Supreme Court orders cleanup of court clutter
After 50 years the Supreme Court is doing some spring cleaning.
Chief Justice Renato Corona has ordered that court records and exhibits pertaining to closed cases that had accumulated in the last half century filling courtrooms throughout the country be disposed of, the Supreme Court said in a press statement on Tuesday.
Corona gave the order after he saw voluminous documents cluttering nearly all the courthouses he visited throughout the country in his first year as chief magistrate.
Documents “littered and obstructed hallways, corridors, stairwells, and even fire exits of courtrooms and halls of justice,” the statement said.
Court administrator and spokesperson Jose Midas Marquez called the documents “eyesores” and said they also “posed continuing danger” to the courts, their personnel as well as the public.
Start in Metro
Initially, Corona ordered that the guidelines be tested in all the 191 courts in the cities of Manila, Quezon, Makati and Angeles before a national roll-out.
A committee will be created to draft disposal guidelines and ensure that the process would be conducted in accordance with court rules.
Marquez said some records could be disposed of outright while others could be recycled. Those still needed would be scanned and digitally filed.
Litigants would be given a chance to retrieve documents but only those that the courts would allow them to take, Marquez said.
“Some of the exhibits kept by the courts are prohibited like unlicensed firearms, drug paraphernalia, counterfeit money and video karera machines,” Marquez said.
Corona signed Administrative Order No. 103-2011 directing all judges and clerks of courts in Manila, Makati, Quezon City and Angeles “to sort and segregate inactive case records, including archived and terminated cases, and those in the dead files, to identify records for immediate destruction through recycling and those for retention, scanning, and digitization.”
“During the period of inventory, they cannot go on leave,” the order said.
Marquez explained that the presence of the judges and clerks of court would be needed since this was the first time in 50 years, to his recollection, that the courts would be undertaking an inventory of this magnitude.
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