The submission stage in a criminal trial is the most eagerly awaited stage in a criminal trial. Here, all the efforts put in by the parties, all the evidence (or drama) that has transpired throughout the trial will be compressed, zip filed and reduced to a mere 30 minutes script reading or tongue lashing by the judge or even sometimes a one line sentence like "hujahan saya adalah seperti keterangan, Yang Arif".

Due to the KPI-phobia, recently the time frame to prepare for a submission has dwindled from weeks to a matter of minutes. Some KPI obsessed judges demand submission to be done on the spot after the case closed. Some even ridiculed lawyers who opt for oral submission due to time constraint, while they themselves only allow less than 24 hours for preparation. Apart from Paul the Nostradamus octopus; my current most hated thing is definitely KPI. It pressured all parties unnecessarily, has slowly removed judicial discretion and transforming justice and performance of officers to statistical yardstick.

Back on a more serious note, one aspect that is crucial and worth knowing for before a submission is to get to know beforehand what is the judge's preferences in a submission. Whether he incline to hear it orally or typewritten in full or in a skeleton mode or maybe in the future in a thumb drive mode or burned CD mode. Next to ponder is whether the judge is a very patient one (like Spain playing passing football until everybody fells asleep) or the not so patient or temperamental one (like Maradona).

This is pertinent as it can happen that we have prepared a full text version (something like 72 pages) and on the day itself the judge just merely brushed aside the thick documents that we have painstakingly prepared and politely say "tak payah la semua ni awak ringkaskan saja hujahan awak ya". On the other hand, it may occur also that we prepare a skeleton notes or even just an oral submission but in the end pissed the judge and get scolded for being plain lazy or not helping the court or "tidak bertanggungjawab dalam menegakkan keadilan dan mempertahankan anak guam awak yang nyawanya di tangan awak".

For a patient and composed judges, we might stretch a little bit in advancing our arguments. We can take longer time, repeat important points and even make some not so brilliant jokes during submission. As for the other species of judges, it might be advisable just to be short and sweet, not to be adamant in our argument and preferably avoid any head on collisions with him. Furthermore, it is advisable to prepare text written submission when appearing before these judges as there is likelihood that some part of your oral submission may not form part of the court's record should the judge become annoyed or irritated.

Some judges just obediently listen and jot down every argument canvassed by the parties however irrelevant or unconvincing the points may be. Whereas, some judges may get involved in the submission battle themselves as they like to engage the party who submit head on (want to be gladiator-berjuang di medan perang also la). That is why some submissions stretch to days because the judge is so busy rebutting and replying to every line in the counsel's submission and the learned DPP may then just simply adopt the judge's "submission" because everything has been covered by the judge.

These human aspects or personal touch in preparing our submission is not found in law books and neither to be taught or spoonfeed by superiors. It comes through own experience and observation as well as interaction with the personnels in courts. One can always get first hand information about the judge that will help in giving an effective submission, just by being friendly in court and having respect to others whatever rank they are. Wassalam.


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