Stenographer falsifies court ruling, gets fired

A court reporter or court stenographer, also called stenotype operator, shorthand reporter, or law reporter, is a person whose occupation is to transcribe spoken or recorded speech into written form, using shorthand, machine shorthand or voice writing equipment to produce official transcripts of court hearings, depositions and other official proceedings. Read more:

Read more: For falsifying ruling, SC sacks stenographer. Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - March 25, 2019 - 12:00am.

The Supreme Court (SC) has cracked the whip on a stenographer in a Cavite regional trial court for falsifying a decision on an annulment case. In a six-page decision released by the SC public information office yesterday, the high court ordered the dismissal from judicial service of Cesar Calpo, a stenographer of Cavite RTC Branch 16, after finding him guilty of grave misconduct and serious dishonesty. Apart from dismissal, the SC also ordered the forfeiture of all benefits for Calpo, except accrued leave credits.

Calpo was also slapped with perpetual disqualification from reemployment in civil service without prejudice to the filing of appropriate criminal and civil cases. “[Calpo’s] actuations clearly demonstrate an intent to violate the law or a persistent disregard of well-known rules. Respondent deceived complainant into believing he had the power to obtain an annulment order in complainant’s favor. Receiving money from complainant, on the consideration that he can obtain a favorable decision from the court, falsifying a court decision, and forging the signature of the trial judge, undeniably constitute grave misconduct and serious dishonesty,” the Court stressed.

The administrative case against Calpo stemmed from the complaint of Zenmond Duque of the Philippine Coast Guard. Duque told the Court that Calpo voluntarily offered his services in 2010 to help secure an annulment of his marriage for P150,000 paid in three equal installments. This was evidenced by receipts signed by Calpo. A year later, Calpo gave Duque a decision purportedly issued by Executive Judge Perla Cabrera-Faller of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), DasmariƱas Cavite, Branch 90 granting the annulment of Duque’s marriage.

Duque, however, subsequently learned that there was no such case and that the judge had not issued any such decision as her signature on the decision was a forgery.

The Court adopted the findings and recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator and the investigating judge.

Read more: For falsifying ruling, SC sacks stenographer. Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - March 25, 2019 - 12:00am.

In a related administrative case, the SC has suspended a lawyer who failed to file a petition for annulment of marriage despite receiving payment from her client.

In a separate seven-page decision, the SC found Grace Buri guilty of violating several canons of the Code of Professional Responsibility and imposed on her a two-year suspension, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same would be dealt with more severely.

The Court also ordered Buri to pay P5,000 fine for failure to comply with the directives of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Commission on Bar Discipline and to return to complainant Pia Marie Go the P188,000 in legal fees within 90 days from the finality of this decision.

Go engaged Buri’s services in 2012 to file a petition for annulment of her marriage before the RTC of Muntinlupa for P150,000 as “package engagement fee” and professional services.

Subsequently, Go asked Buri to “hold” her case as she had to deal with various personal problems to which Buri allegedly withdrew the petition for annulment supposedly filed before the RTC.When Go decided in 2015 to push through with the annulment, Buri asked for an additional P38,000 for the re-filing of the case.

Despite several demands, Buri failed to furnish Go with copies of the original and the re-filed petition for annulment and to issue receipts for the money Buri had received.

Upon verification with the Office of the Clerk of Court of the RTC, Go learned there was no petition filed by Buri on her behalf prompting her to file the instant administrative complaint against Buri.

The SC held that “(Buri’s) acts of neglecting her clients affairs, failing to return the latter’s money and/or property despite demand, and at the same time, committing acts of misrepresentation against her client, constitute professional misconduct for which she must be held administratively liable.”

The SC also ordered Buri to return the P188,000 she received as legal fees to the complainant.

Read more: For falsifying ruling, SC sacks stenographer. Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - March 25, 2019 - 12:00am.

ARTICLES 171-172: Falsification of a document is done by committing any of the following acts:
  1. Counterfeiting or imitating any handwriting, signature or rubric;
  2. Causing it to appear that persons have participated in any act or proceeding when they did not in fact so participate;
  3. Attributing to persons who have participated in an act or proceeding statements other than those in fact made by them;
  4. Making untruthful statements in a narration of facts;
  5. Altering true dates;
  6. Making any alteration or intercalation in a genuine document which changes its meaning;
  7. Issuing in authenticated form a document purporting to be a copy of an original document when no such original exists, or including in such copy a statement contrary to, or different from, that of the genuine original; or
  8. Intercalating any instrument or note relative to the issuance thereof in a protocol, registry, or official book.
It is also a crime for any ecclesiastical minister to do any of the offenses enumerated in the preceding paragraphs, with respect to any record or document of such character that its falsification may affect the civil status of persons.

Falsification by Private Individuals and Use of Falsified Documents. — The penalty of prisiĆ³n correccional in its medium and maximum periods and a fine of not more than 5,000 pesos shall be imposed upon: 1. Any private individual who shall commit any of the falsifications enumerated in the next preceding article in any public or official document or letter of exchange or any other kind of commercial document; and 2. Any person who, to the damage of a third party, or with the intent to cause such damage, shall in any private document commit any of the acts of falsification enumerated in the next preceding article. Any person who shall knowingly introduce in evidence in any judicial proceeding or to the damage of another or who, with the intent to cause such damage, shall use any of the false documents embraced in the next preceding article or in any of the foregoing subdivisions of this article, shall be punished by the penalty next lower in degree.

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