16. Konrad Rubin and Conrado Rubin vs. Judge Evelyn Corpus-Cabochan OCA IPI no. 11-3589-RTJ July 29, 2013 Facts: On 14 December 2010, a complaint was filed by Konrad A. Rubin and his father, Conrado C. Rubin, against Hon. Evelyn Corpus-Cabochan, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 98, Quezon City for serious misconduct, gross ignorance of the law, rendering an unjust judgment and gross inefficiency. The complaint stemmed from the decision rendered and order of voluntary inhibition issued by Judge Cabochan in Civil Case No. Q-09-64898.The case was raffled to RTC, Branch 82. After due proceedings, the presiding judge of RTC, Branch 82 found that it was the first level court that had jurisdiction over the case. Consequently, Konrad filed the complaint before the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) and this was raffled to Branch 32. After due consideration, the presiding judge of the MeTC issued an order denying the motion to dismiss and the complaint falls within the jurisdiction of the MeTC. Still not satisfied with the decision, both parties appealed the case to the RTC of Quezon City. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-09- 64898 and was raffled to RTC, Branch 98, presided over by Judge Cabochan. On 1 June 2010, Judge Cabochan rendered her judgment on the appeal. She reversed and set aside the decision of the MeTC based on her finding that the latter court had no jurisdiction over the original action. She ruled that the RTC had original jurisdiction over the case. Konrad filed a motion for reconsideration. Konrad, together with his parents, sent a letter entitled “Request For Help” to the executive judge of RTC, Quezon City, copy furnished Judge Cabochan. In their letter, they expressed their grief over the judgment rendered by Judge Cabochan. In reaction to the “Request For Help” letter filed, Judge Cabochan issued an Order voluntarily inhibiting herself from the case. On 25 August 2010, Conrado wrote a letter to Judge Cabochan reacting on the order of inhibition issued by the latter. In a resolution dated 28 September 2010, Acting Executive Judge Fernando T. Sagun, Jr. upheld the voluntary recusal of Judge Cabochan. Konrad and Conrado, thereafter, filed the instant administrative complaint against Judge Cabochan. They alleged that Judge Cabochan committed serious or grave misconduct for falsely accusing complainant Conrado of pointing his finger at her in the presence of the court’s staff and other litigants; They also claimed that Judge Cabochan acted in gross ignorance of the law when she ruled that it was the RTC and not the MeTC that had original jurisdiction over the case. They likewise accused Judge Cabochan of rendering an unjust judgment for directing the plaintiff to again pay docket fees and undergo rigorous trial after more than 10 years. Finally, they charged respondent
judge of gross inefficiency for rendering judgment on the appeal beyond the 90-day reglementary period, in violation of Konrad’s right to a speedy disposition of his case. And Judge Cabochan should not only be dismissed from the service but should also be disbarred. On 26 November 2012, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) found respondent Judge Cabochan not guilty of serious or grave misconduct; of gross ignorance of the law; and of rendering an unjust judgment. The OCA, however, found her guilty of gross inefficiency for her delay in rendering a decision on the appeal. Issues: 1. WON Judge Cabochan committed grave misconduct, gross ignorance of the law, rendered an unjust judgment and gross inefficiency. Held: Judge Cabochan is not guilty of grave or serious misconduct. Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court sets forth the, to wit: “A judge may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify himself from sitting in a case, for just or valid reasons...” The inhibition of judges is rooted in the Constitution, specifically Article III, the Bill of Rights. Judge Cabochan should not be condemned for her recusal in Civil Case No. Q-09-64898. The charges of ignorance of the law and rendering of an unjust judgment bereft of merit. It is clear that Judge Cabochan’s judgment was issued in the proper exercise of her judicial functions and not subject to administrative disciplinary action; especially considering that complainants failed to establish bad faith on the part of the judge. On the charge of undue delay in resolving the appeal, adopt the findings of the OCA that Judge Cabochan is indeed guilty thereof. Thus, admonish respondent judge to be more circumspect in the exercise of her judicial functions to ensure that cases in her court are decided within the period required by law. 17. Office of the Court Administrator vs. Hon. Santiago E. Soriano AM no. MTJ-07-1683 September 11, 2013 Facts: Judge Soriano failed to decide thirty-six (36) cases submitted for decision in MTC and MTCC, which were all due for decision at the time he compulsorily retired. Issue: WON Judge Soriano are guilty of gross inefficiency and gross ignorance of the law. Held: The Supreme Court held that Judge Soriano has been remiss in the performance of his judicial duties. Judge Soriano’s unreasonable delay in deciding
cases and resolving incidents and motions, and his failure to decide the remaining cases before his compulsory retirement constitutes gross inefficiency which cannot be tolerated. Inexcusable failure to decide cases within the reglementary period constitutes gross inefficiency, warranting the imposition of an administrative sanction on the defaulting judge. Judge Soriano’s inefficiency in managing his caseload was compounded by gross negligence as evinced by the loss of the records of at least four (4) cases which could no longer be located or reconstituted despite diligent efforts by his successor. Judge Soriano was responsible for managing his court efficiently to ensure the prompt delivery of court services, especially the speedy disposition of cases. Thus, Judge Soriano was found guilty of gross inefficiency and gross ignorance of the law, and fined P40,000 to be taken from the amount withheld from his retirement benefits. 18. Col. Danilo Lubaton vs. Judge Mary Josephine Lazaro AM no. RTJ-12-2320 September 2, 2013 Facts: Judge Lazaro was accused of undue delay in the resolution of the Motion to dismiss a civil case considering that she had resolved the Motion to Dismiss beyond the 90-day period prescribed for the purpose without filing any request for the extension of the period Issue: WON Judge Lazaro committed undue delay. Held: The Supreme Court held that the 90-day period within which a sitting trial Judge should decide a case or resolve a pending matter is mandatory. If the Judge cannot decide or resolve within the period, she can be allowed additional time to do so, provided she files a written request for the extension of her time to decide the case or resolve the pending matter. The rule, albeit mandatory, is to be implemented with an awareness of the limitations that may prevent a Judge from being efficient. Under the circumstances specific to this case, it would be unkind and inconsiderate on the part of the Court to disregard Judge Lazaro’s limitations and exact a rigid and literal compliance with the rule. With her undeniably heavy inherited docket and the large volume of her official workload, she most probably failed to note the need for her to apply for the extension of the 90-day period to resolve the Motion to Dismiss. Judge Lazaro is FINED in the amount of Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) and is REMINDED to be more circumspect in the performance of her duties particularly in the prompt disposition of cases pending and/or submitted for decision before her court.