Courtroom Cupid: Love as Written in Supreme Court Decisions

Love is in the Law! Before we close the Heart’s Month, let’s dive into Supreme Court stories where love gets its day in court. We are unpacking cases that speak the language of the heart – deep, real, and intriguing. Read about the sweet side of justice you never knew you needed! Where law meets love in a courtroom you won’t want to miss. 

Every law student studying legal ethics must be familiar with this case and the love letter contained within it. In this case, Joselano Guevarra filed a complaint for disbarment against Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala, accusing him of “grossly immoral conduct and unmitigated violation of the lawyer’s oath.” Guevarra, detailed incidents where Eala, allegedly engaged in an adulterous relationship with Guevarra’s wife, Irene Moje. For engaging in this adulterous relationship, Eala faced the penalty of disbarment and was forever barred from engaging in the practice of law. 

Part of the pieces of evidence introduced in the case to support the complaint is a love letter which contains the following infamous lines:

“Sometimes I wonder why we ever met. Is it only for me to find fleeting happiness but experience eternal pain? Is it only for us to find a true love but then lose it again? Or is it because there’s a bigger plan for the two of us?”

Even though the love letter was written by an alleged third party, his words burnt with a yearning passion for an ill-timed romance. 

Sometimes, we encounter people in our lives who seem to enter too late, only to exit too soon. These brief connections leave us questioning the purpose of their momentary presence. Life often introduces us to individuals who appear in our narrative briefly, testing long-standing commitments, only to depart abruptly, leaving us grasping over the ruins, or holding fast to the remaining strong foundations of our permanent relationships. 

These short-lived encounters magnify that the intensity and spectrum of our emotions and desires can and must be weathered by the tenacity and integrity of spirit, all in the name of love (and the Bench and the Bar).  

This case involves an illegal dismissal case and controversial love story between a teacher and a student. The couple got married in a civil ceremony when the teacher was 30 years old, and the student was 16 in the 1970s when minors were still permitted to marry if their parents consented to such marriage.

The teacher was dismissed from her employment due to the alleged immorality of the relationship. The Supreme Court, however, ruled in favor of the teacher, and declared that she was illegally dismissed, finding that there is no substantial evidence to support the claim of immorality imputed against the teacher. In its Decision, the Supreme Court stated that:

“If the two eventually fell in love, despite the disparity in their ages and academic levels, this only lends substance to the truism that the heart has reasons of its own which reason does not know.”

Indeed, the heart has reasons of its own. Our feelings often work in ways that our thinking cannot understand. It is like there is a special logic in our hearts when it comes to love and emotions. Our hearts follow their own unique path, even when it does not make logical sense. It’s a reminder that our emotions can be mysterious and do not always align with what our minds might think is reasonable, nor what society dictates as acceptable. And you know what? Sometimes, even if it seems illogical, following your heart can lead to the best decisions you ever make. And the courts will not interfere where the law does not. 

The next case unfolds a story of childhood neighbors who revived their romance later in life. Confronted with disapproval from one party’s family, they chose to marry discreetly. Interestingly, despite their marital status, they never shared a residence. In the initial six months, their connection was marked by daily meetings, but over time, one of the parties refrained from cohabiting with the other. As a result, their once frequent interactions evolved into occasional visits and secret meetings in motels. One of the parties underwent psychological testing and the Clinical Psychologist included the following phrase in his remarks:

“Individuals who are in love had the power to let love grow or let love die – it is a choice one had to face when love is not the love, he/she expected.”

In love, we find ourselves holding a powerful key – the choice to either nurture its growth or let it gradually fade away. It is like standing at a crossroads, especially when the love we experience does not quite match our expectations. Love, in its true essence, is not just a feeling; it’s a series of choices we make. It is about deciding to stay, to weather the storms, and to embrace the unexpected turns.

While it can be quite challenging when love takes an unexpected turn, we must remember that we hold the power to work things out. Love, in its most genuine form, is not a flawless journey; it’s a continuous process of understanding, compromise, and resilience. Choosing to navigate through the challenges signifies a commitment to the bond shared, reinforcing the idea that love, despite its unpredictability, becomes stronger when faced with honesty, effort, and the unwavering choice to make it work.

The last case involves Eduardo M. Cojuangco, Jr. who filed a disbarment complaint against Atty. Leo J. Palma, alleging deceit, betrayal, and grossly immoral conduct. Palma, a married man with three children, who initially served as Cojuangco’s lawyer, secretly married Cojuangco’s daughter, Lisa. 

Palma defended his actions by claiming genuine love for Lisa and argued that marrying her absolved him of immorality. However, this justification is criticized by the Supreme Court as a distorted perspective on the sanctity of marriage. According to the Supreme Court, in a legitimate relationship, mutual respect, fidelity, and cohabitation are expected. The question is raised about how Palma could fulfill these obligations to Lisa when he was already married previously. Ultimately, Palma was disbarred from the practice of law. The Supreme Court stated in its Decision that:

“If he really loved her, then the noblest thing he could have done was to walk away.”

In love, doing what is right is not always easy. If love is genuine, the best choice might be to step back and let the other person find their own path. It is like putting their happiness first, even if it hurts. In this, our Supreme Court justices fittingly acted as acquitters of an imprisoned innocent beloved.  It teaches that love sometimes means making tough decisions, and in such situations, walking away could be a way of saying, 

“I care about what is best for you, even if it’s not with me.”

It takes courage to make choices that might hurt but are ultimately for the other person’s happiness. By stepping aside, one could be embodying the noble aspect of love – letting go to allow the other person the freedom to discover their own happiness, even if it is not within the confines of their shared lives. 

As we wrap up our look into love quotes from the Supreme Court, even in the serious world of laws, there’s a touch of romance. These quotes show us that love and romance are no strangers to the courtroom – they are indeed friends of the Court, who champions what is true, just, noble and faithful.  These quotes paint a picture of a legal landscape not solely dominated by cold rulings and statutes but one that recognizes the profound human emotions that shape our lives. Indeed, love’s influence is pervasive, even within the hallowed halls of justice.

Prepared by Cee Jay P. Sabile.