G.R. No. 1372. February 20, 1904

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3 Phil. 344

[ G.R. No. 1372. February 20, 1904 ]




The plaintiff, John E. Springer, on the 3d day of June,1903, filed a complaint in this court praying for a writ of certiorari
against the Hon. Arthur F. Odlin, judge of the Court of. First Instance
of the Province of Pangasinan, and asking that the Supreme Court cause
to be certified to this court a certain order entered on the 30th day
of May, 1903, in the Court of First Instance, in the cause of the
United States vs. Catalino Mortes, by which the sum of $250, Mexican,
was directed to be paid over to Co-Banco, the party injured by the
commission of the offense of which Catalino Mortes had been charged and
was convicted on the 13th day of May, 1903.

A stipulation has been made between the parties covering the facts
essential to the determination of the controversy, from which it
appears that on the 8th day of March, 1903, Cosme Ferrere presented a
sworn statement to a justice of the peace of that province, in which he
alleged that in 1901 he had been robbed of certain personal property
arid that he had reason to believe that the said personal property was
concealed, in the house of Mortes and prayed that a search warrant
might issue.

The warrant was issued and returned on the same day, and the return
showed that the officer found in the house of Catalino (alias Esteban)
Mortes many articles of personal property other than the property
described in the sworn declaration of Cosme Ferrere, all of which
property the officer took possession of; and among this property were
two small sacks containing $259.50, Mexican, in silver coin, which is
the money in controversy in the present action.

There was also among the property so seized certain property which
had been stolen from CorBanco, and a complaint was filed with the
justice of the peace charging Catalino Mortes with the robbery of the
store of Co-Banco and alleging that the articles robbed consisted of a
trunk containing $475; Mexican, in silver coin, five cans of opium, and one silk cap.

As the result of the search and recovery of property, two complaints
were filed against Catalma Mortes—one for the larceny of the property
of Cosme Ferrere and the other for the robbery of the above-mentioned
property of Co-Banco.

The justice of the peace remitted to the clerk of the Court of First
Instance the silk cap and empty opium can identified by Co-Banco as his
property, together with the $259.50 in coin, which had not been
identified further than that the money was found with the silk cap and
empty opium can.

Upon the trial of Catalino Mortes for robbery, Co-Banco appeared as
private prosecutor. He identified the silk cap and the empty opium can
as his property and stated that at the time of the loss of these
articles $5480, in Mexican money, was stolen from him.

Catalino Mortes was found guilty on the 13th day of May and was
sentenced by the Court of First Instance, and indemnification was
adjudged in the case of Co-Banco for the property stolen from him.

On the following day the plaintiff, John E. Springer, commenced
proceedings before the justice of the peace of Lingayen, Pangasinan,
against Catalino Mortes for the recovery of the sum of $250 as
attorney’s fees for services rendered in the two causes above mentioned
and procured `an attachment against the property of Catalino Mortes.
The order of attachment was placed in the hands of the sheriff for
service, and in pursuance of this order the sheriff on the 15th day of
May served a notice on the clerk of the Court of First Instance in
accordance with the provisions of section 431 of the Code of Civil
Procedure for the levy of an attachment, the clerk then having the $259.50, Mexican, in his custody, as before stated, by virtue of his official duties.

On the 28th day of May Co-Banco presented a petition to the court in
which he stated that the period for appeal in the case against Catalina
Mortes had expired, that the sentence of the court had not been
appealed from, and praying that the clerk of the court be required to
turn over to him the $259.50, Mexican, in silver coin, in his hands, as
satisfaction in part of the indemnification made by the court in his
favor in the sentence of May 13; and that an execution issue against
the property of Catalino Mortes to satisfy the part of the
indemnification remaining unsatisfied after the application of this
amount. Springer intervened in this proceeding, claiming the money by virtue of the levy of his attachment.

The court, on the 30th of May, after hearing both parties, made an
order by which it was adjudged that the claim of Co-Banco had a
preference over the claim of Springer and ordered the money in the
custody of the clerk to be delivered to Co-Banco, but requiring him to
execute a bond for the sum of 400 pesos with sureties for the
protection of Springer in case he appealed to the Supreme Court to
annul the order.

The plaintiff, Springer, alleges in his application for certiorari
that the Court of First Instance acted without jurisdiction in making
this order of the 30th day of May, 1903; that not being a party in the
cause of the United States vs.
Catalino Mortes, he has no right to appeal nor has he any plain,
speedy, and adequate remedy from the order; and further alleging that
Co-Banco had no lien upon the 259.50 pesos in dispute, either by
attachment or by execution; nor did the said Co-Banco on the date of
the making of the order in his favor have any right of any other
character upon said money.

If the Court of First Instance had jurisdiction to render the
judgment of the 13th day of May, 1903, in favor of Co-Banco in the case
of the United States vs. Catalino Mortes, and in the
proceeding in which Springer intervened resulting in the order of May
30, or if the plaintiff, Springer, had any plain, speedy, and adequate
remedy by a bill of exceptions, appeal, or otherwise from the order of
the 30th day of May, 1903, by which the money in question was directed
to be paid to Co-Banco, then the proceeding in certiorari will not lie.

By article 17 of the Spanish Penal Code every person criminally
liable for a crime or misdemeanor is also civilly liable, and by the
provisions of article 119 of the same code this civil liability includes (1) restitution, (2) reparation for the damage caused, (3) and
indemnification for loss. This civil liability may be enforced in the
criminal case.

By General Orders, No. 58, section 107, the privileges secured by
the Spanish law to persons claiming to be injured by the commission of
an offense to take part in the prosecution of the offense and to
recover damages for the injury sustained by reason of the same, are
preserved and remain in force, and it is therein expressly provided
that the court, upon conviction of the accused, may enter judgment in
favor of the injured person against the defendant in the criminal case
for the damage occasioned by the wrongful act.

By section 56, No. 3, of the Organic Act, the Court of First
Instance has jurisdiction in criminal cases of this character and in
all civil cases in which the demand, exclusive of interest or the value
of the property in controversy, amounts to $100 or more.

From these provisions it is clear that the Court of First Instance
did not act without jurisdiction in rendering the judgment of the 13th
day of May, 1903, in the criminal case of the United States vs. Catalino Mortes in favor of
Co-Banco as the injured person for the indemnification of the latter,
nor did it act in excess of jurisdiction in the
order of May 30 directing the money to be turned over to him.

The Court of First Instance having the money in its possession,
there was no necessity for the issuance of an execution in the case.

It is a well-established principle that property in custodia legis is exempt from attachment, and the principle applies to money in the possession of the clerk of a court
by virtue of his office. (Drake, Attachments, sec. 509.)

This being the case, no lien was acquired by Springer by the levy of the attachment and the notice given to the clerk.

It is unnecessary to determine whether if Springer had acquired a
lien on the money he could have intervened in the motion made by
Co-Banco to have the money turned over to the latter, nor whether in
the event Springer might have intervened that he could have appealed by
bill of exceptions from the judgment in favor of Co-Banco. As before
stated, there must have concurred, under the provisions of section 514,
Code of Civil Procedure, both requisites—that is, (1) the excess of
jurisdiction on the part of the court and (2) that there was no plain,
speedy, and adequate remedy by bill of exceptions or appeal or

Having reached the conclusion that the Court of First Instance had
jurisdiction and did not act in excess of such jurisdiction in awarding
the money to Co-Banco, there is a failure of the first requisite for
the issuance of a writ of certiorari, and the petition for the same and
a review of the case by this court must be denied, which is accordingly
done. The costs of this proceeding are adjudged against the plaintiff.

Arellano, C. J., Torres, Willard, Mapa, McDonough, and Johnson, JJ., concur.

Date created: April 22, 2014


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