A tip in preparing your case

 Posted By: je froilan m. clerigo

"Begin with the end in mind", as Stephen Covey mentioned in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is how to prepare a case. Picture how the case will end by writing the draft decision at the beginning, right after the evidence is gathered and the facts collated,even before the initial pleading is prepared.

Administrative agencies in the Philippines like the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission (CIAC) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) actually require the contending parties to submit their draft decisions at the end of the trial. The Arbitrator or Hearing Officer can then decide the case more expediently, because he is allowed by the rules to adopt which draft he thinks coincides with the evidence and the law.

In civil and criminal cases before regular courts, the memorandum at the end of the case is the equivalent of the draft decision. It's a party's summary of his evidence and arguments and how he counters that of his opponent's.

To the advocate, the draft decision or memorandum  can be extremely helpful in preparing the case because, when prepared at the beginning, it's like a compass for the case. Just the process of writing the draft decision in advance forces us to think and re-think: Is my theory the right one for this case? Do I have the evidence to support the elements of my causes of action? Will the witnesses, and their stories, be credible? Even the order of presenting your witnesses will become clear.

Then, when we collect our evidence, interview witnesses, prepare pleadings, and even argue motions, referring often to the draft decision or memotandum is like looking at a road map. As the case progresses, the draft decision you prepared in advance will give you the confidence that what you are doing and will do in the case contribute to realizing your end-game.

The bottomline, of course, is that a plan must be in place. And this involves knowing where our destination is or what the end will be. This is similar to a flightplan that a pilot executes. So that, even if he somehow veers off-course, he can always get back on track. Otherwise, as the above cartoon says, we just might f---up the landing.