Legal Ethics Case Digests – Imposition of Proper Penalty

Felicidad Dadizon vs. Judge Aniceto Lirios

A.M. No. MTJ-00-1295. August 1, 2000

 

 

Facts: Felicidad Dadizon was the complainant in a prosecution for Falsification of a Public Document (Art. 172, RPC) which was tried and decided by Judge Aniceto Lirios of the MTC of Naval, Biliran. Judge Lirios convicted the accused, Pablo Suzon, and sentenced him to a straight penalty of 7 months imprisonment and imposed a PhP 1,000 fine. Dadizon questioned the punishment meted by the said judge, alleging that the straight penalty of 7 months is way below the penalty provided by law. Judge Lirios defended his decision, stating that he had to appreciate the mitigating circumstance that Suzon was already 70 years of age.

 

 

Held: GUILTY. As judge of thirty-three (33) years, respondent should have known that the Indeterminate Sentence Law provides for the imposition of a prison sentence in the minimum and maximum term for offenses punishable by the Revised Penal Code or the special laws. The offense committed was Falsification by a Private Individual and Use of Falsified Document punishable under Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code which provides for a penalty of imprisonment of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods (ranging from 2 years, 4 months and 1 days to 6 years) and a fine of not more than Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00). Respondent Judge appreciated one (1) mitigating circumstance (old age), which is merely an ordinary mitigating circumstance. The imposition of a straight penalty of seven (7) months by respondent Judge is clearly erroneous. While a judge may not always be subjected to disciplinary action for every erroneous order or decision he renders, that relative immunity is not a license to be negligent or abusive and arbitrary in performing his adjudicatory prerogatives. It is true that a judge may err in fixing the minimum and maximum terms of an indeterminate sentence. However, the unawareness of or unfamiliarity with the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law and duration and graduation of penalties merit disciplinary action from reprimand to removal. Every judge should know that in applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law for offenses penalized under the Revised Penal Code, the indeterminate sentence should have a fixed minimum and maximum. And when the law is so elementary, not to know it or to act as if one does not know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law. Judge Aniceto Lirios was fined in the amount of PhP 5,000 and issued stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely by the Court.

 

Source:  Ateneo

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About Magz

First of all, I am not a lawyer. I'm a graduate of AB Political Science and went to the College of Law but stopped going to law school for some reasons. I'm a passionate teacher who has been teaching English to speakers of other languages and a person who likes writing and blogging. I lost some important files and software when my computer broke down so the reason I created this website is to preserve the notes, reviewers and digests I collected when I was at the law school and at the same time, I want to help out law students who do not have enough time to go and read books in the library.

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