Lawyer Lorna Kapunan found guilty of unjust vexation vs UST law dean

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Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 11 has convicted lawyer Lorna Kapunan of unjust vexation, sentenced her to 30 days in jail, and ordered to pay P2 million in damages over statements she made against University of Santo Tomas Law Dean Nilo Divina in relation to the hazing of Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

The Manila court set aside for grave abuse of discretion the earlier ruling of Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila Branch 17 Judge Karla Funtila-Abugan that previously acquitted Kapunan. Judge Cicero Jurado, Jr. of the Manila RTC Br. 11 also ordered Kapunan to pay P500,000 in attorney’s fees.

The case started when Kapunan gave an interview to ANC back in October 2017. UST Law Dean Divina claimed Kapunan, while representing the Castillo family, accused him of having recruited Castillo to join the Aegis Juris Fraternity and meeting with members of the fraternity after the alleged hazing.

Kapunan also used the term “obstructionist to justice” in referring to Divina.

In March 2019, the Department of Justice, dismissed the libel and cyber libel complaints filed by Divina against Kapunan, but indicted her for slander. 

January this year, the Manila MeTC Br 17 acquitted Kapunan.

Evaluating Manila MeTC’s decision, Jurado said the lower court’s decision was “erroneous and obviously tainted with discrepancy” and disregarded the prosecution’s evidence.

The Revised Penal Code defines ‘unjust vexation’ as “a course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such a person and serves no legitimate purpose.”

Divina, who said he does not bear any ill will with Kapunan, is content that justice has been served.

“I feel vindicated. I have no hatred or rancor against Atty. Lorna Kapunan. I have moved on. But, justice must be served and lessons ought to be learned,” Divina said in a text to Sandigan News when asked for a comment about the decision of Manila RTC.

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