G.R. No. 11895. December 20, 1916 (Case Brief / Digest)

### Title:
**The United States vs. Teodora Topiño and Gabriel Guzman (35 Phil. 901)**

### Facts:
Teodora Topiño and Gabriel Guzman were accused of adultery. Teodora was acquitted, but Guzman was found guilty and sentenced to prision correccional for three years, six months, and twenty-one days.

1. **Initial Complaint:**
– Pedro Mateo filed a complaint charging Topiño, his wife, and Guzman with adultery.
– Marriage certificate of Topiño and Mateo presented without objection.
– Mateo testified they married ten years prior, separated seven years ago, and Topiño commenced living with Guzman within a year of separation.

2. **Affidavits and Evidence:**
– Affidavit Exhibit B: Teodora confessed to living conjugally with Guzman for five years, bearing two children named Josefina and Homobono.
– Affidavit Exhibit C: Guzman confessed his carnal relations with Teodora, believing her to be free from marital obligations based on her statements.

3. **Witnesses for Prosecution:**
– Various witnesses confirmed seeing Teodora and Guzman living together for six years.
– Evidence included testimonies that corroborated illicit cohabitation and birth of children.

4. **Defense:**
– No defense witnesses were presented.
– Argument based on absence of the offended husband’s complaint was dismissed by the court since such complaint was indeed filed and later supplemented in the records.

5. **Verdict:**
– Teodora acquitted due to the prosecution’s failure to corroborate her affidavit freely and voluntarily.
– Guzman convicted based on the voluntary confession in Exhibit C and corroborative testimonies.

6. **Appeal by Guzman:**
– Challenged trial court’s jurisdiction, admission, and probative value of Exhibit C, and the validity of his conviction in light of Teodora’s acquittal.

### Issues:
1. **Jurisdiction:**
– Whether the trial court had jurisdiction over the case.

2. **Admission of Evidence:**
– The admissibility of Exhibit C (Guzman’s sworn statement) taken by the provincial fiscal.

3. **Conclusive Proof:**
– Whether Exhibit C constituted conclusive proof of Guzman’s guilt.

4. **Acquittal Argument:**
– Argument that Guzman’s conviction should be nullified because Teodora was acquitted.

### Court’s Decision:

1. **Jurisdiction:**
– The trial court had jurisdiction as a complaint was duly filed by the aggrieved husband Pedro Mateo.

2. **Admission of Evidence:**
– Exhibit C was competent even though taken by an officer (provincial fiscal) not listed under Section 349 of the Code of Civil Procedure. Section 2 of Act No. 302 authorized provincial fiscals to administer oaths for preliminary investigations.
– Even assuming improper administration, Exhibit C was admissible as a voluntary confession.

3. **Conclusive Proof:**
– Exhibit C, a voluntary confession corroborated by witness testimonies, proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Guzman committed adultery after knowing Teodora was married.

4. **Acquittal Argument:**
– The acquittal of Teodora did not necessitate Guzman’s acquittal. Adultery requires a married woman and a man who knowingly has carnal knowledge. The man’s criminal liability is independent, and proof required differs. Guzman’s confession and corroborative evidence demonstrated his guilt irrespective of Teodora’s acquittal due to insufficient proof beyond voluntary statements.

### Doctrine:
– **Voluntary Confession:** A confession, if proven to be voluntary and corroborated, can be substantive evidence even if procedural anomalies exist in its administration.
– **Separate Liability:** In crimes requiring joint acts (e.g., adultery), the criminal liability can be separately adjudged if the proof against one party meets the legal thresholds independent of the co-accused’s trial outcome.
– **Jurisdictional Sufficiency:** Jurisdiction is sustained with the filing of proper complaints even if documents are supplemented post initial submission.

### Class Notes:
– **Adultery Elements:** Adultery involves a married woman and a man who has carnal knowledge of her knowing she is married (Article 433 of the Penal Code).
– **Prosecution Requirements (Article 434):** Prosecution must be initiated by the aggrieved husband including both guilty parties if alive.
– **Voluntary Confessions:** Treated as substantive evidence if given freely, without coercion, and supported by corroborative testimonies.
– **Jurisdictional Necessity:** Verified lodging of complaints by the offended husband maintains trial jurisdiction.

### Historical Background:
This case occurred during the American colonial period in the Philippines when judicial reforms and adaptations of American legal principles were increasingly integrated into the Philippine legal system, creating a hybrid judiciary blending Spanish-established Penal Codes with American procedural influences. The case represents an era of transition and the complexities of applying inherited legal doctrines with evolving procedural frameworks.


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