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In Re Lozano [54 Phil. 801. July 24, 1930]

16 Oct

Ponente: MALCOLM, J.

FACTS:

Sometime ago, the complaint of an attorney against a Judge of First Instance was by resolution of this court referred to the Attorney-General for investigation, report, and recommendation. The Solicitor-General was designated to conduct the investigation of the charges, and pursuant to said designation, proceeded to the municipality of Capiz, Province of Capiz, to take the testimony of certain witnesses. The investigation was conducted secretly, as is customary in cases of this character. Notwithstanding, on April 29, 1930, El Pueblo, a newspaper published in Iloilo and edited by Severino Lozano, printed an account of the investigation written by Anastacio Quevedo, said to be an employee in the office of the Judge under investigation.

The article purports to give an account of the evidence of the different witnesses. Regarding this account, the complainant attorney alleges that the facts therein contained are “false, malicious, and untrue” and that “said report took sides with the respondent judge . . . and expressed an opinion as to the merits of the same, with the object undoubtedly, to influence the action of the investigator and the public in general and to obstruct, embarrass or impede the course of the present investigation.” In the same connection, the Attorney-General states that the newspaper report “does not contain a fair and true account of the facts disclosed at the investigation, . . . creating a wrong impression in the mind of the public and tending to influence improperly the action of this court in the said pending matter.” Under the circumstances, the observations of the Attorney-General must necessarily be accepted as true.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Severino Lozano and Anastacio Quevedo are guilty of contempt of court.

HELD:

YES. Court ordered each to pay the court a nominal sum of twenty pesos (P20) within fifteen (15) days.

RATIO:

The rule is well established that the newspaper publications tending to impede, obstruct, embarass, or influence the courts in administering justice in a pending suit or proceeding constitute criminal contempt which is summarily punishable by the courts. The rule is otherwise after the cause is ended. It is also regarded as an interference with the work of the courts to publish any matters which their policy requires should be kept private, as for example the secrets of the jury room, or proceedings in camera.

The liberty of the citizen must be preserved in all of its completeness. But license or abuse of liberty of the press and of the citizen should not be confused with liberty in its true sense. As important as is the maintenance of the Judiciary. Respect for the Judiciary cannot be had if persons are privileged to scorn a resolution of the court adopted for good purposes, and if such persons are to be permitted by subterranean means of diffuse inaccurate accounts of confidential proceedings to the embarrassment of the parties and the courts.

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

 

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