G.R. No. 1810. April 22, 1904

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4 Phil. 81

[ G.R. No. 1810. April 22, 1904 ]




In the civil action brought by J. W. Marker against Eulogio Garcia for the
recovery of damages, judgment was rendered on the 1st of May, 1903, by Judge B,
S. Ambler, then presiding over Part III, condemning the defendant Garcia to pay
to the plaintiff the sum of $3,625.

On the 7th of the same month of May, the plaintiff presented an exception to
the said judgment, asking that it be set aside and that a new trial be granted.
This petition was denied by an order dated the 27th of June following. On the 3d
of July of the same year, 1903, the defendant presented to the clerk of the
court his bill of exceptions, and asked that there be made and attached to the
bill of exceptions a copy of the documentary evidence presented at the trial by
both parties.

Judge Ambler was absent from these Islands at the time and the
defendant-petitioner was unable to obtain the approval of his bill of exceptions
by the judge who temporarily took Judge Ambler’s place. Upon the return of the
latter to this city and his resumption of the duties of his office, the
petitioner was still unable to obtain his approval of the bill of exceptions for
the alleged reason that the matter was then pending in Part III and that Judge
Ambler could not intervene in it without an order from Judge Sweeney directing
that the case be transferred to Part I, over which Judge Ambler was then

Judge Sweeney, however, considered the order of transfer required by Judge
Ambler unnecessary and improper. He maintained that Judge Ambler was the only
one competent to approve the bill of exceptions, the case having been tried
before him, and that an order of transfer to Part I was, therefore, not
required. Judge Ambler, however, continued to refuse to approve and certify the
bill, as did Judge Sweeney, presiding as above stated over Part III, refuse to
give an order for the transfer of the matter to Part I.

With these antecedents the counsel for the defendant petitioner, by a
petition presented on the 19th of February last, asked this court for a writ of
peremptory mandamus directing Judge Sweeney to issue an order for the transfer
of the records of the said case to Part I, in case this court should consider
such an order to be necessary, for the approval by Judge Ambler of the bill of
exceptions. It was also asked that a writ of peremptory mandamus issue against
Judge B. S. Ambler requiring .him, in accordance with the procedure laid down in
section 499 of the Code of Civil Procedure, to sign and certify the bill of
exceptions accompanying the petition in the form set forth therein, or with such
modifications as this court might deem requisite; that the defendants be
condemned to the payment of the costs and that such further relief be granted as
might be proper and just.

A copy of this petition having been served on the respondents, the latter by
separate answers filed on the 21st of March last, asked that the petitioner’s
prayer be dismissed, for the reasons expressed. Among other things it was
alleged that neither the petitioner nor any other person on his behalf had
exhibited to the judge of First Instance presiding over Part III or to any judge
of any part prior to January 27, 1904, the bill of exceptions presented to the
clerk of the Court of First Instance on the 3d of July, 1903, while the record
was in the latter’s custody. Judge Sweeney’s order of the 25th of January was
set forth in his answer. This order stated that the bill of exceptions should be
presented to the judge, its delivery to the clerk of the court not being a
sufficient compliance with the provisions of section 143. It was also stated
that as two entire terms had passed without any appeal having been perfected,
the defendant had lost his right thereto and that the plaintiff was entitled to
ask for the execution of the judgment. It was furthermore stated that Judge
Ambler’s refusal to take cognizance of the petitioner’s motion had been based
upon the fact that the matter was then pending in Part III and not in Part I of
the court.

The exception against the judgment rendered in the action was duly entered
within the term in which the judgment was rendered. The bill of exceptions,
also, was presented before the termination of the period fixed for its
presentation by section 143 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

This bill of exceptions was delivered to the clerk by the petitioner and
received by the former within the time prescribed by law. Furthermore, the
efforts of the petitioner to have the bill of exceptions examined and certified
by the judge were frequent and persistent. Consequently there is no legal ground
for the contention that the appeal was not presented within the legal period and
that the petitioner has lost his right to have the judgment reviewed. It is the
duty of the clerk of the court to receive bills of exceptions and to note
thereon the date of their presentation, the person presenting the same, and all
papers and documents connected with the pending suit; then, that it may fully
appear when such papers and documents were filed and who presented them, for all
legal purposes such bills of exceptions, papers, and other documents received by
the clerk may be considered presented to the court. It is the duty of the clerk
to report to the judge having cognizance of a suit, or to the judge who many
replace him and under whose orders the clerk discharges his functions, the
receipt of all papers so filed, immediately upon their presentation or within a
reasonable period. (Sec. 384, Code of Civil Procedure.)

The filing mark upon a pleading, document, or bill of exceptions produces by
operation of law positive legal effect with respect to the rights of the
parties, and the availability of the remedial process allowed by the law. A
negligent clerk who, after receiving a bill of exceptions or pleadings which
should be presented within a fixed period, fails to perform his duty is
unquestionably liable for the damage which his conduct may cause a litigant.

Just as there is only one court in this city presided over by several judges,
so there is only one clerk with one assistant and several deputies. (Sees. 49
and 60 of Act No. 136, and subsequent acts increasing the number of judges.)

Consequently, cases pending before the judges of the city of Manila are cases
pending in the same court and in charge of the same clerk. The distribution of
cases in the court among the various judges is a matter controlled solely by
rule, and does not involve any question of jurisdiction. Any one of the judges
of the city .is competent to try a case assigned to another, whenever it may be
convenient for him to do so. And the clerk, with his assistant and deputies, is
subject to the orders and directions of each one of the judges in the discharge
of his duties, and especially subject to their direction with respect to each
case which may be allotted to any particular judge.

The primary rule established by the law of procedure is that the judge who
has heard and decided a case is the one upon whom devolves the duty of allowing
and signing the bill of exceptions. In case of the death or absence of this
judge this court has already rendered a decision establishing rules under which
a case can never arise in which there shall be no judge competent to sign the
bill of exceptions, or bill of exceptions remain unsigned to the prejudice of
the parties and to the detriment of the administration of justice. If a court is
always provided with a judge, and a dead or absent judge is immediately
substituted by another, appointed in his place so that the administration of
justice be not delayed or suspended, it follows that there will always be a
judge available to allow and sign a bill of exceptions by which the parties may
avail themselves of the right to appeal against the judgment.

This being so, Judge Ambler should have directed the clerk to call his
attention to the bill of exceptions filed with the latter, together with the
record and other antecedents of the litigation, and no previous order from Judge
Sweeney was necessary. The fact that the case of Marker m. Garcia was tried in
Part III, in which the judge now sitting in Part I formerly presided, is no
obstacle to the allowance of the bill of exceptions by Judge Ambler, inasmuch as
Judge Sweeney makes no opposition to his doing so, and furthermore because, as
the case is pending in the single court of Manila, the distribution of cases is
not jurisdictional, and Judge Ambler, having tried and decided the case, it
devolved upon him in the first place to certify the bill of exceptions.

The bill having been filed within the period prescribed by law, the
provisions of section 143 of the Code of Civil Procedure must be complied with.
It is not permissible to refuse to permit a party to avail himself of his remedy
by bill of exceptions upon grounds not recognized in the law of procedure. The
general tendency of courts in matters of procedure is ordinarily to allow all
appeals from their judgments, for if the conviction exists that a decision is in
harmony with the pleadings, the provisions of law, and the principles of
justice, it is a matter of indifference that such decisions be reviewed upon the
questions at issue.

With respect to the application of the provisions of the Code of Civil
Procedure to cases submitted to the courts for their decision, the provisions of
section 2 should always be borne in mind, which in effect provides that in the
interpretation of the code the controlling principle is to be the spirit and
purpose of the law, as determined by reason and good sense, rather than the
strict letter.

For the reasons stated, it is our opinion that a writ of mandamus must issue,
in accordance with the provisions of section 499 and others of the Code of Civil
Procedure, addressed to Judge Ambler, an-d directing him to allow and certify in
due form the bill of exceptions presented by the petitioner with the costs de
oficio. The parties will be notified of this decision. So ordered.

Arellano, C. J., Mapa and McDonough, JJ., concur.



Upon the facts alleged in the complaint and answer filed in this case, I
dissent from the conclusions of the court expressed in this decision.

Date created: April 23, 2014


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