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A.M. No. P-07-2340, July 26, 2007


DOCTRINE: Grave misconduct of an employee of the judiciary is a grave offense punishable by

dismissal even if committed for the first time. The failure of the respondent to reply to the complaint by
going on AWOL cannot deprive the judiciary of its power to impose disciplinary measures against him.

FACTS: Complainant knew the respondent as she was handling legal transactions for her employer
at the MeTC where the respondent was a Court Stenographer. A warrant of arrest was issued against
her employer which prompted the complainant to approach the respondent for help. The latter agreed
and demanded P 10,000 from the complainant. In return respondent gave her the original case
records and said that it was proof that the case was already terminated. The respondent also helped
the complainant secure a surety bond and received P 31,000 as processing fee. This surety was
however not accepted as the license of the insurance company had already expired.

Because of the frequency of their meetings, the complainant and respondent became close friends.
The respondent stayed in the complainant’s house and borrowed several sums of money from her
without paying them. The respondent also stole and pawned jewelry of the complainant. Due to these
acts the complaint was filed.

The respondent went AWOL from the time she learned of the administrative complaint and has also
failed to file her replies to the complaint and summons of the Court. The OCA recommended her
removal from service for the acts complained of.

ISSUE: Whether or not the respondent should be dismissed from service and the complaint be given
due course.

HELD: YES. The Court properly dismissed the respondent notwithstanding her failure to file the
necessary replies to the complaint and on the basis of the uncontroverted allegations which amount to
gross misconduct.

The Court retains the jurisdiction to address the administrative complaint from the time of its filing. It
cannot be frustrated by the expedient of the court employee going on AWOL to deliberately avoid the
processes of the Court. To do so would work serious injustice to the court and the public it serves.

Respondent’s meeting with a litigant and receiving money from him, her talking out the original
records of the case and representations that she could settle the case and demands for money
constitute grave misconduct. Her failure to pay her debts with the complainant on the other hand is
conduct unbecoming of court personnel. The sum total of these acts merits the dismissal of the
respondent from the service.