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US v.

PIO, TOMAS, AND CATALINO, all surnamed MERCADO


November 13, 1913 | Johnson, J. | Conduct and Character as
Evidence
Digester: Galope, Mark Allen
SUMMARY: Defendants Pio, Tomas, and Catalino Mercado were
convicted of coercion by CFI of Bulacan upon a complaint by one
Claro Mercado. The defendants, by means of violence or force
employed upon Claro, prevented the latter from rendering aid to
Maria R. Mateo, in order that Santiago Mercado might maltreat
the said woman. In their appeal, defendants took exception to a
question asked by private prosecutor during the trial to the
defense witness, Santiago Mercado: How many times have you
been convicted of assault upon other persons?. Defendants
insisted that the question was not related to the matter being
investigated in the trial, while prosecutor explained that he
wanted to show the pugnacious nature of Santiago, having
defended him before in other assault cases. The Court ruled in
favor of the defendants (on this particular objection only, because
their conviction was affirmed in the end), pointing out that the
question was not relevant to the important fact being proved by
the prosecution, which was that Santiago had assaulted Maria R.
Mateo, in order to show that there was occasion for Claro to
interfere.
DOCTRINE: A witness cannot be impeached by the party against
whom he has been called, except by showing that:

that he has made contradictory statements;

by showing that his general reputation for truth, honesty, or


integrity is bad; or

that he has been convicted of a high crime.


FACTS:
One Claro Mercado presented a complaint against Pio, Tomas,
and Catalino, all surnamed Mercado (defendants) for coercion,
alleging in the Information that the latter, by means of violence
or force employed upon his person, prevented him from
rendering aid to Maria R. Mateo in order that Santiago
Mercado (note that Santiago Mercado is not one of the
defendants) might maltreat the said Maria R. Mateo, in
violation of law.
During trial, one of the defendants, Tomas, objected to the
question asked by private prosecutor to defense witness
Santiago Mercado for being impertinent. The question was:

How many times have you been convicted of assault upon


other persons? Private prosecutor explained that the question
was intended to show the pugnacious nature of Santiago, as he
had previously defended him in various cases of assault.
The Judge overruled the objection, ruling that the question may
have a strong relation to the facts being investigated. In
answer to that question, Santiago admitted that complaint had
been presented against him for assault and battery.
After trial, the Judge found the defendants guilty. Hence, this
appeal.

RULING: CFI of Bulacan AFFIRMED. Conviction of the


defendants UPHELD.
[TOPIC]. Whether the possibility that the witness had
assaulted other persons and had been prosecuted therefor
may be considered by the court in weighing the proof and in
testing the credibility of the witness in this particular case?
NO.
Defendants: the question had no relation to the question which
was being discussed by the court and did not tend to show that the
defendants were either guilty or not guilty of the crime charged;
that questions tending to disclose the character of a witness are
immaterial.
First, the Court pointed out that it was an important for the
prosecution to prove that Santiago Mercado, at the time and
place mentioned in the complaint, had assaulted or attempted
to assault or ill-treat Maria R. Mateo, in order to show that
there was occasion for the interference of Claro Mercado. This
was the matter being investigated by the Court when the
controversial question was asked.
Generally speaking, a witness cannot be impeached by the
party against whom he has been called, except by showing
that:
that he has made contradictory statements;
by showing that his general reputation for truth, honesty, or
integrity is bad; or
that he has been convicted of a high crime.
The question to which the defendant objected neither
attempted to show that the witness had made contradictory
statements nor that his general reputation for truth, honesty,
or integrity was bad. Neither is assault a high crime, as that
term is generally used (i.e., in its ordinary signification). High

crimes are generally defined as such immoral and unlawful


acts as are nearly allied and equal in guilt to felonies.
Court ruled that the objection to the question was properly
interposed and should have been sustained.

Whether the admission of the question prejudiced the rights


of the defendants? NO.
If there was proof enough adduced during the trial of the
cause, independent of the answer brought out by this question,
showing the guilt of the defendants, then the question did not
affect prejudicially the interests of the defendants. Errors
committed by the trial court, which are not prejudicial to the
rights of the parties, should be disregarded by the court.
Court found out that the evidence clearly shows that Santiago
committed the assault. Whether he had committed other

assaults was not important. The admission of the proof to


which such question related could in no way prejudice the
rights of the defendants.
Whether the defendants should have been allowed to testify
the same way the sole witness Santiago Mercado was
allowed to testify. NO.
Even admitting that the accused, had they testified, would have
made the same declarations as those made by the only witness,
Santiago Mercado, the Court ruled that such declarations
would not have been sufficient, inasmuch as they would have
added nothing to the record, except an accumulation of proof,
to have shown that the defendants were not guilty.