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Case Digest


Domingo Padua, petioner sought to recover damages for the injuressuf f er ed
by hi s ei ght - year ol d daught er , Luzvi mi nda, caused by her being hit by a
truck driven by Rundio Abjaeto and owned by AntonioG. Ramos. Padua was
in forma pauperis
. Tr i al of t he case havi ng been set i n due cour se, Padua
commencedpresentation of his evidence on December 6, 1973. He gave testimonyon
direct exqmination in the course of which reference was made tonumerous
documents. At the close of his examination, and on motionof defendants'
counsel, the previously scheduled hearing of December12, 1973 was cancelled, and
Padua' s cross-examination was reset onDecember 17, 1973. However,
thehearing of December
17,1973wasa l s o c an c e l l e d , a ga i n a t t h e i nst ance of def endant s' c o u n
s e l , wh o pleaded sickness as ground therefor; and trial was once more
slatedto "take place on March 6, March 7 and 13, 1974, all at 9:00 o'clock inthe
morning."After defendants' attorney had twice sought and obtained cancellationof trial
settings, as narrated, it was plaintiff Padua' s counsel who nextmoved for
cancellation of a hearing date. In a motion dated and
filedo n Ma r c h 1 , 1 9 7 4 , Pa du a ' s c o u n s e l a l l e ge d t h a t h e h a d " an o
t h e r hearing on March 6, 1974 in Tarlac

and that the cancellation would "atany r at e . . . l eave pl ai nt i f f and

defendants two (2) hearingdatesonMar ch 7 and 13, 1974; " and on t hese
pr emi ses, he asked " t hat t hehearing on March 6, 1974 ... be ordered cancelled
" No opposition wasfiled by the defendants to the motion. Apart from filing this motion
onMarch 1, 1974, plaintiffs counsel took the additional step of sendinghis
client' s wife to the Court on the day of the trial, March 6,1974, toverbally
reiterate his application for cancellation of the hearing on thatday. This, Mrs. Padua
did. The respondent Judge however denied theapplication and dismissed the
case. Padua moved for reconsideration,but this was denied.

Hence, this petition.
Whether or not the respondent judge erred in dismissing the case ont he
gr ound t hat i t vi ol at es t he
ri ght to a speedy di sposi ti on of cases.

:C o u r t s s h o u l d n o t b r o o k u n d u e d e l a y s i n t h e v e n t i
l a t i o n a n d determination of causes. It should be their constant effort to
assuret h a t l i t i g a t i o n s a r e p r o s e c u t e d a n d r e s o l v e d
w i t h d i s p a t c h . Postponements of trials and hearings should not be allowed
except on

meritorious grounds; and the grant or refusal thereof rests entirely int he
sound di scr et i on of t he Judge. I t goes wi t hout sayi ng, however , that
that discretion must be reasonably and wisely exercised, in thelight of the
attendant circumstances. Some reasonable deferment of t he pr oceedi ngs
may be al l owed or t ol er at ed t o t he end t hat casesmay be adjudged only
after full and free presentation of evidence
bya l l t h e p a r t i e s , s p e c i a l l y w h e r e t h e d e f e r m e n t w o u l d
c a u s e n o s u b s t a n t i a l p r e j u d i c e t o a n y p a r t . T h e d e s i d e r a t
u m o f a s p e e d y d i s p o s i t i o n o f c a s e s s h o u l d n o t , i f a t a l l
p o s s i b l e , r e s u l t i n t h e pr eci pi t at e l oss of aparty' s r i ght t o
pr esent evi dence and ei t her i nplaintiff's being non-suited or the defendant's
being pronounced liableu n d e r a n
e x p a r t e
j u d gme n t . J ud ge ' s a c t i o n wa s u n r e a s o n a b l e , capricious and oppressive,
and should be as it is hereby annulled.