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Sub-judice rule, C2S19 CPRA

Section 19, Canon II

SECTION 19. Sub-judice rule. – A lawyer shall not use any forum or medium to comment or publicize opinion pertaining to a pending proceeding before any court, tribunal, or other government agency that may:
(a) cause a pre-judgment, or
(b) sway public perception so as to impede, obstruct, or influence the decision of such court, tribunal, or other govenm1ent agency, or which tends to tarnish the court’s or tribunal’s integrity, or
(c) impute improper motives against any of its members, or
(d) create a widespread perception of guilt or innocence before a final decision. (2023 Code of Professional Responsibility and Accountability or CPRA)

1. Sub-judice rule

Sub Judice is a Latin term which refers to matters under or before a judge or court; or matters under judicial consideration. In essence, the sub judice rule restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to pending judicial proceedings. The restriction applies to litigants and witnesses, the public in general, and most especially to members of the Bar and the Bench. (Re: Show Cause Order in the Decision dated May 11, 2019 in G.R. No. 237428 [Republic v. Sereno], A.M. No. 18-06-01-SC, 17 July 2018)

Under the sub-judice rule in Section 9 Canon II of the CPRA, lawyers are prohibited from using any forum or medium to comment or publicize opinion pertaining to a pending proceeding before any court, tribunal, or other government agency that may:

1) cause a pre-judgment, or

2) sway public perception so as to impede, obstruct, or influence the decision of such court, tribunal, or other govenm1ent agency, or which tends to tarnish the court’s or tribunal’s integrity, or

3) impute improper motives against any of its members, or

4) create a widespread perception of guilt or innocence before a final decision.

a. Contempt for violation

The sub judice rule restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to the judicial proceedings in order to avoid prejudging the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice. A violation of this rule may render one liable for indirect contempt under Sec. 3(d), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court. (Re: Show Cause Order in the Decision dated May 11, 2019 in G.R. No. 237428 [Republic v. Sereno] [2018], supra.)

For a comment to be considered as contempt of court “it must really appear” that such does impede, interfere with and embarrass the administration of justice. What is, thus, sought to be protected is the all-important duty of the court to administer justice in the decision of a pending case. The specific rationale for the sub Judice rule is that courts, in the decision of issues of fact and law should be immune from every extraneous influence; that facts should be decided upon evidence produced in court; and that the determination of such facts should be uninfluenced by bias, prejudice or sympathies. (Re: Show Cause Order in the Decision dated May 11, 2019 in G.R. No. 237428 [Republic v. Sereno] [2018], supra.)

b. Clear and present danger

In a contempt proceeding, there must exist a “clear and present danger” to the administration of justice for statements or utterances covered by the sub judice rule to be considered punishable under the rules of contempt. (Re: Show Cause Order in the Decision dated May 11, 2019 in G.R. No. 237428 [Republic v. Sereno] [2018], supra.)

In an administrative case against a lawyer, the “clear and present danger” rule is not applicable. The Court, in this case is not geared towards protecting itself from such prejudicial comments outside of court by the exercise of its inherent contempt power. Rather, in this administrative matter, the Court is discharging its Constitutionally-mandated duty to discipline members of the Bar and judicial officers. (Re: Show Cause Order in the Decision dated May 11, 2019 in G.R. No. 237428 [Republic v. Sereno] [2018], supra.)

References

Canon II, 2023 Code of Professional Responsibility

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