What do you do when you're a Justice and you're caught plagiarizing? You create a law allowing it, then threaten your accuser with contempt. Then you blame your word processor for not having a feature to detect plagiarism.
The Philippine Supreme Court recently junked a plagiarism complaint filed against one of its members, Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo. Despite Del Castillo quoting foreign sources without attribution, the charges filed against him were found lacking in merit. The court asserted that the justice did not exhibit “malicious intent” in the act, and accepted his argument that “his computer was not equipped with a software program that would warn him that he was plagiarizing.”
As reported by Rodel Roqis, a Filipino-American attorney writing about the development, Del Castillo included entire paragraphs from the sources into the majority opinion in the case of Vinuya et al vs. Executive Secretary. The justice also blamed his legal researcher’s failure to include two attributions in the footnotes and the aforementioned software deficiency.
The sources in question are A Fiduciary of Theory of Jus Cogens by Evan Criddle and Evan Fox-Descent, Breaking the Silence on Rape as an International Crime by Mark Ellis, and Enforcing Erga Omnes Obligations in International Law by Christian Tams. Del Castillo’s opinion eventually came to conclusions contrary to the legal points laid out by the sources, over the question of Jus Cogens (higher law).
At least two justices, Associate Justice Lourdes Sereno and Justice Chonchita Carpio-Morales dissented, stressing that the majority decision would leave Philippine IP law “meaningless.” The faculty of the University of Philippines College of Law complained that the court’s ruling was “a complete perversion and falsification of the ends of justice”—and were met with a threat of a contempt citation from the Philippine Supreme Court.