A. M. No. MTJ-04-1571 - February 14, 2005
OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR, Complainant, vs. JUDGE Aniceto L. Madronio, Sr., Former Acting Presiding Judge, MCTC, San Fabian-San Jacinto, Pangasinan, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
The instant complaint stemmed from the report of the team 2 which conducted the judicial audit and physical inventory of cases from April 3 to April 12, 2003, in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court of San Fabian-San Jacinto, Pangasinan, then presided over by respondent judge Aniceto L. Madronio, Sr., who compulsorily retired on April 15, 2003.
The report showed that out of the 1,157 cases 3 actually audited by the team, eighty (80) cases were not yet acted upon by respondent judge. Eighteen (18) out of the nineteen (19) cases pending for decision were already beyond the reglementary period to decide while five (5) out of the six (6) cases with motions already submitted for resolution were already beyond the reglementary period to resolve. No further actions were made on eighty-one (81) cases while no further settings were had on sixty-one (61) cases.
In our Resolution dated October 6, 2003, we resolved to direct respondent judge to explain: (a) his failure to decide the following cases within the reglementary period, to wit: Criminal Cases Nos. 3102, 3103, 3371, 3703, 4286, 3559, 3800; Civil Cases Nos. 938, 943, 981, 1078, 1168, 1199, 1219, 1251, 1272, 1314; (b) his failure to resolve the following cases with motions or incidents within the prescribed period, to wit: Criminal Cases Nos. 2819, 2820, and Civil Cases Nos. 1262, 1264, and 1267; (c) his failure to further act upon the following cases for a certain period of time, to wit: Criminal Cases Nos. 3303, 3304, 3615, 3707, 3861, 3887, 4126, 4127, 4151, 4173, 4397, 4412, 4424, 4425, 4439, 4513, 4536, 4538, 4554, 4555, 4556, 4557, 4563, 4576, 4583, 4599, 4600, 4613, 4614, 4622, 4625, 4629, 4681, 4684, 4685, 4692, 4693, 4715, 4716, 4721, 4771; and Civil Cases Nos. 874, 986, 1010, 1023, 1074, 1079, 1139, 1169, 1190, 1209, 1222, 1223, 1224, 1233, 1237, 1240, 1241, 1242, 1259, 1260, 1267, 1275, 1279, 1280, 1285, 1292, 1294, 1303, 1304, 1305, 1306, 1308, 1312, SP No. 02, Special Civil Case No. 1184, LRC N-13, (LRC) N-04, LRC Case No. N-08/LRA Rec. No. N-66586, LRC # 20, LRC No. 29; (d) his failure to have further settings on the following cases, to wit: Criminal Cases Nos. 1209, 3093, 3094, 3095, 3096, 3097, 3111, 3163, 3182, 3284, 3354, 3416, 3417, 3418, 3318, 3415, 3660, 3697, 3342, 3899, 3932, 3933, 3934, 4172, 4279, 4315, 4329, 4330, 4333, 4337, 4423, 4449, 4467, 4488, 4503, 4511, 4525, 4433, 4432, 4546, 4547, 4548, 4549, 4550, 4549, 4588, 4610, 4683, 4695, 4735, 4736, 4738, 4747, 4763, 4770; and Civil Cases Nos. 988, 1051, 1210, 1234, 1295, 1301; (e) why the following cases still have motions pending action by the court, to wit: Criminal Cases Nos. 4262 and 4440; and Civil Cases Nos. 879, 1182, 1185, 1287, 1288, 1320, 1321, 1323; (f) his failure to take action on the following cases since their filing, to wit: Criminal Cases Nos. 4294, 4514, 4691, 4710, 4711, 4712, 4713, 4714, 4715, 4716, 4717, 4718, 4719, 4720, 4721, 4722, 4723, 4724, 4725, 4726, 4727, 4728, 4729, 4730, 4731, 4732, 4733, 4734, 4746, 4747, 4748, 4749, 4750, 4751, 4752, 4753, 4754, 4755, 4756, 4757, 4758, 4759, 4760, 4761, 4762, 4763, 4764, 4765, 4766, 4767, 4768, 4769, 4770, 4771, 4772, 4773, 4774, 4775, 4776, 4777, 4778, 4779, 4780, 4781, 4782, 4783, 4785; (g) why no order of arraignment can be found in the records with regard to accused Rolando Malanum in Criminal Case No. 2875; and (h) with respect to Criminal Case No. 4644, why the court, in an Order dated March 27, 2003, reset the pre-trial on April 10, 2003, notwithstanding the fact that the accused was not yet arraigned. 4
In the same resolution, this Court directed Judge Loreto S. Alog, Jr., the Acting Presiding Judge of the same court, to take appropriate action on the cases left undecided or unresolved or not acted upon by the respondent judge. Acting Branch Clerk of Court Lisa Castillo was also directed to explain why certain cases were not yet acted upon since their filing and to take appropriate action thereon. We directed the three to submit their compliance within fifteen (15) days from notice. Moreover, we resolved to withhold fifty thousand pesos (
In a letter dated December 8, 2003, respondent judge admitted to not having decided, resolved or acted upon the mentioned cases on time. He explained that his failure to act was "caused by [his] cardiac ailment and so much volume of cases in [his] regular court and in Branch 2 of the City Court of Dagupan City. In these two courts, [he] had more or less 1,500 cases to cope with. [He] did [his] best even to the extent of endangering [his] health, but despite [his] efforts, [he] was not able to cope with the requirements of the policy." He prayed that the fine imposed on him be reduced from fifty thousand pesos (
Having found that Acting Branch Clerk of Court Castillo already complied with the directive of the Court and after considering the compliance report of Judge Alog, Jr., the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) recommended as follows:
x x x (1) The Report on the judicial audit conducted in the MCTC, San Fabian-San Jacinto, Pangasinan be re-docketed as a regular administrative matter against Judge Aniceto L. Madronio for gross inefficiency; (2) the Hon. Aniceto L. Madronio, former Acting Presiding Judge, MCTC, San Fabian-San Jacinto, Pangasinan, be meted a FINE of
Hence, in our Resolution dated December 13, 2004, the report of the judicial audit team was re-docketed as a regular administrative matter against respondent judge, for gross inefficiency.
In arriving at the recommended fine of fifteen thousand pesos (
We adopt the findings of the OCA with modification.
The Constitution mandates all lower courts to decide or resolve cases or matters within three (3) months from their date of submission. 8 Accordingly, Rule 3.05, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct directs judges to "dispose of the court's business promptly and decide cases within the required periods." 9 But this rule is not that severe. If a judge finds himself unable to comply with this 90-day requirement for deciding cases or matters, he can, for good reasons, ask for an extension and such request is generally granted. 10 Thus, we have consistently held that notwithstanding the valid reasons that a judge may have for such delay -- poor health, age, heavy caseload, among others -- these do not totally absolve him from liability. At most, they only serve to mitigate the penalty. We held in Hadja Shittie M. Arap vs. Judge Amir Mustafa 11 that:
This Court has constantly impressed upon judges the need to decide cases promptly and expeditiously, for it cannot be gainsaid that justice delayed is justice denied. Delay in the disposition of cases undermines the people's faith and confidence in the judiciary. Hence, judges are enjoined to decide cases with dispatch. Their failure to do so constitutes gross inefficiency and warrants the imposition of administrative sanction against them.
Under the new amendments to Rule 140,
undue delay in rendering a decision or order is a less serious charge, for which a respondent shall be imposed the penalty of either suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than one (1) nor more than three (3) months or a fine of more than ten thousand pesos (
In this case, respondent judge admits that he: (a) failed to decide eighteen (18) cases within the prescribed period; (b) failed to resolve the motions in five (5) cases within the prescribed period; (c) failed to take initial action upon eighty (80) cases; (d) failed to further act upon pending incidents in eighty-one (81) cases; and (e) failed to make further settings in sixty-one (61) cases despite the lapse of an unreasonable length of time. On February 19, 2003, in a previous administrative matter 34 against respondent judge, we resolved to:
x x x (a) SEVERELY REPRIMAND Judge Aniceto L. Madronio, Sr. for his failure to act with dispatch and to decide the cases mentioned in the resolution dated 26 July 2002 within the reglementary pe[r]iod, and WARN Judge Madronio, Sr. that a repetition of the same or similar act/s shall be dealt with more severely; and (b) DIRECT Judge Madronio, Sr. to decide with dispatch and take appropriate action on the said cases subject of the resolution dated 26 July 2002.
Notably, the cases which respondent judge failed to decide or resolve in the instant case were submitted for decision or resolution as far back as September 15, 2000 35 and February 1, 2001. 36 In some of the cases, the last actions taken by respondent were made as far back as in 1998 37 and 1999. 38 Moreover, no action was taken on cases filed as early as May 8, 2001 and March 12, 2002. 39
Respondent's reasons -- cardiac ailment and heavy caseload -- were the same excuses he proffered in the first administrative matter against him. His cardiac ailment was not shown to be of such gravity as to warrant a leniency in the enforcement of the Rules. While we empathize with the plight of judges assigned to courts with heavy dockets, this does not exempt them from due observance of the Rules. Considering that respondent was already reprimanded for his first offense involving undue delay, he should have known better than to simply let the reglementary period pass by. Aware of his physical adversities, respondent judge should have asked the Court for an extension of time to decide and resolve the cases to avoid a breach of the Rules. In failing to do his duty for the second time, the imposition of fine in the amount of twenty thousand pesos (
As we have often stressed, the judge is the visible representation of the law and, more importantly, of justice. Thus, he must be the first to abide by the law and weave an example for the others to follow. He should be studiously careful to avoid committing even the slightest infraction of the Rules. 40
IN VIEW WHEREOF, we hold retired Judge Aniceto L. Madronio, Sr., administratively liable for gross inefficiency for his undue delay in rendering decisions and orders and he is ordered to pay a fine of Twenty Thousand Pesos (
Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.
Search for www.chanrobles.com
|Copyright © ChanRoblesPublishing Company| Disclaimer | E-mailRestrictions|
ChanRobles™Virtual Law Library ™ | chanrobles.com™