Who would correct the Supreme Court?
"Whether we like it or not, their judgment becomes part of the law."
If the Supreme Court commits an error in judgment, whether we like it or not, that faulty decision would eventually become a law.
This is because way too often, trial judges cite landmark SC decisions in handing out their verdicts as they bring cases in their sala to conclusion. In the same breath, lawyers usually refer to past SC rulings in firming up their arguments to sway the judge’s perception in favor of their clients.
But what if a trial judge issues a resolution inconsistent with and/or reverses an earlier Supreme Court ruling that has been declared final and executory?
And if you think final and executory is the ultimate end to your legal struggles, you have another thought coming.
An unnamed litigant experienced this kind of travesty of justice when a judge, in resolving a petition contesting his predecessor’s issuance of a writ of execution of a SC decision, did the unexpected. In effect, the judge, instead of complying with his ministerial duty of implementing a final and executory decision of the Supreme Court reversed the SC decision and denied the complainant his civil right, which the High Tribunal believed he rightly deserves.
The moral of the story is that a “final and executory” SC decision is still no cause for celebration because you still need a lower court order to implement it.
Hence, it sets a bad precedent that a final decision of the SC is neither final nor executory in the absolute meaning of the terms and can still be reversed by a lower court.
It also sets other bad precedents such as a writ of execution issued pursuant to a SC final decision can be cancelled without legal basis.
The ordeal of this particular litigant began soon after he was stripped of his blue chip stocks in some exclusive country clubs. With the aid of his legal counsels, he gallantly fought his battles lasting over a decade from the regional trial court all the way up to the Supreme Court where he achieved a favorable final and executory decision.
But standard procedure dictates that he had to go back to the trial court to secure a writ of execution which, quite expectedly, was opposed by the other respondents.
To the litigants' chagrin and consternation, the judge handling the case (he was actually a replacement of the first trial judge) directly violated his ministerial duty to issue a writ of execution and instead surprisingly cancelled his predecessor’s writ of execution and then issued a resolution which reversed the SC’s final and executory decision.
So once again, the case went back to the High Tribunal which was assigned to a division. Unfortunately, through a Minute Resolution, this justice upheld the erroneous decision of the lower court to reverse the SC’s final decision.
Given that scenario, the SC which is supposedly infallible, might have inadvertently erred. That mistake would eventually be part of the law of the land because rulings of the tribunal are being used as points of reference in deciding or arguing litigations, as the case may be.
Justice delayed is justice denied? You bet. That is why the non-believers of anything Utopian allege that the wheels of justice grind ever so slowly in this part of the globe.