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Padilla vs. Zantua, A.M. No.

MTJ-93-888 October 24, 1994


Facts:
Mayor Roger Padilla of the Municipality of Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte charged MTC
Judge Roberto Zantua with serious irregularities and grave misconduct in the performance of
his official duties for:
1. Failure to decide cases within the prescribed period
2. Unreasonable delay in the disposition of cases
3. Manifest partiality in favor of a litigant
4. Fraternizing with lawyers who have pending cases in his sala Padilla complains that some of
the cases pending in the judges sala have not even been tried. He also alleges that Zantua is
always seen eating and drinking in public establishments with Atty. Augusto Schneider, the
opposing counsel in several criminal cases pending in Zantuas sala. In defense, Zantua
answered that the delays were due to numerous postponements. He also denied the allegation
that he is fraternizing with lawyers who have pending cases in his sala. He explained that Atty.
Schneider was the only lawyer in their municipality so it is only natural for him to be friendly with
him. But he maintains that their friendship has never been a hindrance for the proper disposition
of cases since his impartiality is known not only in their municipality but also in the whole
province. He also said that the complaint was brought against him because he earned the ire of
Mayor Padilla. He refused to succumb to the pressure of favoring the mayor in a case of slander
by deed filed against the latter. The Office of the Court Administrator recommended the
dismissal of the charges for alleged failure to decide cases within the prescribed period and
unreasonable delay in the disposition of cases.
Issues:
1. W/N the dismissal of the charges against Judge Zantua for failure to decide cases within the
prescribed period was proper
2. W/N Judge Zantua is guilty of manifest partiality in favor of a litigant and fraternizing with a
lawyer, specifically Atty. Schneider, who has pending cases in his sala
Held/Ratio:
1. YES. Padilla failed to specifically cite any of the cases referred to in the complaint which
remained undecided after the lapse of the required 90-day period to decide cases. Hence, the
dismissal of charges of violation of the 90-day period is in order. Also, the delays in the cases
were caused by the numerous postponements and were not entirely the fault of Zantua.
2. YES. The act of Judge Zantua in eating and drinking with a lawyer who has pending cases in
his sala may well arouse suspicion in the public mind, thus tending to erode the trust of the
litigants in the impartiality of the judge. It is of no moment that Atty. Augusto Schneider is the
only lawyer in the locality. Constant company with a lawyer tends to breed intimacy to the point

that favors in the future may be asked from the judge which he may find hard to resist. Public
confidence in the Judiciary is eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct of judges. A judge
must avoid all impropriety and the appearance thereof. Being the subject of constant public
scrutiny, a judge should freely and willingly accept restrictions on conduct that might be viewed
as burdensome by the ordinary citizen. Judges should conduct themselves beyond reproach
and suspicion, and be free from any appearance of impropriety in their personal behavior not
only in the discharge of their official duties but also in their everyday life. [Judge Zantua was
admonished with a warning that a repetition of similar acts in the future will be dealt with more
severely.]