Imágenes de páginas

the accused in court in order that the legality of his imprisonment may be determined. The words habeas corpus mean "you may have the body." The right of habeas corpus is one of the most precious of civil liberties, for without it men have sometimes been kept for many years in jail without a trial.

Extradition. If a person accused of crime, or a criminal, escapes to a foreign country he may be arrested only by police officers of that country. Treaties exist between most countries specifying for what offences persons who have fled from justice shall be delivered to the country from which they have fled. The process of arresting and returning a fugitive from the law is called "extradition."

Ex Post Facto Law.-An ex post facto law is a law which makes a crime of an act that was not criminal at the time it was done, or which increases the penalty for a crime beyond the penalty existing at the time the act was committed, or in any way impairs the substantial rights of the accused in a criminal proceeding.

Right of Eminent Domain.-The "right of eminent domain" is the right which the government exercises of taking private property for public uses, at the same time paying the owner a just compensation for the property. This right is most commonly exercised in taking the land of private persons for the construction of roads.



Definitions.-There are three classes of courts of justice in the Philippines,-the Justice of the Peace Courts, the Courts of First Instance, and the Supreme Court.

These courts differ in their jurisdiction and their powers. The jurisdiction of a court means the extent of territory within which it may try cases and the kind of cases which it has the right to try. A court in which a certain kind of case may first be brought to trial is a court of original jurisdiction. Some cases may be brought to trial in either of two courts. Such courts are said to have concurrent jurisdiction; it would also be true of such courts that each has original jurisdiction. If a court is the only court in which a case may be first brought to trial, that court has original and exclusive jurisdiction over such a case. A court has appellate jurisdiction when it has the power to hear a case that has already been tried in a lower court and has been brought to the former by appeal.

The Justice of the Peace Courts.-The most numerous courts in the Philippines are the justice of the peace courts. The law provides that there shall be one justice of the peace and one auxiliary justice in each municipality organized according to the Municipal Code, and in such other places and towns as shall be determined by the Commission.

The object of having so many of these courts is to provide speedy justice for those accused of crime.


It is also necessary to have many local courts so that cases of small importance may be disposed of at little expense to the government and the people. The trial of cases at law consumes much time and money, especially in the higher courts. Justice would often be delayed for years, or left undone, if there were not numerous small courts where cases may be heard with little expenditure of time and money. The higher courts are occupied with very important cases, and it would be impracticable to carry every case at once to the highest tribunal in the land.

The Appointment of Justice of the Peace.-The justices of the peace and the auxiliary justices are appointed by the Governor-General, with the consent of the Commission. The method of selection is as follows. The judge, or judge of the court of first instance, of the district where there is a vacancy in a justiceship forwards to the Governor-General a list of names of the persons qualified to fill a vacancy. The Director of Education also sends the Governor-General a certified list of the names of persons who possess the proper qualifications and have also completed the course for magistrates at the Philippine Normal. School or University and have expressed their willingness to serve as justices. Justices and auxiliary justices hold their positions during good behavior. They may be removed for good reason by the GovernorGeneral.

Qualifications of Justices.-A justice of the peace, or an auxiliary justice, must be at least twenty-three years of age, a citizen of the Philippine Islands, or of the United States, of good moral character, and able to read and write Spanish or English. With the per

mission of the judge of the court of first instance of his district a justice may pursue another business in addition to that of justice, except that of attorney for the party accused in a trial before him.

Supervision. The judge of the court of first instance of the district is the supervisor of the justices of that district. It is his duty to instruct and advise them in the law, and they must make an annual report to him of their work. For the purpose of instructing the justices, the judge of the court of first instance holds an assembly of justices each year in each province of his district. This assembly may be discontinued after three years if in the opinion of the judge the instruction of the justices is sufficient.

Jurisdiction. The territorial jurisdiction of justices. of the peace does not extend beyond his municipality, except in special cases for which the law provides. The object of this is to prevent persons from being summoned from a long distance to attend unimportant trials.

In all civil actions (except those exclusively reserved to the court of first instance) the justice of the peace has original and exclusive jurisdiction, where the case does not involve a value of more than two hundred pesos. Where the amount involved is more than two hundred and less than six hundred pesos the justice of the peace has concurrent jurisdiction with the judge of the court of first instance.

The qualifications, duties, and powers of auxiliary justices are the same as those of regular justices, and when they act in the place of the latter they receive the same compensation.

Appeals from the justice of the peace courts must be made within fifteen days from the date of the decision and must be accompanied by a deposit of sixteen pesos. The object of this is to prevent unnecessary appeals.

The power that formerly belonged to the president's court to try violations of municipal ordinances has been given to the justice of the peace. Except in the city of Manila the justices of the peace have original jurisdiction to try persons accused of misdemeanors, offenses, and infractions of municipal ordinances in which the penalty does not exceed a fine of two hundred pesos, or six months imprisonment, or both fine and imprisonment.

Other Powers of the Justice.-Besides the right to hear and try the civil and criminal cases that come within his jurisdiction, the justice of the peace has the power anywhere within his jurisdiction to solemnize marriages, administer oaths, take depositions, and authenticate merchants' books.

A "deposition" is a declaration under oath made by a person who cannot be present to give testimony in a court of justice. The deposition serves as evidence of the facts which it states. Depositions are rarely used in criminal cases.

Compensation.-Justices of the peace receive no fixed salary, except in Manila, Iloilo, and Cebu, but are compensated wholly by fees according to the following scale:

For each criminal case five pesos; for each civil action three pesos; for performance of marriage ceremony, including marriage license, one peso; for certified copies of any record, per hundred words, or any

« AnteriorContinuar »