SC Dismisses Court Stenographer for Gross Misconduct and Gross Insubordination
September 2, 2022
The Supreme Court has dismissed a court stenographer for habitual disrespectful, disobedient, and offensive behavior.
In an 18-page decision, the Supreme Court En Banc found Lorna M. Martin, Court Stenographer I of the Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Sta. Ignacia, Tarlac, guilty of violating the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel for committing Gross Misconduct and Gross Insubordination. Martin was ordered immediately dismissed from the service, with forfeiture of benefits, cancellation of her civil service eligibility, and perpetual disqualification from re-employment in any government instrumentality, including government-owned and controlled corporations.
In 2017, a complaint was filed by Judge Stela Marie Q. Gandia-Asuncion and several court employees of MCTC-Sta. Ignacia, Tarlac against Martin for repeatedly committing misconduct and exhibiting disrespectful and arrogant behavior in the performance of her duties as a court stenographer.
Among the allegations are incidents where Martin barged into Judge Gandia-Asuncion’s office and screamed invectives at the judge for correcting Martin’s draft orders. The complainants also claimed that Martin repeatedly refused to comply with the Judge’s orders, including the submission of stenographic notes and recordings of hearings. Martin also once assaulted Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Clerk of Court Rodelio A. Pedroche while refusing to hand over her stenographic notes.
As a result, from 2014 to 2017, Judge Gandia-Asuncion issued six different Memoranda directing Martin to explain in writing why she should not be administratively penalized for her infractions. However, Martin refused to receive and respond to all six Memoranda. At one point, Martin tore one of the Memoranda while hurling offensive and defamatory words against Judge Gandia-Asuncion.
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) recommended that Martin be found guilty of gross insubordination and discourtesy in the performance of her official duties and that she be suspended for one year without pay.
The Supreme Court adopted OCA’s recommendations but increased the penalty to dismissal.
The Hight Court found that Martin committed six counts of violation of the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel, which requires all court personnel to perform official duties properly and with diligence and to carry out their responsibilities as public servants in as courteous a manner as possible.
The Court found Martin’s behavior as gross misconduct due to her “flagrant disregard of established rules of conduct and standard of behavior as an employee of the Judiciary, thus amounting to a willful intent to subvert the rules. Her conduct further exhibits her utter lack of professionalism and respect toward the rights of others contrary to good morals and good customs.”
The Court also found Martin guilty of six counts of Gross Insubordination for her obstinate refusal to receive the six Memoranda issued by Judge Gandia-Asuncion. Martin’s actions undermined the authority of her superior with utmost arrogance and lack of respect, held the Court.
In imposing the penalty of dismissal, the Court noted that Martin’s behavior had already taken a toll on Judge Gandia-Asuncion and the rest of the court personnel in MCTC-Sta. Ignacia, Tarlac. “Not only did [Martin] cause fear and anxiety among them, but also severe disturbance in the workplace, nay serious disrespect toward the court.”
The Court concluded that Martin “exhibited no guilt, regret, remorse, or anxiety for whatever wrongdoings or shortcomings she committed. Her detestable conduct had become a vicious cycle. She habitually undermined the authority of Judge Gandia-Asuncion and OIC Clerk of Court Pedroche. Worse, [Martin] had no qualms about mocking even the authority of the highest Court of the land. She definitely failed to live up to the ethical norm expected of her as an employee of the Judiciary.”
A Permanent Protection Order (PPO) was also issued against Martin and in favor of Judge Gandia-Asuncion and the other complainants. Under the PPO, Martin must stay away at least 500 meters from the complainants and their residences and place of work. Martin is also restrained from contacting the complainants, directly or indirectly.
Martin was further found guilty of disobedience for her defiance to the Supreme Court’s directive for her to undergo psychological evaluation while the case was pending, including her failure to respond to subsequent calls and text messages from the Court’s psychologist. This merited Martin an additional fine of P36,000.00.
FULL TEXT of A.M. No. P-22-042 dated June 28, 2022 at: https://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/29590/