Justice Del Castillo examined and summarized the facts as seen by the opposing sides in a way that no one has ever done. He identified and formulated the core of the issues that the parties raised. And when he had done this, he discussed the state of the law relevant to their resolution.
But the policy adopted by schools of disregarding the element of malicious intent found in dictionaries is evidently more in the nature of establishing what evidence is sufficient to prove the commission of such dishonest conduct than in rewriting the meaning of plagiarism.
Their duty is to apply the laws as these are written. But laws include, under the doctrine of stare decisis, judicial interpretations of such laws as are applied to specific situations. Under this doctrine, Courts are "to stand by precedent and not to disturb settled point." Once the Court has "laid down a principle of law as applicable to a certain state of facts, it will adhere to that principle, and apply it to all future cases, where facts are substantially the same; regardless of whether the parties or property are the same."
A judge writing to resolve a dispute, whether trial or appellate, is exempted from a charge of plagiarism even if ideas, words or phrases from a law review article, novel thoughts published in a legal periodical or language from a party's brief are used without giving attribution. Thus judges are free to use whatever sources they deem appropriate to resolve the matter before them, without fear of reprisal. This exemption applies to judicial writings intended to decide cases for two reasons: the judge is not writing a literary work and, more importantly, the purpose of the writing is to resolve a dispute. As a result, judges adjudicating cases are not subject to a claim of legal plagiarism.
he Court need not dwell long on petitioners' allegations that Justice Del Castillo had also committed plagiarism in writing for the Court his decision in another case, Ang Ladlad v. Commission on Elections. Petitioners are nit-picking. Upon close examination and as Justice Del Castillo amply demonstrated in his comment to the motion for reconsideration, he in fact made attributions to passages in such decision that he borrowed from his sources although they at times suffered in formatting lapses.
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