Friday, March 02, 2012

“Your Honor,” “This Representation,” and “We Submit”

The weeks past and so with the weeks yet to come, the above quoted expressions are but few of the many phrases heard, addresses made – not to mention this and that “manifestation” made for one reason of another. Needless to say, the on-going impeachment trial with full tri-media coverage is not only interesting to watch but also instructive to listen to as well. It cannot be denied that the said trial brings about some kind of a learning process in favor of those watching it with interest and attention. This curious as well as instructional dimension of the trial has particular reference to the Latin words and phrases therein mentioned every now and then.

Just for the record, the said Latin expressions come from Roman law which is the official language of the Catholic Church – which is now some 2000 years old – has very long since enacted her own laws and made the proper jurisprudence thereon for centuries in Latin. This is why the Code of Canon Law that is relevant and binding to the Church all over the globe, contains such “Books” as “Sanctions,” Processes” and the like. The fact is that the Church has Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeals as well as a Supreme Court – all observing proper substantive and procedural laws.

This brings to mind the queer sounding Latin dicta heard every now and then on the occasion of the now celebrated impeachment process. Even but for somehow quenching the thirst of knowing the meaning of certain apparently enigmatic terms and mysterious phrases in Latin invoked on the occasion of the trial, it might help to note to the following:

Quasi” means as if or somehow. “Quasi political” and “Quasi judicial” thus says somehow political and somehow judicial. “Prima facie” says something evident at the first glance. “Sui generis” is something of its own kind. “Sub lite” and “Sub judice” refers to something under litigation and under judgment. So is it that “Sub secreto” means something under secrecy.

And there is the “Sub poena” here and there, meaning to do something under threat of penalty if left undone. “Sub poena ad testificandum” says someone is asked to testify under threat of penalty – if undone. And “Sub poena duces tecum” orders the bringing of something/some things under threat of penalty – if undone.

And there are Latin maxims “Dura lex sed lex,” i.e., argument to the extent of absurdity, “Qui nimis probat, nil probat,” i.e., proving something too much is proving nothing. By the way, the American phrase “fruit of the poisonous tree” has something to like in the Filipino, viz., “Kung ano ang puno, siya and bunga.” Got it?