SC fines Makati judge, suspends clerk of court and sheriff over lack of notice of hearings

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The Supreme Court (SC) has slapped a Makati City judge with a P20,000 fine and suspended a clerk of court and a sheriff for two months for failing to notify two defendants that hearings were scheduled for their case.

In a recent 7-page decision, the SC 1st Division found Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 62 Judge guilty of simple neglect of duty, and ordered that the fine be taken out from his retirement benefits

Clerk of Court Victoria Dulfo and Sheriff Ricardo Albano were also found guilty of the same offense and were sternly warned that a repetition would be dealt with more severely.

Complainants Raquel and Simone Josefina Banawa, who were sued by Standard Insurance Co., Inc., alleged that they were not notified of for hearings scheduled between November 2012 and March 2013. Only Standard Insurance’s representatives were able to attend.

The Banawas said they only learned that the case had proceeded after Judge Diasen issued a March 19, 2013 decision finding them liable for P30,445.93.

The SC agreed that the Banawas were not served the notices of hearing, as shown by their absence from the records. Although Dulfo presented a notice dated October 17, 2012, the SC noted that it lacked the Banawas’ signature.

“Clearly, both Dulfo and Albano were remiss in their respective duties as Clerk of Court and as Sheriff. And as Clerk of Court, Dulfo was chiefly responsible for the shortcomings of Albano to whom was assigned the task of serving said court processes to complainants” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo.

The SC added that Diasen “shares responsibility” for the two subordinates’ administrative lapses, citing Rules 3.08 and 3.09 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

However, the SC said his act of immediately rendering judgment on the ground of the Banawas’ non-appearance did not constitute gross negligence or gross ignorance of the law.

It said this was authorized under Section 18 of the Rules of Procedure in Small Claims Cases.

The SC in an August 9, 2017 decision previously slapped Diasen with a P5,000 fine for trying to sell rice to court employees.

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