Enrique Zaldivar vs Raul Gonzalez
On June 25, 2012
166 SCRA 316 – Legal Ethics – Contemptuous Language – Duty of a Lawyer
Zaldivar was the governor of Antique. He was charged before the Sandiganbayan for violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Gonzales was the then Tanodbayan who was investigating the case. Zaldivar then filed with the Supreme Court a petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus assailing the authority of the Tanodbayan to investigate graft cases under the 1987 Constitution. The Supreme Court, acting on the petition issued a Cease and Desist Order against Gonzalez directing him to temporarily restrain from investigating and filing informations against Zaldivar.
Gonzales however proceeded with the investigation and he filed criminal informations against Zaldivar. Gonzalez even had a newspaper interview where he proudly claims that he scored one on the Supreme Court; that the Supreme Court’s issuance of the TRO is a manifestation theta the “rich and influential persons get favorable actions from the Supreme Court, [while] it is difficult for an ordinary litigant to get his petition to be given due course”.
Zaldivar then filed a Motion for Contempt against Gonzalez. The Supreme Court then ordered Gonzalez to explain his side. Gonzalez stated that the statements in the newspapers were true; that he was only exercising his freedom of speech; that he is entitled to criticize the rulings of the Court, to point out where he feels the Court may have lapsed into error. He also said, even attaching notes, that not less than six justices of the Supreme Court have approached him to ask him to “go slow” on Zaldivar and to not embarrass the Supreme Court.
ISSUE: Whether or not Gonzalez is guilty of contempt.
HELD: Yes. The statements made by respondent Gonzalez clearly constitute contempt and call for the exercise of the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court. His statements necessarily imply that the justices of...
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