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EMILIE SISON-BARIAS v. JUDGE MARINO E.

RUBIA the Judge allegedly stated the burden to prove ownership was on the
(2014|Per curiam)* [bracketed case, facts and details involved just in complainant however it is supposed to be on the oppositor to show
case] fraudulent transfer of land to her late husband.

Sison-Barias is involved in three cases pending before the sala of Upon the admonishment of her counsel when he found out, Sison-
Judge Rubia: an intestate proceeding to be the administrator over the Barias warned Pecanas that her lawyer would be filing administrative
intestate estate of her late husband against her mother-in-law, a action against Judge and Pecanas. Their text messages show:
guardianship proceeding over her mother-in-law and a civil action for
annulment of contracts and reconveyance of real properties filed by her Sison-Barias: Hi Aileen! Sorry jz feeling bad. . my lawyer jz called me
mother-in-law against her. at galit n galit. My brother went to hm today to pay som bills. Sa
kakadaldal na mention s lawyr my meeting wid u n judge rubia. My
Sison-Barias alleged there was delay in the publication of the notice lawyr ws mad dat m nt suppose to do dat w/out hs knowledge. I cnt
in the petition for issuance of letters of administration filed. She was informed understand anymore wat he ws sayng kanina kse nga galit. He wil
by her son that the daughter of his good friend, respondent Eileen Pecana file yata somtng abt dat n I dnt knw wat? Pls. Help me. (August 8,
was a data encoder in the Office of the Clerk of Court Judge Rubias’ sala. 2010, 2:31 p.m.)
 She asked Pecana to check on the status of her case and tey
exchanged numbers. PEcana visited her in her house to update her Pecana: Ha? Anong ififile? Bkt xa galit? Bka lalo tayo mapahamak?
on the case that she has lost. (August 8, 2010, 3:48 p.m.)

On March 2, 2010, PEcana asked her to call her saying Judge Rubia Admin? Nku d mapapahamak nga kaming 2 ni juj. Pati ikaw
wanted to talk to her and the three of them agreed to meet over dinner. mapapahamak pa dn. Bkt xa galit kng mkpg kta ka smin widout
his knowledge. I cnt fathom y wil it end up filing an admin case.
On March 3, 2010, at around 7:00 PM Sison-Barias picked up Pecana at (August 8, 2010, 4:28 p.m.)
6750 Ayala Avenue in Makati City. They proceeded to BGC. Pecana said
Judge Rubia will arrive late as he would be coming from a Rotary Club, Pls Emily do something 2 pacify ur lawyer, juj rubia will
where he was a former President of, meeting held at the Mandarin Hotel. definitely get mad wid us. (August 8, 2010, 4:30 p.m.)
 Judge Rubia arrived at around 8:30PM. He allegedly asked
Sison-Barias inappropriate questions such as if she was still On Sept. 15, Sison-Barias moved for Judge Rubia’s inhibition which
connected w/ PAL and other details which he found out from was denied. She then filed a complaint-affidavit before the OCA for charging
Atty. Zarate, the counsel of the opposition. Sison-Barias felt respondent Pecaña for gross misconduct and respondent Judge Rubia for
uneasy that he was talking with the opposing counsel about conduct unbecoming of a judge, partiality, gross ignorance of the law or
unrelevant information. procedure, incompetence, and gross misconduct.
 She became suspicious he was on Atty. Zarate’s side when  PEcana did not deny meeting complainant on Feb. 20, 2010,
Judge Rubia told her to talk to Atty. Zarate, claiming he is a nice hwoever she claimed the meeting with Judge Rubia was merely a
person. chance encounter

From then until Aug. 8, 2010, she claimed there were acts of J. Gaerlan submitted an investigation report recommending no penalty
manifest partiality by Judge Rubia. He accepted a motion for consolidation 3 saying that the meeting was merely a chance encounter and a failure to
days before the hearing (wrong because two of the cases were special prove the claim with substantial evidence. The Justice testimony of Rodel
proceedings which cannot be consolidated with an ordinary civil case), and Cortez and gave it more weight than Sison-Barias’ uncorroborated
he refused to grant her request for orders which would allow her to function testimonies. Moreover, he also considered that she took 8 months before she
as a special administrator and for subpoena duces tecum and ad filed the administrative complaint and that there was deliberate concealment
testificandum that she had prayed for to compel Evelyn Tanael to produce of her meeting. Her proper action was not an admin complaint but remedial
the documents showing the accrued rentals of the parcel of land belonging to action in courts to rectify the purported error.
her late husband. Moreover, the opposition did not comply on 4 separate pre-
trials that kept being postponed but they were not declared in default. Finally, ISSUE: W/N the respondents are to be administratively sanctioned –YES
 The corroborative evidence does not discount the
HELD: possibility the dinner meeting occurred.

There are exceptions to the rule that the findings of fact of an Sison-Barias was more credible.
investigating justice must be accorded great weight and finality similar with
the weight given to a trial court judge’s since an investigating justice 1. The list of calls she presented showed that from January – March, she
personally assessed the witnesses’ credibility: (1) if there appears in the was able to identify and confirm Pecana’s number. On March 2 and 3, she
record some fact or circumstance of weight which the lower court may have showed that she called Pecana to which respondent admitted to before she
overlooked, misunderstood or misappreciated, and which, if properly was picked up at 6750 Makati. However, there were no calls recorded on
considered, would alter the result of the case, (2) when the interference March 10.
made is manifestly mistaken; (3) when the judgment is based on
misapprehension of facts; (4) when the finding of fact of the trial court or 2. During the Dec. 15, 2011 hearing, Judge Rubia only manifested that he
appellate court is premised on the supposed absence of evidence and is would testify for himself and present Pecana as witness, not Cortez.
contradicted by evidence on record.
3. The investigation report failed to mention that complainant alleged that
The reliance on Cortez’ testimony is misplaced as he is not a respondent Judge Rubia arrived late precisely because he came from a
disinterested witness and the fact that some documentary evidence such meeting of the Rotary Club of Makati. These glaring inconsistencies did not
as the Program of Meeting and Attendance Sheet of the Rotary Club showed add evidentiary weight to respondentsÊ claims. They only put into question
he was not dining w/ Sison-Barias corroborated with his testimony. the veracity of the exculpatory evidence.

 Cortez is the Secretariat of the Rotary Club, thus he would have 4. Sison-Barias’ narration of the dinner meeting on March 3, 2010 was
interest to preserve the reputation of the organization he had been detaiedl and comprehensive with details. The strongest corroborative
employed in for more thatn 20 years, especially as Judge Rubia is a evidence were the text messages which were admitted to by Pecana.
former President
 Susbtantively, his testimony and evidence alleged the chance Pecana: Bkt xa galit kng mkpg kta ka smin widout his knowledge. I
meeting took place on March 10, 2010 on the side street of cnt fathom y wil it end up filing an admin case. (August 8, 2010, 4:29
Burgos Circle in Bonifacio Global City, after the Rotary Club of p.m.)

Makati, Southwest Chapter meeting and dinner at Numa
Restaurant, on their way to the parking lot. However, complainant
alleged the meeting took place on March 3, 2010 in Café Juanita Pls Emily do something 2 pacify ur lawyer, juj rubia will definitely get
coming from Mandarin Hotel from a Rotary Club meeting and this mad wid us. (August 8, 2010, 4:30 p.m.)
was accepted through affidavit.
o Thus, the testimony and evidence of Cortez do not “Mkpg kta” means “to have a meeting” and she was frightened the
disprove the occurrence of the dinner meeting alleged as Judge Rubias would get mad at them. Thus there is no way this is a chance
the meeting of the Rotary Club and the dinner took place on encounter as Judge Rubias would have no reason to get upset at an
different dates. innocent encounter.
o Even if the chance meeting took place on March 10 and not
March 3, Sison-Barias’ allegations still hold as both the 5. Respondents’ testimony that the encounter happened as Pecana saw
Rotary Club meeting and the dinner meeting took place in Judge outside Café Juanita and they went outside for her to introduce Sison-
the vicinity of BGC. This could have allowed ample time Barias.
for the Judge to travel to the dinner meeting.
o The attendance sheet and program of the meeting presented This is implausible as (1) the only relation the Judge had with
were dated March 10, 2010. However, However, there was Pecana is during flag ceremonies where he always reminds us not to act as
nothing to indicate the time of arrival or departure of the go between or not to be involved in the cases filed in the court; (2) the Judge
attendees. Neither was there an indication of the time is not the immediate superior of respondent Pecaña as the latter is in the
when the meeting began or ended. Office of the Clerk of Court; (3) she was having dinner with a complainant
whom she knew had a pending case before respondent; and (4) Judge Rubia
always reminded court employees not to have dealings w/ litigants thus there made aware of the events of this case will harbor distrust toward the judiciary
would be more reason for her not to introduce Sison-Barias as what she was and its processes.
doing would clearly be reprimandable.
CAB: As a court employee, respondent Pecaña should have known better
A chance meeting between a litigant in the company of a court than to interact with litigants in a way that could compromise the confidence
employee who acceded to assisting the litigant in a case and the judge that the general public places in the judiciary. She violated Canon 1 (Fidelity
deciding that case is outside the realm of common experience. The odds of to Duty) as to the dispensation of special favors and the use of resources
such an occurrence are, indeed, one in a million. under their official custody.

The quantum of proof for a respondent’s malfeasance is not Judge Rubia committed gross violations of the New Code of Judicial
proof beyond reasonable doubt but substantial evidence (that amount Conduct
of relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate
to support a conclusion, is required). Faced with conflicting versions of He failed to act in a manner that upholds the dignity mandated by his
complainant and respondent, the Court gives more weight to the allegations office. He was already made aware of the impropriety of respondent
and testimony of the complainant and her witnesses who testified clearly and Pecaña’s actions by virtue of her admissions in her comment and yet he still
consistently before the Investigating Judge. met with a litigant and advised her to talk with the opposing counsel. As an
Exec. Judge, he had the duty to ascertain w/n all court employees acted in
Delay in the filing of an admin complaint is not a defense accordance with the esteem of their office.

There are considerations that a litigant must think about before filing CAB: The totality of actions is a clear manifestation of a lack of integrity and
an administrative case against judges and court personnel. This is more so impartiality essential to a judge. He violated Canon 1 (Independence),1
for lawyers where the possibility of appearing before the judge where an
administrative complaint has been filed is high. Moreover, it is expensive and
a time-consuming ordeal.

CAB: Judge Rubia presided over three cases involving the complainant.

In any case, administrative offenses, including those committed


by members of the bench and bar, are not subject to a fixed period
within which they must be reported. In Heck v. Judge Santos, the complaint
was accepted although it was filed 24 years after the incident. Erring
members of the bench and bar cannot escape the disciplining arm of
the Court.

Pecana violated the Code of Conduct for Court Personnel

“Court personnel, regardless of position or rank, are expected to


conduct themselves in accordance with the strict standards of integrity and
morality.” Because of respondents’ actions, complainant and all who will be

1
Judicial Independence is a pre-requisite to the rule of law and a fundamental guarantee of a be independent in relation to society in general and in relation to the particular parties to a
fair trial. A judge shall therefore uphold and exemplify judicial independence in both its individual dispute which he or she has to adjudicate.
 xx x
 Section 8. Judges shall exhibit and promote
and institutional aspects.
 Section 1. Judges shall exercise the judicial function independently high standards of judicial conduct in order to reinforce public confidence in the judiciary, which is
on the basis of their assessment of the facts and in accordance with a conscientious fundamental to the maintenance of judicial independence.

understanding of the law, free of any extraneous influence, inducement, pressure, threat or
interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reason. xx x
 Section 6. Judges shall
Canon 2 (Integrity),2 Canon 3 (Impartiality)3 and Canon 4 (Propriety)4. In Dela regular administrative matter. Respondent Judge Marino Rubia is hereby
Cruz v. Judge Bersamira: DISMISSED from the service, with corresponding forfeiture of all retirement
benefits, except accrued leave credits, and disqualified from reinstatement or
“by the very nature of the bench, judges, more than the average appointment in any public office, including government-owned SUSPENDED
man, are required to observe an exacting standard of morality and for one (1) year for gross misconduct.
 This decision is immediately
decency. The character of a judge is perceived by the people not
executory. Respondent Judge Rubia is further ordered to cease and desist
only through his official acts but also through his private morals as
from discharging the functions of his office upon receipt of this decision. Let a
reflected in his external behavior. It is therefore paramount that a
copy hereof be entered in the personal arecords of respondents. SO
judge’s personal behavior both in the performance of his duties and
ORDERED.
his daily life, be free from the appearance of impropriety as to be
beyond reproach. A judge is not only required to be impartial; he
RSAT
must also appear to be impartial.. Public confidence in the judiciary is
eroded by irresponsible or improper conduct of judges.”

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. A judge should personify
judicial integrity and exemplify honest public service.

This reminder applies all the more sternly to municipal,


metropolitan and regional trial court judges like herein respondent,
because they are judicial front-liners who have direct contact with the
litigating parties. They are the intermediaries between conflicting
interests and the embodiments of the people’s sense of justice. Thus,
their official conduct should be beyond reproach.

While complainant did not come to court with clean hands, her
liability is not the subject of proceedings.

DISPOSITIVE: WHEREFORE, the court resolved to redocket the case as a

2
Integrity is essential not only to the proper discharge of the judicial office but also to the come before them, make any comment that might reasonably be expected to affect the outcome
personal demeanor of judges. Section 1. Judges shall ensure that not only is their conduct of such proceeding or impair the manifest fairness of the process. Nor shall judges make any
above reproach, but that it is perceived to be so in view of a reasonable observer. ; Section 2. comment in public or otherwise that might affect the fair trial of any person or issue.
The behavior and conduct of judges must reaffirm the peopleÊs faith in the integrity of the
judiciary. Justice must not merely be done but must also be seen to be done.; Section 3. Judges 4
Propriety and the appearance of propriety are essential to the performance of all the activities
should take or initiate appropriate disciplinary measures against lawyers or court personnel for
unprofessional conduct of which the judge may have become aware. of a judge.
 Section 1. Judges shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of
their activities.
 Section 2. As a subject of constant public scrutiny, judges must accept personal
3
Impartiality is essential to the proper discharge of the judicial office. It applies not only to the restrictions that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen and should do so freely
decision itself but also to the process by which the decision is made.
 Section 1. Judges shall and willingly. In particular, judges shall conduct themselves in a way that is consistent with the
dignity of the judicial office.
 Section 3. Judges shall, in their personal relations with individual
perform their judicial duties without favor, bias, or prejudice.
 Section 2. Judges shall ensure
members of the legal profession who practice regularly in their court, avoid situations which
that his or her conduct, both in and out of court, maintains and enhances the confidence of the
might reasonably give rise to the suspicion or appearance of favoritism or partiality.
public, the legal profession and litigants in the impartiality of the judge and of the
judiciary.
 Section 3. Judges shall, so far as is reasonable, so conduct themselves as to
minimize the occasions on which it will be necessary for them to be disqualified from hearing or
deciding cases.
 Section 4. Judges shall not knowingly, while a proceeding is before, or could