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Guerrero vs. Judge Villamor [G.R. No. 82238-42 November 13, 1989]

16 Oct

Ponente: FERNAN, C.J.

FACTS:

Petitioner George D. Carlos, thru his lawyer and herein co-petitioner Antonio T. Guerrero filed before the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City an action for damages against respondent judge for knowingly rendering an unjust judgment in the aforesaid consolidated criminal cases. The complaint and summons were served on respondent judge. On the following day, the respondent judge issued an Order of Direct Contempt of Court against herein petitioners, finding them guilty beyond reasonable doubt of direct contempt and sentencing them both to imprisonment of five (5) days and a fine of P500.00 for degrading the respect and dignity of the court through the use of derogatory and contemptuous language before the court.

To stop the coercive force of the Order of Contempt issued by respondent judge, petitioners filed the instant petition for certiorari with preliminary injunction or restraining order. The Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining and restraining respondent Judge Adriano R. Villamor from enforcing his order of Direct Contempt of Court.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the alleged derogatory language employed in the Civil Case complaint constitutes direct contempt.

HELD:

NO. Petition was granted. Order of Direct Contempt declared NULL and VOID. The Temporary Restraining Order is made permanent.

RATIO:

Based on the facts prevailing in the case, the Supreme Court sustained petitioners’ contention that the alleged derogatory language employed in the complaint did not constitute direct contempt but may only, if at all, constitute indirect contempt subject to defenses that may be raised by said, petitioners in the proper proceedings. Stress must be placed on the fact that the subject pleading was not submitted to respondent judge nor in the criminal cases from which the contempt order was issued but was filed in another court presided by another judge and involving a separate action, the civil case for damages against respondent judge.

[L]awyers, on the other hand, should bear in mind their basic duty “to observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers and …(to) insist on similar conduct by others.” (Canon 9) This respectful attitude towards the court is to be observed, “not for the sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its supreme importance. And it is through a scrupulous preference for respectful language that a lawyer best demonstrates his observance of the respect due to the courts and judicial officers.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Case Digests, Legal Ethics

 

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