributing to the physical destruction in whole or in part of a group, implementing ways to prevent births in the group, and forcibly transferring children from one group to another, among others.

Crimes against humanity, meanwhile, refer to serious violations that are part of a large-scale attack against a population. These crimes, according to the Rome Statute, include murder, rape, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, slavery, sexual slavery, torture, apartheid and deportation.

War crimes are identified as “grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions in the context of armed conflict.” These include, among others, the use of child soldiers, killing and torturing civilians and prisoners of war, attacks against hospitals, historical monuments, and other buildings specifically built for religion, art, education, science, and other charitable purposes.

Crime of aggression refers to the use of the state of armed force against sovereignty, integrity, or independence of another state.

INDEPENDENT. Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, Judge Bertram Schmitt, Presiding Judge, and Judge Raul Cano Pangalangan of the Trial Chamber VII of the International Criminal Court. Photo from the ICC-CPI
INDEPENDENT. Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, Judge Bertram Schmitt, Presiding Judge, and Judge Raul Cano Pangalangan of the Trial Chamber VII of the International Criminal Court. Photo from the ICC-CPI

When can the ICC intervene and how does it work?

Any state that ratified the Rome Statute automatically placed itself under the jurisdiction of the ICC. The UN Security Council, meanwhile, can also refer cases to the ICC such the cases of Sudan and Libya.

As of March 2016, there are 124 state-parties to the ICC while 31 countries have signed, but are yet to ratify the Rome Statute (including the United States).

The ICC will act only when the national courts “are unable or unwilling to exercise jurisdiction.” The court, however, will not displace or overwrite the role of national courts but aims to complement it.

It has 18 judges who are elected by the Assembly of State Parties. These judges oversee the diffferent stages of the proceedings which include the pre-trial, trial, and the appeal chambers.

Once a case is referred to the ICC and is found to have sufficient evidence of committed crimes within its jurisdiction, a prosecutor will then begin an investigation. A state party, meanwhile, is required to assist and cooperate with the ICC in its investigations and other related processes.

The ICC, however, does not have its own enforcement body or even a police authority. In making arrests and transfers of people to its detention center in The Hague, for example, the court needs the help of other countries.

Can countries withdraw from the ICC?

Yes, countries that may have signed and ratified the Rome Statute can still withdraw from the jurisdiction of the ICC.

According to Article 127 of the Rome Statute, a state party can write to the secretary-general of the United Nations to express its desire to withdraw from the ICC. However, it will take effect one year only after the UN has received the letter.

Criminal investigations and proceedings that are ongoing prior to the withdrawal will not be affected, requiring a state party to cooperate with the ICC.

Aside from Russia, 3 other countries have so far served a notice of pullout: Gambia, South Africa, and Burundi. Their withdrawals will take effect in late 2017.

Was the ICC able to convict anyone?

The ICC already handed down a guilty verdict in its more than 14 years of existence.

In 2012, at least 10 years since its establishment, the ICC released its first verdict. Militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was convicted of war crimes for using children under the age of 15 as soldiers. He was sentenced to 14 years, which he is currently serving in his home country.

FIRST CONVICTION. The International Criminal Court in 2012 hands down its first conviction as Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is found guilty of the war crimes. Photo from ICC

FIRST CONVICTION. The International Criminal Court in 2012 hands down its first conviction as Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is found guilty of the war crimes. Photo from ICC

German Katanga, meanwhile, was convicted of crimes against humanity and war crimes after attacking the village of Bogoro in DRC. He is facing 12 years of imprisonment, while possible reparations for victims are being decided upon by the ICC.

Just last September 2016, Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi was found guilty of the crime of intentionally directing attacks on 9 mausoleums and one mosque in Timbuktu, Mali in 2012. He is serving a 9-year sentence.

Other high-profile cases in the ICC include those involving former Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir and Joseph Kony of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, among others.

Al Bashir is facing 5 counts of crimes against humanity, two counts of war, and 3 counts of genocide. Two warrants of arrest were released in 2009 and in 2010, but he is yet to be taken into custody. He won the elections in 2010 and 2015.

Kony, meanwhile, faces 12 counts of crimes against humanity (murder, enslavement, sexual enslavement, rape, inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering) and 21 counts of war crimes (cruel treatment of civilians, intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population, pillaging, inducing rape, forced enlisting of children). He remains at large.

As of November 2016, the ICC is investigating 10 situations, 10 are under preliminary examination, and 3 are ongoing trials. These crimes were mostly committed in Kenya, Uganda, Congo, Sudan, Kenya, and Central African Republic, among others. –

x x x."

Justices identify environmental woes in ASEAN meet | Headlines, News, The Philippine Star |

"x x x.

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Philippines — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) judiciary sought for continued cooperation after identifying the challenges their respective nations face amid the threat of climate change.

Among the challenges the nations face listed by the Supreme Court Philippine Mediation Center chief Brenda Jay Angeles-Mendoza on her synthesis are the increasing complexity of environmental cases, difficulty of linking the legal and specific assessments and concern for more effective enforcement of environmental laws by or with other sectors. The ASEAN regions are also concerned with the law or deficient penalties provided by law for environmental crimes as well as the challenge of balancing environmental protection and economic growth.

In the two-day 6th ASEAN chief justices’ roundtable on environment, Mendoza said the region's chief justices were supposed to come up with an "aspirational" and non-binding agreement on the three documents regarded by their countries: the Jakarta Common Vision (JCV), the Hanoi Action plan to implement the JCV and the Angkor Statement on Judicial Cooperation and Environment.

However, the ASEAN delegates were only able to discuss and report the nations’ progress as well as challenges since some chief justices only sent representatives. Only the chief justices of the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia as well as Guam Chief Justice Robert Torres Jr. attended the forum while other nations sent their respective justices as representatives.

READ: Who’s who: Chief justices at 6th ASEAN meet on environment

“Some of these cases involve cross-border and transnational issues, with foreign elements which pose challenges and raise the need for further collaboration among the judiciaries in handling cases of this nature,” Mendoza said in her synthesis, adding that the ASEAN courts mentioned the need for assistance in their increasing judicial capacity, training initiatives, twinning programs, environmental laws in academic curriculum and developing of technical experts, among others.

Mendoza also noted that there were also language barrier problems encountered during the meeting, citing some legal documents of other non-speaking English countries were not translated, making it difficult for others to comprehend.

Supreme Court Philippine Mediation Center chief Brenda Jay Angeles-Mendoza faced members of the media to discuss the synthesis of the 6th ASEAN chief justices' roundtable on environment. 

The ASEAN judiciaries then expressed support to their counterparts to alleviate and resolve the challenges mentioned. They will convene in the annual ASEAN roundtable next year in Brunei.

The roundtable discussions were strictly restricted to the media.

This year, the Philippines hosted the ASEAN roundtable on environment in Puerto Princesa, Palawan with Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno as conference chair.

RELATED: Palawan hosts ASEAN chief justices' meeting

x x x."

Saturday, November 5, 2016


"This clip offers an overview of objections, including an explanation of how they work and descriptions of the different types of objections."

Exhibits in the Courtroom - Prof. Paul Zwier, Emory University School of...

Exhibits in the Courtroom - Prof. Paul Zwier, Emory University School of Law. 

Gibbons v. Ogden - Equal Justice Under Law

"Equal Justice Under Law

Gibbons v. Ogden (4th in a 4 part series).

Presents a conflict between the States and Congress over the authority to regulate commerce. In this case, which linked States' authority to license steamboats in federal waters with a seemingly unrelated issue, slavery, Chief Justice Marshall interpreted the Constitution to give the Federal Government the duty to determine the rules of commerce and established how to lay the foundation for an American common market nearly a century before Europe enjoyed it. 

Purchase of the tape of this video was made possible through a contribution by Joseph Kulhavy."

McCulloch v. Maryland - Equal Justice Under Law

"Equal Justice Under Law

McCulloch v. Maryland (2nd in a 4 part series).

Can states tax the operations of the federal government? In this unpopular decision, the Supreme Court dealt a great blow to a claim of states' rights by striking down a state's attempt to interfere with a legitimate federal activity.

This series includes: Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch v. Maryland, United States v. Aaron Burr, and Gibbons v. Ogden."

United States v. Aaron Burr - Equal Justice Under Law

"Equal Justice Under Law

United States v. Aaron Burr (3rd in a 4 part series).

Dramatizations of historic decisions from the courtroom of America's great Chief Justice, John Marshall.

Dramatizes the trial of Aaron Burr, presided over by Chief Justice John Marshall. Strictly adhering to the Constitution, Marshall stepped between Burr and death, and the doors were closed against government abuse of the treason charge."

The Natural Law as a Restraint Against Tyranny | Judge Andrew P. Napolitano

"The Natural Law as a Restraint Against Tyranny | Judge Andrew P. Napolitano."

12 Tips for Appellate Advocacy

"Michael Tigar, listed among the best oral advocates in American history, will present his 12 Ideas on Appellate Advocacy. A seasoned appellate advocate with 100's of representative experiences, Mr. Tigar's advice and reflections are invaluable to anyone interested in oral advocacy. Hosted by the Moot Court Board.."

Mastering Cross Examination - In the Courtroom

"Prof. Charles H. Rose III discusses how to master the performance of cross examination in the moment, in the courtroom."

Professor Rose Discusses Probable Cause & the 4th Amendment

"A review of some fundamental concepts applicable to 4th amendment jurisprudence under the United States Constitution."

Search & Seizure / Car Stops: A 'New' Fourth Amendment for a New Generat...

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Are we witnessing diminishing protection against unreasonable search and seizure? When it comes to police misconduct, is race a factor?

“If the First Amendment is our most cherished right under the constitution,” says Attorney Christopher Naughton on the television program’s preview, “then the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure is right behind it.”

The American Law Journal presents "Search & Seizure: A ‘New’ Fourth Amendment for a New Generation?” with host Christopher Naughton. His guests are criminal defense attorney Kevin Mincey of Mincey & Fitzpatrick, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli and former New Jersey State Police Major and Chief of Staff Michael Schaller of New Jersey’s King, Kitrick, Jackson & McWeeney.

Has a new, high tech-oriented generation come to expect less privacy - and therefore less protection- under the Fourth Amendment?

The program examines a panoply of current, critical topics: warrantless stops, cell phone seizure, GPS tracking, stop and frisk, “officer cams” and possible racially motivated police misconduct. The panel also gives their take on the latest and upcoming U.S. Supreme Court Fourth Amendment cases as well as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s controversial Commonwealth v. Gary (2014) decision that now allows vehicular search and seizure based on probable cause. Program 1440.

For more information, visit

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Beyond Search & Seizure | Jeffrey Rosen | TEDxPhiladelphia - YouTube

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Ubiquitous surveillance is threatening American values of privacy and equal justice in ways the founders of the Constitution never could’ve imagined when they penned the Fourth Amendment that protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures. In this spellbinding talk, Jeffrey Rosen, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, describes how the use of public surveillance systems, brain scans, DNA collection and consumer profiling calls for new translations of the amendment so that it protects privacies in the 21st century that the Constitution’s framers took for granted in the 18th. Recognizing that ubiquitous surveillance is akin to the general warrants that sparked the American Revolution, we must all demand zones of immunity that protect privacy and equality in the digital age. 

Jeffrey Rosen is president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, a museum and civic-education headquarters dedicated to non-partisan Constitutional discussion and debate. Well-versed in American freedoms and rights, he is a law professor at George Washington University and a contributing editor to The Atlantic, and has been referred to as “the nation’s most widely read and influential legal commentator.” Among many other works, he is the author of The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America, and co-editor of Constitution 3.0: Freedom and Technological Change.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

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Free from Fact: Reuters Checks Duterte’s Figures on Drugs | CMFR

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WHEN President Rodrigo Duterte launched his “war on drugs,” local and international media chronicled the events that were unfolding with daily reports. In July, CMFR noted the superficial reporting by local media  (“Anti-Drug Campaign: Swallowing Everything the Police Says”) but succeeding months saw improvements in the coverage of some media organizations., for instance has recently launched new research on the profiles of the drug war victims. The international media, however, has done a better job providing more background about crime and drugs in the Philippines, eliciting some backlash from the administration and its supporters, particularly on social media.
The British news agency Reuters posted “As death toll rises, Duterte deploys dubious data in ‘war on drugs’” on Oct. 18 that took a closer look at the data on illegal drug users, the drugs used, and the number of users needing treatment that the President Duterte himself cites so often. Reuters determined that his claims were dubious and not based on existing evidence, even as recorded by Philippine agencies.
Time magazine (“Inside President Rodrigo Duterte’s War on Drugs,” Aug. 25) cited data provided by international agencies tracking drugs and crime, which raised doubts about claims made by President Duterte. Reuters’ investigation was the first major examination by any media outlet – local or foreign –that examined claims used by government to justify the war on drugs that have killed more than 4,000 people since it began on July 1.
The Reuters piece reviewed several claims of the administration. In his first State of the Nation Address, President Duterte said that there were 3.7 million drug addicts. Reutersnoted that the 2015 survey of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) pegged the number at 1.8 million. The discrepancy, however, does not matter to Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Metro Manila Regional Director Wilkins Villanueva, who the report quoted as saying: “He (Duterte) just exaggerates it so we will know that the problem is very big.”
The article also discussed the claim made by the administration in its booklet “Winning the First Phase of the Drug War” that 75 percent of heinous crimes in the country have gone down.  The source of this information is unknown. According to Reuters, the booklet was handed out by the president’s media team in September during a regional summit in Laos.
Two months after Duterte assumed office, the government credited the drug war for helping reduce crime in the country (“Duterte’s drug war lowered crime rate,” The Philippine Star, Aug. 14). Looking at the statistics from the Crime Research and Analysis Center under the Philippine National Police Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM), however, Reuters pointed out that the crime rate has been falling since 2013.
Reuters also quoted Australia’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Center Researcher Alison Ritter as saying that the rise and fall of the crime rate “can’t be attributed to a single campaign or a single institution such as the police.”
Distinguishing between one-time users and problem or perennial users is vital in an anti-narcotics battle. The Reuters report notes that the president uses the term “drug addicts” to apply to both and does not distinguish between users of shabu or crystal methamphetamine and marijuana. The piece cited academics who pointed out that there is a difference between the two substances, with the former having a higher risk of addiction and its being “associated with a greater range of physical and psychological harms.”
Some local media reports record everything that the government says without question, which can serve to legitimize propaganda claims. Reuters checked and found that the numbers dished out by Duterte officials did not quite add up. The public has accepted these claims with many willing to go along with the idea that the killings are necessary. The times demand a more critical and more enterprising press.  Journalistic skepticism is a healthy response to a government that likes speaking in hyperbole.
(See infographic here)
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With at least 4,700 people killed in the government's anti-drug war, teams from the United Nations and the European Union are coming to the Philippines to investigate the spate of summary executions and the deaths of drug suspects in police operatons, and review the country's compliance with its human rights obligations.

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Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairman Jose Luis Martin "Chito" Gascon said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, recently accepted Malacañang's invitation to look into the deaths in President Rodrigo Duterte's relentless campaign against illegal drugs.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and the UN will discuss in the coming weeks the dates of the visit as well as the mandate of the Special Rapporteur, according to Gascon.

Most likely, Gascon said the probe would officially start in the first quarter of 2017.

Later in November, a team from the European Union (EU) will arrive in the Philippines to meet with government leaders, businessmen, and economic managers to evaluate the country's human rights, environmental and labor conditions.

Gascon said the EU would find out whether the country has continued its commitment to human rights and other policies as mandated in 27 international agreements entered into by the Philippines. Of these agreements, 10 involved human right treaties.

If the EU saw that the country has relaxed its commitment to human rights, he said the finding would affect the General System of Preference Plus (GSP Plus) mechanism which has granted the Philippines access to the European market.

"If this team assesses that there is a backsliding or fallback in our commitment to human rights, then the GSP Plus mechanism may be in jeopardy. Since we joined in 2014, there has been significant impact in terms of our exporters and we would want this to continue," Gascon explained in a news conference at the Handuraw restaurant in Cebu City on Thursday.

Gascon expressed hopes that President Duterte would strengthen ties with other nations and observe due process in his aim to eradicate illegal drugs and crimes.

Some 20 young people from Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines signed a manifesto on Thursday to denounce extrajudicial killings.

Gascon was invited to speak during the program.

"Instead of bringing security and the rule of law, we believe that the violent campaign against the drug trade has made the country more unsafe with innocent people killed, drug lords evading arrest, and murder cases rising," the manifesto read.

"We call on the Philippine government to condemn the murder spree, immediately solve the vigilante killings, act on the failed police operations, and serve justice to the families of the murder victims," it added

Since July 1 to November 1, the Philippines' war on drugs has led the deaths of 4,791 suspected drug pushers. Of the number, 3,001 were gunned down by unknown assailants while the rest were killed in police operations.

The U.N.'s Special Rapporteur has the authority to "undertake visits to examine the situation of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution in the respective country, and to formulate recommendations to the government and other actors on upholding the right to life."

"We hope that the war on drugs and the fight against crimes will be undertaken in a way that is consistent with the Constitution, which guarantees respect for human rights at all time," Gascon said. SFM

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Former Makati City mayor Elenita Binay has scored a victory in the Sandiganbayan, as the court dismissed a P21.7-million graft case filed over the alleged overpricing of furniture for the city hall in 2000.

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In a 90-page decision dated Oct. 28, the antigraft court's Fifth Division granted her demurrer. This effectively cleared her, then-general services department head Ernesto Aspillaga, other city officials, and the suppliers on grounds of insufficient evidence.

The court said prosecutors failed to establish the supposed conspiracy to rig the bidding in favor of supplier Asia Concept International, Inc.

Prosecutors also failed to prove that the bidding led to overpricing of P2.78 million and excessive purchases worth P5.91 million.

Because of this, the court said Binay and her co-accused could not be held liable for causing undue injury or giving unwarranted benefits to private parties under Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

"In this case, the said punishable acts have not been so proven," the ruling stated. "Accordingly, the instant case against all the accused... is ordered dismissed."

A special division of five magistrates tackled Binay's plea to dismiss the case on demurrer, with Justices Roland B. Jurado, Samuel R. Martires and Jose R. Hernandez making up the majority that voted in Binay's favor.

No collusion

The Office of the Ombudsman claimed there was collusion between Asia Concept and rival bidder Office Gallery International, Inc., as they were supposedly operated by the same person, Beda Aquino.

Prosecutors also showed two disbursement vouchers issued in September 1999 and October 2000 to Office Gallery and Asia Concept that both bore Aquino's signature.

But, the court said Aquino was not even listed among Office Gallery's stockholders and officers. It added the vouchers bearing his signatures would not prove his ownership of both firms, because of the length of time between the two transactions.

The court also disagreed that the issuance of the purchase order on Aug. 17, 2000---the day after the bidding just took place---indicated it was predetermined.

This was because the prosecution merely assumed the city officials did not undertake the proper procedures. "Clearly, it simply assumed that such post-qualification process could not be had in view of the alleged lack of time to do it," the decision read.

Signatures prove nothing

As for Binay and other city officials, the court said that just because they signed the documents and vouchers throughout the procurement process does not imply they conspired to rig the bidding.

Their participation in the bidding process "would not necessarily indicate that the said acts were all geared toward the accomplishment of the unlawful objective of a simulated or rigged one," the court said.

The court said prosecutors did not submit evidence to show city officials knew the process was marked by irregularities, and that Binay and Aspillaga issued the purchase order despite the supposed lack of public bidding.

"There must be other grounds other than the mere signature or approval appearing in a voucher to sustain conspiracy," the decision read.


The court also rejected the contention that excessive purchases were made, as witnesses only compared the order with the furniture layout plan. It said prosecutors should have shown whether the "excessive" furniture actually went unused.

Meanwhile, the court disregarded the findings of an auditor that the furniture was overpriced, because she was not presented to testify and could not be cross-examined by defense lawyers. It also noted how auditors merely compared the prices of the purchased furniture with those of similar items without obtaining a more reliable price benchmark.

Two magistrates---Justices Geraldine Faith A. Econg and Ma. Theresa Dolores C. Gomez-Estoesta---dissented from the decision and opined the evidence was enough to sustain the continuation of trial.

Other co-accused in the case include former city councilor Salvador Pangilinan, former city administrator Nicanor Santiago, Jr., and Asia Concept corporate officer Bernadette Aquino.

Binay still faces a separate case before the Fifth Division over the purchase of furniture and fixtures worth P72.06 million from Office Gallery in 1999.

She also faces another count of graft before the Fourth Division over the separate procurement of P13.25-million furniture pieces in 2000, as well as four graft and malversation cases before the Third Division over the purchase of P45-million worth of hospital beds and sterilizers for the city-run Ospital ng Makati in 2000 and 2001.

During the years leading to the May elections, the family of former Vice President and presidential contender Jejomar Binay has been beset by accusations of profiting from "moro-moro" biddings held just for show. JE/rga

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BIR relaxes property transfer requirements | Business, News, The Philippine Star |

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MANILA, Philippines -- Property transfers just got easier with the Bureau of Internal Revenue removing the need to present proof that taxes were paid for acquiring the land for the first time.
Under Revenue Memorandum Circular 105-2016, submission of a copy of certificate authorizing registration (CAR) "shall no longer be required" on one-time property transfers.
The order, signed by BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay, was dated Aug. 23, but was only released on Wednesday. 
The CAR is proof that levies were paid for the property being transferred. Under the order, the CAR being pertained to is the document from the current owner's original acquisition of property before he or she transfers it again.
BIR officials could not be reached for comment as of this post.
But Benedict Tugonon, president of industry group Tax Management Association of the Philippines, welcomed the move.
"This will surely expedite the processing of tax clearances on real property transactions and avoid unnecessary potential issues," Tugonon said in a text message.
He alleged that before, requiring CAR has resulted into a "finding or fishing expedition" on past transactions involving the property, which he said should be tackled "separately."
"Requiring the submission of the previous CAR when the property was acquired was unreasonable and at times, impossible to comply," Tugonon said. 

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MPs condemn newspaper attacks on judges after Brexit ruling | Media | The Guardian

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Writing in the Guardian, Lord Falconer, who was lord chancellor between 2003 and 2007, said: “The British public continues to have confidence in the independence and quality of judges. But both are undermined by this Brexit-inspired media vitriol.
“The lord chancellor, Liz Truss, has a constitutional duty to defend the judges. She needs to make it clear immediately the government has no quarrel with the judges and has total confidence in them. 
“Disagreement with the judges is dealt with by appeal not by abuse. Liz Truss’s silence feeds the sense the government is either hopeless at avoiding conflict or couldn’t care less about the constitution.”
Labour’s justice spokesman, Richard Burgon MP, also urged Truss, to uphold the independence of the judiciary in the face of “hysterical headlines … Some of the headlines in today’s newspapers personally attacking the judges who heard this case are unacceptable,” he said.
“As lord chancellor, Liz Truss should not stay silent. It is the lord chancellor’s job to uphold the independence of British judges and she must speak out urgently against the hysterical headlines of some papers and these attacks on British justice.”
The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said: “Where is Liz Truss? Her job is to uphold the rule of law and defend the judiciary and yet she is utterly silent while judges are being attacked by some newspapers. Our hard-fought rights and freedoms are protected by the law, British law that the Brexiteers claim that they wish to uphold.”
Truss is under a statutory obligation to defend the independence of the judiciary, the solicitor and legal blogger David Allen Green has pointed out. Section 3(6) of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 sets out the lord chancellor’s duty to protect judicial independence.
Asked whether Truss wished to comment, the Ministry of Justice said she would not be making a statement. 
The prime minister’s spokesman refused to condemn the language, saying: “I don’t think the British judiciary is being undermined.” He added: “I’m not commenting on newspaper coverage.”
Brendan Cox, widower of the Labour MP Jo Cox, cautioned against allowing the tone of the debate about Thursday’s judgment to become too febrile.
He tweeted: “Whatever our views on the court ruling I hope we can take a step back & debate it soberly. Inciting hatred has consequences.” Jo Cox, who represented the Batley and Spen constituency, was killed in the run-up to the EU referendum.
During the high court Brexit case the claimants challenging the ministers’ right to trigger Brexit received death threats and online abuse

The term “enemies of the people”, coined in Roman times, was adopted by Robespierre during the French Revolution and was later favoured by Lenin and the Bolsheviks.
Politicians from the three main parties leapt to the defence of the judges. A former attorney general, Dominic Grieve, expressed alarm at attacks on the judiciary. “They are entirely unjustified and are either made in ignorance or out of malice, it’s impossible to know which,” he said.
“The judges are the safeguarders of our unwritten constitution. Nothing they have done ought to take anybody by surprise. To accede to the principle that you can change primary legislation by royal prerogative is a constitutional monstrosity and would totally undermine everything that our forebears struggled to give us. It would trash the constitution.”
The Conservative chair of the Commons justice select committee, Bob Neill, and Anna Soubry MP, a barrister, also condemned the headlines. She described the coverage in a tweet as: “Hysterical, dangerously inaccurate & bullying”.
Jonathan Marks, the Liberal Democrat justice spokesman, said: “The headlines in much of the press today and the anti-judge rhetoric from some politicians is extremely worrying. This hostility to the rule of law is irresponsible; the personal attacks on judges are plain nasty.
“British citizens won our freedoms from the tyranny of the crown painfully and over many centuries. The rights of minorities to think as they will, to live at peace and to claim the protection of the law against an over-mighty state are at stake here.”
Lord Macdonald of River Glaven QC, a former director of public prosecutions, said: “These are risible and constitutionally illiterate attacks from politicians who should know better. The high court has reaffirmed the sovereignty of parliament within the rule of law. In other words, it has fulfilled precisely its most critical function in a democratic society. The idea that judges would be better employed kowtowing to the executive is shameful heresy from political pygmies.”

The Welsh Assembly announced on Friday that it would seek permission to intervene in the anticipated supreme court hearing in which the government will appeal against the high court ruling. Announcing the Welsh government’s involvement, Mick Antoniw, an assembly member and counsel general for Wales, said he would raise concerns about the impact of Theresa May’s attempt to use royal prerogative powers on the devolved assembly.Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, the chair of the Bar Council, which represents barristers across England and Wales, said: “Publicly criticising individual members of the judiciary over a particular judgment or suggesting that they are motivated by their individual views, political or otherwise, is wrong, and serves only to undermine their vital role in the administration of justice.”
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