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[G.R. No. 1723. January 30, 1904. ]

FRANCISCO GUTIERREZ REPIDE, Petitioner, v. JAMES J. PETERSON, as sheriff of the city of Manila, Respondent.

Hartigan, Marple, Solignac & Gutierrez, for Petitioner.

Oscar Sutro, for Respondent.


1. HABEAS CORPUS; JURISDICTION. — Where it appears that the Court of First Instance has jurisdiction to issue an order it has power to punish a person for refusal to comply with such order.

2. ID.; ID.; ERROR. — An order made by a court within the limits of its jurisdiction, even if erroneous, will not be set aside on habeas corpus.

3. RECEIVER; ATTACHMENT. — An attachment of the defendant’s property does not render void a prior order directing the delivery to a receiver of other property of the debtor which is the subject-matter of the litigation.

On the 12th of January, 1904, Mrs. Elenora Enrica Strong filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance of Manila against the petitioner, Francisco Gutierrez Repide, for the recovery of 800 shares of the stock of the Philippine Sugar Estates Development Company, Limited, alleged to be the property of the plaintiff but claimed by the defendant under a conveyance said by the plaintiff to be void by reason of fraud and deceit on the part of Gutierrez. The prayer of the complaint was that the plaintiff be adjudged the owner of the stock in question, and that a receiver be appointed for the same until final judgment. On the same day the Hon. John C. Sweeney, judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, made an order appointing the sheriff a receiver to take possession of the stock, and ordered the defendant, Gutierrez, to deliver it to the receiver. Notice of the order having been served on the defendant, he informed the sheriff that he was unable to comply with the order, as the stock was not in his possession, and the sheriff made return to the court accordingly. On January 13, 1904, the defendant was ordered to appear to show cause why he should not be committed for contempt by reason of his failure to comply with the order of the court concerning the delivery of the stock. At the hearing on the order, the defendant stated under oath and in writing that he was unable to obey the order because the shares of stock in question had been sent to Spain two months before.

After receiving other testimony, Judge Sweeney, on January 15, 1904, filed a written decision in which he expressed the belief that the defendant’s statements were false, that he still had the stock in his possession, and that his failure and refusal to deliver it to the receiver constituted a contempt. Upon this view of the case the court ordered that the defendant be imprisoned until such time as he would comply with the order for the delivery of the stock.

Prior to the order adjudging the defendant guilty of contempt and on the 14th day of January, 1904, Judge Sweeney ordered the sheriff to attach so much of the defendant’s property as might be required to satisfy a judgment of $150,000 which interest and costs, and in obedience to this order the sheriff attached 800 other shares of the stock of the Sugar Estates Development Company.

On the 19th of January, 1904, the defendant, Gutierrez, presented a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to the Hon. John T. McDonough, one of the judges of the Supreme Court, alleging that he was illegally deprived of his liberty by the sheriff of Manila.

The writ was issued as prayed, and made returnable before the court in banc on the 19th of January, 1904. At the time designated the respondent appeared and filed his return to the writ, in which he stated that the petitioner was in his custody by virtue of the order of January 15, above referred to, and warrant of commitment of the same date, issued by the Hon. John C. Sweeney, as judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila.



That the Court of First Instance had jurisdiction of the parties and the subject-matter of the suit between the Strongs and the petitioner is not denied. That this action belongs to the class of actions in which the Court of First Instance has jurisdiction to appoint a receiver can not be denied. Nor can I be denied that in action in which the court has the power to appoint a receiver it may make an order requiring parties to the action to deliver to the receiver the property in litigation. If a Court of First Instance has power to issue an order it has jurisdiction to punish a person for a refusal to comply with such order.

Having the power and jurisdiction in this class of cases to issue an order requiring a defendant to deliver the property to the receiver and to proceed against the defendant for a failure to comply with such order, any mistakes which the court may have made in exercising that power in this particular case must be corrected on an appeal. The allegations in the petition for the writ of habeas corpus to the effect that the receiver was appointed without notice to the defendant and that no bond or no sufficient bond was required; that in the proceedings for contempt no complaint had been filed when the first order was made, and that the court wrongfully decided upon the evidence that the defendant had in his possession the stock in question, all fall within this rule. If these were errors which the court below committed during the progress of the case, nevertheless they did not make its order committing the defendant an absolute nullity. (Code of Civil Procedure, sec. 528.)

It is claimed by the petitioner that the attachment of the 800 other shares of the same stock belonging to the defendant had the effect to render absolutely void the order in question. The attachment seems to have been granted under sections 412, third, and 424. We do not see how an attachment under that section on the ground that the defendant has concealed the property in litigation can absolutely deprive the court of the power through its receiver to take possession of the property itself, if it should be afterwards found, or to continue proceedings then pending looking to a discovery of its whereabouts. There is nothing in the Code of Civil Procedure which declares that the attachment shall have such effect. The contention of the petitioner would lead to the result that if the day after the attachment had been levied the defendant had exhibited in court the shares in litigation the court would have had no power to order their delivery to the receiver, and apparently to the further result that no such order could have been inserted in the final judgment, the attachment the law allows in this class of cases thus having the effect of changing the nature of the case itself from one for the recovery of specific personal property to one for the recovery of its value.

The fact that the plaintiff’s claim might in such case be doubly secured could not destroy the jurisdiction in regard to the receiver which the court had acquired prior to the attachment.

The remedy of the petitioner for the correction of the errors he alleges have been committed in this case is by appeal and not by habeas corpus.

The prisoner must be remanded to the custody of the sheriff.

Arellano, C.J., Torres, Cooper, Mapa, McDonough and Johnson, JJ., concur.

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