Lowering the Bar Cited as International Precedent

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As many of you know, I have long had two primary goals for this enterprise:

  1. to provide some entertainment for myself and other attorneys (and friends of attorneys) slogging away at their various billing stations, and
  2. to be cited as authority in a brief filed with the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

Today I can at least be sure that one of those goals has been met.

I mentioned in the "Lowering the Bar" presentation I did two weeks ago that I had heard from Judge Florentino Floro, who I had written about twice before.  You may recall that Judge Floro was dismissed (or "separated") from the bench in Malabon City, a suburb north of Manila, after questions arose about his practices of starting court days with a reading from the Book of Revelations, conducting faith-healing sessions in chambers, and consulting three "mystic dwarves" named Luis, Armand and Angel for advice and predictions of future events.  As Judge Floro was a judge, that seemed to fall within the scope of this project and I did mention him a couple of times.

Judge Floro emailed me (and a number of others who had written about him) a couple of weeks ago, primarily to thank everyone for writing about his case.  He noted that he was appealing his case, forwarded us some pleadings, and was kind enough to answer a few questions.  Here’s an (edited) summary of the answers:

LoTB: First, what is the difference between a separation and a dismissal?  Is it possible you could be reinstated?  If so, would you want to be a judge again?  Was it fun to be a judge?

JF:  Dismissal, under our laws, carries with it perpetual disqualification & DISBARMENT. . . . I believe that the laws are in my favor. But, I cannot tell you what will be their votes. . . . I would want to be a judge [again]. It is not fun, since I am honest. I had to wake up 6 am and sleep at 9pm and week ends I pen decisions; it is nightmare. But, my neighbor judges, they come to court, 10 am, deal only with juicy cases and they put in the backburner the not juicy ones; they play golf, 1 pm. This is not an exaggeration, since their staff and fixers do all the jobs.

LoTB: Second, why did the press say that Luis, Armand and Angel were “dwarves”?  Was this a mistranslation of “dwende,” the mischievious spirits believed to reside in anthills (also translated “gnomes”)?  Are they truly of small stature?  Did they help you with your opinions, and if so, do they have any legal training?

JF:  Answer: The names of my spirit guides are Luis, Armand and Angel; they are not the ordinary dwarves, gnomes, leprechauns, vulcans, . . . Luis is the King of Kings of elementals, an angel of God; if you are a Christian, you can read this in genesis,etc. and you can click angels in encyclopedia.com or wikkipedia,etc. . . In Ireland – a Catholic country – they can see dwarfs, but only the ordinary kind. LUIS IS THE KING OF ALL KINGS OF THESE. Usually, they are of small stature, but they only appear to me in the form of lights. TRUTH: I never used the word “DWARVES” in any DECISION, and I never consulted any imaginary dwarf to pen my decisions.  LUIS is highly educated.

LoTB: Third, you stated that you were the fifth-best psychic in the Philippines.  Who do you think are the top four, and do any of them practice law?

JF:  I stated in 1998 that I believe our President Ferdinand Marcos is # 1. . . I specifically have the following gifts: cross of the tongue, lightning teeth, my eyes emit spiritual fires, and my hands emit extreme heat that heals the poorest of the poor (with heat-processed coconut oil). All of us are psychics to a degree but very few can bend spoons. I was gifted with healing, bilocation, exorcism,etc. I graduated 2nd full honors and placed 12th in our 1983 Bar Exams, 87.55% (our Bar exam is the toughest, since many aspirants here who failed 3 x could easily pass your Bar in California, please do not be offended).

LoTB: Fourth, I am very interested to know what verse or verses of the Bible you selected to begin each court day.  One report stated that at least on some days these verses were from the Book of Revelations.  Is that true, and what are your favorite verses from that Book?

JF: In 1998, when I assumed office . . . I asked them to read the Book of revelations, because it is the hardest book but there it is, ALL. My favorite verses of the Bible are ECCLESIASTES, there the philosophy of life’s uselessness and injustice but God will judge everything done in secret. Also, the psalms, on curses on God’s punishment versus evil.

LoTB: Have you seen “The Omen”?  The first one, of course, not the remake.  Do you know (or can you find out) why those in Hollywood would not recognize an original idea these days if Pughe, King of the Dwendes, brought them one on a silver platter?

JF:  I am sorry, I do not see movies, since I concentrate on horse racing, this is my life since 1972, 3 times I tried to be a jockey, but I ended up to be a lawyer. I think I had seen the original one, many years ago, I cant remember. Contrary to the Decision and Reports, I am a horse athlete, ordinary poor man who just rents a house, and I have no car. I live a very simple and financially poor life . . . . I want to buy a horse and to ride, its great fun.  Sincerely, Judge Floro.

Judge Floro and I have corresponded a few times now and he seems to be a very pleasant man who is certainly convinced of the justice of his cause.  (Judge Floro, please let me know if I’ve misstated anything in this report.)  With his permission, I did talk about him and his case at the presentation a couple of weeks ago.  I think it is fair to say that people were quite interested in the matter, although there is probably not much we can do from halfway around the world.

Or at least that’s what I thought.  In a third supplemental pleading that Judge Floro forwarded me last night, I was a little surprised, but proud, to see that he had cited me as one of a number of worldwide authorities on his case.  The pleading starts by reprinting most of an article on the case by Justice William Bedsworth, an associate justice in California’s 4th District Court of Appeals, who has his own blog and who frequently publishes articles in the legal papers here as well.  Judge Floro also cites (among others) another California attorney, Lester Hardy; David Pannick, a British attorney; Ken Blanchard, a management and business writer (The One Minute Manager); a French blogger; and Che Vaughn, a tarot reader and clairvoyant who shares her home with "a couple of spirits, some shadow people, some black blobs, one homunculus and a cat."

Also, Lowering the Bar, which gets about two of the thirty pages.  The posts are accurately quoted, I’m pretty sure, and the biographical information on me (from our firm’s website) looks right too — I have to admit, though, that Judge Floro embellished a bit by describing me as a "celebrated" San Francisco lawyer.  My dog is generally excited to see me, but that’s about the only celebration I generate.

Judge Floro is asking for reinstatement and about four years’ worth of back wages.  As best I can tell from the pleadings, his argument is more or less that he should not have been separated from the bench just because of his beliefs, so long as he served his country and Malabon City in a fair and honorable manner.  That’s a fair point — who would you rather have as a judge: somebody who takes bribes; or an honest guy who happens to have lightning teeth and well-educated spirit friends but can pass the hardest bar exam in the world?  I know my answer.

I have to say though, Judge Floro, I don’t know that citing the world’s blog posts will add anything to to the heartfelt and very, very lengthy briefing you’ve already presented to the court.  And you should always be careful when using sarcasm in pleadings, especially somebody else’s.  Also, I think a lot of practicing lawyers would suggest that there is life outside the law, and so maybe this is a good time to follow your dream of being more involved with the horses or the world of horse racing.  Having said that, I wish you luck in whatever you decide to do.

Judge Floro’s Third Supplemental Brief (filed June 30, 2006) in Microsoft Word format
Justice Bedsworth’s Blog — A Criminal Waste of Space