LEGAL NOTE 0023: WHAT IS MISCONDUCT AND GRAVE MISCONDUCT? HOW DO YOU PROVE MISCONDUCT AND GRAVE MISCONDUCT?

 

SOURCE: OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR VS. CLAUDIO M. LOPEZ (A.M. NO. P-10-2788, 18 JANUARY 2011, CORONA, C.J.) SUBJECT: QUANTUM OF EVIDENCE REQUIRED IN ADMIN CASES; DEFINITION OF MISCONDUCT AND WHEN IT IS GRAVE. (BRIEF TITLE: OCA VS. LOPEZ).

 

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LOPEZ, A COURT PROCESS SERVER WAS FOUND TO BE IN POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA. ADMIN CHARGE WAS FILED AGAINST HIM. SC RULED HE COMMITTED GRAVE MISCONDUCT.

 

 WHAT IS  MISCONDUCT?

 

The Court defines misconduct as “a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by a public officer.”8

 

 WHAT IS GRAVE MISCONDUCT?

 

The misconduct is grave if it involves any of the additional elements of corruption, willful intent to violate the law, or to disregard established rules, which must be established by substantial evidence.9

 

As distinguished from simple misconduct, the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law, or flagrant disregard of established rule, must be manifest in a charge of grave misconduct.

 

WHAT IS CORRUPTION?

 

Corruption, as an element of grave misconduct, consists in the act of an official or fiduciary person who unlawfully and wrongfully uses his station or character to procure some benefit for himself or for another person, contrary to duty and the rights of others.

 

 MUST GRAVE MISCONDUCT BE A CRIME?

 

No.

 

An act need not be tantamount to a crime for it to be considered as grave misconduct as in fact, crimes involving moral turpitude are treated as a separate ground for dismissal under the Administrative Code.10

 

We agree with the findings and recommendation of both the Investigating Judge and the OCA that respondent committed grave misconduct which, under Section 52 (A)(3), Rule IV of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases, is a grave offense punishable by dismissal even for the first offense.

 

 WHAT IS REQUIRED TO PROVE GRAVE MISCONDUCT.

 

Only substantial evidence is required.

 

As correctly pointed out by the Investigating Judge, to sustain a finding of administrative culpability, only substantial evidence is required. The present case is an administrative case, not a criminal case, against respondent. Therefore, the quantum of proof required is only substantial evidence.

 

WHAT IS SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE?

 

Substantial evidence is  that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Evidence to support a conviction in a criminal case is not necessary, and the dismissal of the criminal case against the respondent in an administrative case is not a ground for the dismissal of the administrative case. We emphasize the well-settled rule that a criminal case is different from an administrative case and each must be disposed of according to the facts and the law applicable to each case.7

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 ADDITIONAL NOTES (OCTOBER 2011 CASE):

 

 SOURCE:  MONICO K. IMPERIAL, JR. VS. GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM (G.R. NO. 191224, 04 OCTOBER 2011, BRION, J.) SUBJECTS: GRAVE MISCONDUCT; SIMPLE MISCONDUCT, PROCEDURAL DUE PROCESS; PENALTIES FOR MISCONDUCT; EXAMPLES OF CLEAR DEFIANCE OF THE LAW AND PROCEDURES (BRIEF TITLE: IMPERIAL VS. GSIS)

 

 PETITIONER WAS ADJUDGED BY GSIS, SSC AND CA AS GUILTY OF GRAVE MISCONDUCT? WAS THIS RULING CORRECT?

 

 NO. NO SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE WAS ADDUCED TO SUPPORT THE ELEMENTS OF “CORRUPTION,” “CLEAR INTENT TO VIOLATE THE LAW” OR “FLAGRANT DISREGARD OF ESTABLISHED RULE” THAT MUST BE PRESENT TO CHARACTERIZE THE MISCONDUCT AS GRAVE.

 

PETITIONER ONLY COMMITTED SERIOUS LAPSE OF JUDGMENT SUFFICIENT TO HOLD HIM LIABLE FOR SIMPLE MISCONDUCT.

 

Thus, the petitioner’s liability under the given facts only involves simple misconduct. As Branch Manager of the GSIS Naga Field Office, he is presumed to know all existing policies, guidelines and procedures in carrying out the agency’s mandate in the area.  By  approving the loan applications of eight GSIS Naga Field Office employees who did not fully meet the required qualifications, he committed a serious lapse of judgment sufficient to hold him liable for simple misconduct.

 

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BUT PETITIONER COMMITTED SUCH OFFENSE TWICE ALREADY. CAN HE BE NOT CONSIDERED TO HAVE COMMITTED “FLAGRANT DISREGARD OF ESTABLISHED RULE”?

 

NO. THERE MUST BE DELIBERATE DEFIANCE OF THE RULES. THE CSC’S FINDINGS ON THE PETITIONER’S ACTIONS PRIOR TO THE APPROVAL OF THE LOANS NEGATE THE PRESENCE OF ANY INTENT ON THE PETITIONER’S PART TO DELIBERATELY DEFY THE POLICY OF THE GSIS. FIRST, GSIS BRANCH MANAGERS HAVE BEEN GRANTED IN THE PAST THE AUTHORITY TO APPROVE LOAN APPLICATIONS BEYOND THE PRESCRIBED REQUIREMENTS OF GSIS; SECOND, THERE WAS A CUSTOMARY LENIENT PRACTICE IN THE APPROVAL OF LOANS EXERCISED BY SOME BRANCH MANAGERS NOTWITHSTANDING THE EXISTING GSIS POLICY; AND THIRD, THE PETITIONER FIRST SOUGHT THE APPROVAL OF HIS IMMEDIATE SUPERVISOR BEFORE ACTING ON THE LOAN APPLICATIONS. THESE CIRCUMSTANCES RUN COUNTER TO THE CHARACTERISTIC FLAGRANT DISREGARD OF THE RULES THAT GRAVE MISCONDUCT REQUIRES. 

 

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WHAT IS MISCONDUCT?

 

AN INTENTIONAL WRONGDOING OR A DELIBERATE VIOLATION OF A RULE OF LAW OR STANDARD OF BEHAVIOR.

 

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WHEN IS MISCONDUCT GRAVE?

 

A MISCONDUCT IS GRAVE WHERE THE ELEMENTS OF CORRUPTION, CLEAR INTENT TO VIOLATE THE LAW OR FLAGRANT DISREGARD OF ESTABLISHED RULE ARE PRESENT.[1][21] OTHERWISE, A MISCONDUCT IS ONLY SIMPLE.

 

Misconduct has a legal and uniform definition. Misconduct has been defined as an intentional wrongdoing or a deliberate violation of a rule of law or standard of behavior, especially by a government official.[2][20] A misconduct is grave where the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law or flagrant disregard of established rule are present.[3][21] Otherwise, a misconduct is only simple.

 

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 GIVE EXAMPLES OF JURISPRUDENCE WHEN THERE HAS BEEN OPEN DEFIANCE OF A CUSTOMARY RULE.

 

AS FOLLOWS:

 

Flagrant disregard of rules is a ground that jurisprudence has already touched upon. It has been demonstrated, among others, in the instances when there had been open defiance of a customary rule;[4][23] in the repeated voluntary disregard of established rules in the procurement of supplies;[5][24] in the practice of illegally collecting fees more than what is prescribed for delayed registration of marriages;[6][25] when several violations or disregard of regulations governing the collection of government funds were committed;[7][26] and when the employee arrogated unto herself responsibilities that were clearly beyond her given duties.[8][27] The common denominator in these cases was the employee’s propensity to ignore the rules as clearly manifested by his or her actions.

 

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WHAT IS THE PENALTY FOR SIMPLE MISCONDUCT?

 

SUSPENSION FOR ONE MONTH AND ONE DAY TO SIX MONTHS FOR THE FIRST OFFENSE AND DISMISSAL FOR THE SECOND OFFENSE.

 

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BUT PETITIONER HAS COMMITTED THE OFFENSE TWICE. WHY SHOULD HIS PENALTY BE NOT DISMISSAL?

 

BECAUSE IT IS NOT PROPORTIONATE TO THE NATURE AND EFFECT OF HIS TRANSGRESSION.

 

The Revised Uniform Rules of the Civil Service (Civil Service Rules) classifies simple misconduct as a less grave offense.  Under Section 52(B) (2), Rule IV of the Civil Service Rules, the commission of simple misconduct is penalized by suspension for one (1) month and one (1) day to six (6) months for the first offense, and dismissal from the service for the second offense. While records show that this is not the petitioner’s first offense as he was previously suspended for one (1) year for neglect of duty, we believe that his dismissal would be disproportionate to the nature and effect of the transgression he committed as the GSIS did not suffer any prejudice through the loans he extended; these loans were for GSIS employees and were duly paid for. Thus, for his second simple misconduct, we impose on the petitioner the penalty of suspension from the lapse of his preventive suspension by GSIS up to the finality of this Decision.[9][28]

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