De Castro's parents are Fortunato R. Leonardo and Maxima Jose of Parañaque. Justice De Castro resides at Merville, Parañaque, Metro Manila. De Castro is married to businessman Eduardo A. De Castro. They have three children: Maria Cherell, Christine Genevive, and Edouard Anthony. Her half-brother, Eduardo L. Leonardo works as Executive Assistant VI, Sandiganbayan).
De Castro finished elementary (1960) and high school education (Valedictorian, 1964) at St. Paul College. De Castro earned her AB Political Science (cum laude, 1968) and Bachelor of Laws (1972) at the University of the Philippines (1979). She passed the Philippine Bar Examination of November, 1972 with bar rating of 80.9%.
She started her judicial career as a law clerk, legal and judicial assistant in the Supreme Court of the Philippines,(1973–1978). She was appointed DOJ State Counsel I, II (1978–1985), and promoted to senior state counsel (1985–1987), supervising state counsel, and chief of legal staff (1988–1989). Before her Sandiganbayan appointment, De Castro was the state counsel V and chief of legal staff, DOJ (1989–1995). De Castro was the Presiding Justice and Chairperson of the First Division, Sandiganbayan at the time of her appointment to the High Court.
She held the position of President-elect of the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) from 2012 to 2014.
Justice De Castro is the Chairwoman of the 2015 Philippine Bar Examination committee.
De Castro headed the anti-graft court’s special division on the perjury and plunder trial of former President Joseph Estrada. Estrada's son, Senator Jinggoy Estrada also faced charges. The long trial finished in September 2007. Estrada was acquitted of perjury charges but found guilty of plunder and sentenced to life imprisonment. All the co-defendants, including Senator Jinggoy Estrada, were acquitted of all charges.
Estrada appealed the decision and called the court (and De Castro, as head of it) "a kangaroo court," while President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the court's decision must be accepted.
De Castro was appointed to the Supreme Court soon after the end of this highly politicized trial. This led to some accusations of quid pro quo. People claimed that she had convicted former President Estrada in exchange for a seat on the Supreme Court. She vigorously denied those rumors, claiming that she had been a candidate for a seat on the high court before her involvement in the case.
On October 16, 2007, the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) announced the final nominees to the Associate Justice Cancio Garcia's vacant Supreme Court of the Philippines Associate Justice post. Teresita De Castro, Justices Edgardo Cruz and Martin Villarama, got 7 out of 8 votes, while Associate Justices Francisco Villaruz and Edilberto G. Sandoval and Labor Secretary Arturo D. Brion got 5 votes each (from the JBC). Under Philippine law, the President has 90 days to choose from among the final nominees.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada (son of Joseph), vowed to block the appointment to the Supreme Court of Sandiganbayan Justices Teresita De Castro and Francisco Villaruz, Jr. (who convicted his father - President Joseph Estrada). Jinggoy argued that: "Such a promotion would seem like a reward in exchange for the guilty verdict against the deposed President. We are convinced, then and now, that the special court created to exclusively try the case of President Estrada was established precisely to convict him, which is what exactly happened."
Teresita de Castro was sworn before Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno on December 4, 2007, at the Dignitaries Lounge of the Supreme Court building in Manila City. Teresita de Castro stated: "Everything happens in God's time. I believe that my 34 years of service in the judiciary and a good track record make me qualified for this position." Immediately after being sworn in, she participated in her first en banc session.Joseph Estrada called the appointment of Teresita de Castro as a “reward for an unjust conviction [of him]”.
Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. said: “That is the President’s call and I do not question it. Of course, other persons may have personal reasons for objecting to the appointment of Justice De Castro. But you cannot please everyone.”
On December 4, 2007, Senate President Manuel Villar and Senate President Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada (the son of Joseph) questioned the timing of Teresita de Castro appointment. Villar stated that: “The appointment’s coming so soon after de Castro’s division had convicted former President Joseph Estrada is bad timing. It gives the impression that the appointment was her reward for convicting Erap [Estrada’s nickname].” Jinggoy Estrada said: “A few months after the conviction of President Estrada, she [de Castro] was immediately appointed as Supreme Court associate justice. I think there was a deal between Malacañang and Sandiganbayan that if she convicts President Erap, she would be appointed to the Supreme Court. That gave political color to the decision of Sandiganbayan. I think she is qualified to be an associate justice. It’s just that the timing is wrong. If I were Justice de Castro, I would have refused the appointment out of delicadeza [good taste]. It did not look good in the eyes of the public.”
Sen. Richard Gordon stated that "de Castro is highly qualified for the High Tribunal and that her appointment could not be interpreted as “reward” for her decision on the Erap plunder case. Malacañang had ignored the Sandiganbayan’s guilty verdict and granted absolute pardon to the former president."
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita defended the appointment of Teresita de Castro noting that she was nominated several times to the post but because she was still handling the Estrada case she was bypassed twice. He added that de Castro deserved the appointment.
On December 9, 2007, Artemio Panganiban stated: "Congratulations to new Supreme Court Justice Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro. Gutsy and brainy, she has chalked up an immaculate and impressive track record."
AB Political Science: University of the Philippines (cum laude, 1968)
Bachelor of Laws: University of the Philippines (1972)
Seminar on Loan Negotiation and Renegotiation (August 9 to September 5, 1986), International Law Institute, Washington D.C.
Program of Instruction for Lawyers (June 11–21, 2004), Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Seminar Judging Across Borders: Canadian Judges and International Law, (April 6–9, 2005), National Judicial Institute, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Phi Kappa Phi International Honor Society;
Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in the Social Sciences;
Vice Chancellor and consistent Member, Order of the Purple Feather, UP College of Law Honor Society;
Executive Vice-President, Philippine Women Judges Association;
UP Sigma Alpha Sorority;
UP College of Law, Portia Sorority and UP Women Lawyers Circle (WILOCI);
Awarded University and College Scholarships at UP Diliman, Q.C.
G.R. No. 180643, Romulo L. Neri Vs. Senate Committee, et al. (2008) - on the principle of executive privilege over Congress' right to information
Criminal Case No. 26558 People Vs. Joseph Ejercito Estrada, et al. (Sandiganbayan 2007) - on the conviction of former Philippine President Joseph Estrada for the crime of plunder punishable by life imprisonment Reclusión perpetua