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People vs Turco jr.

Facts:

Accused-appellant Rodegelio Turco, Jr. (aka “Totong”) was charged with the rape of his neighbor 13-year-old Escelea Tabada.

Escelea was about to sleep when she heard a familiar voice calling her from outside her house. She recognized appellant Turco immediately as she had known him for 4 years and he is her second cousin.

Unaware of the danger that was about to befall her, Escelea opened the door. Turco, with the use of towel, covered Escelea’s face, placed his right hand on the latter’s neck and bid her to walk.

When they reached a grassy part, near the pig pen which was about 12 meters away from the victim’s house, appellant lost no time in laying the victim on the grass, laid on top of the victim and took off her short pants and panty and succeeded in pursuing his evil design-by forcibly inserting his penis inside Escelea’s private part despite Escelea’s resistance. Appellant then threatened her that he will kill her if she reports the incident to anybody.

For almost 10 days, she just kept the incident to herself until she was able to muster enough courage to tell her brother-in-law, Orlando Pioquinto, who in turn informed Alejandro, the victim’s father, about the rape of his daughter. Alejandro did not waste time and immediately asked Escelea to see a doctor for medical examination and eventually file a complaint after the issuance of the medical certificate. Turco, meanwhile, alleged that he and Escelea were sweethearts.

Lower Court:

The trial court found Turco guilty of the charge.

In his appeal, Turco argues, among others, that no actual proof was presented that the rape of the complainant actually happened considering that although a medical certificate was presented, the medico-legal officer who prepared the same was not presented in court to explain the same.

Issue:

W/N the lower court erred in finding the appellant guilty of rape

W/N the appellant’s contention that the medical certificate may not be considered is with merit

Held:

1. No. The Supreme Court agrees with the lower court’s finding of credibility in the testimony

and evidence presented by the victim, and finds the appellant guilty of rape beyond reasonable doubt.

2. Yes. With regards to appellant’s argument on the proof of medical certificate, while the

certificate could be admitted as an exception to the hearsay rule since entries in official records constitute exceptions to the hearsay evidence rule, since it involved an opinion of one who must first be established as an expert witness, it could not be given weight or credit unless the doctor who issued it is presented in court to show his qualifications. Emphasis must be placed on the distinction between admissibility of evidence and the probative value thereof. Evidence is admissible when it is relevant to the issue and is not excluded by the law or the rules or is competent. Since admissibility of evidence is determined by its relevance and competence, admissibility is, therefore, an affair of logic and law. On the other hand, the weight to be given to such evidence, once admitted, depends on judicial evaluation within the guidelines provided in Rule 133 and the jurisprudence laid down by the Court. Thus, while evidence may be admissible, it may be entitled to little or no weight at all. Conversely, evidence which may have evidentiary weight may be inadmissible because a special rule forbids its reception.

Withal, although the medical certificate is an exception to the hearsay rule, hence admissible as evidence, it has very little probative value due to the absence of the examining physician. Nevertheless, it cannot be said that the prosecution relied solely on the medical certificate. In fact, reliance was made on the testimony of the victim herself which, standing alone even without medical examination, is sufficient to convict. It is well-settled that a medical examination is not indispensable in the prosecution of rape. The absence of medical findings by a medico-legal officer does not disprove the occurrence of rape. It is enough that the evidence on hand convinces the court that conviction is proper. In the instant case, the victim’s testimony alone is credible and sufficient to convict.

Lopez vs Heesen

FACTS:

Appellant, Jesse G. Lopez, originally filed suit against appellee, Robert Heesen, alleging that on October 15, 1958, Heesen unlawfully, violently, maliciously and feloniously assaulted and shot appellant with a shotgun.

Appellee, Heesen, answered denying the allegations of the complaint and thereafter appellant filed a demand for jury trial.

By stipulation of appellant and appellee, Heesen, appellee, Sears, Roebuck and Company was joined as a party-defendant.

It was also alleged that on October 14, 1958, appellee, Sears, sold to appellee, Heesen, one of said Higgins Model 51 hunting rifles; that said rifle was negligently designed or manufactured by appellee, Sears, in that the safety mechanism moved readily and in a dangerous manner from a "safe" to a "fire" position.

In addition, it was alleged that the rifle in this dangerous condition known to appellee, Sears, was sold to appellee, Heesen, with the knowledge that it would be used for hunting purposes and that appellee, Sears, negligently failed to warn appellee, Heesen, of the dangerous and defective condition of the rifle.

Immediately after the purchase of the rifle, Heesen left for a deer hunting trip in an area known as Ute Park near the town of Eagle Nest in Colfax County. He arrived at Ute Park that night and began hunting the next morning on October 15, 1958. Heesen hunted without success and had seen no game up until the time his gun discharged and appellant was wounded shortly after 3:00 P.M.

The jury was instructed that expert testimony is intended only to assist them in coming to a correct conclusion upon facts which are of a technical nature, but that the opinion of experts was not binding upon them and the jury must determine the weight to be given to such testimony.

Appellant introduced evidence tending to prove that the safety device on the Higgins Model 51 rifle is easy to knock off safety, making the rifle dangerous by presenting expert witnesses. Appellee, Sears, introduced testimony of witnesses who were either experts in the small arms field or experts in gun designing expressing expert opinions.

The jury returned its verdict finding the issues for both appellees and against appellant. Judgment was entered for appellees and this appeal followed. Appellant abandoned any contention that the verdict in favor of Heesen was erroneous and this appeal concerns only appellee, Sears.

ISSUES: Whether or not the trial court erred in admitting opinion evidence of the expert witnesses

RULING:

No. The testimony of these witnesses, all experts in their field, was upon the ultimate issue of fact of whether the safety device on the Higgins Model 51 was dangerous and defective or unsafe, and was properly the subject of expert testimony. Opinion evidence on an ultimate issue of fact does not attempt or have the power to usurp the functions of the jury, and this evidence could not usurp the jury's function because the jury may still reject these opinions and accept some other view. Opinion evidence offered by both parties in this case was not binding upon the jury and they were so instructed. See Wigmore on Evidence, 3d Ed., Vol. VII, § 1920, p. 17; Hooper v. General Motors Corp., 123 Utah 515, 260 P.2d 549.

In 20 Am.Jur., Evidence, § 775, p. 647, the rule is stated as follows:

"* * * In such cases, witnesses possessing requisite training, skill, or knowledge, denominated `experts,' may testify, not only to the facts, but to their opinions respecting the facts, so far as necessary to enlighten the jury and to enable it to come to a right verdict. * * * Issues of this kind are said to create a necessity for the admission in evidence of the opinions or conclusions of witnesses who are *455 shown to be specially skilled or experienced in the particular field in question."

There is much confusion among the decisions due to the language used by the courts in explaining why opinion testimony should be excluded. Some courts say that the opinion would "usurp the functions of the jury." Other courts say that the opinion should not be received because "that is the question which the jury must decide." If we are to add to this, the additional confusion which exists in the decisions as to whether negligence is a question of law or fact, or is a mixed question of law and fact, we would tend to create more confusion and add to the fine distinctions and limitations.

Opinion evidence is admissible on the basis that it will aid the jury to understand the problem and lead them to the truth on the ultimate facts, and opinions may be disregarded by the jury in whole or in part. It is left to the jury to decide the issue. See Seal v. Blackburn Tank Truck Service, 64 N.M. 282, 327 P.2d 797; and Hooper v. General Motors Corp., supra.

From a careful consideration of the record, we have come to the conclusion that when we consider all of the testimony *456 bearing upon the question of whether the rifle was dangerous and defective due to its negligent design, that when appellee used the term "negligent or defective," he was using the word "negligent" in a narrow sense and as to an ultimate and provable fact. This excluded the element of liability. It was for the jury to fix the ultimate liability of either party. All of the facts went to the jury and it is our view that under all of the facts and circumstances of this case, the expert opinions expressed were not improperly admitted.

The trial court did not abuse its discretion in permitting the experts to express their opinion. Bunton v. Hull, 51 N.M. 5, 177 P.2d 168; State v. Padilla, 1959, 66 N.M. 289, 347 P.2d 312; and Wells Truckways v. Cebrian, 1954, 122 Cal. App. 2d 666, 265 P.2d 557.

Finding no error in the record, the judgment of the district court is affirmed. It is so ordered.

SOCORRO D. RAMIREZ, petitioner vs.

HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, and ESTER S. GARCIA, respondents

G.R. No. 93833

September 28, 1995

FACTS:

Petitioner Socorro D. Ramirez filed a civil case in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City alleging that the private respondent, Ester S. Garcia, in a confrontation in the latter's office, allegedly vexed, insulted and humiliated her in a "hostile and furious mood" and in a manner offensive to his dignity and personality, contrary to morals, good customs and public policy.

In support of her claim, petitioner produced a verbatim transcript of the event and sought moral damages, attorney's fees and other expenses of litigation in the amount of P610,000.00, in addition to costs, interests and other reliefs awardable at the trial court's discretion. The transcript on which the civil case was based was culled from a tape recording of the confrontation made by petitioner.

As a result of petitioner's recording of the event and alleging that the said act of secretly taping the confrontation was illegal, private respondent filed a criminal case before the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City for violation of Republic Act 4200, entitled "An Act to prohibit and penalize wire tapping and other related violations of private communication, and other purposes.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the applicable provision of Republic Act 4200 does not apply to the taping of a private conversation by one of the parties to the conversation.

RULING:

No. Section 1 of the Republic Act 4200 states that it shall be unlawful for any person, not being authorized by all the parties to any private communication or spoken word, to tap any wire or cable, or by using any other device or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken word by using a device commonly known as a dictaphone or dictagraph or detectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape recorder, or however otherwise described. The law is clear and unambiguous. Where the law makes no distinctions, one does not distinguish. The Supreme Court affirmed the appealed decision. The instant petition is hereby DENIED. Cost against petitioner.

City of Manila v. Garcia

Present plaintiff ( Manila) is the owner of the property in question is located in Malate and the same are covered by Torrens titles. After World War 2, defendants entered upon said property without the consent of the city and built houses using second-grade materials.

Said defendants and their houses were discovered in November 1947. Subsequently, the mayor at that time gave some defendants written permits — each labeled "lease contract" — to occupy specific areas in the property.

Amidst this backdrop is Epifanio de los Santos Elementary School, which is close to the property in question. Came the need for this school's expansion; it became pressing. On September 14, 1961, plaintiff's City Engineer, pursuant to the Mayor's directive to clear squatters' houses on city property, gave each of defendants thirty (30) days to vacate and remove his construction or improvement on the premises.

This was followed by the City Treasurer's demand on each defendant, made in February and March, 1962, for the payment of the amount due by reason of the occupancy and to vacate in fifteen (15) days. Defendants refused. Hence, this suit to recover possession.

Issue:

Whether or not the trial court was able to establish that the city needs the property in question for school purposes.

Held:

Yes, the trial court was able to establish that the city needs the property in question for school purposes.

The city's evidence on this point is Exhibit E, the certification of the Chairman, Committee on Appropriations of the Municipal Board. That document recites that the amount of P100,000.00

had been set aside in Ordinance 4566, the 1962-1963 Manila City Budget, for the construction of an additional building of Epifanio de los Santos Elementary School.

The elimination of Exhibit E will not affect said issue as the trial court is duty bound to take judicial notice Ordinance 4566. The reason being that the city charter of Manila requires all courts sitting therein to take judicial notice of all ordinances passed by the municipal board of Manila. And, Ordinance 4566 itself confirms the certification aforesaid that an appropriation of P100,000.00 was set aside for the "construction of additional building" of Epifanio de los Santos Elementary School.

Prieto vs Arroyo, 14 SCRA 549 (1965)

Principle:

“if the party desires the court to take judicial notice of the record of another case, he should file the necessary pleading for the purpose and give the other party the chance to be heard on the matter.”

Facts

Gabriel Prieto and Zeferino Arroyo are owners of parcels of land adjoining to each other. When Arroyo died, the certificate of title in his name was cancelled and a transfer of certificate of title was then issued to his heirs. The heirs of Arroyo filed a petition before the CFI claiming that the technical description in their title does not conform to the decision of the land registration court where the area given in their title is less than 157 sq meters than to what they are entitled and thus prayed for the correction of the description in their title. The court directed the Register of Deeds to change the description in the transfer certificate of title. Prieto now filed an action against the defendants with the petition to annul the order made by the court claiming that a portion of his land was unjustly added to the defendant’s title. But during the special proceeding Prieto and his counsel failed to appear and the court issued an order dismissing the petition for failure to prosecute.

Prieto filed an action for annulment of the special proceeding and prayed to reconvey the 157 sq meters of lot that was taken from him and was added to the title of the defendants. Defendants move to dismiss the complaint on the ground of res judicata which the court allowed. Prieto now contends that there is no res judicata and invoked the court to have been erred in dismissing his first petition to annul the special proceeding even when he did not appear in court as no parole evidence is needed to support his petition where the matters concerning the land registration proceeding are parts of the record of the court which are well within the court’s judicial notice.

Issue:

Whether or not the court should have taken judicial notice on the land registration case adjudicated in the same court instead of dismissing the first petition to annul the special proceeding?

Ruling:

The Supreme Court held that as a general rule, courts are not authorized to take judicial notice in the adjudication of cases pending before them, of the contents of other cases, even when such cases have been tried or are pending in the same court, and notwithstanding the fact that both cases may have been tried or are actually pending before the same judge. If the party desires the court to take judicial notice of the record of another case, he should file the necessary pleading for the purpose and give the other party the chance to be heard on the matter instead of sending motion for postponement of the hearing.

The court finds his argument academic since no appeal was made from the order dismissing the said petition thus the decision has become already final. Moreover, the court finds res judicata as operative in the case since there are similar in the identity of the parties, subject matter and cause of action in the two cases involved thus the order of dismissal in the first petition now operates to bar the institution of the second petition.