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JUDGE NILO MALANYAON, A.M. No. RTJ-02-1669, 4/14/2004

FACTS: A session was conducted wherein revocation of two previous resolutions granting authority to operate a cockpit in the locale was being deliberated. Respondent, whose nephew-in-law was one of the cockpit operators, heckled and interrupted the session by hurling various accusatory remarks and insults (such as lies, they are lies, Lies! Can you do that even if they are lies? Even if you are being deceived?) at the council members. Municipal officials later filed a joint affidavit-complaint for Respondents dismissal and disbarment. Respondent admitted his presence during the council session, but contended that he was not drunk and that he was there merely in his private capacity as a taxpayer. RULING: Respondent FINED P20,000 for conduct unbecoming of a judge in violation of Canon 2, Rule 2.01 and Rule 2.03 of the Code of Judicial Conduct; with STERN WARNING that the commission of the same or a similar act or omission in the future will be dealt with more severely. His actuations constitute palpable violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, that, a judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities (Canon 2), a judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integ rity and impartiality of the judiciary (Rule 2.01); a judge shall not allow family, social, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. The prestige of judicial office shall not be used or lent to advance the private interests of others, nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge (Rule 2.03). Respondent needs to be reminded that his judicial identity does not terminate at the end of the day when he takes off his judicial robes. Even when garbed in casual wear outside of the halls of justice, a judge retains the air of authority and moral ascendancy that he or she wields inside the sala. A judges official life cannot simply be detached or separated from his personal existence. Indeed, the Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 2 in particular, mandates that a judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities, as well as behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Thus, the Court has to dismiss outright Judg e Malanyaons suggestion that his actions be evaluated as one of a taxpayer or ordinary citizen and not as that of a judge. In fact, his utterances were not made under a cloak of anonymity, for the members of the council, as well as some of the people in the gallery knew very well that he was a judge. It is highly probable that his invectives took on a greater imperative on the listeners precisely because he was a judge, with all the authority attendant to the office.