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Tucay vs. Judge Domagas Case Digest


Although the Provincial Prosecutor had interposed no objection to the grant of bail to the accused, respondent judge should nevertheless have set the petition for bail for hearing and diligently ascertained from the prosecution whether the latter was not really contesting the bail application. He should have called a hearing for the additional reason of taking into account the guidelines in Rule 114, Sec. 6 of 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, as amended, in fixing the amount of the bail.


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Facts: 

Ludovico, Bernardo and Melchor Ellamil are accused of murder. Bernardo filed a petition for bail with the prayer that he be allowed to post bail in the amount of P50,000.00. The petition contained the notation "No objection" of the provincial prosecutor. Without holding a hearing to determine whether the evidence of the prosecution was strong, Judge Domagas issued an order on the same day, in which he granted bail and directed the release of Bernardo from detention.

Tucay, wife of the victim, filed a complaint before the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) against Judge Domagas charging him with ignorance of the law, serious misconduct and grave abuse of discretion. Tucay protested the grant of bail without hearing and without notice to trial fiscal.

The OCA finds the respondent judge grossly ignorant of the law in granting bail without a hearing in a criminal case involving a capital offense and recommends that he be fined and given a stern warning. It likewise points out that, in his order releasing the accused on bail, the judge did not state that he was granting the petition for bail but simply ordered him released.


Issue:

Whether or not the respondent judge is guilty of gross of ignorance of law in granting bail without a hearing in a criminal case involving a capital offense


Held:

Yes. Although the Provincial Prosecutor had interposed no objection to the grant of bail to the accused, respondent judge should nevertheless have set the petition for bail for hearing and diligently ascertained from the prosecution whether the latter was not really contesting the bail application. He should have called a hearing for the additional reason of taking into account the guidelines in Rule 114, Sec. 6 of 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, as amended, in fixing the amount of the bail.

Only after satisfying himself that the prosecution did not wish to oppose the petition for bail for justifiable cause (e.g., for tactical reasons) and taking into account the factors enumerated in Rule 114, sec. 6 for fixing bail should respondent judge have granted the petition for bail and ordered the release of the accused. In failing to observe these rudimentary requirements, the respondent judge showed gross ignorance of the law for which he should be fined. (Tucay vs. Judge Domagas, A.M. No. RTJ-95-1286, March 2 1995)

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