Monday July 16, 2018

Cebu City judge Tormis denies disbarment

FORMER Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Judge Rosabella Tormis denied reports that the Supreme Court (SC) has disbarred her for solemnizing marriages without licenses in 2007.

In her manifestation, Tormis, then presiding judge of the MTCC Branch 4 in Cebu City, argued that the SC has yet to resolve her motion for reconsideration.

“The case was only set for inclusion in the agenda for August 30,” said Tormis in her “urgent manifestation” to the High Court.

In his press conference last August 30 in Manila, lawyer Theodore Te, SC spokesperson, confirmed the disbarment of Tormis for "grave misconduct."

“It is clear that [the] respondent’s repetitive acts of solemnizing marriages without a license showed her proclivity to disrespect the law and showed her lack of good character, and renders her unfit to continue to practice law,” the SC said.

The SC en banc dismissed from the service Tormis and three other MTCC judges in Cebu City for "gross inefficiency or neglect of duty and of gross ignorance of the law" for solemnizing civil marriage rites despite insufficiency or absence of required papers.

The other sacked judges were Anatalio Necessario and Gil Acosta, and Edgemelo Rosales of the MTCC Branches 2, 3, and 8, respectively.

“The actuations of these judges are not only condemnable, it is outright shameful,” read the SC en banc decision dated April 2, 2013. The SC also forfeited their retirement benefits and prohibited them from working again in government.

The SC ordered court interpreter Helen Mongaya of MTCC Branch 4, and Rhona Rodriguez, former administrative officer of the Office of the Clerk of Court, also dismissed from the service.

Apart from the dismissal of four judges and two court workers, the SC also suspended process server Desiderio Aranas of MTCC 3 and court interpreter Rebecca Alesna of MTCC 1 without pay for six months each.

The SC admonished MTCC 6 clerk Celeste Reluya and Regional Trial Court Branch 18 stenographer Emma Valencia.

The SC, in its ruling, pointed out that the judges solemnized marriages even if the requirements submitted by the couples were incomplete and questionable.

In her pleading, Tormis said she visited the Office of the Bar Confidant and was told by the hearing officer that “there is no such resolution yet.”

“Under the circumstances, the undersigned sincerely feels that she is clearly being denied due process when she has already been published widely as 'disbarred' while her case is yet to be resolved,” said Tormis in her pleading.

She asked the SC for a copy of the report and recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant, which conducted the investigation of the complaints. (GMD/SunStar Cebu)