Jul 27, 2020 @ 11:17

Lorna Kapunan vows to exhaust all remedies in unjust vexation case

Lawyer Lorna Kapunan has vowed to exhaust all available legal remedies to overturn a recent ruling by the Manila regional trial court convicting her for unjust vexation, which was filed by University of Santo Tomas College of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina in 2018.

“This is clearly double jeopardy—you cannot appeal an acquittal. My lawyers are studying my legal remedies against what clearly is grave abuse of discretion and/or ignorance of the law,” Kapunan said in a SMS to GMA News online.

“Yes—I am confident that justice will be served and my acquittal will be affirmed ON THE MERITS and in accordance with law,” Kapunan continued.

In a four-page decision, Manila RTC Branch 11 Judge Cicero Jurado Jr. nullified on certiorari the orders of Manila Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 17 Judge Karla Funtila Abugan issued on January 2, 2020 and January 22, 2020 for grave abuse of discretion.

“The case at bar involves a judgment of acquittal. And needless to say, such judgment is covered by the” finality of acquittal doctrine. ” This principle is based on the fact that to reverse a judgment of acquittal and to enter a decision of conviction could put an accused in jeopardy twice…”

“The remedy of certiorari under Rule 65 envelops the instant petition. A judgment of acquittal may only be assailed in a petition for Certiorari under Rule 65…Furthermore, there must be a clear showing that the trial court unmistakably abused its authority to an extent, so grave, as to divest it of its power to administer justice, ” Judge Cicero’s decision reads in part.

In reversing the ruling of the MTC, the RTC sentenced Kapunan to a penalty of arresto menor or imprisonment of one (1) day to 30 days.

Also, the court ordered Kapunan to pay Divina P1, 000,000 as moral damages, P1, 000,000 as exemplary damages, and P500, 000 as attorney’s fees.

In the assailed decision, Judge Abugan acquitted Kapunan after the prosecution failed to prove her guilt. She’s the lawyer of the family of hazing victim Horacio Castillo III.

Also, the court cleared Kapunan of any civil liability after the prosecution failed “to establish by preponderance of evidence the accused’s statement constitutes a culpable act of vexing Dean Divina.”

Divina accused Kapunan of issuing derogatory remarks when the latter was quoted to have said that the former knew of Castillo’s initiation rites but did nothing about it.

He stressed that Kapunan’s statement gave him “mental anguish, sleepless nights, and a damaged reputation.”

Castillo, then a 22-year-old freshman at the Faculty of Civil Law in the University of Santo Tomas, died of “severe blunt traumatic injuries” after allegedly
undergoing the initiation rites of the Aegis Juris fraternity on September 17, 2017.

At least 10 Aegis Juris fratmen are now facing charges before the Manila regional trial court.

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