03. Guillermo vs. Reyes (Case Digest) 240 Scra 154
Guillermo vs. Reyes AM No. RTJ-93-1088 January 18, 1995 Facts: Complainant, Teresita Guillermo, filed an administrative complaint against herein respondent judge, Judge Jose Reyes, for allegedly rendering unjust judgment, for gross incompetence, misconduct and ignorance of the law. Herein complainant was the offended party in a criminal case of serious illegal detention filed against Aurora Ilot-de la Cruz and her sister Annie Ilot-Orgeta. According to herein complainant, when both sisters filed a joint application for bail, respondent judge denied the same in an order dated July 15, 1992, on the ground that it was premature since the accused were yet to be apprehended. However, after the accused surrendered, without conducting any further hearing, an order dated August 24, 1992, respondent judge granted the petition for bail of the accused, thereby denying the prosecution an opportunity to be heard and to oppose the said petition. Subsequently, respondent judge rendered judgment absolving the accused of the crime charged. Issue: Whether or not the judge erred in granting the petition of bail? Held: The grant of bail to an accused charged with an offense that carries with the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua, as in the case of serious illegal detention, is discretionary and not a matter of right on the part of the accused. Furthermore, when evidence of guilt is strong, accused shall not be admitted to bail regardless of the stage of the prosecution. But in such cases, the prosecution has the burden of showing proof of guilt. Bail is also unavailing with respect to an accused who has not voluntarily surrendered, or to one who has not yet been placed under legal custody. In the case at bar, where the accused voluntarily appears, after an earlier hearing, where his motion was dismissed by the fact that he was still at large, the judge should have required another motion for bail and set the same for hearing, and should not grant bail based on the evidence presented in the earlier hearing. Judge remanded with stern warning. Contention of the complainant: o Judgment was unjust and shows respondent’s gross ignorance of the law since the established facts clearly made out a case of serious illegal detention. o That the respondent judge, even after finding that the detention was illegal, nonetheless, the respondent held that the offender had no intention to deprive them of their liberty but acted by “mere anger and annoyance” because of their earlier arguments. Contention of the respondent: o Since the petition had been initially been denied, not on the merits nor based on the evidence, he could act thereon upon the surrender of the accused.
The court states that the error of the judge was not based on fraud, and that the error is not gross or patent, nor that he acted with malice or was there any evident bad faith. That the respondent judge acted in good faith, therefore, he is not administratively liable for his act since the error was that of an “Honest Mistake.”