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SECOND DIVISION

[A.M. No. MTJ-05-1591. July 14, 2005]

RODRIGO JING N. VIDAL, complainant, vs. JUDG DOJILLO, JR., Mu!"#"$%l T&"%l 'ou&(, *%!)%+"!%!, respondent. R
AU,TRIA-MARTIN -, J..

JAIM L. M%!%o%),

,OLUTION

Before us is a complaint filed by complainant Rodrigo Jing N! Vidal against Judge Jaime "! Do#illo$ Jr!$ %residing Judge of t&e 'unicipal (rial Court of 'anaoag$%angasinan! (&e antecedent facts$ as accurately narrated in t&e report of t&e Office of t&e Court )dministrator *OC)+$ are as follo,s-

The Hon. Jaime L. Dojillo, Jr., Presiding Judge of Municipal Trial Court at Manaoag, Pangasinan is here charged with Misconduct. The charge stemmed from an !lection Protest filed "# the "rother of Judge Dojillo at the Municipal Circuit Trial Court stationed at $an %a"ian, Pangasinan to protest the proclamation of herein complainant as &aranga# Captain in the '((' election. Mr. )idal *herein complainant+ alleged that during the ', and -( Jul# '((- hearings of the !lection Protest, Judge Dojillo sat "eside the counsel of his "rother and acti.el# coached, aided, assisted, and guided said counsel "# now and then sa#ing something, handing piece of writing, reminding, and or stopping the counsel from manifesting something to the court, and other similar acts. Complainant continued that herein respondent/s asserti.e presence and displa# of partisan acti.ities in full pu"lic .iew could not ha.e "een ignored or unnoticed "# the court a 0uo and would gi.e the impression and suspicion of partialit# of the said court in fa.or of respondent/s "rother. Judge Dojillo admitted that he was present during the mentioned hearings "ut e1plained that he did not sit "eside his "rother/s law#er "ut in the area reser.ed for the pu"lic2 and that the main reason wh# he was there was to o"ser.e how election

protests are conducted as he has ne.er conducted one. His other reason was to gi.e moral support to his "rother. This matter was referred for in.estigation and, in her report, the Hon. Tita 3odrigue45 )illarin, Presiding Judge, 3TC, &ranch 67, 8rdaneta Cit# o"ser.ed that9 %rom the e.idence su"mitted "# the parties, *the+ undersigned noted that although the complainant and his witness claim the# saw the respondent tal:ing to the law#er and respondent/s "rother and handing notes the# did not hear the alleged con.ersation and the# did not state what were those notes. ;either did the# see respondent do other acts to interfere with the proceedings. Considering that the presence of the respondent during the hearings of the election protest of his "rother was admitted "# "oth parties, the onl# issue left is whether or not such presence constitutes misconduct. <n this respect, *the+ undersigned further noted that the complainant, "# himself or thru his law#er, did not call the attention of the court much less raised o"jection to the respondent/s presence. This is an indication that during the hearings*,+ respondent/s presence did not stir an# impression or suspicion of intention to influence *the+ court/s ruling. =s declared "# the complainant, he "ecame suspicious and apprehensi.e he lost the case e.en "efore recei.ing the decision when he was informed later that not ha.ing a "rother judge he was surel# a loser.
(&e OC) t&en recommended t&at t&e complaint against respondent be dismissed but respondent #udge s&ould be ad.ised to be more circumspect in &is actions in t&e future! /e do not agree ,it& t&e OC) recommendation! Respondent$ in &is defense$ stated t&at &e attended t&e &earing of &is brot&er0s election protest case #ust to gi.e moral support and$ in t&e process$ also obser.e &o, election protest proceedings are conducted! )lt&oug& concern for family members is deeply ingrained in t&e 1ilipino culture$ respondent$ being a #udge$ s&ould bear in mind t&at &e is also called upon to ser.e t&e &ig&er interest of preser.ing t&e integrity of t&e entire #udiciary! Canon 2 of t&e Code of Judicial Conduct re3uires a #udge to a.oid not only impropriety but also t&e mere appearance of impropriety in %ll %#("/"("0+! E.en if respondent did not intend to use &is position as a #udge to influence t&e outcome of &is brot&er0s election protest$ it cannot be denied t&at &is presence in t&e courtroom during t&e &earing of &is brot&er0s case ,ould immediately gi.e cause for t&e community to suspect t&at &is being a colleague in t&e #udiciary ,ould influence t&e #udge trying t&e case to fa.or &is brot&er! (&e fact t&at neit&er complainant nor &is counsel ob#ected to t&e presence of respondent during t&e &earing is immaterial! Respondent &imself s&ould &a.e refrained from publicly s&o,ing &is seemingly acti.e interest and participation in t&e case$ for &e does not deny t&at &e ,&ispered and passed notes to

&is brot&er0s la,yer during t&e course of t&e &earing! (&us$ ,e emp&asi4e our ruling in Caeda vs. Alaan$567 t&at-

Judges are re0uired not onl# to "e impartial "ut also to appear to "e so, for appearance is an essential manifestation of realit#. Canon ' of the Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins judges to a.oid not just impropriet# in their conduct "ut e.en the mere appearance of impropriet#. The# must conduct themsel.es in such a manner that the# gi.e no ground for reproach. *3espondent/s+ acts ha.e "een less than circumspect. He should ha.e :ept himself free from an# appearance of impropriet# and endea.ored to distance himself from an# act lia"le to create an impression of indecorum. ... This reminder applies all the more sternl# to municipal trial court judges li:e respondent "ecause the# are the judicial frontliners who ha.e direct contact with the parties. The# are the em"odiments of the people/s sense of justice. . . . <ndeed, respondent must alwa#s "ear in mind that9 A judicial office traces a line around his official as well as personal conduct, a price one has to pay for occupying an exalted position in the judiciary, beyond which he may not freely venture. Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins a judge to avoid not just impropriety in the performance of judicial duties but in all his activities whether in his public or private life. He must conduct himself in a manner that gives no ground for reproach. >!mphasis supplied?
Verily$ respondent failed to li.e up to t&e degree of propriety re3uired of &im by t&e Code of Judicial Conduct! IN VI 1 O2 T3 ALL T3 2OR GOING $ Judge Jaime "! Do#illo$ Jr!$ is found 89I"(: of .iolation of Canon 2 of t&e Code of Judicial Conduct and is &ereby RE%RI')NDED ,it& a /)RNIN8 t&at a repetition of t&e same or similar acts ,ould be dealt ,it& more se.erely! ,O ORD R D. Puno, (Chairman), Callejo, Sr., Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.

567

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