WINGARTS vs MEJIA

A.M. No. MTJ-94-1012. March 20, 1995 FACTS: Col. Munar filed criminal cases for malicious mischief (Crim Case 2663) and grave threats (Crim Case 2664) against Johan Wingarts. Wingarts filed a counter-charge against Col. Munar for usurpation of authority (Crim Case 2696). All three cases were decided by Judge Sevillano Mejia. Crim Case 2663: Wingarts was acquitted Crim Case 2664: The charge was dismissed Crim Case 2696: Acquitted Col Munar Relative to the said judgments, Wingarts filed an administrative case against Judge Mejia for malicious delay in the administration of justice in relation to Crim Case 2663, alleging that the case dragged on for a year and four months in the Judges’ sala which was ultimately dismissed. A second complaint for incompetence, ignorance of the law and abuse of authority for taking cognizance of Crim Case 2664 and issuing a warrant of arrest against Wingarts despite the lack of prior barangay conciliation. The third complaint charged the judge for rendering an unjust decision in Crim case 2696, where Capt. Manuel and Col. Munar (military lawyers) appeared in the civil courts without necessary authorization. ISSUES/HELD: 1. Whether or not Judge Mejia is liable for incompetence and gross ignorance of the law for taking cognizance of Crim Case 2664 despite lack of prior barangay conciliation The court finds no reason to depart from the conclusion of the Court Administrator with regard to finding Judge Mejia liable for incompetence and gross ignorance of the law but not liable for malicious delay in the administration of justice nor for rendering an unjust Judge Mejia is liable for incompetence and gross ignorance of the law for taking cognizance of Crim Case 2664 despite the legal obstacles thereto. Under Sec 408 (c) of RA 7160 the Revised Katarungang Pambarangay Law provides that offenses punishable by imprisonment not exceeding (1) year or a fine not exceeding five thousand pesos require a barangay conciliation. The crime of grave threats punishable under Art 282 of the RPC falls within the purview of Sec 408. Grave threats is punishable by aresto mayor (1 mo and 1 day to 6 mos) and a fine of not exceeding P500. It has been repeatedly ruled that the proceedings before the lupon are a precondition to the filing of any action or proceeding in court or other government office. Such an initiatory pleading, if filed without compliance with the precondition, may be dismissed on motion of any interested party on the ground that it fails to state a cause of action. Had the Judge taken cognizance of the law Sec 412 of RA 7160 he could have remanded the case to the lupon instead of taking cognizance of the case and prematurely issuing a warrant of arrest. His actuations however are not tainted with malice or evil intent. The records reveal that he dismissed the case after motion of the defense and recalled the warrant issued. He is therefore ordered to pay the fine of 2,000 with a STERN WARNING. 2. Whether or not Judge Mejia is liable for malicious delay in administration of justice.

envy. 3. knowing it to be unjust. (b) he renders a judgment in a case submitted to him for decision. it must be established that respondent Judge rendered a judgment or decision not supported by law and/or evidence and that he must be actuated by hatred. Judge Mejia also took judicial notice that Col Munar was a complainant in Crim Case 2663 and 2664. In a recent administrative case decided by this Court. envy. revenge. that is. provided he acts in good faith. If in rendering judgment the judge fully knew that the same was unjust in the sense aforesaid. or some other similar motive. An unjust judgment is one which is contrary to law or is not supported by the evidence. He based his decision on a circular of the Dept. the judge cannot be held liable. 1994. Mere error therefore in the interpretation or application of the law does not constitute the crime. The nature of the administrative charge of knowingly rendering an unjust judgment is the same as the criminal charge. moreover according to Mejia a lack of permit does not strip them of their qualifications but merely calls for an administrative sanction. the term "knowingly" means sure knowledge. of Defense. As a crime. There is no liability at all for a mere error. it must be shown beyond reasonable doubt that the judgment is unjust and that it was made with conscious and deliberate intent to do an injustice. or some other similar motive. Bad faith is therefore the ground of liability. Knowingly rendering an unjust judgment is both a criminal and an administrative charge. . it was reiterated that in order to hold a judge liable. The source of an unjust judgment may be error or ill will. Whether or not Judge Mejia is liable for rending an unjust decision As to the charge of rendering an unjust decision. revenge. It was found by the Court administrator that it was deemed submitted for decision on May 6. greed. to hold a judge liable it must be shown that it was made with conscious and deliberate intent to do an injustice. greed. The complainants dismally failed to convince the court that Judge Mejia knew that his challenged judgment is unjust. it does not appear to be malicious or deliberate. and (d) the judge knows that his judgment is unjust. 1994 and was decided barely a month after on June 8. in this particular administrative charge. Thus. Litigants should not blame a judge for the delay which was not of his own making.On the charge of malicious delay in administration of justice. when required to exercise his judgment or discretion. While there was some delay in the hearing. (c) the judgment is unjust. It is wellsettled that a judicial officer. conscious and deliberate intention to do an injustice. it is punished under Article 204 of the Revised Penal Code the elements of which are: (a) the offender is a judge. the judge should not be subjected to liabilities where delays are brought about by the parties and their lawyers. is not liable criminally for any error which he commits. The gist of the offense therefore is that an unjust judgment be rendered maliciously or in bad faith. or both. As interpreted by Spanish Courts. then he acted maliciously and must have been actuated and prevailed upon by hatred. where Munar was authorized and were able to secure their permit to appear as private prosecutors.

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