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People vs. Tria-Tirona Case Digest


After trial on the merits, an acquittal is immediately final and cannot be appealed on the ground of double jeopardy. The only exception where double jeopardy cannot be invoked is where there is a finding of mistrial resulting in a denial of due process.

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Facts: 

Chief Inspector Muyot was charged with Violation of of Section 16, Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by Rep. Act No. 7659 after 489 grams of shabu was found on his house by virtue of a search warrant. Muyot pleaded not guilty to the crime charged during the arraignment. After trial on the merits, Judge Tria-Tirona rendered a decision acquitting Muyot on ground of reasonable doubt.

Petitioner appealed, contending that Judge Tria-Tirona, in acquitting Muyot, committed grave abuse of discretion by ignoring material facts and evidence on record which, when considered, would lead to the inevitable conclusion of the latter's guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Petitioner prays for the nullification and the setting aside of the decision acquitting Muyot claiming that Judge Tria-Tirona abused her discretion in disregarding the testimonies of the NBI agents on the discovery of the illegal drugs.


Issues:

1. Can the government appeal from a judgment acquitting the accused after trial on the merits without violating the constitutional precept against double jeopardy?

2. Should the judgment of conviction be set aside?


Held:

1. No. An acquittal is final and unappealable on the ground of double jeopardy, whether it happens at the trial court level or before the Court of Appeals. In general, the rule is that a remand to a trial court of a judgment of acquittal brought before the Supreme Court on certiorari cannot be had unless there is a finding of mistrial. Only when there is a finding of a sham trial can the doctrine of double jeopardy be not invoked because the people, as represented by the prosecution, were denied due process.

There being no mistrial in the case before us, we find no need to reexamine the evidence, because if we do so, we will be allowing an appeal to be made on an acquittal which would clearly be in violation of the accuseds right against double jeopardy.


2. The petition smacks in the heart of the lower courts appreciation of the evidence of the parties. It is apparent from the decision of public respondent that she considered all the evidence adduced by the parties. Even assuming arguendo that public respondent may have improperly assessed the evidence on hand, what is certain is that the decision was arrived at only after all the evidence was considered, weighed and passed upon. In such a case, any error committed in the evaluation of evidence is merely an error of judgment that cannot be remedied by certiorari. An error of judgment is one in which the court may commit in the exercise of its jurisdiction. An error of jurisdiction is one where the act complained of was issued by the court without or in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion which is tantamount to lack or in excess of jurisdiction and which error is correctible only by the extraordinary writ of certiorari. Certiorari will not be issued to cure errors by the trial court in its appreciation of the evidence of the parties, and its conclusions anchored on the said findings and its conclusions of law. Since no error of jurisdiction can be attributed to public respondent in her assessment of the evidence, certiorari will not lie. (People vs. Tria-Tirona, G.R. No. 130106. July 15, 2005)

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