Contemptuous statements made in pleadings filed with the court constitute direct contempt

A pleading containing derogatory, offensive or malicious statements submitted to the court or judge wherein proceedings are pending is considered direct contempt.  

“[C]ontemptuous statements made in pleadings filed with the court constitute direct contempt.”[27] “[A] pleading x x x containing derogatory, offensive or malicious statements submitted to the court or judge in which the proceedings are pending x x x has been held to be equivalent to ‘misbehavior committed in the presence of or so near a court or judge as to interrupt the proceedings before the same’ within the meaning of Rule 71, § 1 of the Rules of Court and, therefore, constitutes direct contempt.”[28]

Based on the abovementioned facts and consistent with the foregoing principles set forth, we agree with the finding of respondent court that petitioner is guilty of direct contempt of court.

The Motion for Reconsideration filed by petitioner with the respondent court contained a serious allegation that Judge Gingoyon has been communicating with the defendant off the record, which is considered as a grave offense. This allegation is unsubstantiated and totally bereft of factual basis. In fact, when asked to adduce proof of the allegation, petitioner was not able to give any, but repeatedly argued that it is his “fair observation or conclusion.”[29]

Petitioner vehemently stood by his suspicion and repeated the allegation in the Compliance to the show-cause Order dated November 11, 2005which he filed with the respondent court. The allegation was repeated despite Judge Gingoyon’s outright denial of communicating with the defendant and explanation in the Order[30] dated November 25, 2005 that Judge Gingoyon was familiar with the area as he was detailed inPasayCity since 1991 as State Prosecutor, and thereafter, as judge since 1997.

Instead of showing proof of the alleged communication between Judge Gingoyon and the defendant off the record, petitioner stubbornly insisted that there is nothing contumacious about his allegation against the Judge as he was just giving his fair and logical observation.  Clearly, petitioner openly accused Judge Gingoyon of wrongdoing without factual basis.  Suffice it to say that this accusation is a dangerous one as it exposes Judge Gingoyon to severe reprimand and even removal from office.

On the other hand, a careful perusal of the description as provided by Judge Gingoyon in the Decision shows but a general description of what is normally seen and what normally happens in places such as Edang Street, to wit:  “x x x place is bursting with people most of whom live in cramped tenements with no place to spare for recreation, to laze around or [do] their daily household chores x x x. The alleys become the grounds where children run around and play, the venue where adults do all sorts of things to entertain [themselves] or pass the time, their wash area or even a place to cook food in x x x. Ambulant vendors who display their wares in the alley and their customers that mill around them; x x x children chasing each other, dodging and   [ducking] from awnings or canopies; x x x clotheslines full of dripping clothes that encroach [on] the alleys x x x.”[31]

The act of petitioner in openly accusing Judge Gingoyon of communicating with the defendant off the record, without factual basis, brings the court into disrepute. The accusation in the Motion for Reconsideration and the Compliance submitted by the petitioner to the respondent court is derogatory, offensive and malicious. The accusation taints the credibility and the dignity of the court and questions its impartiality. It is a direct affront to the integrity and authority of the court, subjecting it to loss of public respect and confidence, which ultimately affects the administration of justice.

Furthermore, assuming that the conclusion of petitioner is justified by the facts, it is still not a valid defense in cases of contempt. “Where the matter is abusive or insulting, evidence that the language used was justified by the facts is not admissible as a defense. Respect for the judicial office should always be observed and enforced.”[32]

Moreover, the charge of partiality is uncalled for, and there being no scintilla of proof that Judge Gingoyon did the act complained of, petitioner’s act amounts to direct contempt of court.[33]

http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2011/september2011/170404.htm

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About Erineus

Born on December 28, 1965, Surallah, South Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.
This entry was posted in Contempt, Judicial and Legal Ethics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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