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SELUDO vs.

FINEZA
A.M. NO. RTJ-03-1813
November 21, 2003

FACTS:

The incident which gave rise to this case occurred from a criminal case for attempted murder,
before the respondent Judge Fineza. The respondent judge was charged by Atty. Seludo, the counsel
for the accused in the said criminal case, with the following offenses: (1) gross ignorance of the law, (2)
oppression in office, (3) grave abuse of authority, and (4) conduct unbecoming of a judge.

It was alleged that the respondent judge ordered the arrest of the complainant for failure of the
accused in the aforementioned criminal case and the counsel, herein complainant, to appear in the
promulgation of the decision despite due notice. Complainant received the order setting the
promulgation, however, it was conflicted to the order case that he was handling. Due to the conflicting
schedule, he instructed his secretary to inform the office of the respondent judge that he could not
attend the promulgation.

Atty. Seludo asked for reconsideration and pleaded, but the respondent judge opened the
windows of his car and, in the presence of the police officers, said, “kung gusto mo, pumunta ka sa
harap ng kotse ko at sasagasaan na lang kita”. Complainant claimed that he attended all the hearings
the said criminal case and that he only missed the promulgation due to conflicting schedule. Judge
Fineza denied all the allegations. He called the complainant a “fact fabricator,’’ a “congenital liar,” and
an “Indian”.

The Office of the Court Administrator agreed that the arrest of Atty. Seludo was not only illegal
but also oppressive, and it violated his constitutional right to due process. Moreover, the words used
by the respondent judge to describe the complainant are inflammatory which should have been
avoided. The OCA recommended that Judge Fineza be penalized to pay a fine of P20,000.00 for gross
ignorance of law, oppression, grave abuse of authority and in violation Rule 8.01, Canon 8, and Rule
10.03, Cannon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

ISSUES:

Whether Judge Fineza’s act of ordering the arrest of Atty. Seludo and the descriptive words used
against the complainant violate Rule 8.01, Canon 8, and Rule 10.03, Cannon 10 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.

RULING:

The Supreme Court agrees with OCA’s recommendation but with modification.
It is plain that the respondent judge was impatient and discourteous in dealing with the
complainant. Atty. Seludo satisfactorily explained his absence in the scheduled promulgation. It is
therefore inaccurate to contend that he was absent twice and he has to be arrested to prevent delay
in the promulgation of the decision. Also, the Supreme Court is disappointed with the respondent
judge’s penchant for improper words when he called the complainant “fact fabricator,’’ a “congenital
liar,” and an “Indian”. The respondent judge was previously admonished for using inappropriate
language in another case wherein he was sternly warned that a repetition of the same or similar
offence will be dealt with more severely.

The Supreme Court finds Judge Fineza guilty of gross ignorance of procedure and impose on
him a fined of P40,000.00, and gross misconduct and impose on him a fine of P40,000.00, considering
his repetition of the offense.