Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Tribute to Justice Isagani Cruz

It is always a breath of fresh air whenever a professor assigns case penned by Justice Isagani A. Cruz. Needless to say, I am a fan. I still read his column in Inquirer regularly. It's too bad for all of us that he had to retire from the Supreme Court because up to this day, he still has not lost his sharp mind.

Justice Cruz makes the most interesting introductions. He will make you want to read up to the last page, not just skim through it. See for instance Amadora v. CA , which begins this way:
Like any prospective graduate, Alfredo Amadora was looking forward to the commencement exercises where he would ascend the stage and in the presence of his relatives and friends receive his high school diploma. These ceremonies were scheduled on April 16, 1972. As it turned out, though, fate would intervene and deny him that awaited experience. On April 13, 1972, while they were in the auditorium of their school, the Colegio de San Jose-Recoletos, a classmate, Pablito Damon, fired a gun that mortally hit Alfredo, ending all his expectations and his life as well. The victim was only seventeen years old.
He makes equally great endings. In the same case, the conclusion goes like this:
While we deeply sympathize with the petitioners over the loss of their son under the tragic circumstances here related, we nevertheless are unable to extend them the material relief they seek, as a balm to their grief, under the law they have invoked.
Ahh. Beautiful prose.

And here is Cruz admonishing a party for its kilometric petition:
The petition is inordinately long, consisting of 47 pages, and so is the petitioners' memorandum, which covers all of 60 pages. The reply to the private respondents' 12-page comment is all of 38 pages. The petitioners forget that they are not arguing the merits of the case but only the order granting execution pending appeal. Counsel should remember that they do a disservice to the administration of justice and contribute to its delay by imposing on the time of the courts with irrelevant discussions that only clutter the record.
Not surprisingly, the petition was denied.

In Gelos v. CA, a land reform case, Justice Cruz explains social justice with eloquence and clarity:
This Court has stressed more than once that social justice - or any justice for that matter - is for the deserving, whether he be a millionaire in his mansion or a pauper in his hovel. It is true that, in case of reasonable doubt, we are called upon to tilt the balance in favor of the poor, to whom the Constitution fittingly extends its sympathy and compassion. But never is it justified to prefer the poor simply because they are poor, or to reject the rich simply because they are rich, for justice must always be served, for poor and rich alike, according to the mandate of the law.
In Hernandez v. Commission on Audit, a case about a public employee who was robbed while in custody of government money, he starts off with:
It was one of those prosaic decisions not requiring deep thought or long deliberation. The petitioner arrived at it almost as a matter of course, applying what he believed then to be common sense. Little did he realize until later that it would cause him much anguish, even endanger his life, and ultimately lead to this litigation. But such are the quirks of fate.
In finding for the employee, he has this to say:
Hindsight is a cruel judge. It is so easy to say, after the event, that one should have done this and not that or that he should not have acted at all, or else this problem would not have arisen at all. That is all very well as long as one is examining something that has already taken place. One can hardly be wrong in such a case. But the trouble with this retrospective assessment is that it assumes for everybody an uncanny prescience that will enable him by some mysterious process to avoid the pitfalls and hazards that he is expected to have foreseen. It does not work out that way in real life. For most of us, all we can rely on is a reasoned conjecture of what might happen, based on common sense and our own experiences, or our intuition, if you will, and without any mystic ability to peer into the future. So it was with the petitioner.


It seems to us that the petitioner was moved only by the best of motives when he encashed the checks on July 1, 1983, so his co-employees in Ternate could collect their salaries and wages the following day. Significantly, although this was a non-working day, he was intending to make the trip to his office the following day for the unselfish purpose of accommodating his fellow workers. The other alternative was to encash the check is on July 5, 1983, the next working day after July 1, 1983, which would have meant a 5-day wait for the payment of the said salaries and wages. Being a modest employee himself, Hernandez must have realized the great discomfort it would cause the laborer who were dependent on their wages for their sustenance and were anxious to collect their pay as soon as possible.

For such an attitude, Hernandez should be commended rather than faulted.

Who else has the balls to write like that? Most judges and justices write their decisions with too much legalese, because it's the safer way. Because it's the only way. But Cruz showed otherwise. He has flair and wit. It is refreshing to read something like Cruz ponencias after hours and hours reading bland decisions.

So Kudos to Justice Cruz for writing out of the box. May you have more of your kind.


  1. If you think justice cruz is one of our finest justices with such eloquence, then i think you have not heard of prof. carlos. of yet, he is my best law professor and i will always remember his style of teaching, oratory, mastery of our subject, and making us feel so idiot but at the same time challenging us to better ourselves. Prof carlos has such a unique and efficient method in establishing rapport with his students. ( I wish most of law professors would have the same skill ). If justice cruz writes, then prof carlos speaks. And damn, he does it superbly. And yes, prof. carlos speaks highly of his father - justice cruz.

  2. please post a list of his sc decisions... thanks

  3. Ang puno ng santol hindi namumunga ng bayabas!!

  4. awwww...Justice Isagani Cruz was my Political Law Prof and I love him!=) very fair and a true gentleman

  5. Very interesting and, not to mention, entertaining.. Kudos!

  6. I'm a simple Manila policeman-investigator and an avid fan of Justice Isagani Cruz. I never get tired reading his articles (SEPARATE OPINION) over and over until its last post sometime March 2010. Mabuhay po


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