law-lazy

One of the great things about being a lawyer in private practice is that, as long as you don’t have to go to court, you can be totally lazy when you feel like it. Work can be done and sent to clients (or your secretary) over the internet, appointments (if they’re not urgent) can be rescheduled, and your time is totally yours to control.

I am speaking for myself, of course:)

oops, try again

The witness’s testimony was pretty straightforward. It was only corroborative, after all. Her nephew was arrested with a little over five thousand pesos in cash, and she was to corroborate his testimony that she asked him to go grocery-shopping for her birthday party late in the afternoon. So I went over the testimony with her before the hearing, even asking specific questions to familiarize her with the whole Q&A process. She confidently answered all my questions, and I didn’t even have to coach her or anything.

On the witness stand…

Q: Was there any unusual incident in the afternoon of October 17, 2007, if you can recall?

Witness: No.

(Uh-oh…I needed to make her say that her nephew was arrested, or anything leading to that.)

Q:  You mentioned that you were at home…why weren’t you at your place of work?

Witness: I only report  for work in the morning.

 

I probably tried with 3 more questions until she answered that she asked the accused to buy groceries for her birthday celebration. Lesson learned: Rehearse the witness again and again, and again. But this won’t guarantee a smooth testimony. So it is best to keep your cool (deep inside I wanted to scream out in frustration) and try a different approach, which you won’t be able to do if you were too hung up in that preliminary question that was answered unsatisfactorily.

A wise lawyer once told me that direct testimony is just like gossip. Act like you’re just having a conversation, and elicit the facts by asking questions. If the witness doesn’t give you the expected answer, try again from another angle. And don’t stop until you get that juicy morsel of information.

 

goin’ bananas

Attorney’s fees aren’t always in the form of cash.

Found these on my desk when I got to work the other day. My secretary informed me that they were from my client. One of my pro bono clients, who used to sell fruits at the market, brought them. Choice huge bananas.  Guess this should take care of my fruit quota for the week.

thou shalt not judge

I hold judges in high regard. Well, most of them, at least. As in every profession, there will always be rotten apples. But this one definitely takes the cake.

The client engaged my services after the case had already been filed in court. When i submitted my authority to prosecute, she called me into her office and told me that before she signs the authority, she wants to be sure that I will prosecute the case actively. I thought that goes without saying if you’re the private prosecutor. I also thought, “Whoa, isn’t she supposed to be the judge here, not the chief public prosecutor??

My thoughts must have shown on my face because madam judge immediately decreed that she wasn’t on anybody’s side, she just wants to make sure that the culprits are punished. My next thought: “Hurray, she’s definitely on our side. To hell with presumption of innocence!” Then she proceeded to berate me that a graver case should have been filed, why did we file only that, there are plenty of offenses in the Revised Penal Code (this while she angrily flipped pages of the book on her table and jabbed her angry finger at certain provisions). I was too shocked to say anything, then recovered to calmly tell her that I wasn’t the one who filed the case. Of course, I repeated this during the next hearing when after adjournment, she approached me while I was still seated with the public prosecutor. We tried to tell her that the case has already been filed and we couldn’t make changes without risking double jeopardy. The public prosecutor even assured her that we will be consulting with their chief (since it was one of their own who made the mistake as to what case to file) as to the possible additional case to be filed. Madam judge pointed to me and said, “Let her worry about it, SHE’S BEING PAID.”

Wow, did she expect me to apologize for earning my living?

The few times I attended hearings in that court, I was humiliated every single time. Good thing I’m beyond open court humiliation, can’t afford to be that sensitive when you’re in private practice. But the fees I earned couldn’t cover the spa pampering I needed after every hearing. I’m not usually paranoid, but after two or three hearings I was convinced that she had it in for me. So I sought 2nd, 3rd, even 4th opinions. Our paralegal agreed. My lawyer-friend agreed. Hell, even the opposing counsel agreed. I thought if I complied with every order, came on time, and was respectful she’d come around. No such luck. One time I was absent, with the two other counsel. We were ordered to explain. Good thing I had a legit reason, so I dutifully submitted my medical certificate. The other two didn’t even bother with an explanation, and got away with it. The public attorney was always late, we even had to wait for her until 10AM on the last hearing I attended, and the case was scheduled for 8:30. Still, she got away with it.

So finally I decided, as with all things I deem not worthy of my emotion and stress, to walk away. I informed the client, returned part of the fee, and filed my notice of withdrawal. The end. Ya think? Nope. Today i received an order from that court noting my withdrawal. But it doesn’t end there. Lukewarm prosecution, she said. Plus a whole lot of things. Oh well. I still believe in batman:) I wish her well. I wish she learns the meaning of impartiality. I wish she finds a new stylist for her hair. But that’s just wishful thinking. I am glad that there are still a LOT of honorable, impartial, professional, and dignified judges worthy of respect and worthy of the robe.

i hate rules

With Remedial Law as my least favorite subject in law school, and consequently my lowest grade in the bar exams, it’s ironic (or unfortunate, if you look at it from my clients’ point of view.LOL) that i ended up in private practice.

And now, six years since I got admitted into the bar, I vow to read the rules of court section by agonizing section and eventually (hopefully) finish it in this lifetime—er, before the year ends, i mean.

legally bald

legally bald

*GASP!!!*

Does lawyering make you lose your hair?

Afraid!

the other side

I usually handle annulment (strictly speaking, declaration of nullity) cases in the civil courts. However, in the Philippines, if you were married in the Catholic rites, you need to obtain a church annulment on top of a legal/court annulment, IF you want to get married (again) in church.

Today I got to do a little research on how the other side does it:)

Jurisdiction and Venue. First you need to go to the Matrimonial Tribunal (MT) office of the archdiocese where your marriage was celebrated. If it is too inconvenient, such as if you live in another place under a different archdiocese, you may request for change of venue. You still need to go to the tribunal office of the archdiocese where you got married, then make the request there. If it is granted, that archdiocese will communicate with your archdiocese of residence and the process may be commenced.

Process. In the MT of the archdiocese of Jaro, Sister Leni is in charge of the office. She will ask you more than a couple of times if you really are sure about going through the process. Once she is satisfied (though she didn’t look too happy) that there is no way to salvage the marriage, you will be given a questionnaire. It is quite lengthy and very detailed. The questions are very personal, as can be expected. The “case” shall then be assigned to a priest (presumably a Canon lawyer). You will need witnesses who knows/knew you and your spouse; the more witnesses, the better. Hearings are very private as they only set one case per hearing, unlike in the courts where there could be more than 10 cases scheduled per hearing day. Sister Leni couldn’t give us an estimate of how long it would take before the case is terminated as, according to her, there are more and more cases being filed.

Fees. The whole thing will cost you over Php20,000. A lot less than a court annulment, plus this could be paid in tranches.

Church annulment, anyone?