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SECTION 16

RIGHT TO A SPEEDY DISPOSITION OF CASES


1. PADUA VS ERICTA
FACTS :
Domingo Padua, petioner sought to recover damages for the injures suffered by his
eight-year old daughter, Luzviminda, caused by her being hit by a truck driven by
Rundio Abjaeto and owned by Antonio G. Ramos. Padua was litigating in forma
pauperis.
Trial of the case having been set in due course, Padua commenced presentation of
his evidence on December 6, 1973. He gave testimony on direct exqmination in the
course of which reference was made to numerous documents. At the close of his
examination, and on motion of defendants' counsel, the previously scheduled
hearing of December 12, 1973 was cancelled, and Padua's cross-examination was
reset on December 17, 1973. However, the hearing of December 17,1973 was also
cancelled, again at the instance of defendants' counsel, who pleaded sickness as
ground therefor; and trial was once more slated to "take place on March 6, March 7
and 13, 1974, all at 9:00 o'clock in the morning."
After defendants' attorney had twice sought and obtained cancellation of trial
settings, as narrated, it was plaintiff Padua's counsel who next moved for
cancellation of a hearing date. In a motion dated and filed on March 1, 1974,
Padua's counsel alleged that he had "another hearing on March 6, 1974 in Tarlac
and that the cancellation would "at any rate ... leave plaintiff and defendants two
(2) hearing dates on March 7 and 13, 1974;" and on these premises, he asked "that
the hearing on March 6, 1974 ... be ordered cancelled." No opposition was filed by
the defendants to the motion. Apart from filing this motion on March 1, 1974,
plaintiffs counsel took the additional step of sending his client's wife to the Court on
the day of the trial, March 6,1974, to verbally reiterate his application for
cancellation of the hearing on that day. This, Mrs. Padua did. The respondent Judge
however denied the application and dismissed the case. Padua moved for
reconsideration, but this was denied. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE :
Whether or not the respondent judge erred in dismissing the case on the ground
that it violates the right to a speedy disposition of cases.

RULING:

Courts should not brook undue delays in the ventilation and determination of
causes. It should be their constant effort to assure that litigations are prosecuted
and resolved with dispatch. Postponements of trials and hearings should not be
allowed except on meritorious grounds; and the grant or refusal thereof rests
entirely in the sound discretion of the Judge. It goes without saying, however, that
that discretion must be reasonably and wisely exercised, in the light of the
attendant circumstances. Some reasonable deferment of the proceedings may be
allowed or tolerated to the end that cases may be adjudged only after full and free
presentation of evidence by all the parties, specially where the deferment would
cause no substantial prejudice to any part. The desideratum of a speedy disposition
of cases should not, if at all possible, result in the precipitate loss of a party's right to
present evidence and either in plaintiff's being non-suited or the defendant's being
pronounced liable under an ex parte judgment. Judge's action was unreasonable,
capricious and oppressive, and should be as it is hereby annulled.

2. FLORES VS PEOPLE
FACTS:
Petitioners, Francisco Flores and Francisco Angel, were accused for
robbery. Information was filed in December 1951. They were found guilty of the
crime charged in November 1955. Notice of appeal was file in December 1955. It
was until February 1958 that action was taken by CAa resolution remanding the
records of the case to the lower court for a rehearing of the testimony of a certain
witness deemed material for the disposition of the case. Such resolution was
amended dated August 1959 which granted the petitioners to set aside the decision
so that evidence for the defense on new facts may be received and a new decision
in lieu of the old one may be rendered. The case was returned to the lower court
but nothing was done for about a year because the offended party failed to appear
despite the 6/7 dates set for such hearing. Furthermore, when the offended party
took the witness stand, his testimony was characterized as a mere fiasco as he
could no longer remember the details of the alleged crime and even failed to
identify the 2 accused.

The trial court instead of rendering a decision sent back the records to the appellate
tribunal. 5 more years elapsed without anything being done, petitioners sought
dismissal of the case against them due to inordinate delay in the disposition (from
December 1955- May 1965). CA was unresponsive notwithstanding the vigorous
plea of the petitioners, its last order being a denial of a second MR dated January
1966. CAs defense is that the case was not properly captioned as People of the
Philippines and without Court of Appeals being made a party to the petition.

ISSUE: WON constitutional right to a speedy trial was violated.

HELD:
YES. Petition for certiorari was granted. Orders denying Motion to dismiss as
Motion to Reconsideration are set aside and nullified. Criminal Case against
petitioners was dismissed.

Constitutional right to a speedy trial means one free from vexatious, capricious and
oppressive delays. An accused is entitled to a trial at the earliest opportunity. He
cannot be oppressed by delaying the commencement of the trial for an
unreasonable length of time. The Constitution does not say that such right may be
availed only where the prosecution of a crime is commenced and undertaken by the
fiscal. It does not exclude from its operation cases commenced by private
individuals. Where a person is prosecuted criminally, he is entitled to a speedy
trial, irrespective of the nature of the offense or the manner in which it is authorized
to be commenced.

Technicalities should give way to the realities of the situation. There should not be
too much significance attached to the procedural defect (refer to CAs defense). CA
failed to accord respect to this particular constitutional right amounting at the very
least to a grave abuse of discretion.