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Forbes, Harding, Trowbridge vs.

Chuoco Tiaco, Crossfiled Presidential immunity from suit; president is immune from civil liability and may not be sued during his tenure. Facts: This is an original action commenced in this court to secure a writ of prohibition against the Hon. A. S. Crossfield, as one of the judges of the Court of First Instance of the city of Manila, to prohibit him from taking or continuing jurisdiction in a certain case commenced and PENDING before him in which Chuoco Tiaco (respondent herein) is plaintiff, and W. Cameron Forbes, J. E. Harding, and C. R. Trowbridge (petitioners herein) are defendants. The plaintiffs are W. Cameron Forbes is the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands and CHIEF OF POLICE J. E. Harding and CHIEF OF THE SECRET SERVICE of the city of Manila C. R. Trowbridge. Defendant A. S. Crossfield is one of the judges of the Court of First Instance of the city of Manila. Defendant Chuoco Tiaco is a foreigner of Chinese nationality and a resident of the Philippine Islands for the last 35 years having a family in the country and some properties. Chuoco Tiaco filed a case for DAMAGES (monetary) alleging that defendants forcibly deported the plaintiff to China and forcibly prevented his return for some months in violation of the right of the said plaintiff herein to be and to remain in the Philippine Islands as established by law. Crossfield issued an INHIBITION against Forbes et al from spelling or deporting or threatening to expel or deport Chuoco Tiaco. Forbes, Harding, and Trowbridge sued for writs of prohibition against the judge and the respective plaintiffs, alleging that the expulsion was carried out in the public interest and at the request of the proper representative of the Chinese government in the Philippines, and was immediately reported to the Secretary of War. The complaints were demurred to, but the Supreme Court overruled the demurrers, granted the prohibition, and ordered the actions dismissed. The judge, having declined to join in the applications for writs of error, was made a respondent, and the cases are here on the ground that the plaintiffs have been deprived of liberty without due process of law. Issue: WON the Governor General, as Chief Executive, can be sued in a civil action. Ruling: The principle of nonliability, as herein enunciated, does not mean that the judiciary has no authority to touch the acts of the Governor-General; that he may, under cover of his office, do what he will, unimpeded and restrained. Such a construction would mean that tyranny, under the guise of the execution of the law, could walk defiantly abroad, destroying rights of person and of property, wholly free from interference of courts or legislatures. This does not mean, either, that a person injured by the executive authority by an act unjustifiable under the law has no remedy, but must submit in silence. On the contrary, it means, simply, that THE GOVERNOR-GENERAL, LIKE THE JUDGES OF THE COURTS AND THE MEMBERS OF THE LEGISLATURE, MAY NOT BE PERSONALLY MULCTED IN CIVIL DAMAGES FOR THE CONSEQUENCES OF AN EXECUTED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES. The judiciary has full power to, and will, when the matter is properly presented to it and the occasion justly warrants it, declare an act of the Governor-General illegal and void and

place as nearly as possible in status quo any person who has been deprived of his liberty or his property by such act. This remedy is assured every person, however humble or of whatever country, when his personal or property rights have been invaded, even by the highest authority of the state. The thing which the judiciary can not do is to mulct the Governor-General personally in damages which result from the performance of his official duty, any more than it can a member of the Philippine Commission or the Philippine Assembly. Public policy forbids it.

Neither does this principle of nonliability mean that the chief executive may not be personally sued at all in relation to acts which he claims to perform as such official. On the contrary, it clearly appears from the discussion heretofore had, particularly that portion which touched the liability of judges and drew an analogy between such liability and that of the Governor-General, that the latter is liable when he acts in a case so plainly outside of his power and authority that he can not be said to have exercised discretion in determining whether or not he had the right to act. WHAT IS HELD HERE IS THAT HE WILL BE PROTECTED FROM PERSONAL LIABILITY FOR DAMAGES NOT ONLY WHEN HE ACTS WITHIN HIS AUTHORITY, BUT ALSO WHEN HE IS WITHOUT AUTHORITY, PROVIDED HE ACTUALLY USED DISCRETION AND JUDGMENT, THAT IS, THE JUDICIAL FACULTY, IN DETERMINING WHETHER HE HAD AUTHORITY TO ACT OR NOT. In other words, he is entitled to protection in determining the question of his authority. If he decide wrongly, he is still protected provided the question of his authority was one over which two men, reasonably qualified for that position, might honestly differ; but he is not protected if the lack of authority to act is so plain that two such men could not honestly differ over its determination. In such a case, he acts, not as Governor-General, but as a private individual, and, as such, must answer for the consequences of his act.