When to avail of the legal remedy of reopening a case
" I am an inmate serving my sentence at the national penitentiary. I was convicted by the lower court in 2005 for the crime of rape and failed to elevate my case to the higher court. A fellow inmate told me to file a petition to reopen my case since the private complainant in that case wrote a letter stating that she was only forced by her mother to implicate me. The victim’s mother was my former live-in partner. May I know if I can still file the said petition?
The rule governing your situation is found under Section 24, Rule 119 of the 2000 Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure which states:“At any time before finality of the judgment of conviction, the judge may, motu proprio or upon motion, with hearing in either case, reopen the proceedings to avoid a miscarriage of justice. The proceedings shall be terminated within thirty (30) days from the order granting it.”
The above stated rule was further explained by the Supreme Court in the case of Rivac vs. People of the Philippines (G.R. No. 224673, January 22, 2018), where Honorable Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe stated:“A motion to reopen a case to receive further proofs was not in the old rules but it was nonetheless a recognized procedural recourse, deriving validity and acceptance from long, established usage. This lack of a specific provision covering motions to reopen was remedied by the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure which took effect on December 1, 2000.
x x x Section 24, Rule 119 and existing jurisprudence stress the following requirements for reopening a case: (1) the reopening must be before the finality of a judgment of conviction (2) the order is issued by the judge on his own initiative or upon motion (3) the order is issued only after a hearing is conducted (4) the order intends to prevent a miscarriage of justice and (5) the presentation of additional and/or further evidence should be terminated within thirty days from the issuance of the order. Generally, after the parties have produced their respective direct proofs, they are allowed to offer rebutting evidence only. However, the court, for good reasons, and in the furtherance of justice, may allow new evidence upon their original case, and its ruling will not be disturbed in the appellate court where no abuse of discretion appears. A motion to reopen may thus properly be presented only after either or both parties had formally offered and closed their evidence, but before judgment is rendered, and even after promulgation but before finality of judgment and the only controlling guideline covering a motion to reopen is the paramount interest of justice. This remedy of reopening a case was meant to prevent a miscarriage of justice. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied).”Applying the above quoted decision in your situation, the legal remedy of filing a motion to re-open your case is no longer available considering that the court has already rendered a decision in 2005 and you failed to file an appeal thereof hence, the decision attained its finality. The said remedy may be availed only before the finality of judgment of conviction.This opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or further elaborated. We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to ."
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"When to avail of the legal remedy of reopening a case"
was written by Mary
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and updated on 16 September 2021