Monday, February 26, 2018

What do court administrators in the judiciary do?

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What do court administrators in the judiciary do?

The Office of Court Administrator supervises over 2,600 judges and 25,000 court personnel across the Philippines

By Jodesz Gavilan
Published 7:45 PM, February 19, 2018
Updated 4:20 PM, February 21, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – Phone calls that allegedly tried to "influence" two trial court judges not to issue arrest warrants against Senator Leila de Lima took center stage during the 16th House justice committee hearing on the impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Monday, February 19.

The calls were made by SC Deputy Court Administrator (DCA) Jenny Lind Aldecoa-Delorino to Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judges Patria Manalastas de Leon and Amelia Fabros Corpuz after it was known that they were going to handle the cases alleging the involvement of De Lima in the illegal drug trade. (READ: Much ado about calls: Judges hit for ‘late’ warrants vs De Lima)

Delorino, who first joined the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) in 2010, said that she only told the judges that they are willing to assist them in their needs – additional stenographers and other resources, for example. She also claimed she reminded the two about the guidelines for media coverage.

Court Administrator Midas Marquez, however, said it was not part of the OCA's protocol but was an exercise of discretion. So what exactly are the duties of a court administrator his deputy court administrators?

'Assisting' the court administrator

Created through Presidential Decree 828 in 1975, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) was established to help the Supreme Court in its administrative supervision over all courts in the country.

Marquez, appointed in 2010, is the 14th Court Administrator.

Besides the court administrator, there are also 3 deputy court administrators. The incumbent DCAs are Jenny Lind Aldecoa-Delorino, Raul Villanueva, and Thelma Bahia.

Under the law, the 3 are supposed to assist him in supervising over 2,600 judges and 25,000 court personnel across the country. They are assigned to supervise trial courts in certain regions.

For example, according to Delorino's profile at the Judicial And Bar Council (JBC) in which she serves as consultant, she has "direct supervision" over the trial courts in Regions 3, 5, 7, and 10, as well as the National Capital Region cities of Makati, Pasay, Pasig, Taguig, San Juan, Pateros, Las Piñas, Parañaque, and Muntinlupa.

Aside from this, according to Circular No. 30-91 series of 1991, the DCAs help the Office of the Court Administrator carry out his role and duties which include:

1. Judicial discipline of lower court justices, judges, and personnel

Discipline matters involving justices and judges filed before this office shall be immediately referred for appropriate action by the court en banc.

2. 'Administrative interventions' in case management of lower courts

The court administrator, assisted by his or her 3 deputies, has the responsibility to handle administrative problems of lower courts regarding assignment, detail and transfer of court personnel.

3. Preparation of draft circulars

The Office of the Court Administrator also works on the preparation of drafts of administrative orders and circulars in line with court resolutions or upon instruction of the SC chief justice.

4. Public assistance and information

The Office of the Court Administrator is expected to handle matters of public assistance and information, requests for “expeditious action” on pending lower court cases, and other requests that do not need administrative or judicial adjudications. These may include follow-up on status of cases, among others.

5. Personnel administration

Appointments in the lower court are processed by the Office of the Court Administrator in line with the guidelines set by the court en banc. Appeals against these appointments can only be resolved, however, by the court en banc.

6. Liaison with the executive and legislative departments

Under liaison with the executive and legislative departments, together with local government units and the military, the court administrator is expected to not compromise the independence of the judiciary “through any statement or policy.”

Requests for any action by these departments from the court administrator – that are not covered by existing policies, circulars, or guidelines by the judiciary – should be first cleared with the CJ. This includes topics pertaining to internal court operators and especially confidential information.

The office, however, cannot act on any issue involving expenditures on final transactions. –
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