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In the Matter of the Charges of Plagiarism, etc.

against Associate Justice Mariano


C. Del Castillo

A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC


October 12, 2010

Facts:

An administrative disciplinary case was filed against Supreme Court Justice


Mariano C. Del Castillo for plagiarism charges on the Isabelita C. Vinuya, et al. v.
Executive Secretary decision. Promulgated on April 28, 2010, the Vinuya Decision was
dismissed with 13 Justices of this Court agreeing to the ruling.

The counsels for petitioners Vinuya, et al., Attys. Harry Roque and Rommel
Bagares, filed a Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration on July 19, 2010 raising the
plagiarism allegedly committed by Justice del Castillo for using the works of three
foreign legal authors. Three sources from foreign legal authors, an article published in
2009 in the Yale Law Journal of International Law, a book published by the Cambridge
University Press in 2005, and an article published in the Case Western Reserve Journal
of International Law, were twisted and used without proper attribution and made to look
that these sources support the judgement’s arguments in dismissing their petition when
in fact, these sources even make a firm case for the Petition’s claims.

Justice del Castillo wrote and distributed a letter dated July 22, 2010 to the
members of this Court as a reply to this accusation. This letter was referred to the
Ethics and Ethical Standards Committee on July 27, 2010 which scheduled it as an
administrative matter. Attys. Roque and Bagares were required to comment on this
letter. After the parties’ memoranda, the committee submitted its findings and
recommendation to the Court.

Issue:

Whether or not Justice del Castillo is guilty of the plagiarism case.

Held:

The Court resolved to dismiss the plagiarism charges against Justice del Castillo
in a decision dated October 12, 2010. Accordingly, the attributions were accidentally
deleted and were present in the original drafts of Justice del Castillo. Malicious intent
was viewed as an essential element, as “plagiarism is essentially a form of fraud where
intent to deceive is inherent.” Plagiarism as defined in Black’s Dictionary of Law, the
deliberate and knowing presentation of another person’s original ideas or creative
expressions as one’s own. The Court declared that “plagiarism presupposes intent and
a deliberate, conscious effort to steal another’s work and pass it off as one’s own.”
Justice del Castillo never intended to claim as the original author of the passages.

The Court, thus, declared that “only errors [of judges] tainted with fraud,
corruption, or malice are subject of disciplinary action” and these were not present in
Justice del Castillo’s case; the failure was not attended by any malicious intent not to
attribute the lifted passages to the foreign authors.