Saturday, January 21, 2012

Uneasy with the Trail

Mismatch and an oddity. These have lingered in my mind since the first hearing day last Tuesday for the impeachment trial of Supreme Court chief justice, Renato Corona. Of course I am referring to the prosecution and the defense teams, and particularly to the private lawyers.

Why private prosecutors and why private defense counsels? Why should they be in this impeachment trial of a government official? Should not the government official be prosecuted and defended by lawyers in the government?

I ask these questions because the chief justice would definitely not be able to afford the fees for the battery of topnotch private lawyers in his defense team.  He earns a salary of PhP46,200 a month, including cost-of-living-allowance. That is salary grade 32; the president's is 33 and it pays PhP57,75 monthly. It is certainly unfair for the government to ask that one who works for them be forced to pay from his own pocket, isn't it? If his lawyers are all volunteers, would it entirely be possible that the chief justice would not have to trade (or have not traded) anything for their services with? Wouldn't there be any benefits in the future for the lawyers who have positioned themselves in defense of the chief justice?

The members of Congress in the prosecution might not have sufficient experience in litigation and, therefore, would need the support of those who do. But why would they need to get private practitioners for this? Why should they not get lawyers in government? Win or lose, what risks would the private lawyers in the prosecution of the chief justice face?  Would not it also be unfair for the government, in engaging private lawyers, to put at risk the careers of these individuals when they take on the prosecution's side?

Curiously, what would draw and motivate private lawyers to be on either side of the trial? How different might the motivations be for one to pick up the defense side from one who opts to be on the prosecution side?

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