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3.18. JUDGMENTS- Requirements written and signed by judge must contain findings of facts and law applied must contain a dispositive portion filed with the clerk of court- rendition reckoned from filing with clerk- must be served on parties- may be amended before finality upon motion or motu proprio- entry upon finality entry determines prescriptive periods- final judgment not subject to amendment- separability of judgments (1) Velarde v SJS GR 159357 April 28, 2004 - VELASCOFACTSSocial Justice Society (SJS) filed a petition for Declatory Relief before RTC Manila against Bro. Mike Velarde. SJS sought the interpretation of several constitutional provisions specifically on the separation of church and state; and a declaratory judgment on the constitutionality of the acts of religious leaders endorsing a candidate for an elective office, or urging or requiring the members of their flock to vote for a specified candidate. The RTC in its Decision failed to include a dispositive portion. Velarde filed an MR which was denied by the lower court. The case was then elevated to the SC via a Petition for Review. ISSUEWhether the RTC Decision was proper and valid HELDNo RATIOThe Constitution commands that no decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based. Section 1 of Rule 36 of the Rules on Civil Procedure states: A judgment or final order determining the merits of the case shall be in writing personally and directly prepared by the judge, stating clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based, signed by him and filed with the clerk of court. Pursuant to the Constitution, this Court issued Administrative Circular No. 1, prompting all judges to make complete findings of facts in their decisions, and scrutinize closely the legal aspects of the case in the light of the evidence presented. It has also been held in a lot of cases that magistrates should heed the demand of Section 14, Article VIII of the Constitution, as it is a paramount component of due process and fair play. The parties to a litigation should be informed of how it was decided, with an explanation of the factual and legal reasons that led to the conclusions of the court. Here, the assailed Decision contains no statement of facts -- much less an assessment or analysis thereof -- or of the courts findings as to the probable facts. The assailed Decision begins with a statement of the nature of the action and the question or issue presented. Then follows a brief explanation of the constitutional provisions involved, and what the Petition sought to achieve. Thereafter, the ensuing procedural incidents before the trial court are tracked. The Decision proceeds to a full-length opinion on the nature and the extent of the separation of church and state. Without expressly stating the final conclusion she has reached or specifying the relief granted or denied, the trial judge ends her Decision with the clause SO ORDERED. The RTCs Decision cannot be upheld for its failure to express clearly and distinctly the facts on which it was based. Thus, the trial court clearly transgressed the constitutional directive. The significance of factual findings lies in the value of the decision as a precedent. How will the ruling be applied in the future, if there is no point of factual comparison? The assailed Decision in the present case leaves us in the dark as to its final resolution of the Petition. Failure to comply with the constitutional injunction is a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. Decisions or orders issued in careless disregard of the constitutional mandate are a patent nullity and must be struck down as void.
(2) Miranda v CA 71 S 295 - ATIENZA
FACTS:Petitioner Miranda Administrator of estate of DydongcoJudge Mendoza Original JudgeJudge Tantuico Second Judge (respondent judge)Respondents Dy Chun, et al Converted Estate of Dydongco as their own.
Petitioner Miranda filed a civil case for the properties of the estate of Dydongco against the respondents who he alleged to have been fraudulently and in bad faith and in breach of their fiduciary trust, concealed, appropriated and converted as their own, the properties of the deceased. These properties were sold by the respondents and the proceeds were used to buy lands and properties that they leased, earning rent income for the respondents. Petitioner Miranda wants the lower court to declare that respondents holds these properties in trust for the estate of the deceased that should now be turnover to petitioner and that proper accounting of these properties and income be made.
Judge Mendoza ruled in favor of Petitioners. Respondents moved for appeal within the 30 day reglementary period. After submitting their record on appeal, however, they filed a motion for reconsideration and new trial which was heard and denied per Judge Mendoza's order of October 18, 1965. Respondents thereafter sought to revive their record on appeal and submit additional pages thereof but Judge Mendoza held that their filing of their motion for reconsideration was an abandonment of their proposed earlier appeal and that his decision had become final and executory.
Having denied by the lower Court, respondents appealed to SC through certiorari under the case Dy Chun vs. Mendoza. The SC did not rule on the timeliness of the appeal, but instead ruled that appeal should be taken after the rendition of the accounting of all fruits and proceeds of the properties adjudged in Judge Mendoza's decision of July 26, 1965 to belong to the decedent's estate.
The case was remanded to the court of origin, but this time, Judge Mendoza was already promoted to the CA and Judge Tantuico now presides as judge to the court of origin. This is, in the exact words of the SC in Dy Chun vs. Mendoza, for the rendition of "a full, accurate and complete of all the fruits and proceeds" of the properties declared in Judge Mendoza's July 26, 1965 decision to belong to the decedent's estate, i.e. for "the adjudications necessary for the completion of said relief (as granted in the decision)"
However, Judge Tantuico revisited the case and altered the decision to a great extent and under these circumstances:1. Denied petitioners partial execution of the 1965 order of Judge Mendoza saying that such decision was interlocutory in character.2. Denied new Trial of for the respondents3. granted a major part of the motion for reconsideration filed by respondents East Mindanao Lumber Co., Inc. and without new trial or reception of new or additional evidence reviewed, reversed and set aside his predecessor's appreciation of the evidence and pronouncements on the credibility of the witnesses (who were not heard at all by him) and substituted his own appreciation of the evidence and impression of the witnesses' credibility or lack thereof and therefore reversed Judge Mendoza's original decision of July 26, 1965 on threemajor points involving very valuable properties with an alleged estimated value of P5 million at the filing of the petition in January, 1971 14 on the premise that "interlocutory orders are subject to change in the discretion of the court" and "it is only fit and proper that this court believe in every part of the judgement he is to execute."
Petitioner then filed for certiorari to the CA claiming that respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion when he substantially amended the ruling of Judge Mendoza.
The CA ruled in favor of respondents basing their ruling on the Dy Chun vs. Mendoza case where the CA ruled that Judge Mendoza's original decision of July 26, 1965 was "still interlocutory," respondent Judge Tantuico had authority to change, alter or amend the decision of July 26, 1965 was "still interlocutory," respondent Judge Tantuico had authority to change, alter or amend the decision even after four years from the decision of Judge Mendoza.
The CA used the doctrine of Fuentebella vs. Carrascoso which held that, unless accounting is done, the case is not appealable.
ISSUE: Is the judgment of the lower Court (Judge Mendoza) final even pending the accounting of the properties?
SHORT version:The SC holds that respondent appellate court misread and misapplied the SCs 1968 judgement in Dy Chun vs. Mendoza and erred in holding that respondent Judge Tantuico could change, alter and amend his predecessor's decision on the merits for recovery of properties with accounting as if it were a mere interlocutory order or process, when all this Court held (applying Fuentebella, supra) was that the decision was "not appealable" until after the accounting also ordered was rendered and approved so as to complete the relief granted after which, respondents' "premature appeal" could then be given due course from both aspects of the decision for recovery of properties and accounting of the fruits. Hence, the only remaining authority of Judge Tantuico was to enforce, receive and act on the accounting as ordered in the decision for the completion of the relief therein granted.
Longer Version:The SC explained that remanding the case back to the Court of origin was meant to execute the accounting of the properties. It explained that in the Fuentabella case (which is now to be abandoned), the SC ruled that a proper accounting should be made before an appeal to complete the relief sought. This does not mean however, that the order, prior to accounting, would become interlocutory. Even in the Fuentabella case, the SC explained that remanding the case for accounting does not mean that the judgment can be amended.