Wednesday, August 30, 2006

priests get sued

We have some bizarre news in Singapore. From ChannelNewsAsia,

SINGAPORE : The Novena Church, two priests and seven helpers are being sued for an alleged act of exorcism, in an incident believed to have taken place two years ago.

Fifty-year old Amutha Valli Krishnan, an athlete in the 1980s, claimed that attempts to exorcise her later led to chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

A writ of summons was served last Thursday.

The key thing here is the "Writ of Summons", which is a legal document that initiates the process of suing someone. It basically says, "I sue you, and here's why, and here's what I want from you". The person doing the suing is known as the Plaintiff and the person(s) being sued is known as the Defendants(s).

The Defendants now have reply with a document known as a "Defence" where they state which points in the Writ of Summons they agree with, and which points they don't.

Once this is completed, the process of "discovery" begins. This involves both parties informing each other of their respective cases, and involves exchange of documents and questions and so on. If it becomes apparent at this step that one party has no case to answer, then the process ends here and the suit can be abandoned. Or, both parties might decide to settle privately.

It is quite an infrequent thing to proceed to a trial. In a trial, the judge, based on the cases presented by both parties, decides on the issues and the trial proceeds from there. For example, an issue might be, "Was the Rite of Exorcism conducted on the plaintiff?" and both sides will present their answers and the corresponding evidence. If it comes to a trial, the costs essentially escalate and the pockets of both sides will be hit. The shit hits the fan. Yes, even the winner will have to pay costs.

The CNA article merely reports the fact that someone is suing the Church. It does not say who's wrong and who's right. That is sorted out by the legal process. Hence, let us suspend judgement and pray, for the benefit of both parties, that the matter will be settled speedily and amicably, without proceeding to a trial.

*Legal procedure summarized from Chapter 2 of Basic Business Law in Singapore.


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