Legal Ethics Case Digests – Granting of Bail
Romulo Tolentino v. Judge Policarpio S. Camano, Jr.
A.M. RTJ-00-1522 January 20, 2000
Facts: Respondent Judge is being charged with gross ignorance of the law, grave abuse of discretion, grave abuse of authority, violation of Canons 1, 2, and 3 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics and incompetence in connection with granting bail to the accused in a criminal case for child abuse.
The complaint alleges that respondent Judge granted bail while pending the holding of a preliminary investigation. The defense moved to quash the information against the accused on the alleged absence of a preliminary investigation. Consequently, respondent Judge ordered that a preliminary investigation be had by the state prosecutor. During the pendency of this, he granted bail in favor of the defendant after several notices of hearing to the state prosecutor to which the latter failed to appear. After such grant, complainant herein now accuses respondent of denying the prosecution the chance to adduce evidence to show that the guilt of the accused was strong and that bail should not have been granted in his favor.
Held: NOT GUILTY. There was no denial of due process. It was not necessary to hold hearing so that the prosecution could show that evidence of guilt of the accused was strong since a preliminary investigation had been ordered by the court. At that point, bail was still a matter of right. Respondent judge, knowing that bail was indeed a matter of right at that stage, nevertheless set the hearing for the petition for bail four times. However, complainant failed to appear and present evidence to show that the guilt of the accused was strong. It thus appears that complainant is actually the one who was remiss in the performance of his duties. Considering that the case was referred to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor for preliminary investigation, the accused could be considered as entitled to bail as a matter of right. Thus, respondent judge’s decision granting bail to the accused was proper and in accordance with law and jurisprudence.