OCA v. Tolosa (A.M. No. P-09-2715; June 13, 2011)

CASE DIGEST: OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR v. EFREN E. TOLOSA. A.M. No. P-09-2715; June 13, 2011.

FACTS: This administrative complaint stemmed from the administrative complaint, docketed as A.M. I.P.I. No. 02-1383-RTJ, filed by Gerardo D. Espiritu against Judge Jose L. Madrid of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 51, Sorsogon City, and Sheriff Ariosto Letada of the RTC, Branch 52, Sorsogon City, for Undue Delay in the Disposition of a Case and/or Manifest Bias or Partiality relative to the implementation of the Writ of Execution in Civil Case No. 5327, entitled "Loreto Brondial, et al. v. Vicente Go, et al."The complaint in A.M. OCA I.P.I. No. 02-1383-RTJ was dismissed in a Resolution dated September 15, 2003, for the failure of complainant Espiritu to substantiate his claim that Judge Madrid and Sheriff Letada conspired with each other in the non-implementation of the writ. In the same Resolution, the Court directed the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) to take appropriate action on its report that Efren E. Tolosa, Sheriff IV, Office of the Clerk of Court, RTC, Sorsogon City, who was the one originally designated to implement the writ of execution, violated Section 9, par. 2, Rule 39 of the Rules of Civil Procedure when he did not turn over the checks that came into his possession to the Clerk of Court of the court that issued the writ on the same day he received them.

ISSUE: Is the respondent administratively liable?

HELD: As an officer of the court, sheriffs are chargeable with the knowledge of what is the proper action to take in case there are questions in the writ which need to be clarified, and the knowledge of what he is bound to comply. He is expected to know the rules of procedure pertaining to his functions as an officer of the court, relative to the implementation of writs of execution, and should, at all times, show a high degree of professionalism in the performance of his duties. Any act deviating from the procedure laid down by the Rules is misconduct that warrants disciplinary action.

Misconduct is defined as a transgression of some established or definite rule of action; more particularly, it is an unlawful behavior by the public officer.The misconduct is grave if it involves any of the additional elements of corruption, and willful intent to violate the law or to disregard established rules. For clear violation of established rules, coupled with having encashed the checks which matured without having been authorized to do so, the Court finds Tolosa guilty of Grave Misconduct, tempered only by his length of service. The Court takes into consideration Tolosa's long years of service in the judiciary of about 25 years.Thus, in lieu of the dismissal that Section 52(A)(3), Rule IV of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service commands, we find the penalty of suspension for six (6) months appropriate. GRANTED.

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