Star wars log – Presumption of innocence redux

One lady Justice has likened the “UP 37” to the little boy who saw that the emperor had no clothes.  A news report seems to suggest that the Supreme Court plans to cite the UP 37 for indirect contempt.  Yet, there is jurisprudence to the effect that indirect contempt is similar to a criminal action (see bar review note below).

According to Jose Midas Marquez, SC spokesperson, “lawyers are barred from making public statements that tend to influence public opinion while a case is pending.”  But since Marquez is a lawyer, and a case (either the original Vinuya case, or the associated plagiarism case) is pending, it seems he is himself barred from making public statements.  So, what gives?

Two deadly serious questions: What happened to presumption of innocence? Or the right to remain silent?

Bar review notes:

What is the nature of the action in indirect contempt?

It is similar to a criminal action, with doubt resolved in favor of the person charged. Concepcion v Gonzales, 1962.

Bar review definitions:

Contempt of court: Disregard of or disobedience to the orders of a court, or interruption of its proceedings by disorderly conduct or procedure.

  • Direct contempt: when committed in the presence of near a court as to obstruct or interrupt the proceedings.  It is adjudged summarily, and while it is not appealable, it can be controlled by certiorari or prohibition. Sec. 2, Rule 71.
  • Indirect contempt: When not direct.  It covers: (a) misbehavior of an officer of a court; (b) disobedience or resistance to a lawful writ; (c) interference in a court proceeding; (d) improper conduct that degrades the administration of justice; (e) impersonating an officer of a court; (f) failure to obey a subpoena; (g) rescue of a person or property in legis custodia.  It is appealable, but requires a bond.  The appeal stays the execution of the contempt judgment.
  • Civil contempt:  Failure to do something ordered to be done for the benefit of a party.
  • Criminal contempt: Conduct directed against the authority and dignity of the court, or the doing of a duly forbidden act. Perkins v Dir of Prisons.


Excerpts from the Philippine Constitution:

No person shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. Art. III, Sec. 17.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved… Art. III, Sec. 14(2)

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