160 cases left undecided: SC fines CA justice for 'inefficiency' in previous post

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 15 2020 04:51 PM | Updated as of Oct 15 2020 07:45 PM

The facade of the Court of Appeals in Manila on June 11, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Supreme Court (SC) has fined an incumbent appellate court justice with "equivalent to one year of her salary" over "gross inefficiency" in her performance as a regional trial court (RTC) judge, the position she held prior to her promotion.

In a per curiam decision promulgated on June 23, 2020 but only made public Thursday, the SC found Court of Appeals (CA) justice Marilyn Lagura-Yap guilty of "gross inefficiency" during her previous stint as presiding judge of RTC Branch 28 of Mandaue City.

The high court admonished Lagura-Yap for her failure to decide 160 cases within the reglementary period.

The SC stressed that under the Constitution, all lower courts should decide or resolve cases or matters within three months from the date of submission.

"[D]elay in the disposition of cases is a major culprit in the erosion of public faith and confidence in the judicial system, as judges have the sworn duty to administer justice without undue delay," it said.

The SC likewise noted that Lagura-Yap did not submit the required certification of caseload before the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC), the body screening applicants for the judiciary, when she sought to be promoted as CA justice in 2011.

However, the SC said it cannot accuse Lagura-Yap for dishonesty over that failure: [T]here was no evidence at all that would show that she intentionally did not submit the certification in order to give herself an advantage and secure the promotion."

While the High Court took cognizance of Lagura-Yap "justification," among them heavy caseload, voluminous records, death of family members, and being understaffed, it said they "are not sufficient to exonerate her from liability."

The Court said that the fine is payable within 30 days from receipt of notice.

The sanction against Lagura-Yap was a "testament that Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta is serious in purging the Judiciary," the SC said.