Gonzales v. Familara III : AM P-04-1794 : April 14, 2004 : J.
Austria-Martinez : Second Division : Resolution
[A.M. NO. P-04-1794.
April 14, 2004]
EUGENIO C. GONZALES, Et.
MARIANO S. FAMILARA III, Clerk of Court, Regional
Trial Court of Roxas (Branch 43),
R E S O L U T I O N
In a letter dated April 23, 2003, Atty. Benjamin Relova, in
behalf of Eugenio C. Gonzales, et al., charges Atty. Mariano S. Familara III,
Clerk of Court of Branch 43, Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Mindoro of gross negligence, grave misconduct and gross dereliction of duty in
the performance of his duty as clerk of court.
Atty. Relova alleges:
Civil Case No. C-351, entitled, Diana Gonzales and Eugenio Gonzales v. Mrs.
Vera P. Quiazon, et al., his client, Eugenio C. Gonzales, deposited for
consignation before the said RTC, a managers check dated 24 May 1999 in the
Respondent did not deposit the check with a depository bank in violation
of the Supreme Court Circular No. 13-92 dated 1 March 1992 which expressly
directs that all collections from bailbonds, rental deposits and other
fiduciary collections, shall be deposited immediately by the Clerk of Court
concerned upon receipt thereof, with an authorized government depository bank.
Such inaction on the part of the respondent has not only deprived the National
Treasury of interest which the check should have earned had it been deposited,
but may have also caused prejudice to their client in terms of interest had the
consignation been disapproved.
In his Comment, respondent explains, as follows:
After some brainstorming with Presiding
Judge Antonio M. Rosales, he was prevailed upon by the judge not to deposit the
check for the time being for the reason that it would come in handy whenever
the need arises for the checks presentation, identification, comparison and
marking in the course of the proceedings.
The check was ultimately marked by the plaintiffs counsel as their
Exhibit N during the pre-trial conference, thus showing conformity with the
suggestion of the Judge.
As said check
was marked in evidence, it already formed part of the record of the case and should
stay therein until the propriety or impropriety of the consignation has been
acted upon by the court. Such petition was bolstered by the ruling of the Court
of Appeals in C.A. G.R. S.P. No. 57597, entitled, Eugenio C. Gonzales, et al. v. The Hon. Antonio M. Rosales, et al., to wit:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
As to petitioners claim for interest which the check they had
consigned may have earned if deposited with an authorized government depository
bank in accordance with Supreme Court Circular No. 13-92 which took effect March
1, 1992 (p. 9, Motion for Reconsideration, p. 202, Rollo),
it is premature in
the present petition for certiorari to claim any contingent interest which may
accrue by reason of the consignment of the check in court for the reason that
petitioners main case below is for consignment, the propriety of which is yet
to be determined on the merits by the court a quo.
Consequently, petitioners prayer for the issuance of a temporary
restraining order to restrain the lower court from proceeding with the hearing
until after we shall have resolved the latter issue is without any valid basis.
WHEREFORE, petitioners motions are denied for lack of merit.
He acceded to what his judge would like
to do with the check tentatively because that is consistent with the latters
prerogative on the manner by which the hearing of a case should be conducted in
conjunction with his power of control and supervision over his
The check became stale
because the time to rule on it was wasted away, hampered by the many pleadings
filed by plaintiffs counsel, such as several motions for postponement,
reconsideration, inhibition, certiorari , etc., as can be borne out by the
records itself which presently has become voluminous, comprising now of two
volumes, each volume measuring eight inches in thickness.
The case is yet in its initial stage.
Respondent prays for understanding and consideration in view of
the absence of gain and ill motive on his part in not doing what complainant
said he should have been done.
In his Reply, complainant contends:Circular Nos. 13-92 and 32-93 mandate that clerks of court should
deposit fiduciary funds immediately with authorized government depository
There are no ifs or buts in
the aforesaid issuances.
There are no
brainstorming necessary on the part of the Judge and the Clerk of Court because
the matter simply involved the immediate deposit of all collections and
have immediately deposited the check so that it could earn interest for the benefit
of the employees of the judiciary.
would have been sufficient that the receipt for the deposit be marked in
evidence and the check photocopied in order not to delay its deposit but
respondent allowed years to pass without depositing the check until it became
In his Answer to the Reply, respondent quoted the ruling of the
Supreme Court in Re: Deposit on the Financial Audit in RTC, General Santos
City, to wit:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
Indeed, clerks of court are the chief administrative officers of
their respective courts; with regard to COLLECTION OF LEGAL FEES, they perform
as judicial officers. .. 1 cralawred
He maintains that the cited ruling speaks
of collection of legal fees which is distinct and totally different from
consignment of checks; that when a petitioner files a petition for consignation
of a check, he is required to pay a correspondent legal fee in accordance with
the rules and that the payment collected from the petitioner or the payment
received in the filing of a similar action is the one contemplated by the
aforesaid ruling and not the check which is the subject matter of consignation.
Respondent further contends that complainants allegation that it
is sufficient that the receipt of the deposit could have been marked in
evidence and the check photocopied in order not to delay its deposit is a
responsibility that could not be reposed on respondent but should have been
tackled by Atty. Muyco of the Pao, Gonzales, Relova Law Office and the
opposing counsel during the pre-trial conference or the succeeding hearing
thereafter; that it is not his duty to take the cudgel of lawyering for the
and, that it was the check
which was marked and not the receipt signifying the parties conformity to make
the check part and parcel of the record.
Likewise, respondent informs the Court that a similar complaint
involving the same issue was lodged against Judge Antonio M. Rosales, the then
presiding judge of RTC, Branch 43, Roxas, Oriental Mindoro and that he was
surprised at the unexpected turn-around of complainants ire against him when
the axe supposedly intended for our judge fell short of the grinding stone, so
To verify the allegation of respondent that the failure to
deposit the check was upon advise of the judge, the OCA referred the matter to
Judge Antonio M. Rosales for comment.
In his Comment, Judge Rosales states that the present complaint
against the respondent was the subject of an earlier complaint filed by the
same complainant against him which was docketed as AM-RTJ-02-1711; that in a
full length decision promulgated by the Supreme Court, he was absolved of any
wrongdoing; that he submits said decision and adopts it as his reaction to the
comment submitted by the respondent.
The OCA recommended that this case be re-docketed as a regular
administrative complaint against the respondent and that he be reprimanded for
his failure to comply with Circular No. 13-92 with a warning that a repetition
of the same omission in the future shall be dealt with more severely.
We do not agree with the recommendations of OCA.
Pertinent portion of SC Circular No. 13-92 reads:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
All collections from bailbonds, rental deposits and other fiduciary
collections shall be deposited by the
Clerk of Court concerned, upon receipt
thereof, with an authorized government depository bank. (Emphasis ours)
Circular No. 32-93 refers to collection of legal fees and
submission of monthly report of collections.
It is clear from the foregoing circulars that the Clerk of Court
is mandated to immediately deposit with the depository bank all collections
from bailbonds, rental deposits and other fiduciary collections.
The subject check is not a fiduciary
collection, per se.
It is a check
sought to be deposited by the plaintiffs as consignation in accordance with
law, the propriety of which is yet to be determined.Respondent exercised prudence in conferring with Judge Rosales
whether to deposit the check or not and correctly heeded the advise of the
latter not to deposit the check immediately for Judge Rosales believed that the
decision to deposit said check was interwoven with the exercise of judicial
function.2 Moreover, complainants had converted the same into a documentary evidence when
they had the check marked as their Exhibit N during the pre-trial stage.
Considering that just like Judge Rosales in A.M. No. RTJ-02-1711,
there is no showing that respondents failure to deposit immediately the
subject check was prompted by bad faith, malice, corrupt motive or improper
consideration,3 respondent should be exonerated from any administrative liability.
administrative complaint agent respondent Clerk of Court Atty. Mariano S.
Familara lll is DISMISSED.
Puno, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Callejo, Sr., and TINGA, JJ., concur.
Ex parte Manifestation of Judge Rosales, p. 8; Rollo
, p. 61.
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