A Clerk of Court who issues a subpoena absent any proceedings, suit, or action commenced or pending before a court is liable of Gross Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of Service

Respondent’s act of issuing the subpoena to complainant was evidently not directly or remotely connected with respondent’s judicial or administrative duties. It appears that she merely wanted to act as a mediator or conciliator in the dispute between complainant and the Baterinas, upon the request of the latter.

Respondent as Clerk of Court is primarily tasked with making out and issuing all writs and processes issuing from the court.  She should have known or ought to know what a subpoena is.  “A subpoena is a process directed to a person requiring him to attend and to testify at the hearing or the trial of an action, or at any investigation conducted by competent authority, or for the taking of his deposition.”[4] She should have known that a process is “the means whereby a court compels the appearance of the defendant before it, or a compliance with its demands.”[5] Hence, absent any proceedings, suit, or action commenced or pending before a court, a subpoena may not issue. In this case, respondent knew there was no case filed against complainant. Neither had complainant commenced any proceeding against the Baterinas for whose benefit the subpoena was issued.  Respondent, then, had absolutely neither the power nor the authority nor the duty to issue a subpoena to the complainant.[6]

Perusal of the subpoena she issued to complainant shows that the form used was the one used in criminal cases, giving complainant the impression that her failure to appear would subject her to “the penalty of law,” and that the subpoena was issued with the trial court’s sanction.  We find, therefore, that respondent was using without authority some element of state coercion against complainant who was understandably compelled to heed the contents of the subpoena resulting in her humiliation.  Such naked abuse of authority by complainant could not be allowed to pass without appropriate sanction. Accordingly, this Court has no recourse but to agree with the recommendation of the OCA that respondent be disciplined and fined.

WHEREFORE, respondent Teresita G. Bravo is hereby found GUILTY of Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service for which she is fined Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) with a WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act would be treated more severely.

http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/jurisprudence/2001/apr2001/am_p_99_1307.htm

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About Erineus

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

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