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September 11, 2016

Concerned Lawyers vs. Judge Pornillos

Facts:
  • This is an administrative case filed by the concerned lawyers of Bulacan against Judge Pornillos.
  • According to the lawyers, Judge Pornillos committed several violations among which is non-compliance with Section 9 of Rule 30 of the Rules of Court.
  • An audit of the acts of the Judge was made and in the audit report, Judge Pornillos was asked to comment on why she designated Ms. Venus M. Awin, Officer-in-Charge/Branch Clerk of Court to receive evidence ex-parte despite the clear mandate of Sec. 9, Rule 30 of the Rules of Court, requiring that only Clerk[s] of Court who are members of the bar can be delegated to receive evidence ex-parte.



Issue: WON there was a violation of Rule 9, Section 30 of the Rules of Courts. YES

Held: 

Respecting respondent’s designation of OIC-BCC Venus Awin who is a non-lawyer to receive evidence ex-parte, the Court finds the same contrary to the express mandate of Section 9, Rule 30 of the Rules of Court which requires that only clerks of court who are members of the bar can be delegated to receive evidence ex-parte.  

The orders of Judge Pornillos for the OIC-BCC to conduct ex-parte hearings and to submit reports thereon, as confirmed by the audit team from the written orders in the records, clearly contradict and outweigh its denialand avowed posture that she personally heard all cases.  A violation of the basic rule on reception of evidence ex-parte or any of its related circulars merits the imposition of an administrative sanction.

Under Section 9 in relation to Section 11(b) of Rule 140 of the Rules of Court, violation of Supreme Court rules, directives and circulars is a less serious offense punishable by suspension from office without salary and other benefits ranging from one to three months, or a fine of more than P10,000 but not exceeding P20,000.

COURT’s sanction: DISMISSAL FROM SERVICE

          WHEREFORE, Judge Victoria Villalon-Pornillos, Presiding Judge of Branch 10 of the Regional Trial Court of Malolos City, is found guilty of violating paragraph 7, Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court (borrowing money from a lawyer in a case pending before her court) which is also a gross misconduct constituting violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, aggravated by, inter alia, undue delay in rendering decisions or orders, and violation of Supreme Court rules, directives and circulars.  She is DISMISSED from the service, with forfeiture of all retirement benefits, except accrued leave credits, with prejudice to re-employment in any government agency or instrumentality.  Immediately upon service on her of this decision, she is deemed to have vacated her office and her authority to act as judge is considered automatically terminated.        

Citation:
  • A.M. No. RTJ-09-2183
  • July 7, 2009
  • CONCERNED LAWYERS OF BULACAN, Petitioners,   - versus -   PRESIDING JUDGE VICTORIA VILLALON-PORNILLOS, RTC, BRANCH 10, MALOLOS CITY, BULACAN, Respondent. 

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