You are on page 1of 2

MERCIALES v.

CA
Control of Prosecution | March 18, 2002 | Ynares-Santiago, J.
Nature of Case: Review on certiorari
Digest maker: Niq Polido
SUMMARY: Criminal cases for rape with homicide in connection of the death of Maritess
Merciales were filed against private respondents/accused. During the trial, the public
prosecuter filed a motion for the discharge of accused Nuada so that he could be a state
witness but the prosecution contended that it was not required to present evidence to
warrant the discharge of Nuada because he was already under the Witness Protection
Program of the DOJ. On July 29, 1994, the prosecution filed an MR, instead of presenting
further evidence. The judge called for recess to allow the prosecution to present the NBI
agent to prove the extrajudicial confession of the accused Nuada but after the recess, the
public prosecutor declined to present the NBI agent and manifested that it would not
anymore present further evidence. In the decision of the TC, it dismissed the charge of rape
with homicide based on demurrer to evidence filed by private respondents/accused; hence,
the accused were acquitted and the criminal cases against them were dismissed for lack of
sufficient evidence to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
DOCTRINE: The grant or denial of a demurrer to evidence is left to the sound discretion of
the trial court, and its ruling on the matter shall not be disturbed in the absence of a grave
abuse of such discretion. As to effect, the grant of a demurrer to evidence amounts to an
acquittal and cannot be appealed because it would place the accused in double jeopardy.
The order is reviewable only by certiorari if it was issued with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
FACTS:

Criminal cases for rape with homicide in connection of the death of Maritess
Merciales were filed against private respondents/accused.

During the trial, the public prosecuter filed a motion for the discharge of accused
Nuada so that he could be a state witness but the prosecution contended that it was
not required to present evidence to warrant the discharge of Nuada because he was
already under the Witness Protection Program of the DOJ

But this motion was denied for failure of prosecutor to present evidence provided in
Sec 9, Rule 119 of the 1985 Rules of on Criminal Procedure

Prosecution then filed petition for certiorari (another case) before the SC questioning
such denial.

The private respondents then filed a motion to set the case for hearing based on their
constitutional right to a speedy trial which was granted and the hearing was set on
July 29, 1994

On that date, the prosecution filed an MR, instead of presenting further evidence. The
hearing was postponed and set for another hearing (Aug 9). On that said date,
prosecutor again filed for MR and invoked its pending petition for certiorari
with the SC but the respondents objected to reset the hearing again.

The judge called for recess to allow the prosecution to present the NBI agent to prove
the extrajudicial confession of the accused Nuada but after the recess, the public
prosecutor declined to present the NBI agent and manifested that it would not
anymore present further evidence.

The defense then moved that the cases be deemed submitted for decision and asked
leave of court to file a demurrer to evidence.

The SG filed in the case before the SC a motion for issuance of a TRO to enjoin the
judge but was denied by the SC
In the decision of the TC, it dismissed the charge of rape with homicide based on
demurrer to evidence filed by private respondents/accused; hence, the accused were
acquitted and the criminal cases against them were dismissed for lack of sufficient
evidence to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
Petitioners Argument: a reopening of the criminal case will not violate the accuseds
right to double jeopardy.
There was judicial misconduct due to the prosecutions premature resting
and trial courts grant of the demurrer to evidence even if the presentation of the
evidence for the prosecution has not been completed (in violation of due process)
Respondents Argument: No extrinsic fraud, abuse of discretion and jurisdiction
defect to warrant the annulment or reopening of the case. Doing so will violate the
accuseds right against double jeopardy.

ISSUE/S & RATIO:


1. WON there could be an acquittal by demurrer in the case at bar NO.
a. There was grave abuse of discretion by the trial court. The trial court
required the public prosecutor to present evidence to justify Nuadas
discharge as state witness but it insisted there was no need to do so because
Nuada was already under the Witness Protection Program of the DOJ
b. Trial court the directed public prosecutor to present Atty. Caabay, the NBI
agent who took Nuadas extrajudicial confession but the prosecutor
declared that he was resting the prosecutions case, knowing fully well that
the evidence he previously presented was not sufficient to convict the
accused. And due to that, a demurrer to evidence was filed by the accused
and was granted by the trial court
c. It was then clear that the public prosecutor was guilty of serious
nonfeasance. It was his duty to take all steps to protect the rights of the
people in trial. He should have exhausted all available proof to establish
the guilt of the accused.
d. Due to the nature of the testimonies of the 7 prosecution witness and the
nature of the circumstances, the trial court (motu proprio) should have
called additional witnesses to question such them to satisfy his mind to the
issues of the case
e. The petitioner was deprived of her day in court. It is not only the State but
also the offended party that is entitled to due process in criminal cases.
With regard the acquittal of the accused by the trial was done without
regard to due process of law, it is null and void as if there was no acquittal
at all. It cannot be double jeopardy
f.
HENCE, it was very apparent that the public prosecutor violated the due
process rights of the private complainant owing to its blatant disregard of
procedural rules and the failure to present available crucial evidence, which
would tend to prove the guilt or innocence of the accused therein.
Moreover, we likewise found that the trial court was gravely remiss in its
duty to ferret out the truth and, instead, just passively watched as the
public prosecutor bungled the case.
g. When there is a finding that there was grave abuse of discretion on the
part of the trial court in dismissing the criminal case by granting the
1

h.

accuseds demurrer to evidence, the judgment of the TC is considered


VOID.
The grant or denial of a demurrer to evidence is left to the sound
discretion of the trial court, and its ruling on the matter shall not be
disturbed in the absence of a grave abuse of such discretion.
As to effect, the grant of a demurrer to evidence amounts to an acquittal
and cannot be appealed because it would place the accused in double
jeopardy.
The order is reviewable only by certiorari if it was issued with grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

i.
j.

k.

When grave abuse of discretion is present, an order granting a demurrer


becomes null and void.
The accused cannot be in double jeopardy because the lower court acted
without jurisdiction (the trial judge in this case acted without or in excess of
jurisdiction, for a judgment which is void for lack of due process is
equivalent to excess or lack of jurisdiction
The power of courts to grant demurrer in criminal cases should be
exercised with great caution, because not only the rights of the accused
but those of the offended party and the public interest as well are
involved.

RULING: Petition GRANTED. Case REMANDED to RTC so the judge can order presentation
of all available witnesses for the prosecution.