Noryn Tan vs Judge Clarita Tabin
Remedial Law – Summary Procedure – Warrant of Arrest – Notice to the Accused
Legal Ethics – Judicial Ethics – Abuse of Authority
In 2006, a criminal case was filed against Noryn Tan for estafa in the Municipal Trial Court of Baguio (Branch 4). Arraignment was set to fall on October 10, 2006. Tan was not able to appear in court hence the presiding judge, Judge Clarita Tabin, issued a warrant of arrest against Tan. Tan was arrested in Quezon City, her place of residence.
Tan posted bail. Later on, she filed an administrative case against Judge Tabin on the ground of denial of due process. Tan alleged that she never received notice about the said arraignment.
In her comment, Judge Tabin said that the notice was coursed through the Chief of Police of Quezon City and that when two months lapsed after the issuance of said notice and no return was made by the QC police office, Judge Tabin presumed that Tan received the notice in the regular course of mail and that there was presumption of regularity in favor of the police officers. Thus, she issued the arrest warrant against Tan but such issuance was made in good faith.
ISSUE: Whether or not the issuance of the arrest warrant was proper.
HELD: No. The Supreme Court clarified whenever a criminal case falls under the Summary Procedure, the general rule is that the court shall not order the arrest of the accused, unless the accused fails to appear whenever required. In this case, the estafa case falls under the Rules on Summary procedure. Judge Tabin is not justified in issuing the warrant of arrest and her defense of good faith is not tenable.
The judge herself admitted that there was no proof that Tan received the notice for her to appear in court. She merely relied on the presumption of regularity which should not be used as an excuse in violating the right of the accused to due process. So basic and fundamental is a person’s right to liberty that it should not be taken lightly or brushed aside with the presumption that the police through which the notice had been sent, actually served the same on Tan whose address was not even specified.
Judge Tabin failed to uphold the rules. When the law is sufficiently basic, a judge owes it to her office to know and simply apply it. The Supreme Court held that a judge commits grave abuse of authority when she hastily issues a warrant of arrest against the accused in violation of the summary procedure rule that the accused should first be notified of the charges against him and given the opportunity to file his counter-affidavits and countervailing evidence. Judge Tabin was found guilty of abuse of authority and was fined P10,000.00.
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