Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Harden vs. Director of Prisoners

Facts: Fred Harden is being confined in prison for contempt of court. This arose when the plaintiff was restrained from transferring moneys, shares of stock, and other properties and assets involving the administration of conjugal partnership that he had with Mrs. Harden. Mr. Harden, however, transferred cash to various banks in Hongkong and California, as well as to an unknown person. He was ordered by the court to redeposit the money and the Balatoc Mining Co. shares belonging to the conjugal partnership, which he had in Hongkong to the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China (Manila Branch). He was not able to fulfill these orders, and so was put to jail. 

Issue: Whether or not the petitioner, Fred Harden, can warrant a writ of habeas corpus 

Held: No. The petition is denied with costs. 

The grounds for relief by habeas corpus are only (1) deprivation of any fundamental or constitutional rights (2) lack of jurisdiction of the court to impose the sentence or (3) excessive penalty. It was held that the court has jurisdiction to impose the sentence simply because the person charged is in the state and he is still within the jurisdiction of its courts. Moreover, the penalty imposed on the petitioner is not excessive because under Section 7, Rule 64 of the Rules of Court, “when the contempt consists in the omission to do an act which is yet in the power of the accused to perform, he may be imprisoned by order of a superior court until he performs it.” This justifies the penalty imposed on Fred Harden, thereby not making it excessive. Moreover, the court’s findings are supported by sufficient evidence and it is a matter of fact which cannot be reviewed by habeas corpus. The writ of habeas corpus cannot be used as a writ of error.

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