Accusing a judge in a pleading of improper behavior without proof is direct contempt


In a proceeding for the abatement of a public nuisance, the trial court ruled against the petitioner on the ground that the civil proceeding for the abatement of a public nuisance must be commenced by the city or municipal mayor in accordance with Art. 701 of the Civil Code. In his motion for reconsideration, the petitioner accused the presiding judge of communicating with the defendant ex parte, a charge which the court took as contumacious. During the hearing on the motion for reconsideration, the petitioner did not appear. So the presiding judge issued an order requiring the petitioner to show cause why he should not be cited in direct contempt. In his compliance, the petitioner failed to present evidence to support his remark or to withdraw the same. Consequently, the petitioner was cited in direct contempt and ordered imprisoned for two days and to pay a fine of P 2,000, and with it an order of arrest.

Since no appeal is allowed in contempt proceedings, the petitioner filed a motion to post bond and to quash the warrant of arrest on the ground that he has already filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court. The motion was denied by the trial court on the ground that no copy of the petition was attached to the motion showing that indeed such a petition was filed with the Supreme Court consistent with Sec. 2, Rule 71, Rules of Court.

In resolving the petition, the Supreme Court ruled:

(a) A pleading containing derogatory, offensive and malicious statements submitted to the court or judge wherein proceedings are pending is considered direct contempt.

(b) Denial of the ex parte motion to post bond and quash warrant of arrest is proper because the petitioner failed to show proof that he has indeed filed the petition with the Supreme Court, and the records show that the ex parte motion was filed ahead of the petition for certiorari. The presiding judge therefore did not abuse his authority in denying the motion.

(c) Litigants should observe the hierarchy of court in petitions for extraordinary writs. The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction is concurrent with the Regional Trial Court and the Court of Appeals. Recourse to the Supreme Court is one of last resort, and special or compelling reason mus be alleged to warrant direct recourse.

Ferdinand A. Cruz v. Judge Henrick F. Gingoyon, et al., G.R. No. 170404, First Division, September 28, 2011.

 

 

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