THE ORAL CONTENTIOUS PROCESS (Cann. 1656 – 1670)
Can. 1656 §1. All cases not excluded by law can be treated in the oral contentious process mentioned in this section unless a party requests the ordinary contentious process.
- 2. If the oral process is used outside of the cases permitted in law, the judicial acts are null.
Can. 1657 The oral contentious process takes place in the first grade before a single judge according to the norm of ⇒ can. 1424.
Can. 1658 §1. In addition to the things enumerated in ⇒ can. 1504, the libellus which introduces the litigation must:
1/ set forth briefly, completely, and clearly the facts on which the requests of the petitioner are based;
2/ indicate the proofs by which the petitioner intends to demonstrate the facts but which cannot be presented at once, in such a way that the judge can collect them immediately.
- 2. The documents on which the petition is based must be attached to the libellus, at least in an authentic copy.
Can. 1659 §1. If the attempt at reconciliation according to the norm of ⇒ can. 1446, §2 proved useless and the judge thinks that the libellus has some foundation, the judge is to order within three days by a decree appended to the bottom of the libellus that a copy of the petition be communicated to the respondent, giving to the latter the opportunity to send a written response to the tribunal chancery within fifteen days.
- 2. This notification has the effect of the judicial citation mentioned in ⇒ can. 1512.
Can. 1660 If the exceptions of the respondent demand it, the judge is to establish a time limit for the petitioner to respond, in such a way that from the points brought forth by both of the parties the judge clarifies the object of the controversy.
Can. 1661 §1. When the time limits mentioned in cann. ⇒ 1659 and ⇒ 1660 have elapsed, the judge, after an examination of the acts, is to determine the formula of the doubt. Next, the judge is to cite all those who must take part to a hearing which must be held within thirty days; the formula of the doubt is to be attached to the citation of the parties.
- 2. In the citation the parties are to be informed that they can present a brief written statement to the tribunal to verify their claims at least three days before the hearing.
Can. 1662 At the hearing the questions mentioned in ⇒ cann. 1459-1464 are treated first.
Can. 1663 §1. The proofs are collected at the hearing without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 1418.
- 2. A party and his or her advocate can be present at the examination of the other parties, the witnesses, and the experts.
Can. 1664 The notary must put into writing the responses of the parties, the witnesses, and the experts and the petitions and exceptions of the advocates, but in a summary fashion and only in those matters pertaining to the substance of the dispute; the deponents must sign these acts.
Can. 1665 The judge can admit proofs which are not brought forth or sought in the petition or response only according to the norm of ⇒ can. 1452. After even one witness has been heard, however, the judge can only decide about new proofs according to the norm of ⇒ can. 1600.
Can. 1666 If all the proofs were not able to be collected during the hearing, a second hearing is to be scheduled.
Can. 1667 When the proofs have been collected, the oral discussion takes place at the same hearing.
Can. 1668 §1. Unless the discussion reveals that something must be supplied in the instruction of the case or something else turns up which prevents a proper pronouncement of the sentence, at the completion of the hearing the judge in private is to decide the case immediately; the dispositive part of the sentence is to be read at once before the parties who are present.
- 2. The tribunal can defer the decision up to the fifth useful day because of the difficulty of the matter or for some other just cause.
- 3. The complete text of the sentence with the reasons expressed is to be communicated to the parties as soon as possible, ordinarily in not more than fifteen days.
Can. 1669 If the appellate tribunal discovers that the oral contentious process was used at a lower grade of a trial in cases excluded by law, it is to declare the nullity of the sentence and remit the case to the tribunal which rendered the sentence.
Can. 1670 In other matters pertaining to the manner of proceeding, the prescripts of the canons for the ordinary contentious trial are to be observed. In order to expedite matters without prejudice to justice, however, the tribunal, by a decree expressing the reasons for its decision, can derogate from procedural norms which have not been established for validity.
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