Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pretrial; duty of judge and clerk to set date

See -

"x x x.

In Mely Hanson Magpali vs. Judge Moises M. Pardo, RTC, Branch 31, Cabarroquis, Quirino (A.M. No. RTJ-08-2146; 14 November 2008), the Court held:

Respondent Judge fell short of these standards when he failed in his duties to follow elementary law and to keep abreast with prevailing jurisprudence. His claim that the party did not in any manner request that the case be scheduled for hearing as provided under Rule 18, par[.] 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, and that it should be the party who will ask an ex-parte setting/scheduling of the case for its pre-trial is not exactly correct. A.M. No. 03-1-09-SC, 16 August 2004 (Rule on Guidelines to be Observed by Trial Court Judges and Clerks of Court in the Conduct of Pre-trial and Use of Deposition-Discovery Measures) provides that within 5 days from date of filing of reply, the plaintiff must promptly move ex-parte that the case be set for pre-trial conference. If the plaintiff fails to file said motion within the given period, the Branch COC shall issue a notice of pre-trial. The respondent Judge should be conversant therewith.  The case has not been set for pre-trial or at least for a hearing after the filing of the Answer dated 23 July 2007. He must know the laws and apply them properly.  Service in the judiciary involves continuous study and research from beginning to end.[24] (italics, emphases and underscorings supplied)

In the aforementioned case, the Court found the respondent judge guilty of Gross Ignorance of the Law and fined him in the amount of P10,000.00.

        Indeed, the respondent deserves to be sanctioned for gross ignorance of the law. With her inaction on the petition for contempt, she betrayed her unbecoming lack of familiarity with basic procedural rules such as what was involved in the contempt proceedings before her court.  She should have known that while the petitioners have the responsibility to move ex parte to have the case scheduled for preliminary conference, the court (through the branch clerk of court) has the duty to schedule the case for pre-trial in the event that the petitioners fail to file the motion.

x x x."