Effectivity and Purpose of the Judicial Affidavit Rule

[This is Part 2 of 11 of the discussion on the Judicial Affidavit Rule, so read the Introduction first; See full text of A.M. No. 12-8-8-SC, approving the Judicial Affidavit Rule]

The Judicial Affidavit Rule requires that direct examination of a witness, which is the examination-in-chief of a witness by the party presenting him on the facts relevant to the issue, shall be in the form of judicial affidavits, subject to the usual mode of cross-examination.

When is the Rule effective?

The Rule took effect on 1 January 2013. However, in criminal cases without private prosecutors, the Supreme Court allowed public prosecutors in first- and second-level courts until the end of 2013 to utilize the affidavits of the complainant and his witnesses prepared and submitted in connection with the investigation and filing of the Information in court. Public prosecutors are required to fully comply with the Rule by 1 January 2014.

During the one-year period when the concession is in effect, the attending public prosecutor, upon presenting the witness, shall require the witness to affirm what the sworn statement contains and may only ask the witness additional direct examination questions that have not been amply covered by the sworn statement.

The concession does not apply in criminal cases where the private complainant is represented by a duly empowered private prosecutor, who has the obligation to comply with the Rule.

The reasons for the issuance of the Rule

Case congestion and delays plague most courts in cities, given the huge volume of cases filed each year and the slow and cumbersome adversarial system that the judiciary has in place. About 40% of criminal cases are dismissed annually owing to the fact that complainants simply give up coming to court after repeated postponements. Few foreign businessmen make long-term investments in the Philippines because its courts are unable to provide ample and speedy protection to their investments, keeping its people poor.

In order to reduce the time needed for completing the testimonies of witnesses in cases under litigation, on 21 February 2012 the Supreme Court approved for piloting by trial courts in Quezon City the compulsory use of judicial affidavits in place of the direct testimonies of witnesses. It is reported that such piloting has quickly resulted in reducing by about two-thirds the time used for presenting the testimonies of witnesses, thus speeding up the hearing and adjudication of cases. The adoption of the Rule hopes to replicate nationwide the success of the Quezon City experience in the use of judicial affidavits.

These reasons for the issuance of the Judicial Affidavit Rule are contained in the “whereas” clauses of A.M. No. 12-8-8-SC.

Also read and discuss the following:

1. Introduction to and discussion of the Judicial Affidavit Rule

2. Effectivity and Purpose of the Judicial Affidavit Rule

3. Scope of Application of the Judicial Affidavit Rule

4. Service and filing of the Judicial Affidavit

5. Required contents of a judicial affidavit under the Judicial Affidavit Rule

6. Offer of Testimony and Objections under the Judicial Affidavit Rule

7. Documentary and Object Evidence under the Judicial Affidavit Rule

8. Cross-examination and Re-Direct Examination under the Judicial Affidavit Rule

9. Resort to subpoena under the Judicial Affidavit Rule

10. Formal offer of evidence under the Judicial Affidavit Rule

11. Effects of Non-Compliance with the Judicial Affidavit Rule

11 comments

  1. the judicial affidavit rule is counter-productive and even costlier to litigants:

    1. it deprives the judge the opportunity to observe the witness’ demeanor during direct-exam;
    2. overly cumbersome–in cases where litigant has de parte lawyer, compliance will take at least 3 lawyers, one as the de parte, two as the examining notary public, and three, as the notary public who will notarize the examining notary public’s affidavit. LOTS OF PLACES IN PROVINCES DO NOT HAVE ONE LAWYER IN THE LOCALITY ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS; so, kelangan pang mangibang-bayan para lang mag-judicial affidavit
    3. impossible for the examining notary public to ask the right questions if he himself does not know the case inside-out, top-to-bottom. So, the rule forces the notary public to, in effect, be the 2nd de parte counsel for the litigant. no notary public in his right mind will take this huge burden willingly and seriously;

    4. the examining notary public, due to the above burden on him to study the case, will demand astronomical fees from the litigant just for the preparation of the judicial affidavit–over and above the de parte counsel’s acceptance fee in the first place, who in the first place will also demand higher fees for the added effort of compying with the judicial affid rule. the rule is plainly unthinking!AND SURPRISE-SURPRISE OWING TO THE APPREHENSION OF LAWYERS THAT THE CASE PROCEEDINGS WILL BE DRAMATICALLY SHORTENED (which is actually false), they will demand higher acceptance fees, including for the making of the judicial affidavit, which in the first place, should be drafted by the examining notary public only

    5. due to the extreme burden and expense imposed by the rule, the rule will simply force litigants and lawyers to become liars. the de parte himself will be the one to make the affidavit–pre-written–instead of the examining notary public being the one to ask the questions and draft the affidavit. this latter lawyer will just have it notarized even tho he himself did not propound the questions, just so to spare himself the huge burden of examining the litigant. later, this lawyer will just swear to a falsity or that he was the one who examined the litigant;
    6. more expenses–instead of the usual registered-mail, service can now only be done thru mail-courier service. that in itself adds at least P60 more to the mailing expense. WHAT IF THE EXHIBITS ARE VOLUMINOUS? patay ka na;
    7. instead of shortening the proceedings, it actually adds 2 or 3 re-settings to the pre-trial conference while the parties are mustering their exhibits;
    8. THIS IS ACTUALLY THE SUMMARY PROCEDURE, BUT WITH DEEP POCKETS !!! how are the added burdens and expenses helpful? since speeding up cases was the rationale, why not just make mandatory the summary-proceeding-nature in the summary rule, but alongside the EXISTING ONE-DAY ONE WITNESS RULE? prohibit continuances of the direct exam and cross-exams except for medical reasons and other UNFORESEEN EVENTS, period. NOW THAT IS SPEEDY AND NON-EXPENSIVE

    1. It has been two years since the implementation of the JA Rule began. By now, we already know that these fears are unfounded.

      1. Notaries Public do not examine the witness. There’s nothing in the rule that requires that. That is the job of the counsel. They just ask the witness to present competent evidence of identity, have the witness acknowledge that that is his judicial affidavit and sign it in front of him, or acknowledge that the signature is his.

      2. It also does not lead to multiple resettings of the pre-trial conference. The rule is clear – submit your JAs at least 5 days before the PTC. The deadline is set, and JAs have to be submitted, regardless of whether or not the PTC actually pushes through. Besides, JA Rule or no JA Rule, exhibits should already be made available for comparison for the pretrial conference, and for that matter, even before the Complaint or Answer is filed. The JA Rule forces litigants to disclose to each other at an early stage their evidence, so they can have a sober assessment of the strength of their respective cases. This also helps a lot during JDR.

      3. Courier fees are quite minimal compared to the cost of litigation. I don’t see why this is even an issue.

      4. The One-day witness rule has been in the books for decades now so most lawyers do not ask for a continuance. Usually, it is the judge that will stop the examination of the witness because she have 30+ other cases for trial on the same setting.

  2. We, the students of the University of Cebu College of Law, would like to request for your assistance in filling up this survey. Through this survey, we would like to get results and opinions from lawyers, judges and the public regarding our group’s suggested reform on the establishment of a Judical Management System in order to lessen the use of paper while at the same implementing the Judicial Affidavit Rule. Results of this survey will be presented to you and the rest of the respondents.

    http://www.surveyshare.com/t/A-Judicial-Management-System-and-the-Judicial-Affidavit-Rule-Leah

    1. In my humble opinion, it is not applicable to cases falling under the summary procedure. JAs replace the direct testimonies of witnesses. As I understand it, there are no direct testimonies in summary procedure as there’s no trial to be conducted therein. Under the summary procedure, the court will decide the case based on the affidavits submitted. Although the court may call to the stand any party for purposes of clarificatory questions only. So the JAs have no place in summary procedure. It would just prolong the procedure which is contrary to its purpose.

  3. hi sir. i just would like to ask if the lawyer who conducted the question and answer of the witness should also be the one who will notarize it? thanks sir.

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