Gregorio Dimarucot vs People of the Philippines
630 SCRA 659 – Remedial Law – Criminal Procedure/Civil Procedure – Appellant’s Brief; Failure to File – Abandonment of Appeal
Legal Profession – Negligence of Counsel Binds Client
In 2006, Gregorio Dimarucot was convicted of frustrated homicide. Dimarucot, through counsel de parte (unnamed in the SC Decision), filed an appeal. The Court of Appeals then required Dimarucot to file an appellant’s brief. After four motions for extension to file the said appellant’s brief, Dimarucot’s counsel still failed to file the same. Hence, the appeal was dismissed motu proprio by the CA as it ruled that Dimarucot abandoned his appeal.
Dimarucot then filed a motion for reconsideration alleging that due to the counsel’s depression and personal problems (as the lawyer’s wife had to undergo medical surgery), the counsel was not able to attend to the case. The CA found the motion to be unpersuasive hence it denied the same.
Dimarucot then filed a petition for review on certiorari citing an additional ground that the CA did not send him a notice directing him to show cause why his appeal should not be dismissed by reason of failing to file the appellant’s brief in compliance with par. 1, Sec. 8, Rule 124 of the Rules of Court.
1. Whether or not Gregorio Dimarucot’s appeal should be dismissed.
2. Whether or not he is bound by the negligence of his counsel.
1. Yes. The dismissal by the Court of Appeals is proper. Under Section 8, paragraph 1, Rule 124 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure:
SEC. 8. Dismissal of appeal for abandonment or failure to prosecute. – The Court of Appeals may, upon motion of the appellee or motu proprio and with notice to the appellant in either case, dismiss the appeal if the appellant fails to file his brief within the time prescribed by this Rule, except where the appellant is represented by a counsel de oficio.
It is clear under the foregoing provision that a criminal case may be dismissed by the CA motu proprio and with notice to the appellant if the latter fails to file his brief within the prescribed time. Dimarucot was indeed not sent a show-cause order/notice. However, the abovementioned rule has some exceptions, to wit:
a. if the appellant has filed a motion for reconsideration of, or to set aside, the order dismissing the appeal, in which he stated the reasons why he failed to file his brief on time and the appellate court denied the motion after considering said reasons, the dismissal was held proper; and
b. where the appeal was dismissed without prior notice, but the appellant took no steps either by himself or through counsel to have the appeal reinstated, such an attitude of indifference and inaction amounts to his abandonment and renunciation of the right granted to him by law to prosecute his appeal.
In this case, Dimarucot filed a motion for reconsideration in which he stated the reasons why he failed to file his brief on time.
2. Yes. The negligence and mistakes of counsel are binding on the client. When Dimarucot’s counsel was already troubled by his personal problems, Dimarucot should have been prudent enough to drop said counsel and engaged the services of another counsel. Verily, diligence is required not only from lawyers but also from their clients. Although the Supreme Court held that there are exceptions to the foregoing rule, to wit:
a. when the reckless or gross negligence of counsel deprives the client of due process of law;
b. when the application of the general rule results in the outright deprivation of one’s property or liberty through a technicality.
these exceptions are not met in Dimarucot’s case.