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CECILIA ZULUETA VS COURT OF APPEALLS

GR No. 107383, FEBRUARY 20, 1996


1. Is there a focal point of the case where the admissibility of
evidence is in issue? What factor/s caused the issue/s
surrounding its admissibility? Discuss.
YES, documents and papers in question as evidence presented by
petitioner Cecilia Zulueta, the wife of herein private respondent, Dr. Alfredo
Martin, is an inadmissible evidence. Such documents and papers that were
obtained which are 157 documents consisting of private correspondence
between Dr. Martin and his alleged paramours, greetings cards, cancelled
checks, diaries, Dr. Martin's passport, and photographs that may be used to
be seized as evidence in a case for legal separation and for disqualification
from the practice of medicine which petitioner had filed against her husband.
The alleged documents were taken without the knowledge and consent of
private respondent, Dr. Alfredo Martin and that these documents are of
private property and private respondent is the capital and exclusive owner of
the same. For that reason herein, petitioner were ordered as declared from
the trial courts decision to return such documents and enjoined her from
using these as evidence.
When petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals who in turn affirms
the trial courts decision, petitioners only ground was the case of Alfredo
Martin v. Alfonso Felix, Jr. yet, the petitioners contention had no merit
because in the case against Atty. Felix, Jr. was for disbarment. Among other
things, private respondent, Dr. Alfredo Martin, as complainant in that case,
charged that in using the documents in evidence, Atty. Felix, Jr. committed
malpractice or gross misconduct because of the injunctive order of the trial
court.
But the issue here is that the documents and papers in question are
inadmissible in evidence. The constitutional injunction declaring "the privacy
of communication and correspondence [to be] inviolable" [1] is no less
applicable simply because it is the wife (who thinks herself aggrieved by her
husband's infidelity) who is the party against whom the constitutional
provision is to be enforced. The only exception to the prohibition in the
Constitution is if there is a "lawful order [from a] court or when public safety
or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law." Any violation of this
provision renders the evidence obtained inadmissible "for any purpose in any
proceeding." [2]
[1] 1973 CONST., Art. IV, 4(1); 1987 CONST., Art. III, 3(1).
[2] 1973 CONST., ART. IV, 4(2); 1987 CONST., Art. III, 3(2).

2. Can you identify procedural errors on the part of the


prosecution or defense, or both, or sometimes even on the
part of the trial court?

There are procedural errors in the part of the defense by the petitioner
in the aspect of citing the case of Atty. Alfonso Felix Jr., this cannot apply to
the case at hand since the former was for disbarement. Among other things,
private respondent, Dr. Alfredo Martin, as complainant in that case, charged
that in using the documents in evidence, Atty. Felix, Jr. committed
malpractice or gross misconduct because of the injunctive order of the trial
court.

3. In the Supreme Courts ruling on the case at hand, what


particular aspect strikes you as either an apt application
of principles regarding admissibility of evidence, or
adimirable display of legal techinique and logic?
There was an apt application of principles regarding admissibility of
evidence in this case. The documents and papers obtained were of
inadmissible since these were obtained without the knowledge and consent
of herein private respondent, Dr. Alfredo Martin. The trial court declared such
documents as private properties and thus the petitioner was ordered to
return the same and enjoined them from using these evidence. As stated in
the ruling of teh Supreme Court in case at hand, The intimacies between
husband and wife do not justify any one of them in breaking the drawers and
cabinets of the other and in ransacking them for any telltale evidence of
marital infidelity. A person, by contracting marriage, does not shed his/her
integrity or his right to privacy as an individual and the constitutional
protection is ever available to him or to her. The law insures absolute
freedom of communication between the spouses by making it privileged.
Neither husband nor wife may testify for or against the other without the
consent of the affected spouse while the marriage subsists.6 Neither may be
examined without the consent of the other as to any communication
received in confidence by one from the other during the marriage, save for
specified exceptions.7 But one thing is freedom of communication; quite
another is a compulsion for each one to share what one knows with the
other. And this has nothing to do with the duty of fidelity that each owes to
the other. [1]
[1] supreme court ruling, Zulueta v. CA Gr No. 107383, Feb. 20, 1996