Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Britanico vs. Espinosa [A.M. MTJ-04-1568 April 7, 2006]

Facts: Theodore Britanico filed a complaint against respondent Judge Espinosa. It was alleged in the complaint that in June 1999 he was introduced to Judge Espinosa and his wife because the latter were selling beach properties. Trusting in the stature of the Judge, complainant agreed to buy six parcels of land for P3,500,000.00. He made down payments amounting to P100,000.00 and the balance was to be paid upon the signing of the deed of sale. Upon seeing the deed of sale, complainant questioned the authenticity of the signatures of the lot owners, aware that they were all living in the United States. Respondent assured complainant of the regularity of the sale. Upon closer scrutiny of the properties’ titles, complainant discovered that the alienation of the properties within five years of the issuance of the title was prohibited by Commonwealth Act No. 141. Complainant learned later on that the same properties were being sold to another buyer. This forced complainant to place a notice of adverse claim on the titles to protect his interests over the properties. On is defense respondent Judge alleged that the deed of sale prepared by him was in the nature of a draft and only for reference of the parties and that his appearance in the transactions in question was due to the insistence of the complainant. 

Issue: Whether or not Judge Espinosa violated Canon 4 of New Code of Judicial Conduct? 

Held: The court ruled in the affirmative. Respondent’s act of drafting the Deed of Absolute Sale is highly improper. As a judge, he should know that the transaction being undertaken was highly irregular since the certificates of title of the real properties were issued as Free Patents, making the land subject to the prohibition against sale for a period of five (5) years from their date of issuance. He did not call his wife’s attention to the prohibition, but allowed her to continue with the transaction and even accompanied her to the meetings with complainant to discuss the terms of the sale. A closer look at the Deed of Absolute Sale prepared by respondent shows that it was undated but one of its clauses contains the month and year, November 2002 – the time when the real properties could be legally alienated. This is a clear indication of respondent’s participation in the commission of an irregular act. His complicity in the transaction is indubitable. He even used his position to lend credence to the transaction. Thus, there is sufficient evidence to hold the respondent liable under Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct (Now, Canon 4 , Section 1 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct, A.M. No. 03-05-01-SC, promulgated 27 April 2004, effective 1 June 2004.), which provides, "A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities." Under A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC, a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct constitutes gross misconduct, which is classified as a serious charge for which the sanction ranges from fine to dismissal from the service.

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1 comments: on "Britanico vs. Espinosa [A.M. MTJ-04-1568 April 7, 2006]"

ansal said...

Real Estate properties in India are making great news in the world now. The reason of this boom is the global acclaim of Indian economy which has successfully retained the wonderful growth rate.

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