Here are select August 2013 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on criminal law and procedure:
1. Revised Penal Code
Crime of Open Disobedience; elements. The Municipal Trial Court (MTC) did not gravely abuse its discretion in dismissing Criminal Case No. 46400 for lack of probable cause. The dismissal ought to be sustained since the records clearly disclose the unmistakable absence of the integral elements of the crime of Open Disobedience. While the first element, i.e., that the offender is a judicial or executive officer, concurs in view of Atty. Fria’s position as Branch Clerk of Court, the second and third elements of the crime evidently remain wanting. To elucidate, the second element of the crime of Open Disobedience is that there is a judgment, decision, or order of a superior authority made within the scope of its jurisdiction and issued with all legal formalities. In this case, it is undisputed that all the proceedings in Civil Case No. 03-110 have been regarded as null and void due to Branch 203’s lack of jurisdiction over the said case. Hence, since it is explicitly required that the subject issuance be made within the scope of a superior authority’s jurisdiction, it cannot therefore be doubted that the second element of the crime of Open Disobedience does not exist. Proceeding from this discussion, the third element of the crime, i.e., that the offender, without any legal justification, openly refuses to execute the said judgment, decision, or order, which he is duty bound to obey, cannot equally exist. Indubitably, without any jurisdiction, there would be no legal order for Atty. Fria to implement or, conversely, disobey. The Law Firm of Chavez Miranda and Aseoche, et al v. Atty. Josejina C. Fria, G.R. No. 183014, August 7, 2013.
Extinguishment of criminal liability by the death of the accused prior to final judgment; effect of death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction on his civil liability ex delicto. Article 89, paragraph 1 of the Revised Penal Code states that, “Criminal liability is totally extinguished by the death of the convict, as to the personal penalties; and as to pecuniary penalties, liability therefore is extinguished only when the death of the offender occurs before final judgment.” Given the foregoing, it is clear that the death of the accused pending appeal of his conviction extinguishes his criminal liability, as well as his civil liability ex delicto. Since the criminal action is extinguished inasmuch as there is no longer a defendant to stand as the accused, the civil action instituted therein for recovery of civil liability ex delicto is ipso facto extinguished, grounded as it is on the criminal case. Undeniably, Amistoso’s death on December 11, 2012 preceded the promulgation by the Supreme Court (SC) of its Decision on January 9, 2013. When Amistoso died, his appeal before the SC was still pending and unresolved. The SC ruled upon Amistoso’s appeal only because it was not immediately informed of his death. Amistoso’s death on December 11, 2012 renders the SC’s Decision dated January 9, 2013, even though affirming Amistoso’s conviction, irrelevant and ineffectual. Moreover, said Decision has not yet become final, and the SC still has the jurisdiction to set it aside. People of the Philippines v. Anastacio Amistoso y Broca, G.R. No. 201447, August 28, 2013.