Senator Miriam Santiago is intellectually dishonest, and a bad mouth too. But she is a very lucky damsel — she can spew the most blatant legal rubbish on the floor of the Senate and afterwards savors her ignorant bliss in her seat massaging her vanity thinking perhaps that among the Senators assembled, she was the only one possessed with superior legal skill.
Santiago does not know that there is Section 6 of the Code of Judicial Conduct that requires a judge to maintain order and decorum in all proceedings before the court and be patient, dignified and courteous in relation to litigants, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity.
Often, Ms. Santiago’s tantrums on the floor and her acerbic language hurled at the prosecutors were way out of line. Had she been a regular jurist of the Supreme Court and not of the Impeachment Court, she could be impeached for her behavior the way U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase was impeached in 1805 for his judicial arrogance; tyrannical behavior and for interference with the defense in cases heard in his court.
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote that Chase was imperious and high-handed in his dealings with lawyers, not an appealing trait in a judge.”
And like Chase, Santiago could be acquitted too by the Senate, because it was hard to get the superior majority votes of 2/3. But majority of the Senators, 19, voted to remove Chase and 15 voted against his removal, it was 4 senators short of the magic 2/3 votes, but acquittal would not detract from the fact that as in Chase’s case, Santiago’s behaviour as a judge in the impeachment court was also reprehensible.
Par. 4 of one of the articles of impeachment against the U.S. jurist said:
“Chase had repeatedly interrupted and harassed defense counsel in the presentation of their case.”
Because Miriam is pro-Corona, she has no problem harassing the prosecution and not the defense.
The Articles of Impeachment also charged that Chase had at times ridiculed defense counsel, and had interrupted them in the presentation of their case. Chase did on occasion make fun of defense counsel, and “play to the galleries.” Colonel John Taylor, who was not allowed to testify at the Callender trial, got in his inning when he was called as a witness at the impeachment trial before the Senate. On cross-examination by Robert Goodloe Harper, the following colloquy:
Q. — You have said, you considered the interruptions of the court as highly calculated to abash the counsel; did you mean thereby to give your opinion that they were so intended, or that such was their tendency?
A. — I thought they were so intended, and they had their full effect. They were followed by a great deal of mirth in the audience. The audience laughed, but the counsel never laughed at all.”
You can see Miriam in Samuel Chase.
Justice Rehnquist admonishes:
“No one unfamiliar with the courtroom practice of law can fully realize the tremendous advantage that a judge has over the lawyers who appear before him and the corresponding obligations upon the judge to refrain from ridiculing or making light of the lawyers. But Samuel Chase was either unaware of any such obligation or unwilling to acknowledge it. (Grand Inquests, William Rehnquist, p. 88).
Rehnquist quoted Raoul Berger who in 1973 published Impeachment: The Constitutional Problem, in which he took the position that the Senate should have convicted Chase and removed him from office. Berger focused principally on the charges based on Chase’s conduct in the Callender trial, and to a lesser degree on his conduct of the Fries trial. He concluded that the evidence showed his “evident predisposition to play the hanging judge” and his “oppressive misuse of power.” Berger contends that Chase’s statements preliminary to the trial, his exclusion of John Taylor’s testimony, x x x and his harassment of defense counsel were sufficiently egregious to justify conviction.”
“We can see Chase in Miriam Santiago.
1. In All Fours
2. Last Clear Chance
3. Excessive Entanglement
Earlier in the proceedings, Sen. Santiago bawled at the prosecution for citing the case of Salvacion as justification that the Senate can similarly look into the dollar accounts of CJ Corona because the Supreme Court in this case has allowed the garnishment of the dollar account of a foreigner to answer for the judgment in favor of the woman who was raped. Santiago said that it was not “in all fours” with the impeachment case therefore the prosecution was wrong in using the Salvacion case in support of its position.
The following day Senator Santiago again bad-mouthed the prosecution for trying to ask the Senate to subpoena the bank records of CJ Corona on the basis of initial records in its possession which it could not vouch as authentic as an attempt to foist fraud with the court. She cited two cases where lawyers were disciplined for submitting fake documents. One lawyer she said knowing the document was fake nonetheless submitted it to the court, the other lawyer not knowing it was fake also submitted the document to the court.
Now, where is the “in all fours doctrine” here? The prosecution was in the process of securing the genuine records from the bank by asking the Senate to issue a subpoena on the basis of unauthenticated documents in its possession. It was not submitting any document yet so as to bring the situation of the prosecution to that of the two lawyers cited by Santiago who already did submit to the court the fake documents. Here, the documents that will be submitted to the impeachment court are the documents that will be brought to the Senate on the strength of its subpoena and not the document in the hands of the prosecution.
Santiago in another occasion would not want the Senate to issue the subpoena to the dollar accounts of CJ Corona because the action of the Senate can trigger a constitutional crisis and the fault could lie in the Senate because of the “principle of last clear chance.” This is a tort law doctrine but Senator Santiago has no problem applying it by analogy to constitutional law issues.
Then lately Senator Santiago chastised the prosecution when it used the phrase “the excessive entanglement” to describe the relationship between Chief Justice and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo which makes him partial to her in every dealings she has with the court. Santiago said the prosecution cannot use this phrase because it can be used only in “non-establishment of religion” cases.
“Excessive entanglement” is one of the 3 metrics used by the U.S. courts in outlawing a law that earmarks money for religious groups. If the grant of money will require the funding government to monitor and check the disbursement on regular basis or the teachers of the religious school to submit documents on regular basis to justify the grant, such would create “excessive entanglement” with the religious group and would consider the funding unconstitutional though the grant was for legitimate secular purpose.
But if she can invoke a “tort law principle” to explain a constitutional law principle why can’t the prosecution borrow a phrase in constitutional law to describe Corona’s relationship with GMA?
Santiago is a special breed of a lawyer who sees only the law from her point of view and would derogate all others who have better grasp of the issues.
She also loves to lecture and hates being lectured upon — that her high-pitch Ilongo is painful to one’s eardrums!
Finally the irritable Senator found her match in Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre!