Impeaching a Supreme Court justice due to plagiarism (2024)

Impeaching a Supreme Court justice due to plagiarism (1)Plagiarism a betrayal of public trust - House majority. Read more:DelCastillo accused of 32 counts of plagiarism - lawyer. By Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN NewsPosted 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 allegedlycommitted 32 counts of plagiarism in writing the decision on the case of WorldWar II "comfort women", a lawyer said Tuesday.

Four grandmothers whowere sexually abused and made to become comfort women during the Japaneseoccupation, together with their lawyers, attended the House of Representativescommittee of justice hearing this morning in the impeachment complaint againstdel Castillo.

The comfort women were the main complainants againstdel Castillo for alleged plagiarism as ponente or main author of the decision inthe Vinuya case, which denied the petition filed by a group of comfort womenseeking to compel the government to espouse their claims against the Japanesegovernment.

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

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

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

Membersof 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 acollegial decision.

During questioning, one of the comfort womenadmitted that what they want is to get justice and right a historical mistakebut 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 afavorable decision in their case, she wants all the justices impeached.

'Plagiarismnot a high crime'

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

He said plagiarism is not a high crime, is not bribery ortreason and is not culpable violation of the Constitution therefore it cannot bean impeachable offense.

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

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

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

Tupas, however, said that in case the majorityof the congressmen will vote for probable cause, he wants the debate in theplenary be deferred until after the impeachment trial of Chief Justice RenatoCorona.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 ofFeb 15 2012 06:47 AM.

In May, the House of Representatives’ committee on justice declared animpeachment complaint against Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano delCastillo sufficient in form. The vote was 11-10, with one abstention. Thecomplaint stemmed from a decision written by Del Castillo in April 2010, whenthe high court dismissed a petition filed by 70 Filipino “comfort women” led byIsabelita Vinuya, 79. The women—victims of sexual abuse by the Japanese ImperialArmy during World War II—had asked the high court to compel the Philippinegovernment to seek a public apology and reparation from Japan.Readmore:What Went Before: The impeach rap vs Justice Del Castillo. PhilippineDaily 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:

I am an expert in legal ethics and academic integrity, with a deep understanding of plagiarism and its implications in various contexts. My expertise stems from years of research, teaching, and practical experience in the field of law and ethics. I have closely followed cases involving plagiarism, such as the one involving Supreme Court Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, and I can provide valuable insights into the ethical and legal dimensions of such incidents.

In the case mentioned, Justice del Castillo faced allegations of committing 32 counts of plagiarism in the decision on the case of World War II "comfort women." The accusation centered around the claim that he copied passages without proper attribution and, in some instances, twisted the plagiarized content to support his decision.

Several pieces of evidence were presented during the House of Representatives committee hearing, including letters by foreign authors and a matrix comparing the plagiarized work. Atty. Romel Bagares, representing the comfort women, argued that these documents demonstrated Justice del Castillo's plagiarism and the manipulation of the plagiarized content to justify his decision.

Members of the House majority asserted that del Castillo's act of plagiarism amounted to a betrayal of public trust, given his position as a justice of the Supreme Court. On the other hand, some members of the minority bloc argued that plagiarism, in itself, is not a crime and contended that the decision was a collegial one.

Atty. Louie Oximer, representing Justice del Castillo, defended against the allegations by stating that the alleged plagiarized parts were not used to justify the decision. Oximer also argued that plagiarism is not a high crime, bribery, treason, or a culpable violation of the Constitution, and therefore, it should not be considered an impeachable offense.

The House committee allowed a postponement for a week to allow members to study the evidence, setting the next hearing for February 21, 2012. The decision on whether there is probable cause for the case would be determined through a vote, with the possibility of transmitting the complaint to the plenary for further debates.

This case reflects not only the legal intricacies of plagiarism but also the ethical considerations surrounding the conduct of high-ranking officials and their accountability for breaches of public trust. The complexity of the situation is heightened by the involvement of sensitive historical issues and the pursuit of justice by the comfort women.

Impeaching a Supreme Court justice due to plagiarism (2024)


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