Indirect contempt for unauthorized practice of law

Under Sections 3 and 4, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, a charge for indirect contempt may be initiated through a verified petition or motu proprio by the court against which the contempt was committed. In both cases, the respondent must be given an opportunity to comment on the charge. This rule, however, admits of exception. In University of the Immaculate Conception v. Office of the Secretary of Labor and Employment, it was explained:
One exception to the above rule is that the Supreme Court may, incidental to its power to suspend its own rules whenever the interest of justice requires, resolve an issue involving indirect contempt when there is (a) no factual controversy to be resolved or the case falls under the res ipsa loquitur rule and (b) only after granting the respondent the opportunity to comment.
In the case of Kara-an v. Judge Lindo (A.M. No. MTJ-07-1674. June 7, 2017), considering that there is no more question on whether Kara-an is illegally practicing law and Kara-an, as early as November 9, 2015, has been given the opportunity to comment which he has in fact availed no less than nine times, the Supreme Court applied the exception.In fact, there was an earlier finding of indirect contempt against Kara-an but this does not serve as a bar for once again holding him liable for indirect contempt. In Ciocon-Reer v. Lubao (A.M. OCA, I.P.I. No. 09-3210-RTJ. February 3, 2016), Kara-an was held liable for his appearance in Civil Case No. 7819, entitled "Juvy P. Ciocon-Reer, et al. v. Gaspar Mayo, et al." before the RTC of General Santos City, Branch 22. In Kara-an v. Judge Lindo, the Court found Kara-an liable for his appearances in various first and second level courts in Metro Manila.

In his defense, Kara-an argues that he is a victim of forum shopping since he was already held guilty of indirect contempt in the case of Ciocon-Reer v. Lubao.

The Supreme Court answered that forum shopping is not availing in this case. There is forum shopping when a party repetitively avails of several judicial remedies in different courts, simultaneously or successively, all substantially founded on the same transactions and the same essential facts and circumstances, and all raising substantially the same issues either pending in or already resolved adversely by some other court.

The only similarity in Ciocon-Reer and Kara-an v. Judge Lindo is that Kara-an is the person found to be illegally practicing law; no other similarity as to parties, courts and cases appear. Thus, and contrary to Kara-an's claim, there is no forum shopping in this case.

ADDITIONAL READINGS:

[1] G.R. Nos. 178085-178086, September 14, 2015, 770 SCRA 430.
[2] Heirs of Marcelo Solto v. Palicte, G.R. No. 159691, February 17, 2014, 716 SCRA 175, 178.
[3] 5 Bad Decisions of the Supreme Court.

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