Image by deltaMike via FlickrLeaking Of Court Decisions
Is leaking court decision ground for administrative sanction? The answer to this query involves the fate of retired Supreme Court Justice Ruben Reyes.
In the case of Justice Reyes, the Supreme Court found him leaking an un-promulgated election decision on an election case involving the citizenship of Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong. As Justice Reyes already retired, he was suspended indefinitely from law practice.
Eight of the 15 justices voted to impose the penalty on Reyes after finding him guilty of gross misconduct for violating his oath as member of the Bar as well as the Code of Professional Responsibility. It was the first time the SC has penalized a retired justice with indefinite suspension, which is considered second only to disbarment in severity.
In addition to lifetime disqualification, the Supreme Court also impose a fine of P500,000.00 on Justice Reyes. The cash penalty was deducted from the retirement benefits to be received by Reyes, which reportedly amount to some P4.45 million.
The Supreme Court pointed out the “evident undue interest of Justice Reyes to circulate a draft ponencia (decision) of the case soonest even before the memoranda of all the parties fell due… It was Justice Reyes himself who leaked a photocopy (of the decision),” the decision stated.
The administrative sanction even on a Justice of the the Supreme Court is seen by members of the Philippine Bar as a very positive development in cleansing the judiciary of misfits and scalawags.