Poetic Justice. Smart about choosing the next CJ

poetic justicsMANILA - Smart I said. Bloody smart. Let's choose as the next Chief Justice someone who is intelligent, bright, brilliant, knowing, quick-witted, an intellectual. Now, I realize that when I make such an enumeration (synonyms actually), I'm making it more difficult to discern who among the nominees should be chosen. Not to mention the fact that at the beginning, there were 25 nominees who agreed to undergo screening for the position of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines (Marlon Ramos, 03 July 2012, inquirer.net):

1. Amado Valdez, Law Dean (UE)
2. Andres Bautista, Chair, PCGG
3. Antonio Carpio, Acting Chief Justice (SC)
4. Arturo Brion, Associate Justice (SC)
5. Cesar Villanueva, Law Dean (Ateneo)
6. Ferdinand Jose David Emmanuel Edralin Marcos Pijao Sr
7. Francis Jardeleza, Solicitor General
8. Jose Manuel Diokno, Law Dean (La Salle)
9. Katrina Legarda, women's rights defender
10. Leila de Lima, Secretary of Justice
11. Ma Amelia Tria-Infante
12. Ma Lourdes Sereno, Associate Justice (SC)
13. Manual Siayngco Jr, retired judge
14. Presbitero Velasco Jr, Associate Justice (SC)
15. Rafael Morales, managing partner of a law firm
16. Raul Pangalanan, Law Dean (UP)
17. Rene Sarmiento, Comelec Commissioner
18. Roberto Abad, Dean's Lister (Ateneo)
19. Ronaldo Zamora, former Representative
20. Rufus Rodriguez, Representative
21. Soledad Cagampang-de Castro, Professor
22. Teresita Herbosa, Chair, SEC
23. Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Associate Justice (SC)
24. Vicente Velasquez
25. Vicente Veloso, Court of Appeals

Raissa Robles included 4 other names (08 June 2012, raissarobles.com), so they're on my list too.

26. Antonio Oposa Jr
27. Evalyn Ursua
28. Kim Henares
29. Theodore Te

Florangel Rosario Braid said she was looking for "the critical attributes of leadership - nobility of spirit, humility and sincerity, a candid self-assessment, and a clear vision of what is possible, which assures us that the recent trauma that had divided the nation would not happen again" (31 July 2012, mb.com). She didn't say whom she was thinking of.

Raissa Robles said (edited into the present tense):

I want the next Chief Justice to be independent-minded. I want someone who had experienced personal pain. I do not want someone with a corporate law background or who has risen from the ranks of the judges or in government like many of the present associate justices we have. I want someone who has litigated for the poor, for the downtrodden, or for those whose human rights have been violated and for whom luxury penthouses at The Fort are not a priority buy.

That said, was Raissa Robles thinking of Antonio Oposa Jr?

Smart, I said. There is another side to smart, and it is another enumeration of the qualities of what we ought to be measuring. SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Bound.

Smart, I said. Intelligent, bright, brilliant, knowing, quick-witted, an intellectual - that's 6 words that are difficult to measure and differentiate each from the other in a candidate Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. So, to be smart about it, I will now choose a single word: ERUDITE.

Who of the 29 are erudite?

First of all, let us study the meaning of the adjective erudite. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the word means instructed, that is, scholarly, studious; and studious means partial to reading, bookish, well-read, learned, scholastic, knowing.

So now we're getting closer to my point which up to now is hidden.

To simplify "scholarly, partial to reading, bookish, well-read, learned, scholastic, knowing" and to be able to measure erudition, the smart thing to do is come up with a single measure that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound. And I am thinking of


Pore over the piles of court records and read the decisions penned by those nominees. Judges don't ever write their decisions in Filipino or Tagalog, do they? Visit their writings, peruse their speeches or lectures; be a reader and digest their thoughts. Anyway, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court should know better than plagiarize. Does the candidate’s language show polish? Does the candidate's language insinuate that he has erudition: that he is open-minded, that he knows much or knows where to look what he doesn't know yet, that he considers all angles of a case, that at his best his expositions show the depths of reason, perhaps the widths of metaphors, and even the heights of poetry?

Nalaing kadi nga agsurat? Nalaing kadi nga agsao? Does he write smart? Does he talk smart? We're back to smart.

I am thinking of Antonio Oposa Jr. He is a Ramon Magsaysay awardee for international jurisprudence. He's a good writer; he's a good talker - and he walks his talk. International celebrity status as a lawyer is not a qualification but it should be a plus. You can't be internationally respected if you are not smart. (If he is not a candidate? It doesn't matter; I'm still thinking of him.)

In any case, I just hope President Noynoy Aquino is smart enough to choose the candidate for Chief Justice who is really smart. It would be bloody, but to all those who had aspired for the throne and knew in their heart they weren't smart enough, it would be bloody poetic justice.

Then we’ll have the world’s first poetic Chief Justice of the Supreme Court!

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