June 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Legal and Judicial Ethics

Here are selected June 2010 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on legal and judicial ethics:

Administrative proceedings; quantum of evidence.  It is a settled rule that in administrative proceedings that the complainant has the burden of proving the allegations in his or her complaint with substantial evidence.  In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the presumption that the respondent has regularly performed his duties will prevail.  Illupa vs. Abdullah, A.M. No. SCC-11-16-P. June 1, 2011

Administrative proceedings; mitigating circumstances.  In several jurisprudential precedents, the Court has refrained from imposing the actual administrative penalties prescribed by law or regulation in the presence of mitigating factors.  Factors such as the respondents’ length of service, the respondents’ acknowledgement of his or her infractions and feeling of remorse, family circumstances, humanitarian and equitable considerations, respondent’s advanced age, among other things, have had varying significance in the determination by the Court of the imposable penalty. Office of the Court Administrator vs. Aguilar, A.M. No. RTJ-07-2087, June 7, 2011

Court personnel; conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.  Respondent was found to have knowingly delayed the release of a warrant of arrest against an accused in a criminal case until the accused had left the country.  For knowingly delaying the release of the warrant of arrest, respondent had placed the court in a very negative light.  It prejudiced the Court’s standing in the community as it projected an image of a Court that is unable to enforce its processes on time.  For this reason, we find her liable not only for simple neglect of duty, but for the more serious offense of conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.  Respondent clerk of court’s very much delayed action on the complainant’s request for a copy of the warrant of arrest in the criminal case and in the delivery of the warrant to the police authorities cast doubts on the capability of the court to administer justice fairly and expeditiously. Such act is likely to reflect adversely on the administration of justice.  Thus, the respondent should be made to answer for her infraction in a way that will serve as a lesson to everyone in the judiciary to be forthright in his dealings with the public, and to act speedily on matters within his area of responsibility, regardless of who is involved. The prejudice she caused and her liability for her conduct can in no way be extinguished or mitigated by the issuance of a second warrant of arrest, or by the complainant’s subsequent voluntary desistance from pursuing the case.  The harm had already been done on the aggrieved party and on the judiciary when these developments transpired. Sonido vs. Ilocso, A.M. No. P-10-2794. June 1, 2011

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