Case Digest: COC Hermano v. Carde

A.M. No. P-12-3036 : June 20, 2012

CLERK OF COURT ARLYN A. HERMANO, Complainant, v. EDWIN D. CARDE, Utility Worker I, Municipal Trial Court, Cabuyao, Laguna, Respondent.



Before us is an administrative complaint filed by Arlyn A. Hermano, Clerk of Court of the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Cabuyao, Province of Laguna, charging respondent Edwin D. Carde with three counts of grave misconduct for missing records and failure to perform his tasks and duties as Utility Worker II.

OCA found respondent liable for grave misconduct but recommended, among others, that respondent be penalized with a fine instead of dismissal in view of his resignation.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent is liable for grave misconduct?

HELD: OCA's recommendation is adopted.

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW: court personnel

In Arcenio v. Pagorogon, the Court defined misconduct as "a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by the public officer. As differentiated from simple misconduct, in grave misconduct "the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law or flagrant disregard of established rule, must be manifest." The misconduct is grave if it involves any of the additional elements of corruption, willful intent to violate the law, or to disregard established rules, which must be established by substantial evidence. In this case, respondent was a mere Utility Worker who had no authority to take custody of the office attendance logbook, the DTRs of his office mates, let alone case records. Yet, respondent, taking advantage of his position as a Utility Worker and the access to the court records and documents which such position afforded him, repeatedly wrought havoc on the proper administration of justice by taking case records outside of the court's premises and preoccupying his office mates with the time-consuming task of locating documents. Without doubt his actions constitute grave misconduct which merits the penalty of dismissal. However, in view of his resignation, the Court finds as proper the recommendation of the OCA to instead impose on respondent the penalty of fine in the amount of P10,000 with forfeiture of benefits except accrued leave credits, if any, and with prejudice to reemployment in any branch or instrumentality of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations. This of course is without prejudice to any criminal liability he may have already incurred.

As regards the 68 missing court records to date have not yet been found, the Court deems it proper to order complainant to explain why she should not be disciplinarily dealt with in view of the apparent failure on her part to exercise due care in the custody of the said case records. Our courts of justice, regarded by the public as their haven for truth and justice, cannot afford and does not have the luxury of offering excuses to litigants for negligence in its role of safekeeping and preserving the records of cases pending before it. The consequences of such failure or negligence, if there be any, are simply too damaging not just for the parties involved but worse, for our court system as a whole.

Respondent is found LIABLE for grave misconduct.