Saturday, July 10, 2010

U.S. v. Sweet, 1 Phil. 18 (1901)

FACTS: Sweet was employed by the United States military who committed an offense against a POW. His case is filed with the CFI, who is given original jurisdiction in all criminal cases for
which a penalty of more than 6 months is imposed. He is now contending that the courts are without jurisdiction because he was “acting in the line of duty.”

1. WON this case is within the jurisdiction of the CFI.

Yes. By Act No. 136 of the US-Phil Commission, the CFIs are given original jurisdiction in all criminal cases in which a penalty more than 6 months imprisonment or a fine greater
than $100 may be imposed. Furthermore, CFIs have jurisdiction to try offenders charged with violation of the Penal Code within their territorial limits, regardless of the military character of the accused. The defendant and his acts are within the jurisdiction of the CFI because he failed
to prove that he was indeed acting in the line of duty.

2. WON an assault committed by a soldier or military employee upon a prisoner of war is not an offense under the penal code?

Yes. Though assault by military officer against a POW is not in the RPC, physical assault charges may be pressed under the RPC.

3. Assuming that it is an offence under the penal code, whether or not the military character sustained by the person charged with the offence at the time of its commission exempts him from the ordinary jurisdiction of the civil tribunals?

No. The application of the general principle that the jurisdiction of the civil tribunals is unaffected by the military or other special character brought before them for trial (R.A.
No. 7055). Appellant claims that the act was servicebut this cannot affect the right of the Civil Court to takes jurisdiction of the case.”

Judgment: Judgment thereby affirmed “An offense charged against a military officer in consequence of an act done in obedience to an order is clearly shown on the face, where such offense is against the military law, is not within the jurisdiction of the courts of the Civil Government.” ––Per Cooper, J., concurring

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