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ATENEO REMEDIAL LAW BAR TIPS 2017

HARMLESS ERROR RULE


No error in either the admission or the exclusion of evidence and no error or defect in any
ruling or order or in anything done or omitted by the trial court or by any of the parties is
ground for granting a new trial or for setting aside, modifying, or otherwise disturbing a
judgment or order, unless refusal to take such action appears to the court inconsistent with
substantial justice. The court at every stage of the proceeding must disregard any error or
defect which does not affect the substantial rights of the parties. (Sec. 6, Rule 51)

In dealing with evidence improperly admitted in trial, we examine its damaging quality and
its impact to the substantive rights of the litigant. If the impact is slight and insignificant we
disregard the error as it will not overcome the weight of the properly admitted evidence
against the prejudiced party. In the case at bar, the reference by the trial judge to reports
about the troublesome character of appellant is a harmless error. (People v. Teehankee, Jr.,
G.R. Nos. 111206-08, [October 6, 1995], 319 PHIL 128-216)

If there is an error committed by the RTC in ascribing to the petitioner the respondent's
testimony as adverse witness during cross-examination by his own counsel, it constitutes a
harmless error which would not, in any way, change the result of the case. (Gaw v. Chua, G.R.
No. 160855, [April 16, 2008], 574 PHIL 640-657)

LADDER-LIKE THEORY (DOCTRINE OF HIERARCHY OF COURTS


Where courts have concurrent jurisdiction over a subject matter, such concurrence of
jurisdiction does not grant the party seeking relief the absolute freedom to file a petition in
any court of his choice; a case must be filed first before the lowest court possible having
appropriate jurisdiction, except if one can advance a special reason which would allow a part
a direct resort to a higher court.

Aala v. Uy, G.R. No. 202781, [January 10, 2017]


The doctrine on hierarchy of courts is a practical judicial policy designed to restrain parties
from directly resorting to this Court when relief may be obtained before the lower courts.
The logic behind this policy is grounded on the need to prevent "inordinate demands upon
the Court's time and attention which are better devoted to those matters within its exclusive
jurisdiction," as well as to prevent the congestion of the Court's dockets. Hence, for this Court
to be able to "satisfactorily perform the functions assigned to it by the fundamental
charter[,]" it must remain as a "court of last resort." This can be achieved by relieving the
Court of the "task of dealing with causes in the first instance."

As expressly provided in the Constitution, this Court has original jurisdiction "over petitions
for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, andhabeas corpus." However, this
Court has emphasized in People v. Cuaresma that the power to issue writs
of certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus does not exclusively pertain to this Court. Rather,
it is shared with the Court of Appeals and the Regional Trial Courts. Nevertheless, "this
concurrence of jurisdiction" does not give parties unfettered discretion as to the choice of
forum. The doctrine on hierarchy of courts is determinative of the appropriate venue where
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petitions for extraordinary writs should be filed. Parties cannot randomly select the court or
forum to which their actions will be directed.

Consequently, this Court will not entertain direct resort to it when relief can be obtained in
the lower Courts. This holds especially true when questions of fact are raised. Unlike this
Court, trial courts and the Court of Appeals are better equipped to resolve questions of fact.
They are in the best position to deal with causes in the first instance.

In a fairly recent case, we summarized other well-defined exceptions to the doctrine on


hierarchy of courts. Immediate resort to this Court may be allowed when any of the following
grounds are present:
(1) when genuine issues of constitutionality are raised that must be addressed immediately;
(2) when the case involves transcendental importance;
(3) when the case is novel;
(4) when the constitutional issues raised are better decided by this Court;
(5) when time is of the essence;
(6) when the subject of review involves acts of a constitutional organ;
(7) when there is no other plain, speedy, adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law;
(8) when the petition includes questions that may affect public welfare, public policy, or
demanded by the broader interest of justice;
(9) when the order complained of was a patent nullity; and
(10) when the appeal was considered as an inappropriate remedy.

SLEEP RULE (WHEN A JUDGMENT BECOMES FINAL & EXECUTORY)


A judgment becomes "final and executory" by operation of law. Finality of judgment becomes
a fact upon the lapse of the reglementary period to appeal if no appeal is perfected. In such a
situation, the prevailing party is entitled to a writ of execution, and issuance thereof is a
ministerial duty of the court.

DUAL FUNCTION OF THE APPELLATE COURT


As an appellate court, the Court of Appeals serves a dual function. The first is the review for
correctness function, whereby the case is reviewed on appeal to assure that substantial
justice has been done. The second is the institutional function, which refers to the
progressive development of the law for general application in the judicial system. The first
is concerned with the justice of the particular case while the second is concerned with
the articulation and application of constitutional principles, the authoritative interpretation
of statutes, and the formulation of policy within the proper sphere of the judicial
function. With each level of the appellate structure, the review for correctness function
diminishes and the institutional function, which concerns itself with uniformity of judicial
administration and the progressive development of the law, increases.

The duality also relates to the dual function of all adjudication in the common law system.
The first pertains to the doctrine of res judicata, which decides the case and settles the
controversy; the second is the doctrine of stare decisis, which pertains to the precedential
value of the case which assists in deciding future similar cases by the application of the rule
or principle derived from the earlier case.
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The only way by which the Court of Appeals fulfills the dual function as an appellate court is
to render correct and lucid decisions.

ERROR OF JURISDICTION v. ERROR OF JUDGMENT


Error of Jurisdiction Error of Judgment
Occurs when the court exercises a Presupposes the court is vested with
jurisdiction not conferred upon it by law; jurisdiction over the subject matter of the
when the court or tribunal, although vested action but in the process of exercising that
with jurisdiction, acts in excess of its jurisdiction, it committed mistakes in the
jurisdiction or with grave abuse of appreciation of the facts and the evidence
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction leading to an erroneous judgment

As long as the court acts within its


jurisdiction, any alleged errors committed
in the exercise of its discretion will amount
to nothing more than mere errors of
judgment.

WHEN CAN THERE BE A REVERSE ORDER OF TRIAL?


Rules of Court, Rule 119, Section 3(e):
(e) When the accused admits the act or omission charged in the complaint or information
but interposes a lawful defense, the order of trial may be modified.

Republic Act No. 8493, Section 7, likewise states:


If the accused pleads not guilty to the crime charged, he/she shall state whether he/she
interposes a negative or affirmative defense. A negative defense shall require the
prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt while an affirmative
defense may modify the order of trial and require the accused to prove such defense by
clear and convincing evidence. (People v. Marcial, G.R. Nos. 152864-65, [September 27,
2006], 534 PHIL 664-672)

JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS v. SUMMARY JUDGMENT


Judgment on the Pleadings Summary Judgment
The answer either does not tender an issue or otherwise The answer tenders some issues but these issues are not
admits all the allegations in the complaint. genuine so they require no judicial determination.
It is the plaintiff, counterclaimant, cross-claimant or third Any defending party
party plaintiff who avails of the remedy
based only on the pleadings based not only on the pleadings but also on affidavits,
admissions, depositions and other documents
there is no specific requirement when the notice shall be served at least ten (10) days before the date specified for
served on the opposing party, hence it should be served at hearing which in turn must not be later than ten (10)
least three (3) days before the date of the hearing which days after filing of the motion
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in turn must not be later than ten (10) days after filing of
the motion

NEPYES RULE (FRESH PERIOD OF 15 DAYS RULE) NOT APPLICABLE TO RULES 42, 43,
and 45
The rationale of the "fresh period rule" is:
To standardize the appeal periods provided in the Rules and to afford litigants fair
opportunity to appeal their cases, the Court deems it practical to allow a fresh period
of 15 days within which to file the notice of appeal in the Regional Trial Court, counted
from receipt of the order dismissing a motion for a new trial or motion for
reconsideration.

Henceforth, this "fresh period rule" shall also apply to Rule 40 governing appeals from
the Municipal Trial Courts to the Regional Trial Courts; Rule 42 on petitions for
review from the Regional Trial Courts to the Court of Appeals; Rule 43 on appeals
from quasi-judicial agencies to the Court of Appeals and Rule 45 governing appeals
bycertiorari to the Supreme Court. The new rule aims to regiment or make the appeal
period uniform, to be counted from receipt of the order denying the motion for new
trial, motion for reconsideration (whether full or partial) or any final order or
resolution.

Neypes elucidates that the "fresh period rule" applies to appeals under Rule 40 (appeals
from the Municipal Trial Courts to the RTC) and Rule 41 appeals from the RTCs to the CA or
this Court); Rule 42 (appeals from the RTCs to the CA); Rule 43 (appeals from quasi-judicial
agencies to the CA); and Rule 45 (appeals by certiorari to this Court). 7 A scrutiny of the said
rules, however, reveals that the "fresh period rule" enunciated in Neypes need NOT apply to
Rules 42, 43 and 45 as there is no interruption in the 15-day reglementary period to appeal.
It is explicit in Rules 42, 43 and 45 that the appellant or petitioner is accorded a fresh period
of 15 days from the notice of the decision, award, judgment, final order or resolution or of
the denial of petitioner's motion for new trial or reconsideration filed. (Rodriguez y Olayres
v. People, G.R. No. 192799 (Resolution), [October 24, 2012], 698 PHIL 165-170)