G.R. No. L-46392. November 10, 1986 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title:
Emma Delgado vs. Hon. Court of Appeals and The People of the Philippines

### Facts:
Emma Delgado, along with three others, was charged with estafa through falsification of documents, deceiving Erlinda Rueda into arranging travel to the United States. During the trial, Delgado’s lawyer, Atty. Lamberto G. Yco, failed to appear for a scheduled hearing, leading to Delgado being considered to have waived her right to present further evidence. The trial court convicted Delgado, and she appealed the conviction to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial court’s decision. Following the affirmation of her conviction, Delgado discovered her counsel was not a licensed attorney and sought relief from the Court of Appeals to set aside the judgement and for a new trial, which was denied. Delgado then appealed to the Supreme Court through a petition for “Certiorari and Mandamus with prayer for a Writ of preliminary injunction.”

### Issues:
1. Whether the failure of Delgado’s counsel to appear at a critical juncture of the trial, resulting in the waiver of her right to present evidence, constituted a denial of due process.
2. Whether the representation of Delgado by an individual not licensed to practice law in the Philippines affected her right to competent counsel and a fair trial.
3. Whether Delgado is entitled to a new trial based on the discovery that her counsel was not a licensed attorney.

### Court’s Decision:
The Supreme Court found the petition meritorious, stating that an accused is entitled to representation by a legitimate member of the bar in criminal proceedings. The representation by a non-lawyer was considered a denial of due process. Consequently, the Court set aside the judgment of conviction against Delgado, remanded the case for a new trial, and emphasized the right to competent legal representation.

### Doctrine:
This case reiterates the fundamental doctrine that the right to be represented by a legitimate member of the bar is part of the due process in criminal proceedings. Representation by a non-lawyer, especially without the accused’s knowledge, constitutes a denial of this right and renders the trial proceedings defective and the judgment void.

### Class Notes:
– The right to counsel in criminal proceedings is a fundamental part of due process.
– Representation by a non-member of the bar without the accused’s informed consent constitutes a denial of due process.
– Discovery of representation by a non-lawyer warrants a new trial.
– Legal representation must be by a competent and licensed attorney to fulfill the due process requirement.

### Historical Background:
In the context of Philippine legal history, this case underscores the stringent requirements for legal representation in criminal trials and the judiciary’s role in ensuring that the rights of the accused are protected. The decision reflects the importance of authenticity and qualification in the legal profession to the integrity of judicial proceedings and the protection of litigants’ rights.


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