Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Maglasang vs. People [G.R. No. 90083, October 4, 1990]

Facts: Khalyxto Maglasang was convicted in the court in San Carlos, Negros Occidental. His counsel, Atty. Castellano, filed for a petition for certiorari through registered mail. Due to non-compliance with the requirements, the court dismissed the petition and a motion for reconsideration. Atty. Castellano then sent a complaint to the Office of the President where he accused the five justices of the 2nd division, with biases and ignorance of the law or knowingly rendering unjust judgments. He accused the court of sabotaging the Aquino administration for being Marcos appointees, and robbing the Filipino people genuine justice and democracy. He also said that the SC is doing this to protect the judge who was impleaded in the petition and for money reasons. He alleges further that the court is too expensive to be reached by ordinary men. The court is also inconsiderate and overly strict and meticulous. When asked to show cause why he should not be cited in contempt, Castellano said that the complaint was constructive criticism intended to correct in good faith the erroneous and very strict practices of the justices concerned. He also said that the justices have no jurisdiction over his act and that they should just answer the complaint. The SC found him guilty of contempt and improper conduct and ordered to pay P1, 000 or imprisonment of 15 days, and to suffer six months suspension. 

Issue: Whether or not the Atty. Castellano’s acts constitute a violation of the provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility. 

Held: Yes. The court found his comments scurrilous and contumacious. He went beyond the bounds of constructive criticism. What he said are not relevant to the cause of his client. They cast aspersion on the Court’s integrity as a neutral and final arbiter of all justiciable controversies before it. 

The explanation of Castellano in his negligence in the filing of the petition for certiorari did not render his negligence excusable. It is clear that the case was lost not by the alleged injustices Castellano irresponsibly ascribed to the members of the Court, but his inexcusable negligence and incompetence. 

As an officer of the court, he should have known better than to smear the honor and integrity of the Court just to keep the confidence of his client. 

Also, with the complaint he filed, the most basic tenet of the system of government – separation of power - has been lost. He should know that not even the President of the Philippines can pass judgment on any of the Court’s acts. 

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