» Trials in General
» The Discipline To Be Observed in Tribunals
» The duty of judges and ministers of the tribunal
§1. All the Christian faithful, and especially bishops, are to strive diligently to avoid litigation among the people of God as much as possible, without prejudice to justice, and to resolve litigation peacefully as soon as possible.
§2. Whenever the judge perceives some hope of a favorable outcome at the start of litigation or even at any other time, the judge is not to neglect to encourage and assist the parties to collaborate in seeking an equitable solution to the controversy and to indicate to them suitable means to this end, even by using reputable persons for mediation.
§3. If the litigation concerns the private good of the parties, the judge is to discern whether the controversy can be concluded advantageously by an agreement or the judgment of arbitrators according to the norm of can. 1713-1716
A person who has taken part in a case as a judge, promoter of justice, defender of the bond, procurator, advocate, witness, or expert cannot later in another instance validly decide the same case as judge or perform the function of assessor.
§1. A judge is not to undertake the adjudication of a case in which the judge is involved by reason of consanguinity or affinity in any degree of the direct line and up to the fourth degree of the collateral line or by reason of trusteeship, guardianship, close acquaintance, great animosity, the making of a profit, or the avoidance of a loss.
§2. In these circumstances the promoter of justice, the defender of the bond, the assessor, and the auditor must abstain from their office.
§1. If in the cases mentioned in can. 1448
the judge does not withdraw, a party can lodge an objection against the judge.
§2. The judicial vicar deals with the objection; if the objection is lodged against him, the bishop who presides over the tribunal deals with it.
§3. If the bishop is the judge and the objection is lodged against him, he is to abstain from judging.
§4. If the objection is lodged against the promoter of justice, the defender of the bond, or other officials of the tribunal, the president in a collegiate tribunal or the single judge deals with this exception.
If the objection is accepted, the persons must be changed but not the grade of the trial.
§1. The question of an objection must be decided as promptly as possible (*expeditissime*) after the parties have been heard as well as the promoter of justice or defender of the bond, if they take part in the trial and are not the ones against whom the objection has been lodged.
§2. Acts placed by a judge before an objection is lodged are valid; nevertheless, those acts placed after the objection has been lodged must be rescinded if a party requests it within ten days from the acceptance of the objection.
§1. In a matter which concerns private persons alone, a judge can proceed only at the request of a party.
Once a case has been legitimately introduced, however, the judge can and must proceed even ex officio in penal cases and other cases which regard the public good of the Church or the salvation of souls.
§2. Furthermore, the judge can supply for the negligence of the parties in furnishing proofs or in lodging exceptions whenever the judge considers it necessary in order to avoid a gravely unjust judgment, without prejudice to the prescripts of can. 1600
Without prejudice to justice, judges and tribunals are to take care that all cases are completed as soon as possible and that in a tribunal of first instance they are not prolonged beyond a year and in a tribunal of second instance beyond six months.
All who constitute a tribunal or assist it must take an oath to carry out their function correctly and faithfully.
§1. Judges and tribunal personnel are always bound to observe secrecy of office in a penal trial, as well as in a contentious trial if the revelation of some procedural act could bring disadvantage to the parties.
§2. They are also always bound to observe secrecy concerning the discussion among the judges in a collegiate tribunal before the sentence is passed and concerning the various votes and opinions expressed there, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1609,
§3. Whenever the nature of the case or the proofs is such that disclosure of the acts or proofs will endanger the reputation of others, provide opportunity for discord, or give rise to scandal or some other disadvantage, the judge can bind the witnesses, the experts, the parties, and their advocates or procurators by oath to observe secrecy.
The judge and all officials of the tribunal are prohibited from accepting any gifts on the occasion of their acting in a trial.
§1. The competent authority can punish with fitting penalties, not excluding privation from office, judges who refuse to render a judgment when they are certainly and manifestly competent, who declare themselves competent with no supporting prescript of law and adjudicate and decide cases, who violate the law of secrecy, or who inflict some other damage on the litigants out of malice or grave negligence.
§2. The ministers and personnel of a tribunal are subject to these same sanctions if they fail in their office as described above; the judge can also punish all of them.
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