Court cannot issue order vs. co-equal court

Anent the other charges against respondent judge and the issues arising thereon, suffice it to say that as correctly held by the OCA, they are subjudice and judicial matters not subject to administrative scrutiny. Thus, this Court agrees with the findings of the OCA that respondent judge is liable only for grave abuse of discretion for issuing the writ of preliminary injunction which interfered with the proceedings of a court of co-equal and concurrent jurisdiction. However, this Court deems it proper that a penalty more severe than a mere admonition and censure be imposed upon respondent judge for acting in contravention of a very basic principle of law and judicial ethics.

For having violated the elementary rule of non-interference with proceedings of a court of co-equal jurisdiction, this Court has, in at least two administrative cases, fined the erring judge. Thus, in the case of Aquino, Sr. v. Valenciano, where respondent Judge Valenciano issued a temporary restraining order against the search and seizure order of a co-equal court, this Court fined respondent judge in the amount of P15,000.00 and warned him that a commission of the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely. Likewise in the case of Salazar v. Judge Bersamira, a penalty of P5,000.00 was imposed upon respondent Judge Bersamira for taking cognizance of a petition for the issuance of a writ of injunction to enjoin a decision of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Makati. That this Court does not look upon such act of grave abuse of discretion lightly is evident from the foregoing. Hence, pursuant to established jurisprudence, we are constrained to modify the recommendation of the OCA insofar as the penalty to be imposed is concerned.
We have time and again reiterated the doctrine that no court has the power to interfere by injunction with the judgments or orders of another court of concurrent jurisdiction having the power to grant the relief sought by injunction. The issuance by respondent judge of the writ of preliminary injunction is a clear act of interference with the judgment and order of Branch 28 of the RTC of Mandaue which is a co-equal court. [A.M. No. RTJ-96-1354. November 21, 1996]