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LEGAL ETHICS CASE DIGESTS PART II A. Lawyers 1. Disbarment of lawyer for grossly immoral conduct Ui v. Atty. Bonifacio A.C. No. 3319. July 8, 2000. 333 SCRA 35 PONENTE: De Leon FACTS: A complaint for disbarment was filed against Bonifacio on the ground of immorality for having illicit relations with a married man which resulted in the birth of two children. Her defense: She married complainant's husband without knowledge, in good faith, of his true marriage status; that she parted ways upon knowledge of such fact. She is also charged for disrespect toward the IBP for willfully attaching to her Answer a falsified copy of the marriage certificate. HELD While a lawyer may be disbarred for "grossly immoral conduct," there is no fixed standard for such conduct. Although circumstances existed which should have irked Bonifacio's suspicion, her act cannot be considered immoral. Immorality connotes conduct that shows indifference to moral norms of society. Moreover, "a member of the bar must so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral standards." Bonifacio's act of immediately distancing herself from complainant's husband upon knowledge of his true civil status avoids the alleged moral indifference--that she had no intention of flouting the law and the high standards of the legal profession. The complaint is dismissed but she is reprimanded for attaching to her Answer a falsified copy of her marriage certificate. 2. Malpractice Daroy v. Abecia A.C. No. 3046, Oct. 26, 1998. 298 SCRA 239 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Case of malpractice. Abecia was counsel of Daroy in a case for forcible entry. Judgment was for Daroy. To satisfy the judgment, the sheriff sold at public auction a parcel of land belonging to one of the defendants to complainant Daroy as highest bidder. Daroy alleged that he entrusted the title to the land (TCT No. T-315) to Abecia as his counsel and allowed him to take possession of the land upon the latter's request. Daroy, then, accused Abecia of having, forged his signature in a deed of absolute sale by means of which the latter was able to transfer a parcel of land first to Jose Gangay and eventually to his wife Nena Abecia. Abecia claimed that the land was conveyed to him as payment of his legal services to Daroy. HELD: Abecia is not guilty. The parties were mistaken in thinking that Abecia could not validly acquire the land. In Guevara v. Calalang, on facts similar to those in this case, the SC held that the prohibition in Art. 1491 does not apply to the sale of a parcel of land, acquired by a client to satisfy a judgment in his favor, to his attorney as long as the property was not the subject of the litigation. However, the parties thought that the transfer of the land to Abecia was prohibited and so they contrived a way whereby the land would be sold to Jose Gangay, whose wife Anita is the sister of Mrs. Nena Abecia, and then Gangay would sell the land to Mrs. Abecia. The sale of the land to Gangay may be fictitious and, therefore, void, but it is evident that Daroy intended to convey the land ultimately to Abecia. 3. Res judicata Reynaldo Halimao vs. Daniel Villanueva et. al A.C. No. 3825. Feb. 1, 1996. 253 SCRA 1 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: This is a complaint for disbarment against Attorneys Villanueva and Ferrer, Jr., for serious misconduct. Halimao alleged that respondents, without lawful authority and armed with armalites and handguns, forcibly entered the Oo Xian Tiok Compound of which complainant was caretaker, on April 4, 1992 at 11:00 A..M. On August 14, 1992, respondents filed a comment in which they claimed that the complaint is a mere duplication of the complaint filed by Danilo Hernandez in Administrative Case

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No. 3835, which this Court had already dismissed on August 5, 1992 for lack of merit thus amounting to res judicata. HELD: The Investigating Commissioner properly dismissed the complaint in this case on the ground of res judicata, it appearing that it involves the same incident and the same cause of action as that Administrative Case No. 3825. The resolution of this Court in Administrative Case No. 3835 is conclusive, it appearing that the complaint in this case is nothing but a duplication of the complaint of Danilo Hernandez in the prior case. In dismissing the complaint brought by Danilo Hernandez in the prior case, this Court categorically found "want of a prima facie showing of professional misconduct on the part of the respondents [Attorneys Daniel Villanueva and Inocencio Ferrer, Jr.]" 4. Misrepresentation and Non-payment of bar membership dues Soliman M. Santos, Jr. v. Atty. Francisco R. Llamas A.C. No. 4749. Jan. 20, 2000. 322 SCRA 529 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Complaint for misrepresentation and non-payment of bar membership dues. It appears that Atty. Llamas, who for a number of years now, has not indicated the proper PTR and IBP OR Nos. and data in his pleadings. If at all, he only indicated IBP Rizal 259060 but he has been using this for at least 3 years already. On the other hand, respondent, who is now of age, averred that he is only engaged in a limited practice of law and under RA 7432, as a senior citizen, he is exempted from payment of income taxes and included in this exemption is the payment of membership dues. HELD: GUILTY. Rule 139-A requires that every member of the Integrated Bar shall pay annual dues and default thereof for six months shall warrant suspension of membership and if nonpayment covers a period of 1-year, default shall be a ground for removal of the delinquents name from the Roll of Attorneys. It does not matter whether or not respondent is only engaged in limited practice of law. Moreover, the exemption invoked by respondent does not include exemption from payment of membership or association dues. In addition, by indicating IBP Rizal 259060 in his pleadings and thereby misprepresenting to the public and the courts that he had paid his IBP dues to the Rizal Chpater, respondent is guilty of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility that provides: Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. His act is also a violation of Rule 10.01 which provides that: A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; nor mislead or allow the court to be misled by any artifice. 5. Diligence Elsie Aromin vs. Valentin Boncavil A. C. No. 5135. Sept. 22, 1999. 315 SCRA 1 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Ballesteros engaged services of respondent Atty. Boncavil in two cadastral cases. Upon receipt of the adverse decision in the 2 cases, Boncavil did not inform the claimants of the decision, did not file a motion for reconsideration or a notice of appeal, did not file a written offer of evidence despite the directive of the trial court and only filed a motion to substitute 4 years after the complainants father died. HELD: Atty. Boncavil was suspended for 6 months from notice with a warning that repetition of a similar offense will be dealt with more severely. Boncavil violated Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility providing that a lawyer should serve his client with competence and diligence and Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which states that a lawyer must not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable. 6. Conflicting Interests - Full Disclosure Hector Teodisio vs. Mercedes Nava A. C. No. 4673. Apr. 27, 2001. PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Respondent Mercedes Nava alleged that petitioner acted as counsel for Melanie Batislaong in several cases as counsel for Espinosa and Palma in cases 2 filed by them against Batislaong and Nava. Respondent explained that Nava was the former manager of Batislaong who was fired because

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of mismanagement. Thereafter, Nava sued Batislaong, Palma and Espinosa for estafa. Because of alleged false receipts issued by Nava, Palma and Espinosa hired petitioner Teodisio in a civil case because they wanted to settle their debts to Batislaong through Nava and were unsure how to go about it. Hence, petitioner impleaded both Batislaong and Nava so there could be interpleader between the two. This was done with full disclosure to all parties concerned. HELD: - A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. Under Canon 6 of the previous Canons of Professional Ethics, a lawyer is deemed to represent conflicting interests when, in behalf of one client, it is his duty to contend for that which duty to another client requires him to oppose. The rule is designed to remove from attorneys the opportunity to take advantage of the secrets of clients obtained during the existence of the client-attorney relation. Even granting that the interests of Espinosa, Palma, and Batislaong are conflicting, petitioner cannot be held liable for acting as their common counsel in view of the fact that, as stated in their affidavits, petitioner explained to them the consequences of his representation and that they gave their consent to the same. 7. Disbarment of lawyer requires clear and preponderant evidence Danilo Conception vs. Daniel Fandino A. C. No. June 21, 2000. 334 SCAR 136 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: A complaint for disbarment was filed against Atty. Fandio for gross misconduct, deceit and malpractice for having notarized several documents without having been appointed or commissioned as a notary public. The complaint was dismissed by the IBP because the documents submitted by complainant were mere photocopies. HELD Although disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are not civil or criminal nature, but rather investigations by the Court into the conduct of its officers, the rules on evidence cannot be disregarded considering that the exercise of ones profession is at stake. Under the Best Evidence Rule, mere photocopies of the alleged notarized documents is inadmissible in evidence, in the absence of evidence to prove that the original copies of the same were lost or destroyed or cannot be otherwise produced. Considering the serious consequence of the disbarment or suspension of a member of the Bar, clear and preponderant evidence is necessary to justify the imposition of the administrative penalty, with the burden of proof resting upon the complainant. 8. Withdrawal of Services without Just cause Felicisimo Montano vs. IBP A.C. No. 4215. May 21, 2001. PONENTE: Kapunan FACTS: Atty. Dealca, counsel for Felicisimo Montano withdrew his services for his client upon the latter's failure to comply with their retainer agreement. HELD: We find Atty Dealcas conduct unbecoming of a member of the legal profession. Under Canon 22 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer shall withdraw his services only for good cause and upon notice appropriate in the circumstances. Although he may withdraw his services when client deliberately fails to pay the fees for the services, under the circumstances of the present case, Atty. Dealcas withdrawal was unjustified as complainant did not deliberately fail to pay him the attys fees. Rule 20.4 of Canon 290, mandates that a lawyer shall avoid controversies with clients concerning his compensation and shall resort to judicial action only to prevent imposition, injustice or fraud. Sadly, for not so large a sum owed to him by complainant ( P 3,500.00), respondent lawyer failed to act in accordance with the demands of the Code. But, only in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and member of the bar will mdisbarment be imposed a s penalty. 9. Immorality Paras vs. Paras A.C. No. 5333. Oct. 18, 2001. 343 SCRA 414 PONENTE: Melo FACTS: Rosa Paras conducted a case for disbarment against her husband Justo Paras for gross immoral conduct and concubinage. The criminal case for concubinage was dismissed.

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HELD: Good moral character is not only a condition precedent to admission to the practice of law but also its continued possession is also essential for remaining in the practice of law. Respondent has fallen below the moral bar when he forged his wifes signature in the bank loan documents, and sired a daughter with a woman other than his wife. The dismissal of the criminal cases does not bar the filing of the administrative case. Paras was not disbarred. Disbarment should never be decreed where any lesser penalty, such as temporary suspension, could accomplish the desired end. Suspended for 6 months. Ansa vs. Musa A.M. No. SCC-00-5. Nov. 29, 2000. 346 SCRA 240 Per Curiam FACTS: Ansa was a court stenographer assigned to respondents ( Sharia) court. The latter made several amorous advances towards her. Then that faithful day came and the poor stenographer finally realized that she would never be anything more than the other woman. Ansa charged her ex-lover with Gross Immorality, the latter resorted to the honorable way out, strongly and vehemently denying the whole thing. HELD: Musa violated the Code of Judicial Conduct. Not only did he transgress the norms of decency expected of every person but he failed to live up to the high moral standard expected of a member of the Judiciary. 10. Intemperate Speech United BF Homeowners vs. Sandoval-Gutierrez A.M. No. CA-99-30. Oct. 16, 2000. 343 SCRA 162 PONENTE: Kapunan FACTS: In the SC resolution dated Sept.29, 1999, they dismissed the administrative complaint filed against Justice Sandoval-Gutierrez of the CA and Court Administrator Alfredo Benipayo and directed the complainants to show cause why they should not be punished for contempt for, among others, using intemperate, offensive and libelous language against Justice Gutierrez and the other members th of the 13 Division of the CA. Without authorization from UBFHAI, Bago launched a signature campaign and filed with the Office of the Court Administrator the administrative complaint against Justice Gutierrez. He used the name of the UBFHAI to launch his complaint. The Board subsequently asked Bago to resign. It would appear that the author of the administrative complaint was a certain Bago, a member of the 1999 UBFHAI Board and its duly elected Secretary. Without authorization from UBFHAI, Bago launched a signature campaign and filed with the Office of the Court Administrator the administrative complaint against Justice Gutierrez. He used the name of the UBFHAI to launch his complaint. The Board subsequently asked Bago to resign. HELD: In the SC resolution of 4 Sept. 1999, they found totally bereft of factual basis Bagos accusations and innuendos against Justice Gutierrez. The charge of foot-dragging against this Court is not only malicious but also false because the Court had already acted on their complaint against Justices Gutierrez and Benipayo and dismissed the same in its Resolution. The Court finds Bago guilty of indirect contempt. While the Court recognizes a litigants right to criticize judges and justices in the performance of their functions, it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall be bona fide and shall not spill over the walls of decency and propriety. Intemperate and unfair criticism is a gross violation of the duty of respect to courts. Baniqued vs. Rojas A.M. No. OCA-00-03. Oct. 4, 2000. 342 SCRA 1. PONENTE: Purisima FACTS: Complainant (OIC of the OCAs Statistical Reports Division) charged respondent (a Statistician) with Grave Misconduct and Slander. Basically, during office hours, the latter called the former useless, biased and an idiot in front of everybody. HELD: SC fined Rojas. This Court condemns and would never countenance any conduct, act or omission on the part of all those involved in the administration of justice which would violate the norm of public accountability and would diminish or even just tend to diminish the faith of the people in the

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Judiciary. His conduct, at all times, must not only be characterized by propriety and decorum but above all else must be above suspicion. 11. Formal Investigaton Mandatory in an Admin. Case Baldomar vs. Paras A.C. No. 4980. Dec. 15, 2000. 348 SCRA 212 PONENTE: Vitug FACTS: Respondent allegedly gave Baldomar legal advice and then, became the counsel for Maanay who was the opposing party. Baldomar alleged that Paras breached their lawyer-client relationship. Paras, however, later withdrew his appearance on the ground that the presiding judge was his former law partner. HELD: It appears that there was no formal investigation conducted by the IBP pertaining to the allegations made. A formal investigation is a mandatory requirement which may not be done away with except for valid and cogent reasons. These reasons do not appear here to be present. The administrative case is remanded to IBP for further proceedings. 12. Misconduct Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. vs. Attys. Antonio M. Llorente and Ligaya P. Salayon A.C. No. 4690. August 29, 2000. 339 SCRA 154 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Then Senatorial candidate Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. alleged that the respondents tampered with the votes received by them by either adding more votes for particular candidates in their Statement of Votes (SoV) or reducing the number of votes of particular candidates in their SoV. Pimentel filed an administrative complaint for their disbarment. Respondents argued that the discrepancies were due to honest mistake, oversight and fatigue. HELD: GUILTY. A lawyer who holds a government position may not be disciplined as a member of the bar for misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a government official. However, if the misconduct also constitutes a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility or the lawyers oath or is of such character as to affect his qualification as a lawyer or shows moral delinquency on his part, such individual may be disciplined as a member of the bar for such misconduct. Here, by certifying as true and correct the SoVs in question, respondents committed a breach of Rule 1.01 of the Code which stipulates that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. By express provision of Canon 6, this is made applicable to lawyers in the government service. In addition, they likewise violated their oath of office as lawyers to do no falsehood. The Court found the respondents guilty of misconduct and fined them PhP 10,000 each and issued a stern warning that similar conduct in the future will be severely punished. B. Judges 1. Gross Ignorance of the Law a. In general Sps. Fortuna vs. Judge Pinaco-Sitaca A.M. No. RTJ 01-1633. June 19, 2001 PONENTE: Ynares-Santiago FACTS: Respondent Judge was charged with grave misconduct for granting bail to the accused in a criminal complaint filed by complainant Sps. Fortuna. The respondent granted bail based on affidavits and not on any other personal findings and/or examination. HELD:It has been held that it is patent error for a judge to base his order of granting bail merely on supporting affidavits attached to the information since those are merely intended to establish probable cause as basis for the issuance of an arrest warrant and not to control his discretion to deny or grant bail in all situations. Generally the acts of a judge in an official capacity, in the absence of fraud, dishonesty or corruption, are not subject to disciplinary action even though such act may be erroneous. But it is highly imperative that judges should be conversant with basic legal principles and be aware of well-settled authoritative doctrines-such as in the procedures for granting bail.

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Carlito Aguilar vs. Victor Dalanao A.M. No. MTJ-00-1275. June 8, 2000. 333 SCAR 62 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Judge Dalanao revived a forcible entry case which was already dismissed by his predecessor, claiming that the decision was not final since a motion for reconsideration was filed. In another case for malicious mischief, Dalanao immediately issued a warrant of arrest without first requiring the accused to appear. In both cases, Dalanao disregarded the application of the Rules on Summary Procedure. Under the summary rules, no motion for reconsideration is allowed in cases covered by it; and no order of arrest against can issue unless the accused is first required to appear but fails to do so. HELD In failing to determine whether the cases are governed by the summary rules, Dalanao showed gross ignorance, albeit without any malice or corrupt motive. Under the summary rules, a patently erroneous determination to avoid the application of the Rule of Summary Procedure is a ground for disciplinary action. The Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins judges to be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence. This Court has impressed on judges the need to be diligent in keeping abreast with developments in law and jurisprudence; fined an equivalent to one-half of his salary for one month. Velaides Vercide vs. Priscilla Hernandez A.M. No. MTJ-00-1265. Apr. 6, 2000. 330 SCRA 49 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Judge Hernandez dismissed a case for recovery of possession of land on the ground that it was filed without prior referral to the Lupong Tagapamayapa. Complainants allege that respondent judge committed (a) Grave abuse of authority by knowingly rendering an unjust and unlawful order; (b) Ignorance of the law in its highest order, she being a judge; (c) Grave disobedience to the jurisprudence laid down by the Supreme Court. Judge claims she merely followed the law in dismissing the case. HELD: In Tavora vs. Veloso it was already ruled that where parties do not reside in the same city or municipality or in adjoining barangays, there is no requirement for them to submit their dispute involving real property to the Lupong Tagapamayapa. Such ruling should be familiar to the bench and the bar. That ignorance of the law excuses no one has special application to judges, who under the injunction of Canon 1.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, should be the embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence. Respondent, in choosing to justify instead of correcting her error of quoting out of context the Katarungang Pambarangay Rules also violated Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which provides that in every case a judge shall endeavor diligently to ascertain the facts and the applicable law unswayed by partisan interest, public opinion or fear of criticism. Daniel & Suprema Dumo v. Judge Romeo V. Perez A.M. No. MTJ-00-1242 Jan. 20, 2000. FACTS: Respondent Judge issued an order stating that complainants shall not be affected by a writ of execution because they were not made parties to the case. Despite such order, he moved on to issue a Writ of Possession in favor of the original plaintiff (Espinas). As a consequence, Espinas used such Writ of Possession against the herein complainants in order to eject them from their property and deprived them from the enjoyment of the same. HELD: First of all, respondent Judge is guilty of ignorance of the law. As an MTC judge, he obviously had no jurisdiction over the action for quieting of title and recovery of ownership filed by Espinas against the original defendants. It must be stressed that the case was NOT for ejectment but for quieting of title and/or ownership falling within the exclusive jurisdiction of RTC. Secondly, the judges act of issuing conflicting orders is likewise inexcusable. After declaring that the Writ of Execution cannot be made enforceable against herein complainants as they were not made parties to the case, he reversed himself nevertheless by issuing the Writ of Possession. Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides that: a judge should also avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities. A judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. (Rule 2.01, Canon 2). Romulo Tolentino v. Judge Policarpio S. Camano, Jr. A.M. RTJ-00-1522. Jan. 20, 2000. 322 SCRA 559 PONENTE: Mendoza

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FACTS: The complaint alleges that respondent Judge granted bail while pending the holding of a preliminary investigation. The defense moved to quash the information against the accused on the alleged absence of a preliminary investigation. Consequently, respondent Judge ordered that a preliminary investigation be had by the state prosecutor. During the pendency of this, he granted bail in favor of the defendant after several notices of hearing to the state prosecutor to which the latter failed to appear. After such grant, complainant herein now accuses respondent of denying the prosecution the chance to adduce evidence to show that the guilt of the accused was strong and that bail should not have been granted in his favor. HELD: NOT GUILTY. There was no denial of due process. It was not necessary to hold hearing so that the prosecution could show that evidence of guilt of the accused was strong since a preliminary investigation had been ordered by the court. At that point, bail was still a matter of right. Respondent judge, knowing that bail was indeed a matter of right at that stage, nevertheless set the hearing for the petition for bail four times. However, complainant failed to appear and present evidence to show that the guilt of the accused was strong. It thus appears that complainant is actually the one who was remiss in the performance of his duties. Re: Hold Departure Order Dated April 13, 1998 Issued By Judge Juan C. Nartatez A. M. No. 98-10-141-MTCC Nov. 14, 1998. 298 SCRA 710 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Hold departure order was issued by Judge Nartatez for violations of B.P. 22, to prevent the departure of the accused from the Philippines. The Sec of Justice claims that calls the order is contrary to Circular No. 39-97 of this Court, which limits the authority to issue hold departure orders to the Regional Trial Courts in criminal cases within their exclusive jurisdiction. HELD: The Court reprimanded Judge Nartatez and reminded him that he should keep himself abreast of Supreme Court issuances so as not to commit the same mistake in the future. The Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins judges to be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence. They can live up to this expectation only by diligent effort to keep themselves abreast of the legal and jurisprudential developments. The learning process in law is a never ending and ceaseless process. Ramon T. Ardosa v. Lolita O. Gal-lang, et al. A. M. No. RTJ-97-1385. Jan. 8, 1998. 284 SCRA 58 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: In a Criminal Case before Judge Gal-Lang, the accused filed a motion for reinvestigation and prayed that issuance of the warrant of arrest be held in abeyance. Upon learning that the warrant had already been issued on that day, the accused filed a Motion to Recall the Warrant of Arrest. Since the prosecutor and complainant were present and had been furnished a copy of the motion, the judge decided to hear the motion on the same day it was filed. HELD: Respondent judge committed an abuse of discretion in hearing the motion of the accused on the same day the motion was filed. Rules 15, 4 of the former Rules of Court provides that notice of a motion shall be served by the applicant to all parties concerned at least three (3) days before the hearing. The court, however, for good cause may hear a motion on shorter notice. In this case, respondent judge defends her decision to hear the motion of the accused for the recall of the warrant of arrest on the same day it was filed on the ground that anyway the public prosecutor was present. The only excuse for dispensing with it is if the matter to be heard is urgent. Dr. Luis C. Bengzon vs. Judge Luisito Adaoag A. M. No. MTJ-95-1045. Nov. 28, 1995. 250 SCRA 344 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Judge Adaoag of MTC is charged with ignorance of law, incompetence, bias, hostility, persecution, harassment, obstruction of justice and abuse of authority for holding in abeyance the resolution of complainant's motion for demolition in an ejectment case. The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint alleging that the case was a tenancy case over which the MTC had no jurisdiction. He held in abeyance the resolution of complainant's motion for demolition until the decision in the tenancy case. Judge Adaoag took notice of the claim of Romeo Fernandez that he was not a party in the ejectment case and that he owned the lot by virtue of a Certificate of Land Transfer. Complainant moved for a reconsideration of the resolution. As Judge Adaoag denied the motion, this complaint was filed against him. HELD: Case dismissed. For although respondent judge's resolution suspending judgment on the motion for demolition may be erroneous, the error can at most amount only to an error of jurisdiction

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what in Rule 65, 1 of the Rules of Court is termed "grave abuse of discretion." To warrant a finding of ignorance of the law and abuse of authority, the error must be "so gross and patent as to produce an inference of ignorance or bad faith or that the judge knowingly rendered an unjust decision." Otherwise, to hold a judge administratively accountable for every erroneous ruling or decision he renders, assuming that the judge erred, would be nothing short of harassment and that would be intolerable. Antonio P. Chin v. Tito G. Gustilo, et al. A. M. No. RTJ-94-1243. Aug. 11, 1995. 247 SCRA 175 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: John Girao, a security guard at the Iloilo Central Commercial High School, trying to prevent Antonio Chin from entering the school, accidentally shot Chin. He surrendered to the police and was brought to the sala of respondent Judge Tito G. Gustilo. Upon Girao's motion, respondent judge granted him bail in the amount of P8,000. and ordered him released on the same day. HELD: A notice of application for bail to the prosecutor is required even though no charge has yet been filed in court and even though under the circumstances bail is a matter of right. While respondent was in error in believing that notice to the prosecutor is required only where bail is a matter of discretion, nonetheless, the SC found that his error was not due to any conscious and deliberate intent to commit an injustice. In cases such as this, it has been the view that, as a matter of public policy, in the absence of fraud, dishonesty, or corruption, the acts of a judge in his judicial capacity are not subject to disciplinary action even though such acts are erroneous. Nonetheless, the SC have stressed the importance of the duty of members of the judiciary to keep abreast of the laws, rulings and jurisprudence affecting their jurisdiction. Respondent judge's failure to comply with this duty resulting in the failure to give notice to the prosecution of pending application for bail merits a reprimand. Teresita Q. Tucay vs. Judge Roger A. Domagas A. M. No. RTJ-95-1286. Mar. 2, 1995. 242 SCRA 110 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: A complaint was filed, protesting the grant of bail without hearing and without notice to trial fiscal, Atty. Villarin, of the Provincial Prosecutor's recommendation for approval of the bond. HELD: In failing to observe these rudimentary requirements, the respondent judge showed gross ignorance of the law for which he should be fined. Apolinario Muez vs. Judge Ciriaco Ario A. M. No. MTJ-94-985. Feb. 21, 1995. 241 SCRA 478 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: This is an administrative complaint against Judge Ario for knowingly rendering an unjust judgment as defined and penalized under Article 204 of the RPC. HELD: He showed poor judgment and gross ignorance of basic legal principles. While judges should not be disciplined for inefficiency on account merely of occasional mistakes or errors of judgment, yet, it is highly imperative that they should be conversant with basic legal principles. In every case, a judge should endeavor diligently to ascertain the facts and the applicable law unswayed by partisan or personal interests, public opinion or fear of criticism. A judge owes it to the public and the administration of justice to know the law he is supposed to apply to a given controversy. Respondent judge showed lack of capacity for independent judgment. b. Requirements for liability to attach to gross ignorance of the law Rallos vs. Goko, Jr. A.M. No. RTJ-99-1484(A). Oct. 24, 2000. 344 SCRA 178 PONENTE: Panganiban FACTS: Complainant alleged that the respondent judge ordered the release of 25,000 sacks of rice to claimants, notwithstanding the pendency of seizure and forfeiture proceedings before the Bureau of Customs. It is alleged that respondent is guilty of gross ignorance of law.

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HELD: This act constitutes gross ignorance of the law. However, we have held that to be punishable as such, it must not only be contradictory to existing law and jurisprudence, but must also be motivated by bad faith, fraud, dishonesty or corruption. Respondent was in bad faith when respondent did not appear for hearing on the dates set for the hearing of which he had knowledge of. Daracan vs. Natividad AM RTJ-99-1447. Sept. 27, 2000. 341 SCRA 161 PONENTE: Ynares Santiago FACTS: This case deals with how to hold a judge administratively liable for ignorance of the law and/or knowingly rendering an unjust judgment. HELD: For liability to attach for ignorance of law, the assailed order or decision of the judge in the performance of official duties must not only be found erroneous but, more importantly, it must also be established that he was moved by bad faith; dishonesty, hatred, or some other like motives. Similarly, a judge will be held liable for rendering an unjust judgment when he acts in bad faith, malice, revenge or some other similar motive. In fine, bad faith is the ground for liability in either or both offenses. Bad faith does not simply connote bad judgment or negligence; it imputes a dishonest purpose or some moral obliquity and conscious doing of a wrong; a breach of a sworn duty through some motive or intent or ill-will; it partakes of the nature of fraud. Bad faith is not presumed and he who alleges the same has the onus of proving it. Oscar C. Fernandez v. Lilia Espaol A. M. No. MTJ-98-1150. April 15, 1998. 289 SCRA 1 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS:Complainant filed a motion for execution, which was granted by respondent judge. Defendant filed a motion for reconsideration, alleging that complainant's brothers, who are co-owners of the property, had renewed his lease contract. Respondent judge granted the defendant's motion for reconsideration, deferring execution. In comment, respondent judge explained that she granted the defendant's motion in view of a supervening event. HELD: Respondent judge has shown ignorance of law by failing to order execution despite the fact that defendant had not given a supersedeas bond, paid the rents as they fell due or paid the docket fees. The court's duty was simply to order such execution. Also, there was no supervening event. However, to justify the taking of drastic disciplinary action, the law requires that the error or mistake of the judge must be gross or patent, malicious, deliberate or in bad faith. These are not present in the instant case. c. Gross Ignorance of law. Impartiality. Adan vs. Abucejo-Luzano A.M. No. MTJ-00-1298. 337 SCRA 158 PONENTE: Gonzaga- Reyes FACTS:A careful reading of the order of acquittal shows that respondent judge conducted an ocular inspection of the place of the incident on her way home at which the accused was present and wherein respondent Judge was informed by the accused that the area was fenced by the MSU. It is not disputed that complainant or his counsel was not informed of such ocular inspection. Complainant charged respondent Judge with abuse of authority, partially and rendering an unjust judgment relative to the aforesaid criminal cases. HELD: Respondent Judge should have known that an ex parte ocular inspection without notice to nor presence of the parties and after the case had already been decided was highly improper. If respondent judge had entertained doubts that she wished to clarify after the trial had already terminated, she should have ordered motu proprio the reopening of the trial for the purpose, with due notice to the parties, whose participation therein is essential to due process. Thus, it is error for the judge to go alone to the place where the crime was committed and make an inspection without previous knowledge or consent of the parties. Respondent has opened herself to charges of partiality and bias by meeting with the accused privately. Respondent Judge has not only shown gross ignorance of the law and procedure but failed to live up to the norm that judges should not only be impartial but should also appear impartial. She thus violated Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which provides that a judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities.

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Lu vs. Siapno A.M. No. MTJ-99-1199. July 6, 2000. 335 SCRA 122 PONENTE: Gonzaga-Reyes FACTS: On appeal, MTC-judgment was modified by deleting the paragraph "(I)n accordance with the Rules, let a Writ of Execution be issued." Lu filed a petition for review with the Court of Appeals, while petitioner's counsel filed a Motion for Execution which was granted by respondent judge. Writ was issued without notice and hearing. An ex-parte Motion to Withdraw deposit was filed and granted. A Motion for Special Demolition was likewise granted without notice and hearing. Hence, this complaint for gross incompetence, gross ignorance of the law, abdication of official function and gross misconduct. HELD: Respondent is guilty of gross ignorance of the law when he rendered judgment providing, in the dispositive portion, for its immediate execution. It should be noted that the RTC modified the MTCdecision to the effect that it should not be immediately executed. Basic is the rule that a judge may not order the execution of judgment in the decision itself. Section 21 of the Rules of Summary Procedure likewise provides that the decision of the RTC is immediately executory. Even if immediately executory, there must be notice and hearing. Also, mere suspicion that the judge is partial to a party is not enough; there should be adequate evidence to prove the charge. Jepson Dichaves vs. Billy Apalit A.M. MTJ-00-1274. June 8, 2000. 333 SCRA 54 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: In a criminal case for violation of BP 22, respondent Judge issued 3 orders: (1) suspension of the criminal case due to the principle of prejudicial question when the complainant was not a party to the civil case (no justification for the ruling was made); (2) disqualification of counsel of complainant for taking part in the prosecution of the criminal case allegedly due to the fact that the civil aspect of the case was being litigated; and (3) acquitting the accused because the checks were allegedly issued as a guarantee. HELD: Judge Apalit is guilty of gross ignorance of the law. An isolated error of judgment would normally not make a judge susceptible to administrative liability. In this case, the judges partiality for a party to a case before him is evident in several orders, favoring the accused in the criminal case, even going to the extent of disregarding settled rulings. Ma. Imelda Marcos-Manotoc vs. Emerito M. Agcaoili A.M. No. RTJ-98-1405. Apr. 12, 2000. 330 SCRA 268 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: On June 18, 1998, Puerto Azul Land, Inc. filed a civil case for injunction and for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and TRO against complainants Marcos-Manotoc, et al. On the same day, judge issued a TRO, stating that such is good until such time that the writ of preliminary injunction shall have been resolved. The hearing for the application for a preliminary injunction was scheduled on June 24 but on that day, instead of conducting a hearing, judge issued an order extending the effectivity of the TRO for 5 more days. On June 28, judge again extended the TRO. HELD: Judge failed to observe Rules 3.01 and 3.05 of the Code of Judicial conduct, enjoining judges to be faithful to the law and to maintain professional competence and to dispose of the business of their courts promptly and within the applicable periods. Judges act of further extending the TROs, knowing fully well that he has not conducted a summary hearing and that he would not be able to conduct one in the succeeding days because of his other commitments, suggests partiality to a party in the case. He disregarded the time-honored injunction on judges to be impartial both in fact and in appearance. Roberto Espiritu vs. vs. Eduardo Jovellanos A.M. No. MTJ-97-1139. October 16, 1997. 280 SCRA 579 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Espiritu charged respondent judge with with ignorance of the law, grave abuse of authority, and gross partiality alleging irregularities committed by respondent judge in the conduct of the preliminary investigation of his complaint against Dumlao.

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HELD: The respondent judge is guilty of ignorance of the law, bias, and partiality for Dumlao as shown by the respondent judge granting bail and later reducing its amount when the fact was that, at that time, Dumlao was not in the custody of the court, and no notice and hearing for the reduction were held. Although then not in legal custody, Dumlao subsequently submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court when on September 7, 1994 he personally asked respondent judge to admit him to bail and reduce its amount. Respondent judge thus correctly granted bail to Dumlao. Respondent judge erred, however, in fixing the amount of bail at P20,000.00 and reducing it to P10,000.00 and in doing so without a hearing. Either respondent judge was grossly ignorant of the law or he deliberately disregarded it to favor the accused. Further demonstrating either deliberate disregard of the law or gross ignorance of the same, respondent judge granted bail to Weny Dumlao without notice to the prosecution, in violation of Rule 114, 18. The failure to observe the above requirement constitutes ignorance or incompetence which cannot be excused by any protestation of good faith. What respondent judge should have done was to have Dumlao put his request in writing and then schedule the incident for hearing with notice to the prosecution. Instead, he readily granted the request, which indicates rather clearly respondent judge's partiality. This partiality was nowhere more evident than in the private conference which he had with the Dumlaos in his chambers without the presence of the opposing party, the complainant in this case. Time and again we have admonished judges not only to be impartial but also to appear to be so.

D. Gross Ignorance of Law and Impropriety Emeterio Gallo vs. Judge Jose Cordero A. M. No. MTJ-95-1035 June 21, 1995. 245 SCRA 219 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Gallo charges that (a) in violation of art. 207 and art. 208 of the RPC, respondent judge ordered the arrest of the accused; (b) that respondent privately conferred with the accused in his office which "logically and naturally arouses suspicion of graft and rank favoritism;" and (c) that he acted with bias and ignorance of the law," and that even if the accused were not tenants, "nobody can eject them." HELD: Cordero opened himself to charges of partiality and bias by meeting privately with the four accused. It was improper for him to meet them without the presence of complainant. He not only has shown gross ignorance of law and procedure but has also failed to live up to the norm that "judges should not only be impartial but should also appear impartial." He violated Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which provides that "a judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities." Rule 2.01 provides that "A judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary." E. Malfeasance/Misfeasance in Rendering Unjust Judgment; Gross Ignorance Heirs of Juan and Natividad Germinanda vs. Salvanera A.M. No. MTJ-00-1246. Jan. 28, 2000. 323 SCRA 561 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: An unlawful detainer case was pursued by the Germinandas in one civil case and the ownership of the land in another case. The judge suspended the resolution in the unlawful detainer case until the ownership case has been terminated. The issue is whether or not there has been malfeasance or misfeasance in the suspension. HELD: It is settled that the pendency of an action questioning the ownership of the property does not bar the filing or the consideration of an ejectment suit nor the execution of the judgment therein. The reason for this rule is that ejectment suits involve only the issue of material possession and does not decide the issue of ownership. Considering the differences in causes of action, it was wrong for the judge to rule the complainants guilty of forum shopping in filing their complaints for unlawful detainer despite pendency of the ownership case. Judge was reprimanded. F. Ignorance of the Law/ Nonfeasance Orlando Lapea vs. Jovito Pamarang A.M. No. P-00-1362. Feb. 15, 2000. 325 SCRA 440 PONENTE: Mendoza

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FACTS: Parmarang, Sheriff IV of RTC Urdaneta, Pampanga, received a writ of execution on August 3, 1995. However, it was only on October 5, 1995 when he made a return. HELD: It is well settled that to stay the immediate execution of judgment in an ejectment case while appeal is pending, the defendant must: (a) perfect his appeal; (b) file a supersedeas bond; and (c) periodically deposit the rentals which become due during the pendency of the appeal. These circumstances were not present to justify the sheriff from desisting from the implementation of the writ of execution. Considering that the losing party only had 15 days from receipt of the decision (or until August 18, 1995) to avert execution, there was no reason for the sheriff to wait until October 5. Assuming that the writ was not enforced due to the aforementioned circumstances, the respondent sheriff still had a duty to make a timely return to the court. Sheriff is guilty of nonfeasance. G. Gross Ignorance of the Law, Partiality, Incompetence, Knowingly Rendering Unjust Judgment Clodualdo de Jesus vs. Rodolfo Obnamia A.M. No. MTJ-00-1314. Sept. 7, 2000. 340 SCRA 1 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Complainants herein allege that respondent Judge amended the order of Judge Nantes and acted with gross ignorance of the law and incompetence and knowingly rendered an unjust judgment. Respondent Judge claims that he was not aware of the decision as such was not attached to the records when he prepared the questioned resolution. HELD: Even if the decision of the CA was not in the records of the ejectment case, the same were brought to respondent judges attention by complainant in the supplemental opposition he filed to the plaintiffs motion for reconsideration of Judge Nantes order denying the plaintiffs motion for writ of demolition. The execution of the decision therefore is a contentious matter. It was thus necessary for respondent judge to ensure compliance with the three-day notice rule for the hearing wherein he could then confirm the existence of the decision and resolution of the CA. Respondents failure to do so constitutes censurable conduct. Gozun vs. Liangco A.M. No. MTJ-97-1136. Aug. 30, 2000. 339 SCRA 253 PER CURIAM FACTS: Gozun was in open and adverse possession of subject land for a period of 30 years. The municipality of San Luis, Pampanga claimed to own the same lot and issued a resolution declaring that the lot where Gozun and family were squatting as the new site of the Health Center. Judge issued a resolution, reasoning in favor of the municipality and upholding the resolution. Note that Gozun was not served with summons or given notice of the petition. Complainant avers that respondent's issuance of the resolution amounts to gross misconduct, gross inefficiency, and incompetence, and further accused the mayor of having bribed respondent. HELD: Judge not only acted without jurisdiction, but in so acting ignored blatantly the basic rules of fair play. Complainant was not notified of nor made a party to the petition. A member of the bench must keep himself constantly abreast of legal and jurisprudential developments, bearing in mind that this learning process never ceases even as it is so indispensable in the correct dispensation of justice. When the law violated is elementary, the failure to know or observe it constitutes gross ignorance of the law. Also, judges are prohibited from engaging in the private practice of law or from giving professional advice to clients. They are required to be objective and cannot innovate at pleasure and justify such by their own perception of what is ideal or good. H. Gross Ignorance of Law. No Jurisdiction. i. hold departure order Hold Departure Order by Judge Aniceto Madronio A.M. No. 99-12-192. Jan. 26, 2000. 323 SCRA 345 PONENTE: Mendoza HELD: Supreme Court Circular No. 39-97 dated June 19, 1997 limits the authority to issue hold departure orders to RTCs in Criminal Cases within their exclusive jurisdiction. Judge Madronio even admits his oversight. Respondent is suspended.

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Hold Departure Order Issued By Judge Eusebio Barot, MCTC Br. 2 Aparrie, Calayan, Cagayan A.M. 99-8-108-MCTC. Aug. 25, 1999. 313 SCRA 44 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Judge Barot issued on February 10, 1999, in People vs. de Jesus an order to prevent the departure of the accused from the Philippines. The Secretary of Justice calls attention to the fact that the order is contrary to Court Circular 39-37 which limits the authority to issue hold departure orders to RTCs in criminal cases within its exclusive jurisdiction. HELD: Judge Barot is reprimanded with warning. The Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins judges to be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence. ii. Regular Courts have no Jurisdiction to Restrain Execution of Final Decisions of the Labor Arbiter Gorgonio Nova vs. Judge Sancho Dames A.M. No. RTJ-00-1574. Mar. 28, 2001 PONENTE: Pardo FACTS: Nova filed a complaint for illegal dismissal and other money claims against Station DZRM. The Labor Arbiter ruled in his favor and the NLRC dismissed the appeal. The decision having become final, the NLRC issued an alias writ of execution. However, respondent Judge issued a TRO restraining the NLRC Sheriff from conducting the scheduled public auction. HELD: Regular courts have no jurisdiction to hear and decide questions which arise and are incidental to the enforcement of decisions, orders or awards rendered in labor cases by appropriate officers and tribunals of the DOLE. They owe it to the public to be legally knowledgeable with basic laws and principles, for ignorance of the law is the bane of injustice. Rodriguez vs. Bonifacio A.M. No. RTJ-99-1510 Nov. 6, 2000. 344 SCRA 565 PONENTE: Ynares-Santiago FACTS: Respondent allegedly granted improvidently a petition for Habeas Corpus thus, he was charged with gross ignorance of the law, gross incompetence and knowingly rendering an unjust judgment. HELD: Where the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation had not yet completed its hearing and investigation proceedings with respect to an alien and there is no showing that it is unduly delaying its decision, habeas corpus proceedings are premature. It was grievious error for the judge to give due course to the habeas corpus petition. It is imperative that judges be conversant with basic legal principles and aware of well-settled authoritative doctrines. He should strive for excellence exceeded only by his passion for truth, to the end that he be the personification of justice and the Rule of Law. iii. Election Law Romeo Gustilo vs. Hon. Ricardo S. Real A.M. No. MTJ-001250. Feb. 28, 2001 PONENTE: Quisumbing FACTS: Complainant Gustilo was a candidate for punong barangay with Weddy Libo-on as his lone opponent. The canvassing yielded a tie, the breaking of which was in favor of Gustilo (who was duly proclaimed). Libo-on filed an election protest with the MCTC. Respondent judge granted Libo-ons motion to advance the hearing without giving due notice to Gustilo. Respondent then issued a TRO and annulled the proclamation of Real. Complainant avers that Reals errors were not honest mistakes and were product of bias in favor of Libo-on. HELD: A judge is expected to know the jurisdictional boundaries of courts and quasi-judicial bodies like the COMELEC and to act only within said limits. A judge who wantonly arrogates unto himself the authority and power vested in other agencies not only acts in oppressive disregard of the basic requirements of due process, but also creates chaos and contributes to confusion in the administration of justice. Respondent displayed a marked ignorance of basic laws and principles. Commission on Elections vs. Judge Buco R. Datu-iman

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A.M. No. MTJ-99-1178. March 3, 1999. 304 SCRA 106 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: On March 29 and 31, 1994, Comelec sent telegrams to election officials in Lanao del Sur ordering them to delete Barangay Sumbago from the list of barangays in the Municipality of Bayang on the ground that it had not been legally created. However, barangay officials seeking reelection brought suit against Comelec in Judge Datu-Imans court to stop implementation of the COMELEC directive. Judge Datu-Iman issued a temporary restraining order on April 9, 1994 and, after hearing, rendered a decision on May 2, 1994 granting injunction. Comelec filed a case for appropriate disciplinary action amounting to gross ignorance of the law. HELD: Because of the subordinate status and rank of courts vis-a-vis the COMELEC, the lower courts cannot issue writs of injunction enforceable against the COMELEC. More importantly, Judge DatuIman ought to have known that, since its creation, the COMELEC has been accorded full discretion given its constitutional mandate to enforce and administer all laws relative to the conduct of election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall. This was stressed in the decision of this Court in Zaldivar v. Estenzo. iv. RTC interference with the business of the CA Martin Brizuela vs. Ruben Mendiola A.M. No. RTJ-00-1560. July 5, 2000. 335 SCRA 23 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: After defaulting on his loan and after the forclosure on his real estate mortgage and the lapse of the period of redemption, mortgagor Brizuela files an action to annul the auction sale with RTC Branch 66. It is dismissed, but on appeal to the CA, Brizuela is able to cause the annotation of a notice of lis pendens on the property. Meanwhile, the winning bidder files a motion to cancell the notice of lis pendens with Judge Mendiola of RTC Branch 63 who grants it. HELD: The cancellation of a notice of lis pendens is merely incidental to a pending action. Thus, Mendiola had no power to entertain such motion because the annotation of the notice was made in relation to the annulment case filed in Branch 66, which case fell under the jurisdiction of the CA at the moment the decision of the former was appealed to the latter. Mendiola is guilty of gross ignorance of the law and grave misconduct; fined P5,000, to be dudected from the balance of his retirement benefits. v. Interference of court with another court of equal rank Romeo Dela Cruz vs. Carlito Eisma A.M. No. RTJ-00-1544. Mar. 15, 2000. 328 SCRA 151 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Ledesmas land was taken by expropriation proceedings. After 22 years, heirs of Ledesma enter and occupy the expropriated portion, prompting SolGen Dela Cruz to file a case of forcible entry. It was dismissed by the MTC but reversed by RTC Branch 17, attaining finality when no appeal was filed. Subsequently, the heirs were able to file an accion publiciana with Judge Eisma of RTC Branch 13, who issued a TRO and preliminary injunction against the MTC. HELD The principle that a court cannot prevent the execution of a decision of a higher court applies to salas of co-equal jurisdiction. Although Eismas orders were directed to the MTC, its effect was to prevent the execution of a final order of another RTC of equal rank and jurisdiction. Eisma is guilty of gross ignorance of the law and abuse of authority; fined P5,000. 2. Gross Negligence. Gross Ignorance. Impartiality. Romulo Tolentino vs. Alfredo Cabral A.M. No. RTJ-00-1528. Mar. 28, 2000. 329 SCRA 1 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Prosecutor Tolentino files a petition for certiorari assailing the order of RTC Judge Cabral granting bail to a rape suspect. Tolentino also files an administrative complaint against Cabral for the loss of pertinent records on the case and for showing partiality for the accused. Cabral brings counter charges against Tolentino when the latter questioned certain orders of the court by distorting and

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misrepresenting the actual contents of such orders; and for threatening Cabral that if the prosecutions motions are not granted, an administrative complaint would be brought against him. HELD Acting on the petition for certiorari, the Supreme Court found that Cabral knowingly issued a manifestly unjust order granting bail despite strong evidence of guilt. Acting on the administrative complaint, the Supreme Court finds Cabral guilty of gross negligence and inefficiency for the loss of important records on the case. He is also guilty of partiality in denying the prosecution the chance to file an opposition when Cabral fixed the date of a hearing close to the date of its service to the prosecution. Tolentino is also found guilty of the countercharges. For grave abuse of authority, gross ignorance of the law, gross negligence and inefficiency, rendering unjust judgment and for violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, Judge Cabral is suspended for 6 months without pay. Tolentino is reprimanded for breach of Canon 10, Rules 10.01 and 10.02 as well as Canon 11, Rule 11.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. 3. Continuance of admin. case a. Complainants Desistance does not Bar Juanito Agulan vs. Judge Fernandez A.M. No. MTJ 01-1354. Apr. 4 2001 PONENTE: Gonzaga-Reyes FACTS: Respondent Judges failure to comply with the rules regarding the procedure for acceptance and disposition of cash bail bonds placed his integrity in serious doubt particularly when he replaced part of the cash bond with his personal check without any acceptable explanation. HELD: A judges official conduct should be free from any appearance of impropriety. He must not act in a way that would cast suspicion in order to preserve the faith in the administration of justice. In the case of public servants in the judiciary, their conduct and behavior, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk, must not only be characterized by propriety and decorum but above all else must be above suspicion. The mere fact that complainant sent a letter requesting the withdrawal of the instant administrative case does not warrant the dismissal thereof; the court may proceed with its investigation and mete out appropriate penalty against erring officers of the court. Sevilla vs. Salubre A.M. MTJ-00-1336, Dec. 19, 2000, 348 SCRA 592. PONENTE: De Leon, Jr. FACTS: Respondent judge misappropriated his clients funds when he was still a lawyer and did not repay he same despite numerous demands. When he became a judge, he issued two checks as payment but both bounced. The client filed an estafa case but later on executed an Affidavit of Desistance. The issue is whether the Affidavit of Desistance divested the SC of its jurisdiction to impose administrative sanctions upon respondent. HELD: No. While the complaint for estafa had been dismissed, the dismissal was on account of complainants voluntary desistance and not upon a finding of innocence. The primary object of administrative cases against lawyers is not only to punish and discipline the erring individual lawyers but also to safeguard the administration of justice by protecting the courts and the public from the misconduct of lawyers, and to remove from the legal profession persons whose utter disregard of their lawyers oath have proven them unfit to continue discharging the trust reposed in them as members of the bar. Administrative cases against lawyers can still proceed despite the dismissal of civil and/or criminal complaints against them. b. Retirement Does Not Effect Dismissal Cabarloc vs. Cabusora A.M. No. MTJ-00-1256, Dec. 15, 2000. 348 SCRA 217. PONENTE: Kapunan FACTS: Judge Cabusora downgraded the crime to Homicide and exonerated Cadano. It was also found that the judge committed error in conducting another preliminary investigation, reversing his own findings motu propio and ordering the release of the two accused without authority. HELD: Judge Cabusora exceeded his authority in making a determination of the crime committed as this is the function of the prosecution and not of the investigating judge. Cessation from office because

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of retirement does not warrant the dismissal of the administrative complaint filed against a judge while he was still in service. Perlito D. Flores, et al. v. Antonio C. Sumaliag A. M. No. MTJ-97-1115. June 5, 1998. 290 SCRA 568 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: The complainants instituted this administrative case against respondent judge for gross ignorance of the law in connection with the preliminary investigation of three criminal cases and the arrest of complainants. Respondent has already retired. It is contended that respondent ordered the arrest of complainants without the justification of doing so "in order not to frustrate the ends of justice," as provided in Rule 112, 6(b). HELD: The arrest of the accused can be ordered only in the event the prosecutor files the case and the judge of the RTC finds probable cause for the issuance of a warrant. Respondent ordered the issuance of a warrant solely on his finding of probable cause, totally omitting to consider whether it was necessary to do so in order not to frustrate the ends of justice. Respondent has since retired. However, this does not render this case moot and academic. The jurisdiction at the time of the filing of the administrative complaint is not lost by the mere fact that the respondent public official has ceased in office during the pendency of his case. The Court retains its jurisdiction either to pronounce the respondent official innocent of the charges or declare him guilty thereof. c. Resignation Carino vs. Biteng A.M. No. MTJ-99-1213. Oct. 2, 2000. 341 SCRA 539. PONENTE: Quisumbing FACTS: Carino was cited and ordered arrested and detained for indirect contempt without hearing by respondent judge. The Executive Judge recommended dismissal of the complaint because Biteng had retired and could no longer be held liable. The OCA disagreed, pointing out that according to jurisprudence, an administrative case against a judge does not become moot and academic simply because he had retired or resigned. Also of note is that P25,000 was withheld from Bitengs retirement benefits pending the outcome of the instant complaint. HELD: The SC agreed with the OCA and found that respondent judge was guilty of gross ignorance of the law and incompetence. Biteng was conveniently fined P25,000, same amount set aside from his retirement benefits. 4. Inhibition of a Judge Inocencio Siawan vs. Aquilino Inopiquez A.M. No. MTJ-95-1056. May 21, 2001. PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Complainant Siawan alleged that respondent Judge is guilty of grossly abusing his authority. In the first controversy, a criminal case was pending in the sale of respondent. Despite motions of complainant for the judge to inhibit himself, respondent did not do so notwithstanding that his (respondents) father-in-law was directly participating in the case. However, respondent was forced to inhibit himself when several other relatives became involved in the case. In the second controversy, respondent judge tried election cases while his relatives were candidates for various positions in the municipality. HELD: Athough the disqualification of judges is limited only to cases where the judge is related to counsel within the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity, the Rules nonetheless provide that a judge may, in the exercise of his discretion, disqualify himself from sitting in a case for other just and valid reasons. A judge should not handle a case where he might be perceived, rightly or wrongly, to be susceptible to bias and impartiality, which axiom is intended to preserve and promote public confidence in the integrity and respect for the judiciary. In this case, the refusal of respondent to inhibit himself from the conduct of the case and his doing so only after being threatened with an administrative case could not but create the impression that he had ulterior motives in wanting to try the case. The purpose of the prohibition is to prevent not only a conflict of interest but also the appearance of impropriety on the part of a judge. A judge should take no part in a proceeding where his impartiality might reasonably be questioned and he should administer justice impartially and

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without delay. The failure of respondent judge to inhibit himself constitutes an abuse of his authority and undermines public confidence in the impartiality of judges. German Agunday vs. Nieto Tresvalles AM MTJ-99-1236. Nov. 25, 1999. 319 SCRA 134 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Respondent Judge was charged with gross inefficiency, gross ignorance of the law and impropriety on the part of respondent judge. Respondent failed to inhibit himself even if he was related to the accused. HELD: Respondent was the father-in-law of accuseds son. The relationship in our culture known as magbalaes should have prompted respondent judge to inhibit himself from the case. A judge should not only be impartial but must appear impartial as well. Re: Inhibition of Judge Eddie R. Rojas A. M. No. 98-6-185-RTC. Oct. 30, 1998. 298 SCRA 306 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: A criminal case was initially tried in the RTC, with Judge Rojas as public prosecutor. While the case was pending, Judge Rojas was appointed judge of the trial court on November 12, 1996. As the original counsel for the accused did not interpose any objection, Judge Rojas tried the case. On April 13, 1998, however, Judge Rojas decided to inhibit himself from the case. On July 7, 1998, the Court required Judge Rojas to show cause why no disciplinary action should be taken against him for sitting in a case in which he had previously acted as counsel for one of the parties. Judge Rojas tried to justify his failure to inhibit himself from the beginning by stating that it was only after a close scrutiny of the case records that he discovered and remembered that he had handled the criminal case as public prosecutor years ago and also tried to minimize the seriousness of his breach of judicial ethics by claiming that anyway he did not conduct a full-blown trial. Moreover, Judge Rojas stated that he had not inhibited himself because the previous counsel of the accused, Atty. Rosalie Cario, did not object to his sitting in the case as the judge. HELD: Yes. Judge Rojas is subject to disciplinary action. Rule 137, 1 of the Rules of Court expressly states, however, that "no judge or judicial officer shall sit in any case in which he . . . has been counsel [for a party] without the written consent of all parties in interest, signed by them and entered upon the record.'' The prohibition is not limited to cases in which a judge hears the evidence of the parties but includes as well cases where he acts by resolving motions, issuing orders and the like as Judge Rojas has done in the criminal case. The purpose of the rule is to prevent not only a conflict of interest but also the appearance of impropriety on the part of the judge. In re: Inhibition of Bienvenido R. Estrada A. M. No. 98-1-32-RTC. July 29, 1998. 293 SCRA 313 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Circular No. 6 dated April 10, 1987 strictly enjoins all Judges, Clerks of Court and Sheriffs not to accept the position of director or any other position in any electric cooperative or other enterprises, or to resign immediately from such position if they are already holding the same so as not to prejudice the expeditious and proper administration of justice. In violation of this circular, Judge Estrada, who was appointed to the judiciary on May 17, 1994, did not resign from the Board of Directors of the Rural Bank of Labrador until May 31, 1997. HELD: Judge Estrada failed to comply with the directive of Circular No. 6 dated April 10, 1987. The fact that he has already resigned as a Member from the Directorship of the Rural Bank of Labrador does not excuse him from any administrative liability. As a Judge he should be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence. Leovigildo U. Mantaring vs. Judge Manuel A. Roman, Jr. et. al A. M. No. RTJ-93-964. Feb. 28, 1996. 254 SCRA 158 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: In a Supplemental Complaint filed by Mantaring, Sr. against Judge Molato, it charges respondent with harassment. It is alleged that because of the filing of the first complaint against him, respondent Judge Molato should have inhibited himself from conducting the preliminary investigation of a criminal case considering that the respondents in that case were complainant and his son. Instead, it is alleged, he took cognizance of the case and ordered the arrest of complainant and his

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son, Mantaring, Jr., out of hatred and revenge for them because of the filing of the first case by the complainant. HELD: The mere filing of an administrative case against a judge by one of the parties before him is not a ground for disqualifying him from hearing a case. As this Court held, if on every occasion the party apparently aggrieved were allowed to stop the proceedings in order to await the final decision on the desired disqualification, or demand the immediate inhibition of the judge on the basis alone of his being so charged, many cases would have to be kept pending or perhaps there would not be enough judges left to handle all the cases pending in all the courts. But, in the case at bar, an administrative complaint against respondent and Judge Manuel A. Roman, Jr. had previously been filed and it was paramount that respondent was free from any appearance of bias against, or hostility toward, the complainant. The impression could not be helped that his action in the case was dictated by a spirit of revenge against complainant for the latter's having filed an administrative disciplinary action against the judge. The situation called for sedulous regard on his part than that of the cold neutrality of an impartial judge. Moreover, it was improper for respondent judge to have issued the warrants of arrest against complainant and his son without any finding that it was necessary to place them in immediate custody in order to prevent a frustration of justice. 5. Grave Abuse of Discretion Letter dated August 25, 1993 of Secretary Franklin Drilon on the alleged participation of Judge Geronimo Baldo, MTC, Calauan, Laguna in the Gomez-Sarmienta case A.M. No. 93-9-741-0. Nov. 7, 1997. 281 SCRA 523 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Franklin N. Drilon referred this case to the Court for possible disciplinary action against Judge Baldo for having committed grave abuse of discretion in view of a sworn statement given by Luis Corcolon, one of the accused in the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta and the murder of Allan Gomez, that Judge Baldo had ordered the cleaning of a vehicle in which the bodies of the victims were found, in order to destroy evidence of the crime. HELD: There is no direct evidence that Judge Baldo had ordered the cleaning of the Tamaraw van. But the following circumstances tend to show that, at the very least, he was present when the van was cleaned and that his presence wittingly or unwittingly conveyed his approval to those who cleaned the vehicle. Indeed, it would appear that, contrary to his assertion, Judge Baldo did not even take the trouble to ascertain who had ordered the van washed. Kelly R. Wicker et. al vs. hon. Paul T. Arcangel G.R. No. 112869. Jan. 29, 1996. 252 SCRA 444 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: It appears that on Nov 18, 1993, Wicker's counsel, Atty. Rayos, filed a motion seeking the inhibition of the respondent Judge Arcangel from the case. Respondent judge found offense in the allegations on the motion for inhibition filed by complainants, and in an order, held them guilty of direct contempt and sentenced each to suffer imprisonment for five (5) days and to pay a fine of P100.00. Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, which respondent judge denied for lack of merit in his order of Dec 17, 1993. HELD: The power to punish for contempt is to be exercised on the preservative and not on the vindictive principle. Only occasionally should it be invoked to preserve that respect without which the administration of justice will fail. Consistent with the foregoing principles and based on the abovementioned facts, the Court sustains Judge Arcangel's finding that petitioners are guilty of contempt. Atty. Rayos, however, cannot evade responsibility for the allegations in question. As a lawyer, he is not just an instrument of his client. His client came to him for professional assistance in the representation of a cause, and while he owed him whole-souled devotion, there were bounds set by his responsibility as a lawyer which he could not overstep. Based on Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, Atty. Rayos bears as much responsibility for the contemptuous allegations in the motion for inhibition as his client. Atty. Rayos' duty to the courts is not secondary to that of his client. The Code of Professional Responsibility enjoins him to "observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and [to] insist on similar conduct by others" and "not [to] attribute to a Judge motives not supported by the record or have materiality to the case." 6. Delay in Deciding Cases

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Patria Maquiran vs. Lilia Lopez A.M. No. RTJ-00-1606. June 20, 2001. PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Five years after a suit for damages was submitted for judgment, respondent judge still had to decide the case. An administrative complaint against respondent for gross negligence. Respondent claimed first that she had decided the case and had given copies to the parties. Thereafter, she explained that she had surgery, that her parents passed away, etc. HELD: The Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins judges to dispose of their business promptly and decide cases within the required period. This court has constantly impressed upon judges the need to decide cases expeditiously for justice delayed is justice denied. Failure of judges to render judgment within the period constitutes gross inefficiency warranting the imposition of administrative sanctions. The reasons adduced by respondent are unsatisfactory. Although the Court is inclined to be compassionate, respondent must realize that compassion has its limits. Finally, this is the third time that respondent has failed to decide cases within the period. Curiously, the reasons she advanced herein are the same as in the previous two instances. Angel Gil vs. Leoncio Janolo A.M. No. RTJ-00-1602. Dec. 5, 2000. 347 SCRA 6 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Respondent issued an order admitting defendants Formal Offer of Evidence and directed both parties to submit their respective memoranda. However, both parties failed to submit so respondent issued another order reiterating his previous directive. Over 5 months later, a complainant was filed alleging that it took respondent more than 4 months to act on his Formal Offer of Evidence and that it is also evident from the records that 3 months had elapsed and the case has still remained undecided. Respondent acknowledges the delay, which he claims, is a result of technical problems with the office computers. HELD: Respondents excuse is unsatisfactory. The Constitution mandates that lower courts have 3 months within which to decide cases or resolve matters submitted to them for resolution. Canon 3, Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins judges to dispose of their business promptly and decide cases within the required period. Delay in the disposition of cases undermines the peoples faith and confidence in the judiciary. Hence, judges are enjoined to decide cases with dispatch. Failure to do so constitutes gross inefficiency and warrants the imposition of administrative sanctions. Viaje vs. Hernandez A.M. No. RTJ-00-1536 Nov. 28, 2000. 346 SCRA 162 PONENTE: De Leon FACTS: Respondent judge refused to set for hearing Viajes application for preliminary injunction and to add insult to injury, set instead for hearing defendant Mayors Motion to Dismiss, which was delayed several times. The judge claims that he was only trying to prevent the improvident issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and/or to avert the improper denial of the same. He also points out that the issuance of the writ did not appear to be urgent. HELD: Although the judge cannot be held liable for ignorance of Rule 58 of Civpro, he should nevertheless be sanctioned for undue delay in acting on the prayer for issuance of said writ. Regardless of whether the issuance of the writ was urgent or not, it was incumbent upon the judge to immediately act on plaintiffs prayer either by expressly granting, denying or deferring its resolution. Undue delay undermines public faith and confidence in the judges to whom aggrieved partys turn for the speedy resolution of their cases. (Fine was P1,000) Esguerra vs. Judge Loja A.M. No. RTJ-00-1523. Aug. 15, 2000. 338 SCRA 1 PONENTE: Purisima FACTS: Complainant charged that respondent failed to decide the case for falsification of public documents within 90 days after it was submitted for decision and theorized that there is a possibility that respondent might have falsified his certificate of service sent to this court, to make it appear that he had no case then pending, so as to enable him to receive his salary. Judge denied the allegations and maintained that even assuming arguendo that there was a slight delay in the promulgation of the

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decision, it was by reason of mere inadvertence as respondent had an average case load of 800 cases. HELD: Respondent is only guilty of simple negligence. There is no clear evidence that respondent intentionally falsified his monthly certificate of service simply on the basis that his deciison was undated. Also, respondent's above-average disposal of cases, being consistently in the top three in the Manila RTC for the last four successive years would seem to argue against the allegation of incompetence, abuse of authority and falsification against him. Tolentino v. Malanyoan A.M. No. RTJ-99-1444. Aug. 3, 2000. 337 SCRA 162 PONENTE: Kapunan FACTS: Respondent judge issued an order dismissing certain criminal cases, holding that probable cause had not been established by the prosecution and making it constitutionally impermissible to issue a warrant of arrest. One of the cases was dismissed for the reason that complainants nonappearance and his failure to adduce evidence violated accuseds right to a speedy trial. Thereafter, a letter-complaint was filed against respondent for: knowingly issuing unjust orders for the dismissal of these cases without seriously determining the operative facts and the applicable law in cavalier disregard of due process and motivated by bad faith, partiality, falsehood, and intentionally to cause undue injury to the state and the private complainant by giving unwarranted benefits to the accused, all in excess of his jurisdiction and in grave abuse of discretion and violative of Canons 1, 2, and 3 of the Canons of Judicial Conduct. HELD: The respondent is not liable for dismissing the 5 criminal cases due to his honest belief that there was no probable cause. Good faith and the absence of malice, corrupt motives or improper consideration are sufficient defenses protecting a judicial officer charged with ignorance of the law and promulgation of an unjust decision from being held accountable for errors of judgment on the premise that no one called upon to try the facts or interpret the law in the administration of justice can be infallible. It is settled that it is the judge who must be satisfied that there is a probable cause for the issuance of the warrant of arrest. However, on the matter of the pending motions and other incidents, which respondent had long been pending without respondent having acted thereon or resolved the same, the SC found respondent remiss in his duty. The 5 motions/incidents were left unacted upon from 3 to 5 months and were still pending when the administrative complaint was filed against him. Under Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge shall dispose of the courts business promptly and decide the cases within the required periods. While the prosecutor in this case is not without fault, the respondent cannot escape responsibility for his inaction of the pending motions before him. Even assuming arguendo that the various motions filed by the prosecutor were considered to be mere scraps of paper or without merit, the judge must nevertheless resolve on those matters promptly by granting or denying them. Dela Cruz vs. Bersamira A.M. No. RTJ-001567. July 24, 2000. 336 SCRA 353 PONENTE: Ynares-Santiago FACTS: Respondent was charged with the violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials, and the Code of Judicial Conduct.The complainant alleges that respondent gravely abused his discretion by issuing unreasonable orders for postponement to unjustly delay the administration of justice. HELD: The unreasonable delay of a judge in resolving a pending incident is a violation of the norms of judicial conduct and constitutes a ground for administrative sanction against the defaulting magistrate. Indeed, the Court has consistently impressed upon the judges the need to decide cases promptly and expeditiously on the principle that justice delayed is justice denied. Felimon Cuevas vs. Isauro Balderian A.M. No. MTJ-00-1276. June 23, 2000. 334 SCRA 242 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: A complaint of ejectment was filed in the sala of MTC Judge Balderian. When the last required paper was filed on 31 March 1997, the case was deemed submitted for decision, to be rendered not later than April 30. After the lapse of 10 months from the time the last paper was filed, and despite the filing of three Motions for Early Decision, said case remained undecided.

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HELD The Rule on Summary Procedure provides that the court shall render judgement within 30 days from the time the case is submitted for judgement. Rule 3.05 of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins judges to decide cases within the required periods. Respondent has miserably failed to live up to this standard. Nor was there any explanation given by respondent for the delay. Judge Balderian is guilty of gross negligence and inefficiency; fined P5,000.00. Request of Judge Irma Zita v. Masamayor A. M. No. 99-1-16-RTC June 21, 1999. 316 SCRA 219 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: RTC Judge Masamayor asked for an extension of time within which to decide a Criminal Case on the ground that "the case involves legal questions which require careful study for which [she] has not enough time considering the very heavy caseload of the single-sala court over which she presides." The request was made after the original period had expired. As Masamayor did not specify the period of extension she was seeking, she was directed to inform the Court whether or not she had already rendered her decision in the subject criminal case and, in any event, to explain why no disciplinary action should be taken against her for making her request for extension after the expiration of the reglementary period for deciding cases. HELD: Masamayor is guilty of gross inefficiency and the Court ordered her to pay a fine in the amount of P5,000.00 with warning that a repetition of the same or similar act or omission will be dealt with more severely. A heavy caseload may excuse a judge's failure to decide cases within the reglementary period, but not his/her failure to request an extension of time within which to decide the same on time, i.e., before the expiration of the period to be extended. Indeed, cognizant of the caseload of judges and mindful of the pressure of their work, this Court almost always grants requests for extension of time to decide cases. But the request for extension must be made on time. However, as admitted by her, this is not the first time Masamayor failed to make a request for extension before the lapse of the period to be extended. Re: Report on the Judicial Audit of Cases in the RTC, Br. 35, Iriga City A. M. No. 97-8-262-RTC Nov. 27, 1998. 298 SCRA 710 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: In view of the report submitted by a Judicial Audit Team, the Court required RTC Judge Gonzales of Iriga City to comment on his failure: (1) to decide three (3) civil cases within three (3) months from the time they had been submitted to him for decision; (2) to act, for an unreasonable period of time on eight (8) other cases; and (3) to archive ten (10) criminal cases. HELD: Judge Gonzales was satisfactorily able to explain the delay of some of the cases while he was unable to explain others. Thus, a fine of P20,000.00 was imposed on him. Art. VIII, 15 (1) of the Constitution states: All cases or matters filed after the effectivity of the Constitution must be decided or resolved within twenty four months from date of submission for the SC, and unless reduced by the SC, twelve months for all lower collegiate courts, and three months for all other lower courts. To implement the constitutional mandate, Canon 3, Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides: A judge shall dispose of the court's business promptly and decide cases within the required periods. On the prompt resolution of cases, Art. III, 16 of the Constitution states: All persons shall have the right to a speedy disposition of their cases before all judicial, quasi-judicial, or administrative bodies. Canon 3, Rule 3.09 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides: A judge should organize and supervise the court personnel to ensure the prompt and efficient dispatch of business, and require at all times the observance of high standards of public service and fidelity. Nelson Y. Ng v. Leticia Q. Ulibari A. M. No. MTJ-98-1158. July 30, 1998. 293 SCRA 342 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Complaint by Atty. Ng on the alleged inaction and failure of respondent Judge Ulibari to resolve pending motions in her sala was filed. He also alleges that respondent is "a lazy judge" who calls her cases late at 9:30 in the morning in her chambers instead of in open court and who "repeatedly neglects or fails to discharge her duties. HELD: This is a reflection on respondent judge's management of her docket and indicates failure on her part to abide by the Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 3. Rule 3.08 requires judges to diligently discharge administrative responsibilities, maintain professional competence in court management, and facilitate the performance of administrative functions of other judges and court personnel. Rule 3.09 requires judges to organize and supervise the court personnel to ensure the prompt and efficient dispatch of business, and require at all times the observance of high standards of public service and

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fidelity. Rule 3.05 requires judges to dispose of their court's business promptly and within the periods prescribed by law or rules. It needs hardly to be said that delays in court undermine the people's faith and confidence in the judiciary and bring it into disrepute. This admonition has special application to respondent judge who, as an MeTC judge, is a frontline official of the judiciary. She should at all times act with efficiency and with probity. The fact that respondent has no permanently assigned stenographer cannot completely excuse her failure to timely resolve several motions. Romeo Sta. Ana v. Graciano H. Arinday, Jr. A. M. No. RTJ-97-1394. Dec. 17, 1997. 283 SCRA 392 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Complaint against Judge Arinday for delay in resolving 2 Criminal Cases was filed. He admits that the cases were submitted for resolution when the prosecution rested and accused was considered to have waived her right to introduce evidence by her failure to do so. Three years had gone by without a decision. In his comment, he alleges that the aforesaid cases were among 200 transferred to his sala when he assumed office and that he decided to wait, relying on the possibility of an amicable settlement by the parties. HELD: Under the law, he is required to decide cases within 90 days. Indeed, a judge cannot wait indefinitely for the parties to come to a settlement without opening himself to suspicion of partiality and bias. As this Court has held: "Delay in the disposition of cases erodes the faith and confidence of our people in the judiciary, lowers its standards, and brings it into disrepute." Office of the Court Administrator vs. Panganiban A.M. No. RTJ-96-1350. August 18, 1997. 277 SCRA 499 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Respondent is charged with gross negligence in failing to decide the cases within the reglementary period. HELD: Respondent's failure to decide cases constitutes a violation of Canon 3, Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which requires judges to dispose of their court's business promptly and decide cases within the period specified in the Constitution, i.e., three (3) months or ninety (90) days from the filing of the last pleading, brief, or memorandum. This canon is intended to implement the Constitution which makes it the duty of trial courts to decide cases within three months, even as it gives parties to a suit the right to the speedy disposition of their cases. Respondent judge knew of the cases pending resolution. Report on the Judicial Audit and Physical Inventory of the Records of cases in MTCC-Br. 2, Batangas City. A. M. No. 94-10-96-MTCC. Sept. 5, 1995. 248 SCRA 36 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS:This concerns the recommendation of the Office of the Court Administrator to take disciplinary action against Judge Francisco D. Sulit of the MTC in the Cities (Branch 2) at Batangas City and certain employees of his court, the judge for his failure to decide nineteen (19) cases within ninety (90) days as required by law, and the employees for their failure to observe office hours. When the audit team requested the Clerk of Court to produce the records of the said cases, the latter was able to account for only six (6) cases with the explanation that the other thirteen (13) cases are still with Judge Sulit. It should be noted that the aforesaid 6 cases (Criminal Cases Nos. 16647, 17225, 17660, 18177, 18204 and 19303) were still undecided at the time of the audit. HELD: Judge Sulit claims that his caseload is appreciably lower than that of the other sala, because he has been doing his best to dispose of cases on time. Indeed, his Quarterly Report dated March 1994 shows that he had only 300 pending. In the same report, however, and in his monthly reports submitted in 1993, he omitted to mention the nineteen (19) cases in question. No reason has been given by Judge Sulit why he failed to report these cases to the Court. The failure of Judge Sulit to disclose this fact constitutes serious misconduct and warrants the imposition of a penalty higher than that recommended by the OCA. Indeed, the admonition that a judge's conduct should be above reproach (Canon 31, Canons of Judicial Ethics) applies with greater force to his dealings with the Court under whose supervision he is. Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted in the RTC, Branch 16, of Laoag City, Presided by Judge Luis B. Bello, Jr.

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A. M. No. 95-3-89-RTC. Aug. 23, 1995. 260 SCRA 333 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS:In view of the compulsory retirement on January 19, 1995 of Judge Luis Bello, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court (Branch 16) of Laoag City, the Office of the Court Administrator ( OCA) sent a team to conduct an inventory and audit of pending cases in his court. In its report, dated March 8, 1995, the OCA found that Branch 16 had ninety-nine (99) pending cases, of which fifty-seven (57) were criminal cases, while forty-two (42) were civil cases. Of the fifty-seven (57) criminal cases, four (4) had been submitted for decision but, as of the date of the audit, the 90-day period for deciding them had not yet expired. On the other hand, of the 42 civil cases, twelve (12) had been submitted for decision. Of these, seven (7) were cases in which, on the date of the audit, the 90-day period had not yet expired according to the audit team. The report shows that there are only four (4) cases which Judge Bello failed to decide within 90 days (Civil case Nos. 9007, 9959, 10458, & 9163.). It appeared that in these 4 cases, the stenographic notes were not yet transcribed. HELD: Respondent judge failed to comply to decide within 90 days four (4) cases as mandated by Art. VIII, 15 of the Constitution: All cases or matters filed after the effectivity of this Constitution must be decided or resolved within twenty-four months from date of submission for the Supreme Court, twelve months for all lower collegiate courts, and three months for all other lower courts. Cannon 3, Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct also enjoins the same rule: A judge shall dispose of the court's business promptly and decide cases within the required periods. The Supreme Court has consistently impressed upon judges the need to decide cases promptly and expeditiously on the principle that justice delayed is justice denied. Delay in the disposition of cases erodes the faith and confidence of our people in the judiciary, lowers its standards, and brings it into disrepute. i. Duty to Decide Cases with Dispatch Especially Those Covered by the Rule on Summary Procedure Monfort Hermanos Agricultural Devt vs. Judge Rolando Ramirez A.M. MTJ-01-1357. Mar. 28, 2001 PONENTE: Melo FACTS: In a forcible entry case, respondent Judge ruled in favor of defendants. On appeal, the RTC reversed and remanded the case. Complainants alleged that the MTC decision was rendered four months after the last pleading was filed, in violation of the Rules on Summary Procedure. Complainants also allege that defendants defense on the administrative case, that his failure to decide within the period was due to numerous pleadings filed by the parties and other statements on the issue of prior physical possession was subjudice. HELD: Subjudice is defined as under or before a judge or court; under judicial consideration. The trial of the merits of the forcible entry case are still on going and besides the question posed by these issues are judicial in character as these go to the assessment of evidence. In such case the remedy of complainants are those found in the Rules of Court and not an administrative case. However, respondent decided the case beyond the period. The Court has constantly impressed upon judges the need to deicde cases promptly and expeditiously, for it cannot be gainsaid that justice delayed is justice denied. Delay in the disposition of cases undermines the peoples faith and confidence in the judiciary. ii. Request for Extension of Time to Decide Cases Request of Judge Irma Zita Masamayor vs. RTC A.M. No. 99-2-79-RTC. Mar. 21, 2000. 328 SCRA 584 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: RTC Judge Masamayor was twice found guilty of gross inefficiency for requesting an extension of time to decide cases even after the lapse of the period sought to be extended. In another case, Masamayor requested for an extension of 90 days to decide, but was only granted 45 days. Still unable to decide, Masamayor requested another extension, but filed it beyond the 45th day, thinking that her initial request of 90 days was granted. HELD While the Code of Judicial Ethics enjoins judges to decide cases within the period prescribed by law, an extension of time to decide cases is allowed provided the request is made before the lapse of the period sought to be extended. Masamayors occasional requests for extension to decide cases filed out of time shows serious neglect in the performance of her obligation to the parties and to the speedy and orderly administration of justice; she is guilty of gross inefficiency; fined P12,000.

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iii. Failure to Decide Case Within Reglementary Period, Administrative Complaint is not Dismissed by Withdrawal of Complainant Mosquera vs. Judge Legaspi A.M. No. RTJ-99-1511. July 10, 2000. 335 SCRA 326 PONENTE: Gonzaga-Reyes FACTS: A case for recovery of possession was deemed submitted for decision with RTC Judge Legaspi. He rendered judgement only after three years on the excuse that he had to act as pairing judge in three other Branches and that he allowed the parties such period to find an amicable settlement. Plaintiff in the original case filed this administrative complaint against Legaspi for dereliction of duty. Legaspi now claims that he had talked with counsel of plaintiff, who agreed to withdraw the administrative case. HELD Lower courts must decide cases within 3 months from the date of submission, without prejudice to seeking an extension with the SC. Non-observance constitutes a ground for administrative sanction. Even assuming the excuses were true, they could only mitigate the judges liability because a judge should not be at the mercy of the whims of lawyers and parties for it is not their convenience which should be the primordial consideration, but the administration of justice. Moreover, an administrative complaint is not automatically dismissed by withdrawal of complainant. The need to maintain the faith and confidence of the people in the government and its agencies and instrumentalities should not be made to depend on the whims and caprices of the complainants who are, in a real sense, only witnesses therein. Judge Legaspi is administratively liable for his failure to render the decision within the prescribed period of ninety days from the time the case was submitted for decision; fined P2,000. iv. Violation of Constitution Dizon vs. Lopez A. M. No. RTJ-96-1338. Sept. 5, 1997. 278 SCRA 483 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Complainant alleges that the failure of respondent judge to furnish him a copy of the decision until almost one year and eight months after the promulgation of its dispositive portion constitutes a violation of Art. VIII, 14 of the Constitution which prohibits courts from rendering decisions without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and law on which they are based and 15 of the same Art. VIII, which provides that in all cases lower courts must render their decisions within three months from the date of their submission. He alleges further that he was denied the right to a speedy trial in violation of Art. III, 14(2) of the Constitution and that Judge Lopez falsified her decision by antedating it and including therein, as additional penalty, a fine of P5,000.00. HELD: Yes. The fact is that it took a year and eight months more before this was done and a copy of the complete decision furnished the complainant on December 16, 1994. It is clear that merely reading the dispositive portion of the decision to the accused is not sufficient. It is the judgment that must be read to him, stating the facts and the law on which such judgment is based. Respondent failed to render her decision within three months as required by Art. VIII, 15 of the Constitution. What respondent did in this case was to render what is known as a "sin perjuicio" judgment, which is a judgment without a statement of the facts in support of its conclusion to be later supplemented by the final judgment. As early as 1923, this Court already expressed its disapproval of the practice of rendering "sin perjuicio" judgments. What must be promulgated must be the complete decision. 7. Delaying Tactics Eteria T. Tan vs. Judge Mamerto Y. Coliflores Adm. Matter No. MTJ-94-972 Jan. 20, 1995. 240 SCRA 303 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Tan charged Judge Coliflores and Clerk of Court Legaspi for "obviously intentional deferment and delaying tactics" in the transmission to the RTC of the original records of her Case for concubinage filed against her husband and the latter's supposed paramour. HELD: Judge Coliflores is not liable for the year-long delay in the transmission of the records. While he has supervision of Legaspi, Judge cannot be expected to constantly check on the latter's performance of his duties since Legaspi is presumed to be a responsible employee. The Judge had a right to expect that the Clerk of Court would enforce his order. Legaspi's explanation for the delay is not persuasive.

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As the Clerk of Court, he is responsible for seeing to it that the records of appealed cases are properly sent to the appropriate appellate court without delay. He has failed to set an example of official integrity, responsibility and efficiency for others, especially those in his staff. 8. Negligence in the Duty to Informing the Parties of Final Judgment and Execution Ventura B. Ayo v. Lucia Violago-Isnani, et al. A. M. No. RTJ-99-1445 June 21, 1999. 308 SCRA 543 PONENTE: Mendoza Facts: This is a complaint filed by Ayo against RTC Judge Violago-Isnani, Clerk of Court Luy, Sheriff Hatab, Clerk of Court Perez, and Legal Researcher Astorga. Complainant was the representative of Aquino and her minor children in Civil Case No. 91-354. In an amended decision rendered by Judge Isnani, Aquino and her children were awarded indemnity for the death of her husband, for loss of his earning capacity, actual damages, and moral damages. Ayo alleged that it took respondents an unreasonably long time, from July 15, 1997, when the writ was issued, to December 17, 1997, to enforce the writ of execution. Ayo claimed that the two did not even send the writ of execution through registered mail to the appropriate Clerk of Court and/or the Sheriff and his deputy who have administrative jurisdiction to enforce said writ. HELD: Hatab correctly argued that he cannot be blamed for the delay since he had nothing to do with the subject writ considering that he was not the addressee thereof. The case against him is dismissed. Perez cannot be held liable for Abuse of Discretion and Non-feasance merely because she refused to receive and implement the subject writ. The reasons she gave in support of her defense are legal and valid. In so far as she is concerned, this case should be dismissed. Astorga was legally presumed to have regularly performed his duty as the writ was already endorsed to the sheriff. Judge Isnani is not liable for grave abuse of discretion and partiality. Her actions clearly showed that she was scrupulous in seeing to it that the requirements of fair play and due process were satisfied. Only Luy must take responsibility for the delay in the implementation of the writ of execution. He gave no reason why, considering that the writ of execution was issued as early as July 15, 1997, he gave the same to complainant for delivery to the RTC of Dinalupihan only on December 17, 1997. Worse, when he finally issued the writ, Luy endorsed it to the Balanga branch which does not have the territorial jurisdiction to enforce the writ. He was finally able to endorse an alias writ of execution to the Clerk of Court and Ex-Officio Sheriff of the appropriate court, the RTC of Dinalupihan only on June 9, 1998. As an officer of the court, respondent was duty-bound to use reasonable skill and diligence in the performance of his officially designated duties. Luy is guilty of simple neglect of duty which, pursuant to the Civil Service Law, is a less grave offense punishable by suspension for one month and one day to six months for the first infraction. 9. Immorality and Unbecoming Conduct V.C. Ponce Co., Inc. V. Eduarte A.M. No. RTJ-99-1495. Oct. 18, 2000. 343 SCRA 445 PONENTE: Ynares-Santiago FACTS: Complaint alleges that respondent judge refused to correct an obviously erroneous computation in a money judgment. It is alleged that respondent is guilty of gross neglect of duty. HELD: Relative immunity is not a license to be negligent or abusive and arbitrary in performing adjudicatory prerogatives. It does not relieve a judge of his obligation to observe propriety, discreetness and due care in the performance of his judicial functions. Radjaie v. Alovera A.C. No. 4748. Aug. 4, 2000. 337 SCRA 244 PER CURIAM FACTS: Atty. Alovera, former RTC Judge, faces disbarment for having penned a Decision long after his retirement from the Judiciary, which ultimately divested complainant of her property. The gist of the anomalies committed by the respondent judge are: (1) The case was not tried. What transpired was a mock or simulated trial inside his chambers where only the lawyer of the plaintiffs and a court stenographer from another court were present. No Judge or court personnel were present as there was actual Court session in open court going on at that time; (2) The records of the case were with Judge Alovera and remained with him even after his retirement. He did not return the record to the Court Clerk in Charge of Civil Cases; (3) The record of the case turned up on the table of the Court Clerk together with the Offer of Exhibits of the lawyer of the plaintiffs and the Order, after the retirement of Judge Alovera. Both the Offer and the Order admitting the exhibits were not properly

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filed and do not bear markings of having been received by the court; (4) The decision of Judge Alovera was filed with the court by Judge Alovera himself and because he was no longer a judge his submission was refused. HELD: Disbarred. Respondent has thus sufficiently demonstrated that he is morally and legally unfit to remain in the exclusive and honorable fraternity of the legal profession. The evidence against respondent were all quite telling on how the latter acted in a grossly reprehensible manner in having the questioned decision come to fore, leading ultimately to its execution divesting the complainant of her property. Respondent gravely abused his relationship with his former staff, pompously flaunting his erstwhile standing as a judge. He disregarded his primary duty as an officer of the court, who is sworn to assist the courts and not to impede or pervert the administration of justice to all and sundry. In so doing, he made a mockery of the judiciary and eroded public confidence in courts and lawyers. Dolores Gomez v. Judge Rodolfo A. Gatdula 293 SCRA 433 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Gomez is the complainant in 2 different criminal cases before Judge Gatdula. When she petitioned the SC to change the venue of 1 of the cases, Respondent suspended the scheduled hearings in both cases. When required by the SC to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him, he delayed his comment but eventually explained that the suspension of hearing was made because of the pending request for change of venue. HELD: Judge Gatdula acted vindictively & oppressively, apparently irked by the request of petitioner. He need not have suspended both hearings as the change of venue only involved one case. His delay in commenting on the change of venue also effectively delayed both cases by 5 months. His acts are not free from the appearance of impropriety, let alone beyond reproach, as required by Canon 3 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics. Ecube-Badel vs. De la Pea Badel A.M. No. P-97-1248. June 13, 1997. 273 SCRA 320 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: A complaint for immorality charged respondent Court Stenographer for having illicit relations with Dalida by whom he had begot a child, and failing to make good a promissory note he had made to pay his wife as support for their daughter and his promise to pay P500.00 a month from January 1995, pursuant to the decision in a support case filed by complainant. Respondent denied all of these and claimed to have been living alone since the separation from his wife. Thereafter, respondent admitted the charges but claimed that he found solace in the arms of Dalida which his own wife could not offer him and that the separation with his wife has already made them strangers to each other. HELD: He is guilty of immorality and perjury and recommended his suspension without pay for one (1) year. Under Rule XIV, 23(o) of the Civil Service Rules and applicable rulings, immorality is considered a grave offense and is punished by suspension for 6 months and 1 day to 1 year for the first offense and, for the second offense, by dismissal. As already noted, respondent declares that it is "this new-found family," which has given him "solace and comfort and even a reason to continue living." Instead of expressing remorse or even regret for having left his wife, he announces that he has in fact brought an action for annulment of his marriage. Emma J. Castillo vs. Judge Manuel M. Calanog, Jr. A. M. No. RTJ-90-447. Dec. 16, 1994. 199 SCRA 75 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Judge Calanog was accused of conduct unbecoming a public official and immorality. Castillo alleged that he (Calanog) established an intimate, albeit immoral, relationship with complainant although he is a married man. HELD: Guilty. Canon I, Rule 1.01 A judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity, probity and independence. The integrity and independence of the judiciary can be reduced to one common denominator: the judge the individual who dispenses justice, and upon whose attributes depend the public perception of the judiciary. There is no dichotomy of morality: a public official is also judged by his private morals. The Code dictates that a judge, in order to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, must behave with propriety at all times. As the SC has very recently explained, a judge's official life cannot simply be detached or separated from his personal existence.

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10. Propriety of Conduct/Taking Interest in Matter Before his Court (Impartiality) IN RE: Derogatory News Items Charging CA Justice Demetrio Demetria with Interference on Behalf of a Suspected Drug Queen A.M. No. 00-07-09-CA. Mar. 27, 2001 Per Curiam FACTS: Several newspaper articles collectively reported that CA Associate Justice Demetria tried to intercede on behalf of suspected Chinese drug Queen Yu Yuk Lai, who went in and out of prison to play in a Manila casino. The Chief State Prosecutor had received a phone call from Demetria asking him for the withdrawal of several motions filed with the RTC. The DOJ was also receiving pressure from Demetria to go slow in prosecuting Yu Yuk Lai. HELD: The conduct and behavior of everyone connected with an office charged with the dispensation of justice is circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. His at all times must be characterized with propriety and must be above suspicion. His must be free of even a whiff of impropriety, not only with respect to the performance of his judicial duties, but also his behavior outside the courtroom and as a private individual. The mere mention of his name as allegedly lawyering for a suspected drug queen and interfering with her prosecution seriously undermined the integrity of the entire Judiciary. High ethical principles and a sense of propriety should be maintained, without which the faith of the people in the Judiciary so indispensable in an orderly society cannot be preserved. There is simply no place in the Judiciary for those who cannot meet the exacting standards of judicial conduct and integrity. Hilario de Guzman vs. Judge Deodoro Sison A.M. No. RTJ-01-1629. Mar. 26, 2001. Per Curiam FACTS: A complaint was filed charging respondent Judge with gross ignorance of the law and irregularities in connection with an Election Case. Complainant alleges that respondent acted with manifest partiality in declaring the case submitted for decision although complainant had not yet finished presenting his evidence, scaring complainants witnesses and stopping counsel from asking questions, accepting pleadings of the other party even after deadline, conferring personally with the adverse party, and nullifying votes in complainants favor. Respondent judge also applied laws applicable only to barangay officials. HELD: Judges should be diligent in keeping abreast with developments in law and jurisprudence, and regard the study of law as a never-ending and ceaseless process. Elementary is the rule that when laws or rules are clear, it is incumbent upon judges to apply them regardless of personal belief or predilections. A judge must not only be impartial, he must also appear to be impartial. Hence, the judge must, at all times, maintain the appearance of fairness and impartiality. His language, both written and spoken, must be guarded and measured lest the best of intentions be misconstrued. Fraternizing with litigants tarnishes a judges appearance. It is improper for a judge to meet with the accused without the presence of counsel. Respondent Judge is DISMISSED from service. Pedro A. San Juan v. Lore V. Bagalasca A. M. No. RTJ-97-1395. June 5, 1997. 283 SCRA 416 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS:One of the properties involved in the intestate proceedings before Judge Bagalacsas sala was a parcel of land which the administrator of the intestate estate sold under an emancipation patent to Pontillas over the objection of the oppositors. Pontillas in turn sold the land to the Newreach Corporation. Complainant alleges that respondent judge showed interest in the sale of property that is subject of litigation in her sala by presenting for registration the deed of sale executed in favor of Newreach Corp, with a note to facilitate the registration. HELD: Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins judges to avoid not just impropriety in their conduct but even the mere appearance of impropriety. This is true not only in the performance of their judicial duties but in all their activities, including their private life. They must conduct themselves in such a manner that they give no ground for reproach. In this case, respondent judge's note to the register of deeds, requesting that the issuance of the TCT be expedited gives ground for suspicion that she is utilizing the power or prestige of her office to promote the interest of others. Indeed, the clerk of the register of deeds thought it was respondent judge who was the one who was causing the transfer of the emancipation patent.

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11. Quantum of Proof in Showing Impartiality of Judge Lucita Biboso vs. Osmundo Villanueva A.M. No. MTJ-01-1356. Apr. 16, 2001. PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Biboso filed an administrative case for sexual harassment against Judge Villanueva. Biboso allegedly went to see Villanueva to follow up the civil case she had pending in Villanuevas court and consult Villanueva regarding a complaint for estafa she wanted to file against Navarra. The SC found that because of material inconsistencies between Bibosos affidavit and her statements during the cross-examination, the charges for sexual harassment were uncorroborated. However, the SC also found that respondent Villanueva prepared the affidavit of Bibosos father-in-law, such affidavit was used in the case against Navarra. HELD: Respondent should be held liable for his conduct in the Criminal case. Respondent acted as a lawyer for complainant and her father-in-law when he drafted complainant's affidavit that became the basis of a complaint for estafa filed against Heidi Navarra. By acting as counsel for complainant and the latter's father-in-law in a case filed in his court, respondent compromised his neutrality and independence. How could he then be expected to decide with objectivity and fairness the cases in which he has acted as a lawyer for the plaintiff or complainant? Respondent's misconduct in this case is further compounded by the fact that he rendered the legal services in question using government facilities during office hours. Sangguniang Bayan vs. Judge Estrella A.M. No. 01-1608 RTJ. Jan. 16, 2001. 349 SCRA 46 PONENTE: Melo FACTS: RTC Judge Estrella sought the help of NBI handwriting experts to examine around 16,000 ballots, pursuant to the election protest of Papa against winning candidate Garcia. Estrella ruled in favor of Papa, based solely on the conclusions of the NBI, without examining the questioned ballots despite the mistakes in the NBI Report, and despite the resulting margin of only 169 votes. Estrellas obvious bias was also evident in other instances: he did not set the NBI report for hearing; he did not allow Garcia to see the report only until immediately before the promulgation of judgement; Papas Motion for Execution Pending Appeal was dated one day before the day of promulgation, indicating he had prior knowledge of the favorable decision. HELD Notwithstanding the errors in the NBI report and the resulting margin of 169 votes, Estella based his decision solely on the conclusions of the NBI without examining the ballots in court-contrary to Section 255 of the Election Code. The foregoing have also raised the suspicion of partiality on the part of Estrella. A judge must promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. These stringent standards are intended to assure parties of just and equitable decisions and of a judiciary that is capable of dispensing impartial justice in every issue in every trial. He is of serious misconduct, partiality, and inexcusable negligence; fined P20,000. Ang Kek Chen vs. Amalia Andrade A.M. No. RTJ-99-1504. Nov. 16, 1999. 318 SCRA 11 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Ang Kek Chen filed administrative cases against Judge Andrade for (1) extreme bias and hostility when an order denying his motion for disqualification was not mailed to defendant, (2) shabby record keeping as the complainant found the record of his case in disheveled/dilapidated condition, and (3) continuously mailing orders and notices despite oral manifestation of the counsel of codefendant of the death of his client. HELD: Although the clerk of court is tasked to maintain the records, the judge having supervision over the clerk of court must see to it that the records are in order. However, the Rules on Civil Procedure provide that it is the attorney of the deceased who shall notify the judge of the death of the party on the assumption that the attorney is in a better position to notify the court of the death of the party. The judge cannot be faulted for continuously sending the deceased orders and notices. Carlito D. Lazo v. Judge Antonio V. Tiong A. M. No. MTJ-98-1173. Dec. 15, 1998. 300 SCRA 214 PONENTE: Mendoza

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FACTS: Judge Tiong was accused of failing to inhibit himself in a criminal case because he was related within the fourth degree of affinity to the accused. The judge claims he did so in the hopes that his presence would allow the parties to settle amicably. HELD: Judge reprimanded. A judge should take no part in a proceeding where his impartiality might reasonably be questioned. Also, Rule 137, Rules of Court, provides that no judge or judicial officer shall sit in any case in which he, inter alia, is related to either party within the sixth degree pf consanguinity or affinity, or to counsel within the fourth degree computed according to the rules of the civil law. Under this provision, the Presiding Judge is mandated to disqualify himself from sitting in a case. He cannot exercise his discretion whether to inhibit himself or not. Elma T. Ferrer v. Genoveva C. Maramba , et al. A. M. No. MTJ-93-795. May 14, 1998. 290 SCRA 44 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Complainant alleged that respondent judge forced her to sign an affidavit of desistance as basis for the dismissal of the criminal complaint for grave oral defamation against PO3 Eden, and dragged her from the Regional Office of the Department of Agriculture to respondents chambers to settle her differences with PO3 Eden. Complainant's right sleeve was torn and her gold necklace was damaged as a result of the force used by the judge. HELD: Slapping is a sign of contempt and not self-defense. Her acts constitutes grave misconduct and amounts to serious violation of the canons of Judicial Ethics that require that a Judge's acts while in office should be free from the appearance of impropriety and her personal behavior while in office and also in her everyday life, should be beyond reproach. She showed a predisposition to use physical violence and intemperate language in public which reveals a marked lack of judicial temperament and self-restraint, traits which, besides the basic equipment of learning in the law, are indispensable qualities of every judge. In taking undue interest in the settlement of the case, she severely compromised the integrity and impartiality of her office. Although the initiative for the settlement came from the complainant, respondent judge went out of her way to insure its success. She failed to observe prudence so necessary if judges are to be perceived to be impartial. Indeed, as exemplars of law and justice, judges must avoid not only impropriety but even the appearance of impropriety in all their actions. Veronica Gonzales vs. Judge Lucas P. Bersamin A. M. No. RTJ-96-1344 Mar. 13, 1996. 254 SCRA 652 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: To satisfy judgments in two cases in favor of Gonzales, two notices of levy were presented on real property of Cruz, which was preliminarily attached while the case was pending and subsequently provisionally registered in the Register of Deeds. However, the same land was sold to Chan prior to levy. Chan claims that such annotations pertaining to the levy be cancelled since Cruz no longer owned the land. Respondent judge ordered the cancellation. HELD: There is no evidence on record to prove the charge that respondent judge unduly favored spouses Chan. No proof of partiality has been shown by complainant. Mere suspicion that a judge is partial to one of the parties is not enough. Nor is there any showing that respondent judge knowingly rendered an unjust interlocutory orders and an unjust judgment. it has not been shown, in the first place, that the judgment is unjust or that it is contrary to law or not supported by evidence, and, in the second place, that it was made with conscious and deliberate intent to do an injustice. However, respondent judge should have ordered notice to be given to complainant and petitioner to implead complainant since it appears that she had an adverse interest annotated on the back of their certificate title. Section 108 of P.D. No. 1529 requires this notice. Thus, the judge is admonished. 12. Failure to Give Due Notice Before an Order of Execution. Alicia T. Kaw vs. Judge Casiano P. Anunciacion, Jr. A. M. No. MTJ-93-811. Mar. 1, 1995. 242 SCRA 249 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Kaw complains that IMC's "Ex Parte Motion for Execution" was granted by respondent judge on the same day that it was filed without notice to her and her husband. She also claims that Sheriff Aribuabo was not authorized to enforce the writ of execution because he was not the deputy or branch sheriff nor was he duly designated or appointed sheriff by respondent judge.

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HELD: Judge is liable for issuing an order of execution when no prior notice of the motion for execution had been given to complainant's husband. Sheriff is also liable for not giving due notice to complainants. Court hereby imposes a FINE of P10,000.00 each on respondent Judge Sheriff III Samuel A. Aribuabo and WARNS them that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future will be dealt with more severely. 13. Faithful to the Law and Maintain Professional Competence Issuance of Hold Departure order of Judge Luisito T. Adaoag, MTC, Camiling, Tarlac A.M. No. 99-8-126-MTC. Sept. 22, 1999. 315 SCRA 9 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: A hold-departure order was issued by MTC Judge Adaoag in a Criminal Case. The Secretary of Justice calls attention to the fact that the order in question is contrary to Circular No. 39-97 of the SC. Said circular limits the authority to issue hold-departure orders to the RTC in criminal cases within their exclusive jurisdiction. Judge Adaoag admits his mistake and pleads ignorance of the circular, explaining that he had no copy of the circular and it was only later on, after research, that he found out that said orders could only be issued by the RTCs. HELD: The Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins judges to be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence. They can live up to their duties only by diligent effort to keep themselves abreast of developments in our legal system. The process of learning law is a never ending and ceaseless one. Judge Adaoag was reprimanded with the warning that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely. 14. Full Control of the Proceedings in his Sala and Should Adopt a Firm Policy Against Improvident Postponements. Flaviano Arquero vs. Tertulo Mendoza A.M. No. MTJ-99-1209. Sept. 30, 1999. 315 SCRA 503 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Arraignment of the accused was postponed nine times before it was finally held. The accused failed to appear three times without notifying the trial court. Twice she appeared with new lawyers who had asked for postponement on the ground that their services had just been engaged and they needed time to study the case. She also failed to appear because of an alleged illness. The complainant claims that the judge has liberally tolerated the series of postponements and the Office of the Court Administrator recommends a fine of P5,000 for the unreasonable delay in the arraignment. HELD: The judge failed to take the proper measures when the accused did not appear for arraignment without notifying the trial court. As she was out on bail, she was bound to appear before the trial court whenever so required. Her failure to do so justified the forfeiture of her bond. However, the judge tolerated the unexplained absences of the accused. As regards the postponement because of the hiring of new lawyers, there was no absolute reason why counsel could not have been required to confer with the accused within a shorter period to prepare her for the arraignment. There was also no documentary evidence presented to support the claim that accused was too ill to attend the arraignment. The postponement was therefore granted without sufficient basis. 15. Misconduct a. Bribery. Misconduct. Due Process. Jurisdiction. Calilung vs. Suriaga A.M. No. MTJ-99-1191. Aug. 31, 2000. 339 SCRA 340 PER CURIAM FACTS: NBI conducted an entrapment operation which led to the filing of an information alleging that Judge Suriaga willfully, unlawfully and feloniously demand and receive P250,000 from spouses Calilung for the purpose of mediating, inducing and influencing Judge Ituralde into rendering a favorable decision for said spouses. HELD: The culpability of respondent judge for serious misconduct has been established not just by substantial evidence but by an overwhelming preponderance thereof. A judge should so behave at all times to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. It is evident from the

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provision that both reality and appearance must concur. Case law repeatedly teaches that judicial office circumscribes the personal conduct of a judge and imposes a number of restrictions thereon, which he has to pay for accepting and occupying an exalted position in the administration of justice. It is thus, the duty of members of hte bench to avoid any impression of impropriety to protect the image and integrity of the judiciary. Co v. Calimag, Jr. A.M. No. RTJ-99-1488. June 20,2000. 334 SCRA 20 PONENTE: Melo FACTS: The Court designated respondent RTC judge of Santiago City as Acting Presiding RTC Judge of Echague, Isabela, in addition to his regular duties. Later however, Judge Ong took over as the regular judge of the latter court. Subsequently, a complaint for legal separation was filed by Co with a prayer for a TRO with the Echague court against her husband. Despite Judge Ongs having already assumed office as presiding judge thereof, respondent immediately took cognizance of the case. Considering that the prayer for the TRO was one of extreme urgency, respondent in ex parte proceedings temporarily enjoined complainant. Respondent thereafter set the summary hearing of the application for the TRO for the next day, however complainant failed to appear, thus the operation of the TRO was extended. HELD: While it is true that Judge Ong formally assumed office on Nov. 9, 1998, Judge Ong did not hear and/or try cases from Nov. 9 to Dec 1998 because he was still undergoing orientation and immersion. Thus, respondent still had the authority to take cognizance of old and newly filed cases in the Echague court during that period, notwithstanding the appointment of a new judge to said sala. As to the issue of extortion, complainants allegation is supported only by the affidavit and testimony of a witness to the effect that she delivered an envelope containing money to respondent. Inasmuch as what is imputed against the respondent judge connotes a misconduct so grave that, if proven, it would entail dismissal from the bench, the quantum of proof required should be more than substantial. However, respondent is fined for his failure to observe proper court procedure in the issuance of the order of injunction. Respondents action is highly irregular, giving rise to the suspicion that the judge is partial to one of the parties in the case pending before him. Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins judges to avoid not just impropriety in their conduct but even the mere appearance of impropriety. They must conduct themselves in such a manner that they give no ground for reproach. b. Grave Abuse of Authority and Grave Misconduct Antonio Bangayan vs. Jimmy Butacan A.M. No. MTJ-00-1320. Nov. 22, 2000. 345 SCRA 301 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: By virtue of 2 warrants of arrest, the accused were arrested. Both were subsequently ordered released by respondent Judge. Complainant avers that respondent approved the Order of Release without the submission of the required bond which was supposed to precede the order of release, but the bond was submitted only after the approval of the reduction of bail. Respondent argues that he exercised his discretion under the rules in granting a reduction of bail and prays that the complaint against him be dismissed. HELD: Respondent Judge granted the motion for reduction of bail without giving prosecution the chance to be heard. He also ordered the release of Cauilan, Sr. despite his failure to post bail. This is grave misconduct which cannot be allowed to go unpunished. It is also a gross violation of Rule 3.01, Canon 3 of the code of Judicial Conduct which requires judges to be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence. He not only failed to live up to his duties under the law, he has also acted in bad faith for trying to cover up what he did ordering the release of persons lawfully arrested even before they had posted bail. Salvador Ruiz vs. Agelio Bringas A.M. No. MTJ-00-1266. Apr. 6, 2000. 330 SCRA 62 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Judge Bringas was charged with serious misconduct and inefficiency for allegedly using intemperate language against lawyers appearing before his court by being fond of insulting and maligning both young and old lawyers including the prosecutors who appear before him in the presence of party litigants and lawyers. The incidents were just left unnoticed by the other lawyers lest they would lose their cases pending before respondent Judge.

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HELD: The duty to maintain respect for the dignity of the court applies to members of the bar and bench alike. A judge should be courteous both in his conduct and in his language especially to those appearing before him. He can hold counsels to a proper appreciation of their duties to the court, their clients, and the public without being petty, arbitrary, overbearing, or tyrannical. He should remain from conduct that demeans his office and remember always that courtesy begets courtesy. Above all, he must conduct himself in such manner that he gives no reason for reproach. As stated in Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all his activities. Geronimo Gorospe vs. Lauro Sandoval A.M. No. RTJ-00-1534. Feb. 15, 2000. PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Spouses Gorospe filed a complaint against respondent Judge Sandoval and OIC Clerk of Court Pacheco because they sustained irreparable damage, public ridicule, and humiliation as a result of their imprisonment for contempt of court. A warrant of arrest had been issued for repeated absence during the hearing. When the hearings were subsequently reset, Judge Sandoval was on leave. The spouses manifested to the Executive Judge that they were not absent during the previous hearings, hence the warrant of arrest was cancelled. Thereafter, Judge Sandoval ordered the spouses to explain in writing why they should not be cited for contempt for misrepresenting facts to the Executive Judge. The spouses were then held in contempt. The spouses Gorospe paid the fine imposed on the same day the penalty was imposed. However, the OIC Clerk of Court still ordered their commitment. The issue is whether or not Sandoval and Pacheco committed grave abuse of authority. HELD: The Supreme Court held that Judge Sandoval and Pacheco did not commit grave abuse of authority. As for the judge, records will show that the spouses were indeed absent on the disputed date. Furthermore, the spouses accepted the decision by not appealing. As for the OIC Clerk of Court, there is truth to Pachecos claim that he was merely performing a ministerial function. It should be stressed that the spouses paid the fine at 5:00PM on the date the judgment was rendered. It was but proper for Pacheco to wait for the order of release from the judge. Meanwhile, it was correct for Pacheco to order their commitment. 16. Failure to Supervise Court Personnel Report on the Financial Audit A. M. No. 99-11-157-MTC. Aug. 7, 2000. 337 SCRA 347 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: It was found that Court Interpreter Deseo, former OIC of the MTC, had used her cash collections to encash personal checks. She admitted the allegations and claims that she did so in good faith and that she had seen to it that the amounts she had taken from her collections were equal to the amounts of checks she deposited in the savings account of the MTC, and that she did so without authority of Judge Castigador. OCA recommended among others that Judge Castigador be admonished for failure to closely monitor the handling of cash collections. HELD: Judge Castigador cannot entirely wash his hands of responsibility by disclaiming knowledge of Deseos activities. As Deseos superior he should have exercised direct and immediate supervision over her to ensure that she observed the provisions of Circ No. 50-95. 17. Perjury Bishop Crisologo Yalung vs. Enrique Pascua A.M. No. MTJ-01-1342. June 21, 2001. PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: A complaint was filed against respondent Judge alleging that in his application for transfer/promotion with the JBC, he stated that he had not been charged with any criminal and/or administrative case or complaint when in fact he had been charged with bribery/extortion and with administrative offenses in the SC. HELD: The question was: "Have you ever been charged . . . for violating any law, decree, ordinance, or regulation?" In answering the question, respondent made it appear that he had never been charged with any violation of law, decree, ordinance, or regulation when the fact is that, as already stated, he

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was. His explanation that he saw no need to indicate this fact in his personal data sheet because a certain congressman had allegedly already informed the JBC of his case before the Ombudsman is flimsy. As a judge, respondent ought to know better. 18. Intemperate Speech. Dela Cruz vs. Bersamira A.M. No. RTJ-00-1567. Motion for Reconsideration. Jan. 19, 2001. PONENTE: Ynares-Santiago FACTS: In a resolution, judge was fined and was given a stern warning that a repetition of similar acts complained of will be dealt with more severely. He filed a motion for reconsideration, insisting on his innocence and arguing at length that the recital of the "Magtolis Report" of the "factual millieu" of the administrative complaint at hand, was dishonest and distorted. HELD: Respondent judge's charges of dishonesty and distortion of facts against an associate justice of the second highest court in the land, who was tasked to look into the administrative indictments for wrongdoing against him, ring hollow in the absence of any evidence whatsoever showing that the investigator harbored any ill-feelings or malice toward him. Duch charges not only reveal a deplorable deficiency in that degree of courteousness respondent is supposed to observe and extend towards other magistrates like him, it also betrays a character flaw which leaves the court even more convinced that he deserves the administrative sanctions imposed on him. A judge without being offensive in speech may endeavor to call attention to what he perceives to be erroneous findings against him. He may criticize the pooints he feels are incorrect but he may not do so in an insulting manner. A firm and temperate remonstrance is all he should ever allow himself. Intemperate speech detracts from the equanimity and judisciousness that should be the constant hallmarks of a dispenser of justice. 19. Duty to Practice Discretion of Judge Simplicio Alib vs. Judge Labayan A.M. No. RTJ 00-1576. June 28, 2001 PONENTE: Gonzaga-Reyes HELD: Judges are duty bound to be extra solicitous and equally alert to the possibility that the prosecutor could be in error. It is not enough that there be diligence on the part of the trial court as well as acquaintance with the applicable law and jurisprudence. When the issues are so simple and the facts are so evident as to be beyond permissible margins of error, to still err thereon amounts to ignorance of the law. Issuance of a warrant of arrest is not a ministerial function of the court. Before issuing a warrant of arrest, a judge must not rely solely on the report or resolution of the prosecutor, he must evaluate the report and the supporting documents which will assist him to make his determination of probable cause. It calls for the exercise of judicial discretion on the part of the issuing magistrate. C. Notary Public 1. Requisites for an MTC Judge to perform Notarial Functions Regino Barbarona vs. Alejandro Canda A.M. No. MTJ-01-1355. Apr. 20, 2001. PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Complainants were the defendants in a civil case pending before respondent MTC Judge Canda. Respondent declared the defendants in default and consequently rendered judgment against them. Complainants filed an administrative complaint against him for knowingly rendering an unjust judgment, ignorance of the law, etc. One of the issues raised therein was that respondent was performing notarial functions. They presented as evidence a Deed of Sale notarized by Canda. The respondent admitted notarizing the said document but raised as his defense the absence of any other notary public in the area. HELD: The 1989 Code of Judicial Conduct not only enjoins judges to regulate their extra-judicial activities in order to minimize the risk of conflict with their judicial duties, but also prohibits them from engaging in the private practice of law. The Court, taking judicial notice of the fact that there are still municipalities which have neither lawyers nor notaries public, rules that MTC and MCTC judges assigned to municipalities or circuits with no lawyers or notaries public may, in the capacity as notaries public ex oficio, perform any act within the competency of a regular notary public, provided that: (1) all

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notarial fees charged be for the account of the Government and turned over to the municipal treasurer and (2) certification be made in the notarized documents attesting to the lack of any lawyer or notary public in such municipality or circuit. Even if in truth there was no notary public in the municipality, respondent judge failed to certify this fact in the document itself. Moreover, respondent judge failed to remit the fees he received to the municipal treasurer as required by Circular No. 1-90. Instead, he remitted the money to the Judiciary Development Fund. Coronado v. Felongco A.C. No. 2611. Nov. 15, 2000. 344 SCRA 565 PONENTE: Puno FACTS: Coronado alleged that Atty. Felongco notarized a deed of promise to sell purportedly signed by her deceased mother. It is alleged that Atty. Felongco violated the notarial law HELD: The party acknowledging must appear before the notary public or any other person authorized to take acknowledgments of instruments or documents. In the case at bar, the acknowledgment of the th Deed stated that on the 10 of September, 1982 at South Cotabato personally appeared: FE ESTEVA and FLORENDA FARAON before the respondent. Esteva died on Sept. 6, 1982, hence, it is clear that the acknowledgment was made in violation of the notarial law. Notarization is not an empty routine it converts a private document into a public one and renders it admissible in court without further proof of its authenticity. 2. Notaries as Witnesses Solarte vs. Pugeda A.C. No. 4751. July 31, 2000. 336 SCRA 561. PONENTE: Quisumbing FACTS: Solarte charged Atty. Pugeda with gross misconduct. Pugeda allegedly notarized certain documents involving the sale of land. Solarte claimed an interest in the lots sold. Complainant avers that respondent could not have legally notarized a document to which he also acted as witness and alleges in particular that respondent participated in the fraudulent paartition and sale of the property. Respondent countered that nothing in the law prohibits the notary public from signing as witness the same documents he notarized. HELD: Nothing in the law prohibits a notary public from acting at the same time as witness in the document he notarized. The only exception is if the document is a will. Complainant offered no proof, but only mere allegations. Such a grave charge against a member of the bar and former municipal judge needs concrete substantiation to gain credence. It could not prosper without adequate proof. D. Court Personnel 1. Clerk a. Delay Office of the Court Administrator vs. Imelda S. Perlez A.M. P-00-1428. Jan. 18, 2001. 349 SCRA 417 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: MTC Judge Aglugub filed a complaint against Clerk of Court Perlez for failing to submit transcripts and stenographic notes in some of the Judges cases which resulted in the failure of Judge to decide 19 cases assigned to her within the prescribed time. Perlez answered that it was fault of stenographer Lancion, who refused to deliver the records transcribed despite orders of Judge and reminders from Perlez. Respondent claims that since the Judge could not control stenographer, how could she? the the the the the

HELD: Perlez is the administrative officer of the court. As such, she is charged with the control and supervision of all subordinate personnel of the court, including the stenographers. It is incumbent upon her to ensure that they perform their duties well. As administrative officer, the duty of the Clerk of Court is to ensure that stenographers comply with their duty to submit the transcripts not later than 20 days from the time the notes were taken. If indeed Lancion did not submit the notes, Perlez should have reported the matter to the Judge and recommended the imposition of administrative sanctions. Supervision is not a meaningless thing. Perlez has shown passivity, if not indifference, to the failure of those under her supervision to perform their duties well.

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Magleo vs. Tayag A. M. No. P-97-1242. June 19, 1997. 274 SCRA 26 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Union Refinery Corporation (URC) was plaintiff in Civil Case 550-M-87 of the RTC in Malolos. TC judgment was rendered against it. URC filed a notice of appeal. The presiding judge, Judge Demetrio B. Macapagal, Sr. ordered respondent branch clerk of court to forward "the complete records" of the case to the CA. After repeated inquiries with the CA, URC's counsel was informed that the records were not yet with the Court. Complainant, as vice president of URC, then filed the instant complaint. HELD: The respondent be fined P5,000.00 and warned that repetition of this infraction in the future will be dealt with more severely. The reason given by respondent for his failure to transmit the records of the case are insubstantial. The Administrative functions of the Branch Clerks of Court are vital to the prompt and proper administration of justice. It is the duty of the Branch Clerk of Court to deliver the complete record of the case to the Clerk of Court so that it could be transmitted to the appellate court within five (5) days after the accused gave notice of his appeal. This duty could not be excused simply because copies of the stenographic notes has not been made by the stenographers. What is required to be transmitted within five (5) days from the filing of a notice of appeal is the complete record, not the TSN. Mariles I. Villanueva vs. Atty. Rodolfo B. Pollentes OCA I.P.I. No. 95-12-P. Aug. 3, 1995. 247 SCRA 24 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: This relates to an administrative complaint filed by against Atty. Pollentes, Clerk of Court of the RTC of Iloilo City, for delay in the transmittal of the record of a criminal case to the Court of Appeals. HELD: Pollentes is guilty of "some degree of negligence" in failing to transmit the record of the case on time. Strict compliance with the duty to transmit the record of cases within five (5) days from the filing of a notice of appeal was especially required because the case is a criminal case. b. Usurpation of Judicial Function Lorena Collado vs. Teresita Bravo A.M. No. 01-1-01-SC. Apr. 10, 2001 PONENTE: Quisumbing FACTS: Respondent Clerk of Courts act of issuing subpoena to complainant was evidently not directly or remotely connected with respondents judicial or administrative duties; she merely wanted to act as mediator between 2 disputing parties upon the request of one party. HELD: Perusal of the subpoena she issued to complainant shows that the form used was the one used in criminal cases, giving the complainant the impression that her failure to appear would subject her to the penalty of law. Yet neither had a complaint been commenced to support the issuance of said subpoena. The respondent was using, without authority, some element of state coercion against complainant who was understandably compelled to heed the contents of the subpoena resulting in her humiliation. Judge Placido Vallarta vs. Yolanda Lopez VDA de Batoon A.M. No. P-99-1302. Feb. 28, 2001. PONENTE: Quisumbing FACTS: Judge Vallarta alleged that while he was on leave, respondent Clerk of Court caused the preparation of an Order of Release in connection with a then-pending Criminal Case. Batoon signed and issued the duplicate original of the order aware that the judge was on leave and could not sign the original order of release, and without the cash bond for the release. On the basis of said duplicate order, the accused was released from custody. HELD: The approval of the bail of an accused person and the authority to order the release of a detained person is a purely judicial function. The Clerk of Court, unlike a judicial authority, has no power to order either the commitment or the release on bail of person charged with penal offenses. The Clerk of Court may release an order upon the order of the Judge or by authority of the Judge

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but under no circumstance should the clerk make it appear that the judge signed the order when in fact, the judge did not. Judge Escanan vs. Clerk of Court Monterola A.M. No. P-99-1347. Feb. 6, 2001 Per Curiam FACTS: Jamero was convicted for slight physical injuries from which an appeal was made in open court. Immediately after promulgation of sentence, clerk of court Monterola issued a warrant of arrest against Jamero who, on the basis thereof, was detained for 3 days. HELD While a clerk of court has the authority to issue writs incident to pending cases, such issuance must not involve the exercise of function appertaining to the court or judge only. The issuance of a warrant of arrest and matters relating thereto is purely a judicial function. In ordering the arrest and confinement of Jamero in police custody, Monterola unduly usurped the judicial prerogative of the judge. Monterola is guilty of grave misconduct and usurpation of judicial function; dismissed from the service with forfeiture of benefits, with prejudice to re-employment in the government. Santos vs. Judge Silva A.M. No. RTJ-00-1579. Jan. 18, 2001. 349 SCRA 426. PONENTE: Panganiban FACTS: Pursuant to a judgement in a case for accion publiciana, Judge Silva issued a writ of demolition. Complainants now question the act of Clerk of Court Soriano in expanding the coverage of the demotion order which resulted in the destruction of their properties even if they were not the defendants in the case. Soriano admitted inserting the words third parties in the demolition order. Judge Silva denies giving any authorization to cause such amendment. HELD A clerk of court should be guided by the express directive of the court or judge and refrain from exercising functions that are exclusive thereto. Before he can amend a writ, the courts order granting its issuance should first be amended. By amending the Writ on his own initiative, Soriano usurped a judicial function-contrary to Rule 136, Section4 of the Rules of Court. He is fined P5,000. Moreover, Judge Silva failed to exercise diligence in supervising the acts of his acting clerk of court. Under Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge should organize and supervise the Court personnel to ensure the prompt and efficient dispatch of business, and require at all times the observance of high standards of public service and fidelity. He is only reprimanded for failure to supervise his subordinate diligently. c. Negligence in Keeping Court Records by Court Personnel Daniel Cruz v. Clerk of Court, et al. A. M. No. P-99-1296 Mar. 25, 1999. 305 SCRA 128 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Cruz filed a notice of appeal. However, his appeal could not be acted upon because the records of the case were allegedly missing. Hence, this administrative complaint against both Branch Clerk of Court and Staff Assistant for gross negligence. But three (3) days after exerting effort to locate said records, it was found together with other records supposed to be heard on said date. Said records was transmitted to the RTC for the purpose of appeal. HELD: The Court ordered that the clerk and staff assistant be reprimanded with stern warning that a repetition of the same will be dealt with more severely. As officers of the Court, they are expected to discharge their duty of safekeeping court records with diligence, efficiency and professionalism. Chapter II of the Manual for Clerks of Court provides the general functions and duties of Clerks of Court, one of which is the safekeeping of court records, to wit: 3. Duties. a. safekeeping of Property. The Clerks of Court shall safely keep all records, papers, files, exhibits and public property committed to their charge, including the library of the Court, and the seals and furniture belonging to their office. Section 7, Rule 136 of the Rules of Court imposes same responsibility upon the clerks of court. d. Court Personnel (Public Officers) Act with Self-Restraint and Civility Atty. Roel Paras vs. Myrna Lofranco A.M. No. P-01-1469. Mar. 26, 2001. PONENTE: Mendoza

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FACTS: Paras filed an administrative complaint against respondent clerk of the RTC for discourtesy and conduct unbecoming a court employee. Paras tried to ask for the withdrawal of a cash bond in a case he was handling. It seems that he did not have all necessary documents. Respondent, in a gesture of disrespect and in a sarcastic manner told him to come back another. Respondent claims that she was provoked by the complainant. HELD: It is the policy of the state to promote a high standard of ethics in public service. Public officials and employees are under obligation to perform the duties of their offices honestly, faithfully, and to the best of their ability. They, as recipients of the public trust, should demonstrate courtesy, civility, and self-restraint in their official actuation to the public at all times even when confronted with rudeness and insulting behavior. Losing ones temper and uttering unsavory remarks exhibits a failure to act with self-restraint and civility. The court is looked upon with high respect and is regarded as a sacred place. Misbehavior within and around its vicinity diminishes its sanctity and dignity. e. Prohibition on public officials from Engaging in Private Practice of Law Office of the Court Administrator vs. Clerk of Court Ladaga A.M. No. P-99-1287. Jan. 26, 2001. 350 SCRA 326 PONENTE: Kapunan FACTS: MTC Clerk of Court Ladaga, while on official leave and with permission from his presiding judge, appeared as pro bono counsel for a close relative in a MTC criminal case. An administrative complaint was brought against Ladaga for violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which prohibits them from engaging in the private practice of their profession. Rule 133 of the Rules of Court likewise prohibits employees of the superior courts from engaging in private practice as a member of the bar. HELD: Ladagas appearance did not amount to private practice of law, as it was merely an isolated court appearance, without the elements of custom or habituality and payment for such services. However, he still failed to obtain written permission pursuant to Sec. 12, Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Rules: No officer or employee shall engage directly in any professionwithout a written permission from the head of the Department. The presiding judge of the court to which Ladaga is assigned is not the head of the Department contemplated by law, which in this case is the Supreme Court. Although he filed leave applications corresponding to the dates he appeared in court, he failed to obtain prior permission from the head of this Department; he is reprimanded. f. Simple Misconduct: Leaving Post Loyao, Jr. v. Armecin A.M. No. P-99-1329. Aug. 1, 2000. 337 SCRA 47 PONENTE: Ynares-Santiago FACTS: Respondents were charged with Simple Misconduct and censured in a Report by complainant executive Judge for leaving their posts at the Office of the Clerk of Court of the RTC without permission for personal purposes. Their absence allegedly left the entire office undermanned. It would appear that the respondents left their posts because a certain Sheriff requested them to buy food at the public market for the latters birthday party. HELD: The SC found that indeed respondents were remiss in their obligations as judicial employees when they went out during office hours without asking the permission of their superior. Their explanations that they went to buy and prepare food for the birthday celebration of their officemate and that they did the same out of pakikisama is unsatisfactory and should not be countenanced. While pakikisama is a value deeply imbedded in our tradition and mores that often fosters harmony and good working relationships in the workplace, carrying out its observance and practice to the degree where it frustrates or prejudices the administration of justice should not be tolerated. A public office is a public trust that enjoins all public officers and employees, particularly those serving in the judiciary, to respond with the highest degree of dedication often even beyond personal interest. g. Clerk of court deposited settlement money in her personal account Dinna Castillo vs. Zenaida Buencillo A.M. No. P-97-1241. Mar. 20, 2001 PONENTE: Melo

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FACTS: Castillo, as private complainant in a criminal case, was reluctant to receive P70,000 as settlement for the civil aspect. Clerk of Court Buencillo received the money. Fearful that it might be lost, Bunecillo deposited the amount in her personal bank account. Thereafter, the accused gave Castillo postdated checks as payment, including the P70,000 as payment for the civil obligation. However, Buencillo only remitted P50,000, retaining P20,000 in her possession. HELD: Even if the deposit was done in good faith, still it was inappropriate and without justification. Every public officer is bond to exercise prudence and caution in the discharge of his duties, acting primarily for the benefit of the public. If the office cabinet had no lock, respondent should have informed the judge of the circumstance so that proper arrangements could have been made. Public officials and employees should always uphold public interest over and above personal interest. They are enjoined to respond to the call of their duties with the highest degree of dedication often beyond their own interest. h. Violation of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act Eliseo Soreno vs. Rhoderick Maxino A.M. No. P-00-1360. Jan. 18, 2000. 322 SCRA 12 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Atty. Maxino, Clerk of Court and ex-officio Sheriff of the MTC and Tambolero, deputy sheriff of the same court, were charged with robbery with hold-up and violation of RA 3019) for allegedly pointing a gun, with intent to intimidate while taking tricycles of the complainant. HELD: Upon investigation, facts elicited reveal that the taking of the tricycles were pursuant to a lawful order of the court and that the acts alleged were not employed. 2. Sheriff a. Failure of Sheriff to Implement the Writ of Execution Rosanna Casalme vs. Marvin Rivera AM P-99-1514. June 25, 1999. 309 SCRA 69 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Respondent Deputy Sheriff went to complainants house at five in the morning and showed them a writ of execution issued by stenographer Caluag. Respondent then demanded payment but when the complainants asked for more time, the Deputy Sheriff instead issued a Notice of Levy indicating receipt of complainants Tamaraw FX. The complainants told the sheriff that the FX was not fully paid for and instead offered another vehicle, the sheriff refused. HELD: The sheriffs acts were improper. While it was his duty to enforce the writ, he had not explained why he had enforced the writ so early in the morning when there was not even an allegation that the property he wanted to levy upon was in danger of being concealed from him. His unseemly conduct gives rise to the suspicion that he has ulterior motives. Ludivina Marisga-Magbanua v. Emilio T. Villamar V A. M. No. P-99-1297. Mar. 25, 1999. 305 SCRA 132 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: After the decision in a case of ejectment had become final and executory, the RTC issued a writ of execution. Thereafter, Magbanua moved for the issuance of an alias writ of execution and order of demolition, alleging that the same was necessary in view of the sheriffs report showing that there was failure in implementing the writ of execution and also because she was in dire need of the property. The RTC granted her motion. However, the sheriff still failed to enforce/implement said execution when it was his ministerial duty to do so. Hence, Magbanua filed a complaint against respondent Sheriff for dereliction of duty. HELD: The sheriff is guilty. He was ordered to pay a fine of P2,000.00 with a warning that repetition of a similar offense will be dealt with more severely. A reading of the decision shows that Magbanuas cause of action is based on her claim that she is the owner of the property by virtue of the Deed of Sale and Waiver of Rights executed in her favor by her co-heirs. Thus, the RTC in rendering its decision limited its adjudication to complainants claim of ownership and possession over the subject property vis-a-vis that of defendant spouses Cantonjos. The decision being clear, it is the sheriffs ministerial duty to implement the same despite the claim of the other heirs of Marisga that they own

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the subject property in common with complainant. Such a claim in any case is still under litigation in another proceeding, and it does not appear that the other Marisgas have obtained and judicial writ of process to stay execution of the decision. b. Grave Abuse of Authority of Sheriff in Enforcement of Writ of Execution PBCOM v. Sheriff Cachero A.M. No. P-00-1399. Feb. 19, 2001. PONENTE: Kapunan FACTS: Sheriff Cachero was appointed to enforce a Writ of Execution Pending Appeal against PBCom-Buendia bank, for the recovery of money which the bank unlawfully withdrew from the account of its own depositor, FALCON corporation. PBCom alleged that Cachero employed irregular means in enforcing the writ by torching the vault despite being informed that a TRO had been issued, and that a copy was on its way from the main office. HELD While a sheriff is bound to serve a writ of execution with dispatch, he must do so in a lawful, prudent and orderly manner, observing the high degree of diligence and professionalism expected of them as agents of the law. They could have sealed or placed the vault under guard and asked the prevailing party to obtain a break open or appropriate judicial order, instead of being employing extreme measures by summarily destroying the vault in order to seize the cash kept therein. Thus, the use of force by respondents and the resulting damage to bank property was clearly unjustified and is unacceptable. Cachero is guilty of gross misconduct for irregularly enforcing the writ of execution in a high-handed manner and with the use of unnecessary and unwarranted force; fined P5,000. Canlas v. Balasbas A.M. No. P-99-1317. Aug. 1, 2000. 337 SCRA 41 PONENTE: Panganiban FACTS: The RTC of Angeles City issued 2 writs of attachment (WOA) in 2 separate Civil cases, both st assigned to respondent Sheriff for implementation. In compliance with the WOA issued in the 1 case, respondent levied on attachment real and personal properties of the defendant. In compliance with nd the WOA in the 2 case, he levied on attachment the real properties of the defendant. It is the contention of complainants that before implementing the writ, respondent asked for money for the latters expenses. Both complainants aver that although they were able to pinpoint to respondent the whereabouts of the two cars owned by defendant, he still failed to take possession of them. The investigating judge found that respondent violated 9 of Rule 41 because he has accepted sums of money from complainants purportedly to cover his expenses in the execution of the WOA. HELD: Respondents duty in the present case is prescribed in 9 of Rule 41 of the Rules of Court. It requires that the sheriffs estimate of the expenses to be incurred in the execution of a writ should be approved by the judge. It further directs that the approved estimate be deposited with the clerk of court and ex oficio sheriff, who shall then disburse the same to the sheriff assigned to implement the writ. Moreover, any unspent amount shall then be refunded to the party making the deposit. In this case, respondent admits that he did ask for and receive certain amounts from the complainants for gasoline and other expenses necessary to implement the 2 WOA. The amount was not part of the approved estimate of expenses and was not deposited with the clerk of court, but came directly from complainants for the use of respondent. c. Partiality Tantamount to Gross Inefficiency Christopher Valencia vs. Rodolfo Valena A.M. No. P-00-1409. Aug. 16, 2000. 338 SCRA 150 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Respondent Sheriff Valena was charged for failure to enforce a writ of execution. The Sheriff reasons out that one of the parties, Quejada, refused to deliver possession of properties because he had invested P200,000 on the lands and wanted to consult his lawyer first. Three alias writs of execution were issued, all of which were returned unsatisfied. Complainants allege that respondent failed to execute the decision because he readily accepted Quejadas excuses and suspects that Valena is secretly favoring Quejada. Respondent denies allegations and blames complainant for not informing him of Quejadas failure to turn over possession. HELD: Gross inefficiency in the performance of official duties cannot be tolerated. Respondents failure to carry out what is a purely ministerial duty cannot be justified. His only duty was to eject

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Quejada from the subject properties. Quejada asked for some time to consult with his lawyer, but after reasonable opportunity to do so he may no longer be allowed to remain in possession of the subject properties without raising suspicion that respondent was favoring him. A period of 9 years has lapsed, a period too long a time for the writ of execution not to be enforced. As an officer of the court, respondent was tasked to enable the prevailing party to benefit from the judgment. Complainant is entitled to realize the laws promise that his right to possession would be vindicated as speedily as possible to preserve peace and order. d. Sheriffs Conduct Above Reproach or Partiality Restituto Castro vs. Carlos Bague A.M. P-99-1346. June 20, 2001. PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Complainant Castro was the highest bidder in a foreclosure sale conducted by Sheriff Bague. Despite Castros insistence that Bague issue a certificate of sale, Bague failed to comply with such duty. Instead, Bague allowed the redemptioner to redeem the property even after the lapse of 18 months from the date of sale. Respondent issued a resolution declaring that redemptioners stand holds more weight, thereby granting redemptioner the right to repurchase property. Furthermore, respondent issued the purported resolution after the period for redemption has lapsed, making it appear that it was issued within the period. HELD: The judicial power vested in a judge and its exercise is strictly personal to the judge because of, and by reason of his highest qualification, and can never be subject of agency. That would not only be contrary to law, but also subversive of public order and policy. This Court condemns and would never countenance any conduct, act or omission on the part of all those involved in the administration of justice which would violate the norm of public accountability and would diminish or even just tend to diminish the faith of the people in the judiciary. By the very-nature of their functions, sheriffs perform a very sensitive function in the dispensation of justice. Accordingly, their conduct must at all times be above suspicion. e. Nonfeasance. Victor Elipe vs. Honesto Fabre A. M. No. P-94-1068 Feb. 13, 1995. 241 SCRA 249 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Fabre was charged with nonfeasance and incompetence in the performance of his duties as Deputy Sheriff. Fabre allegedly did not make any effort to prevent the judgment debtors from removing leviable properties to implement the writ, despite the fact that he had been told by complainant of the judgment debtors' activities. HELD: If Fabre was dedicated in his work, he could have chosen to stop the carting away of the valuable properties of judgment debtor for the very purpose of levying it and for the purpose of complying with the Order. He was bound to discharge his duties with prudence, caution and attention which careful men usually exercise in the management of their affairs. The sheriff, an officer of the court upon whom the execution of a final judgment depends, must be circumspect and proper in his behavior. f. Malversation and Insubordination Arturo Q. Bautista vs. Margarito C. Castilo, Jr. A. M. No. P-94-1043. Feb. 28, 1996. 254 SCRA 148 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: An administrative complaint was filed by clerk of court Bautista charging deputy sheriff Costelo, Jr. with malversation, insubordination, grave misconduct and violation of SC Circular 3-92, which prohibits the use of Halls of Justice for residential or commercial purposes. HELD: We find him liable for violation of Adm. Circular No. 3-92 but the charges for malversation and insubordination is dismissed for lack of merit. There is no evidence to show that respondent used scrap materials taken from the former P.C. barrack. Nor is there any showing that he appropriated fruits taken from coconut trees found in the court grounds. With respect to the charge that he made only grudging compliance with the directive of the complainant for him to remove the coop in which he kept five turkeys, the record shows that he did comply with the directive. There is, therefore, no basis

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for finding him guilty of insubordination. As to the allegation that respondent used a room of the courthouse for his living quarters, the records show that he did not stay in the courthouse which formerly served as enlisted men's barrack of the 354th P.C. Company in Calubian, Leyte. 3. Stenographer Abelardo Santos vs. Aurora Laranang A.M. No. P-00-1368. Feb. 28, 2000. 326 SCRA 373 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Unsatisfied by court stenographer Laranangs excuses of illness, MTC Judge Santos filed administrative complaints for failure to transcribe 66 stenographic notes within the prescribed period; and for repeated tardiness. HELD Administrative Circular 24-90 enjoins stenographers to transcribe all notes not later than 20 days from their taking. Laranang transcribed only 55 but submitted them out of time; the other 11 were never transcribed. Assuming her excuse of illness, Laranang should have asked for an extension. Moreover, records show her tardiness 35 times within a span of 3 months. She is guilty of gross neglect of duty and habitual tardiness; suspended for 6 months. Nelia B. Esmeralda-Baroy vs. Juvy N. Cosca A. M. No. P-93-799. June 21, 1995. 245 SCRA 227 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Charge is that court stenographer Cosca brought home with her the stenographic notes which she had taken in certain cases pending before the MTC and failed to submit the corresponding transcript and her notes despite demand by the judge of the MTC. Thus, Cosca violated Rule 136, SS14 and 17, of the Rules of Court. HELD: With the promulgation of Administrative Circular No. 24-90 on July 12, 1990, the requirements to deliver the notes to the clerk of court immediately at the close of the session so that they can be attached to the record must be understood to have been pro tanto modified in the sense that stenographers are required to deliver their notes only after transcribing them, which must be done within twenty (20) days after the notes have been taken. The transcription of notes must be done in office. With the requirement in Administrative Circular No. 24-90 to transcribe notes within a short time, however, we can accord to the presumption of good faith. Cosca had brought home the notes in good faith and without any ulterior motive; prompted only by the thought of helping more effectively in the speedy administration of justice. 4. Other Officers a. Summons Officer Falsified Return of Summons Gilbert Catalan vs. Reynaldo Umali A.M. P-99-1300. June 23, 2000. 334 SCRA 247 PONENTE: Mendoza FACTS: Umali was designated by the court to serve summons to NEGA, an association. The summons was served by substituted service to Maravillas, a competent person found in charge of the given address. As executive secretary of NEGA, Catalan claims that Umali could not have served the summons since the address indicated therein was not the address of NEGA. HELD The facts show that the address in the summons was not the address of NEGA. The crossexamination of Umali also shows inconsistencies with what he stated in his summons report. In fact, the person named Maravillas is a non-existent person. Falsification of the return is a grave misconduct punishable by dismissal. However, it does not appear that the falsification was dons to favor the plaintiffs in the case or deprive NEGA of the right to be heard. Considering that this is respondents first administrative case, a lesser penalty is imposed; suspended for 6 months. b. Falsification by Apprentice Utility Worker Pizarro v. Villegas A.M. No. P-97-1243. Nov. 20, 2000. 345 SCRA 42 PONENTE: Panganiban

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FACTS: In 1996, Judge Pizarro, then assigned to RTC of Ilocus Sur, engaged the services of respondent as an apprentice for 2 weeks, in order to determine the latters fitness and aptitude for possible employment in said court. When asked by respondent to indorse his appointment as utility worker, complainant declined. The latter thought that he no longer had any authority to recommend an application for employment in the former RTC, in view of an en banc Resolution of the SC detailing him to the RTC of Quezon City. Complainant learned later from his former personnel that respondent had been appointed utility worker and was already reporting for work in his former sala. Complainant thereafter charged respondent with falsifying his signature in order to secure from the SC his appointment as court aide. HELD: The appointment of the respondent is cancelled. Dishonesty is a malevolent act that has no place in the judiciary. Indeed, all govt. personnel are mandated to act with justice and sincerity by the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. c. Due Diligence Over Court Paraphernalia by Legal Researcher Mutia-Hagad vs. Denila A.M. No. P-00-1430. Oct. 3, 2000. 341 SCRA 382. PONENTE: Melo FACTS: The complainant charged the defendant for gross malfeasance for losing certain records of a case that was entrusted to him and not caring whether they were recovered. HELD: By the very nature of his duties and responsibilities as legal researcher, he should have borne in mind that his arrogant and insolent attitude in refusing to help locate and find the missing record of a case is violative of the norms of public accountability. His argument that it is no longer his job to recover the record is unwarranted and a clear showing of his supercilious comportment. Again, the conduct and behavior of everyone connected with an office charged with the dispensation of justice, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk, should be circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility. (Also notable in this case, the SC reduced the recommended penalty because it was a first offense) d. Repeated Absences Absence Without Official Leave (AWOL) of Edelito Alfonso A.M. No. 00-2-27 MTCC. Oct. 10, 2000. 342 SCRA 389. PONENTE: Puno FACTS: Executive Judge Ligaya issued a Directive placing Alfonso on AWOL status. The latter claims he was absent because he underwent medical treatment for peptic ulcer (which was true). The new Executive Judge recommended dismissal. Before Alfonso could be formally fired however, Ligaya wrote to the Office of the Court Administrator a letter reporting that Alfonso had returned and was regularly reporting for work and diligently performing his duties, that he was a reformed man and he was really absent because of illness. HELD: Although Ligayas letter might have seemed to have saved the day for Alfonso, the SC took notice of Alfonsos frequent absences without official leave even before the present case. So even though the SC granted the lifting of the AWOL status for humanitarian considerations, it felt it proper to teach Alfonso a lesson by suspending him for 6 months without pay plus the usual stern warning. Habitual absence without approval is inimical to public service and deserves to be meted a disciplinary sanction. In this case, were it not for the letter and the illness, Alfonso would have been probably dismissed. e. Suppressing Facts, Making False Statements, and Destroying Evidence. Atty. Joaquin Yuseco vs. Juanito Bernad A. M. No. 94-1-061-SC, Mar. 29, 1995. 243 SCRA 19 PONENTE: Mendoza Facts: This complaint was filed by Atty. Yuseco and Gercia against Deputy Court Administrator Bernad, charging him with suppressing facts and making false statements in his report to the Court in the disbarment case against Gercia.

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Held: Bernad had no duty to furnish him a copy of his report in the disbarment case. That report was submitted to the court solely for its use. It was the decision of the Court that Gercia as respondent was entitled to receive. What complainants charge as suppression in the report are omissions of facts which in the exercise of sound judgment were found to be immaterial.

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