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The Malaya Lolas received an adverse decision in the case Vinuya vs Romulo decided by the

Supreme Court on April 28, 2010. The Malaya Lolas sought the annulment of said decision
due to the alleged irregularity in the writing of the text of the decision. Allegedly, the
ponente of said case, Justice Mariano del Castillo copied verbatim portions of the decision
laid down in said case from three works by three foreign authors without acknowledging said
authors hence an overt act of plagiarism which is highly reprehensible.
Plagiarism as defined by Blacks Law Dictionary is the deliberate and knowing presentation
of another persons original ideas or creative expressions as ones own.
ISSUE: Whether or not plagiarism is applicable to decisions promulgated by the Supreme
Court.
HELD: No. It has been a long standing practice in this jurisdiction not to cite or acknowledge
the originators of passages and views found in the Supreme Courts decisions. These
omissions are true for many of the decisions that have been penned and are being penned
daily by magistrates from the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, the Court of Tax
Appeals, the Regional Trial Courts nationwide and with them, the municipal trial courts and
other first level courts. Never in the judiciarys more than 100 years of history has the lack of
attribution been regarded and demeaned as plagiarism.
As put by one author (this time acknowledged by the Court), Joyce C. George from her
Judicial Opinion Writing Handbook:
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 partys 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.
Further, as found by the Supreme Court, the omission of the acknowledgment by Justice del
Castillo of the three foreign authors arose from a clerical error. It was shown before the
Supreme Court that the researcher who finalized the draft written by Justice del Castillo
accidentally deleted the citations/acknowledgements; that in all, there is still an intent to
acknowledge and not take such passages as that of Justice del Castillos own.