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ZALDIVAR V GONZALES

PER CURIAM; October 7, 1988


(joey capones)

NATURE
Petition to review the decision of the Sandiganbayan

FACTS
Enrique A. Zaldivar had a pending case for graft and corruption in the
Sandiganbayan initiated by Tanodbayan Gonzalez. Zaldivar filed a petition in the SC
alleging that Gonzalez, as Tanodbayan and under the provisions of the 1987
Constitution, was no longer vested with power and authority independently to
investigate and to institute criminal cases for graft and corruption against public
officials and employees, and hence the information filed in his criminal cases were
all null and void. The SC issued a temporary restraining order. Petitioner later filed
another petition because Gonzalez filed additional criminal charges against
petitioner and five other individuals. Gonzalez instituted another criminal case in
the Sandiganbayan. Four days later, the SC issued another TRO. Zaldivar then filed
a petition to cite in contempt Special Prosecutor Gonzalez for filing new information
before the Sandiganbayan and for making contemptuous statements to the media.
In a news art in the Phil Daily Globe, Gonzalez made the ff. statements: (1) while the
rich and influential persons get favorable actions from the SC, its difficult for an
ordinary litigant to get his petition to be given due course, (2) while Pres. Aquino
had been prodding him to prosecute graft cases even if they involve the high and
mighty, the SC had been restraining him, (3) while he doesnt wish to discuss the
merits of the Zaldivar petition before the SC, He was disturbed that the order can
aggravate the thinking of some people that affluent persons can prevent the
progress of a trial. The SC ordered the nullification of the criminal cases and for
Gonzalez to cease and desist from further acting on Zaldivars case In the motion
for reconsideration, Gonzales claimed that 3 handwritten notes, sent by some
members of the SC interceding for cases pending before his office, were in his
possession. He said that he doubts whether the judges will remain impartial to him,
there being at least 4 members who definitely wont, and prayed that these 4 inhibit
themselves in the deliberation. When this was denied, he filed a motion to transfer
administrative proceedings to the IBP. He also released statements to the press
saying, in effect, that the SC deliberately rendered an erroneous decision, that
members of the SC have improperly pressured him to render decisions favorable to
their friends and colleagues, and that the Sc dismisses judges without rhyme or
reason and disbars lawyers without due process. Gonzalez didnt deny he said/wrote
those statements. His defense is that he was just exercising his freedom of speech.

ISSUES
1. WON the SC should punish Gonzalez for contempt of court and give
administrative sanctions
2. WON Gonzales is not liable because he was just using his constitutional right of
freedom of speech.

HELD
1. YES
Ratio Statements which constitute gross disrespect of the Court, and degrade the
SC and the entire system of justice are clearly contemptuous. The SC should
exercise its disciplinary authority over the source.
Reasoning The SC cited several cases wherein the Court held that the statements
were contemptuous and warranting the exercise of the courts authority. These are:
(1). Monteciollo v. Gica Atty del Mar moved to reconsider a decision of the CA with
a veiled threat that he should interpose his next appeal to the President. He said the
court knowingly rendered an unjust judgment thru negotiations. He was convicted
of contempt of court.
(2) Surigao Mineral Reservation Board v. Cloribel counsel asked CJ Concepcion and
J Castro to inhibit themselves from judging the case since the brother of Castro was
the VP of favored party and CJs son was the Secretary of the Board of Investments.
He even threatened that if he didnt get a favorable decision, hed bring the case to
the World Court and invoke the Hickenlooper Amendment requiring the cutting off of
all aid to the Philippines.
3. In re Almacen the SC committed a great unjust to his client; justice
administered by the SC wasnt only blind, but also deaf and dumb; hell argue the
cause of his client in the peoples forum (published in Manilla Times). Almacen was
suspended from the practice of law because he exceeded the boundaries of fair
criticism.
4. Paragas v. Cruz counsel alleged that the SC violated the Constitution, which was
a ground for impeachment; hoped that an incident wherein 2 SC employees were
killed wouldnt happen again (covert threat upon the members of the Court)
5. In re Sotto a newspaper reporter refused to divulge his source and was sent to
jail. Atty. Sotto published in a newspaper that the SC erroneously interpreted the
law, theyre narrow-minded, and that the members of the SC should be changed. He
was held in contempt of Court.
6. Salcedo v. Hernandez Atty Francisco: the Courts resolution is erroneous and is a
mockery of the popular will expressed at the polls.
2. NO

Ratio A lawyers right of free expression may have to be more limited than that of a
layman.
Reasoning The freedom of speech and of expression, like all constitutional
freedoms, is not absolute and that the freedom of expression needs on occasion to
be adjusted and accommodated with the requirements of equally important public
interests. One of the fundamental public interests is the maintenance of the
integrity and orderly functioning of the administration of justice. The lawyers duty
to render respectful subordination to the courts is essential to the orderly
administration of justice.
[Discussion on the SCs power to discipline its lawyers]
The SC, as the regulator and guardian of the legal profession, has plenary
disciplinary auth over attorneys. This stems from the Courts Constitutional
mandate to regulate admission to the practice of law, which includes as well
authority to regulate the practice itself. This is an inherent power incidental to the
proper administration of justice and essential to an orderly discharge of judicial
functions. It also has inherent power to punish for contempt, to control in the
furtherance of justice the conduct of ministerial officers of the court including
lawyers and all other persons connected in any manner with a case before the
Court. This is necessary for its own protection against improper interference with
the due administration of justice and not dependent upon the complaint of the
litigant. There are two related powers here: (1) Courts inherent power to discipline
attorneys broader than contempt power; lawyer doesnt need to be in contempt of
court to be punished under this; (2) contempt power - may be committed by both
lawyers and non-lawyers, in and out of court; if this is done by a lawyer, its usually
accompanied with professional misconduct.
A lawyer is not just a professional but also an officer of the court and as such, is
called upon to share in the task and responsibility of dispensing justice and
resolving disputes in society. Any act which tends to obstruct the administration of
justice constitutes both professional misconduct calling for the exercise of
disciplinary action against him and conduct warranting application of the contempt
power.
Disposition Atty. Raul M. Gonzales was found guilty of contempt of court in facie
curiae and of gross misconduct as an officer of the court and member of the Bar. He
was suspended from the practice of law indefinitely.