SC imposes fine on RTC judge who lost case papers

By Carla Gomez
Inquirer
Last updated 03:02am (Mla time) 07/07/2007

BACOLOD CITY—The Supreme Court found a regional trial court judge based in Silay City guilty of gross negligence for misplacing the records of a case he was handling.

 

The SC imposed a fine of P10,000 on RTC Branch 40 Judge Reynaldo Alon for negligence.

 

The SC issued a decision June 27 on Alon’s case.

 

SC Associate Justice Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez penned the resolution, which was concurred in by associate justices Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, Minita Chico-Nazario and Antonio Eduardo Nachura.

 

The SC ruling said it was the judge’s responsibility to ensure that records of cases in court are “properly kept and (these cases) disposed of promptly and expeditiously.”

 

New SC rules require judges to decide on cases in 60 days.

 

Stern warning

 

“It was bad enough that respondent failed to submit his investigation report and recommendation within the prescribed period. But to also lose the records of the case is unjustifiable,” the SC said.

 

The SC issued a stern warning that a similar offense in the future shall be dealt with more severely.

 

The case is an offshoot of the administrative complaint of Lina Lim Tan against Homero L. Robles, Sheriff IV, RTC, Branch 69, Silay City and docketed as A.M. OCA IPI No. 01-1167-P.

 

The SC, in a July 1, 2002 resolution, referred the administrative complaint to Alon for investigation and recommendation within 60 days from receipt of the records.

 

However, Alon submitted his investigation report and recommendation on May 13, 2005, or almost three years after the required date of submission, the SC said.

 

The SC then directed Alon to explain the unreasonable delay in rendering his report.

 

Reasons

 

Alon said he had not given much thought about the case and cited several causes of the delay such as his being replaced as executive judge in 2003 and being re-appointed only in April 2005, in addition to his tasks as judge-designate of Branch 63, La Carlota City, the SC noted.

 

The SC also cited as untenable Alon’s assertion that the delay in the disposition of the case stemmed from the request of the complainant to hold in abeyance the investigation until an affidavit of retraction could be filed.

 

“The respondent should have known that an affidavit of desistance does not operate to divest this Court of jurisdiction to determine the truth behind the matter stated in the complaint,” the SC pointed out.

 

The court’s disciplinary authority could not be dependent on or frustrated by private arrangements between parties, it added.

 

“The respondent should have, therefore, met the issue head-on without any further delay,” the SC said.

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