Political Law

People of the Philippines vs Court of Appeals (September 1996)

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G.R. No. 118882 – 330 Phil. 1034 – Political Law – Due Process – Even the State is Entitled to It

Jane Go was being sued criminally for the death of her husband. The case was lodged before the sala of Judge Pedro Espina of the Tacloban RTC. The Prosecution however moved for Judge Espina to inhibit himself from hearing the case. The Prosecution averred that Judge Espina earlier ordered the Prosecution not to proceed against Jane Go’s preliminary investigation. Judge Espina refused to inhibit himself. The matter reached the Court of Appeals and the CA ruled that Espina does not have to inhibit himself from hearing the case.

ISSUE: Whether or not the right to due process of the state has been violated.

HELD: Yes. In the case at bar, Judge Pedro Espina can not be considered to adequately possess the cold neutrality of an impartial judge as to fairly assess both the evidence to be adduced by the prosecution and the defense in view of his previous decision in Special Civil Action No. 92-11-219 wherein he enjoined the preliminary investigation at the Regional State Prosecutor’s Office level against Jane Go, the principal accused in the killing of her husband Dominador Go.

Judge Espina’s decision in favor of Jane Go serves as sufficient and reasonable basis for the prosecution to seriously doubt his impartiality in handling the criminal cases. Verily, it would have been more prudent for Judge Espina to have voluntarily inhibited himself from hearing the criminal cases.

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