Friday, January 31, 2014

Right Against Self-Incrimination in Administrative and Civil Cases

It is established doctrine that only an accused in a criminal case can refuse to take the witness stand based on the constitutional right against self-incrimination. How about in a civil or administrative case, can the defendant refuse to take the witness stand on the same ground?

Supreme Court held in Rosete vs. Lim (G.R. No. 136051, June 8, 2006) that the right to refuse to take the stand does not generally apply to parties in administrative cases or proceedings. The parties thereto can only refuse to answer if incriminating questions are propounded. But this partakes of an exception: A party who is not an accused in a criminal case is allowed not to take the witness stand – in administrative cases/proceedings that partook of the nature of a criminal proceeding or analogous to a criminal proceeding. The Court likewise held that said exception applies to parties in civil actions which are criminal in nature.

"As long as the suit is criminal in nature, the party thereto can altogether decline to take the witness stand. It is not the character of the suit involved but the nature of the proceedings that controls. xxx Thus, for a party in a civil case to possess the right to refuse to take the witness stand, the civil case must also partake of the nature of a criminal proceeding."

In the said case of Rosete vs. Lim, the case is civil (Annulment, Specific Performance with Damages) and did not partake of the nature of a criminal proceeding. "The fact that there are two criminal cases pending which are allegedly based on the same set of facts as that of the civil case will not give them the right to refuse to take the witness stand and to give their depositions. They are not facing criminal charges in the civil case. Like an ordinary witness, they can invoke the right against self-incrimination only when the incriminating question is actually asked of them. Only if and when incriminating questions are thrown their way can they refuse to answer on the ground of their right against self-incrimination."

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

October 2013 Philippine Bar Exam Results Set to be Released in March

The Philippine Supreme Court is set to convene in a special en banc session in March 2014 to approve and release the list of passers of the October 2013 Bar Examination.

The exam was held during the four Sundays of October 2013, on October 6, 13, 20 and 27. The passing average grade is 70 percent but there were times the Supreme Court lowered the threshold when the passing rate is too low.

There 5,293 examinees in last year's exam which was held at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) campus in Manila. The 2013 Bar Exam Committee is headed by Associate Justice Arturo Brion.

Once the official results are out, we will post it here.


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