8 September 2009


By: Ariff Azami

The submission stage is the most crucial stage in a hearing proper. This is the time you forward your case (convincingly or otherwise), try to persuade the judge to favor your side and last but not least this is the time to crush your opponent's case(contradictions and gaps) just like what John Rambo did in Rambo 4 using his machine gun. Thus, I lay down a few important foundations in order to triumphantly deliver your submission and to enjoy the fruit of labour. Beware! This is not for Otais (old-timers) who may have developed your own technique or jurus in handling submissions.

To begin with, submission is not a repetition of the evidence in court (like what Astro currently doing in movie channels). You should'nt be reproducing the evidence as its already in the notes but rather you infer or conclude from the set of facts available. Quotation from the notes is permissible but keep it to
the minimum and only to the vital ones. If your submission is 70% or more comprises of cutting and pasting the evidence; then you must realise that you did not even past the first hurdle in producing an
effective submission.

In contrast, it must not be too skinny or short. Then you must be either ultra-confident that your opponent has a going to the drain case (kes yang akan ke longkang) or you have no clue whatsoever on what you are suppose to submit (making a seposen face). With due respect, it happens in real world mainly among police prosecuting officers (PO) and sometimes new DPPs. The maximum words used by them in their submission is 5 words; that is "hujahan saya adalah sepertimana keterangan". And how you expect this kind of half-hearted (or no heart al all) submission to even compete against a well prepared and documented submission prepared by loyarberjurus? Its like Ferrari v. Proton and surely judges as human beings will normally incline to accept the Ferrari level of submission.

Its a plus factor to be systematic, up to date and properly managing the database of case laws and other references. The reason is that you need not have to prepare the same thing all over again for every submission. Also, it will be very handy to straight away record in the notes during the trial itself what you want to submit later, instead of trying to figure out everything at the final stage. The court now is proposing to make it compulsary that the submission be done immediately after the party closes its case, without any preparation period given. This is more challenging (and nonsense actually) and stressful. Thus, the best option is still like what I've been doing; to prepare submission (skeleton) even before the trial starts.

Apart from do's there are also a few dont's in doing submission. Rule number one; don't do a Buletin Utama TV3. When you mislead the court or appear to mislead the court and if the judge senses this; then say goodbye to your case. You might as well damage your reputation and goodwill in the process. Submit only the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Even if the peice of evidence is damaging to your case, don't sweep it under the carpet but instead try to distinguish it or at least minimize the negative impact to your case. You will be regarded as a gentleman that boldly acknowledge the shortcomings in your case but still strive to win your case in a civilised manner. Remember cheats never prosper.

Next, is the rule number two; presenting submission must not be boring and monotomous like Berita RTM in radio. It should sound more like Dato Fadzillah Kamsah (loyar kurang menipu bulan Februari sebab kurang hari) or Prof Izi Ali (renung2kan dan selamat beramal). A little bit of mix in your tone is good just like playing tarik tali. It doesn't mean you must turn the court into a Chines Opera or use Padaiyappa style. I know a few good lawyers and DPPs who submit in an orderly manner, slow and steady but with conviction, and still won a lot of cases. Develop your own style, its ok to adopt some other senior practitioner's style but at the end of the day, its the one which you develop yourself will suit you best.

Last and not least, treat submission in a trial as the most awaited stage and not the most avoided one (head-cracking stage). This is because this is the opportunity to show your advocacy skill (and drama skill too), crucify your opponent and tell the whole world that you are not just a lawyer reman/jamin or DPP sebutan but a real litigator (because this snippet is mainly targeted to newbies and not otais grandmasters). Wassalam.

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