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Disciplinary proceedings against judges and justices

Problem Areas in Legal Ethics


Arellano University School of Law – Arellano Law Foundation
2018-2019

Resolution to protect members of judiciary from baseless complaints

• First of all, we deem it necessary to determine the applicability of A.M. No. 03-10-01-SC, a Resolution
Prescribing Measures to Protect Members of the Judiciary from Baseless and Unfounded
Administrative Complaints, which took effect on November 3, 2003.

• Recognizing the proliferation of unfounded or malicious administrative or criminal cases against


members of the judiciary for purposes of harassment, we issued said Resolution, which provides:
Cont…
• 2. If the complaint is
• filed within six months before the compulsory retirement of a Justice or Judge;
(b) for an alleged cause of action that occurred at least a year before such filing; and
(c) shown prima facie that it is intended to harass the respondent, it must forthwith be recommended for
dismissal.
Cont…
If such is not the case, the Office of the Court Administrator must require the respondent to file a comment
within ten (10) days from receipt of the complaint, and submit to the Court a report and recommendation
not later than thirty (30) days from receipt of the comment. The Court shall act on the recommendation
before the date of compulsory retirement of the respondent, or, if it is not possible to do so, within six (6)
months from such date without prejudice to the release of the retirement benefits less such amount as the
Court may order to be withheld, taking into account the gravity of the cause of action alleged in the
complaint.

Power of the Supreme Court


Article 8 Section 6. The Supreme Court shall have administrative supervision over all courts and the
personnel thereof. – Philippine Constitution 1987

By virtue of this power, it is only the Supreme Court that can oversee the judges' and court personnel's
compliance with all laws, and take the proper administrative action against them if they commit any
violation thereof. No other branch of government may intrude into this power, without running afoul of the
doctrine of separation of powers. – Maceda v. Hon. Ombudsman Vasquez, G.R. No. 102781. April 22, 1993
Competence to review a judicial order or decision belongs to the Court
“No other entity or official of the Government, not the prosecution or investigation service of any other
branch, not any functionary thereof, has competence to review a judicial order or decision--whether
final and executory or not--and pronounce it erroneous so as to lay the basis for a criminal or administrative
complaint for rendering an unjust judgment or order. That prerogative belongs to the courts alone.”- De
Vera v. Pelayo, 335 SCRA 281(2000)

Powers, functions, and duties of the Office of the Ombudsman


Section 13. The Office of the Ombudsman shall have the following powers, functions, and duties:
(1) Investigate on its own, or on complaint by any person, any act or omission of any public official,
employee, office or agency, when such act or omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper, or
inefficient.
(2) Direct, upon complaint or at its own instance, any public official or employee of the Government, or any
subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, as well as of any government-owned or controlled

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corporation with original charter, to perform and expedite any act or duty required by law, or to
stop, prevent, and correct any abuse or impropriety in the performance of duties.
Xxx

Ombudsman Act of 1989 [R.A. 6770]


• Republic Act No. 6770, otherwise known as the Ombudsman Act of 1989, provides:
• “Sec. 15. Powers, Functions and Duties. - The Office of the Ombudsman shall have the following
powers, functions and duties: (1) Investigate and prosecute on its own or on complaint by any
person, any act or omission of any public officer or employee, office or agency, when such act or
omission appears to be illegal, unjust, improper or inefficient. It has primary jurisdiction over cases
cognizable by the Sandiganbayan and, in the exercise of this primary jurisdiction, it may take over, at
any stage, from any investigatory agency of Government, the investigation of such cases.”
xxx xxx
• “Section 21. Officials Subject To Disciplinary Authority, Exceptions.- The Office of the Ombudsman
shall have disciplinary authority over all elective and appointive officials of the Government and its
subdivisions, instrumentalities and agencies, including members of the Cabinet, local government,
government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries, except over officials who
may be removed only by impeachment or over Members of Congress, and the Judiciary.

When criminal complaint against a Judge or other court employee arises from their administrative
duties
In fine, where a criminal complaint against a Judge or other court employee arises from their
administrative duties, the Ombudsman must defer action on said complaint and refer the same to
this Court for determination whether said Judge or court employee had acted within the scope of their
administrative duties. - Maceda v. Hon. Ombudsman Vasquez, G.R. No. 102781. April 22, 1993
Whether the Office of the Ombudsman could entertain a criminal complaint for the alleged
falsification of a judge's certification submitted to the Supreme Court, and assuming that it can,
whether a referral should be made first to the Supreme Court.
Thus, the Ombudsman should first refer the matter of petitioner's certificates of service to this
Court for determination of whether said certificates reflected the true status of his pending case load, as
the Court has the necessary records to make such a determination.
The Ombudsman cannot compel this Court, as one of the three branches of government, to submit its
records, or to allow its personnel to testify on this matter, as suggested by public respondent Abiera in
his affidavit-complaint. - Maceda v. Hon. Ombudsman Vasquez, G.R. No. 102781. April 22, 1993

Whether the Ombudsman may conduct an investigation over the acts of a judge in the exercise of
his official functions alleged to be in violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, in the
absence of an administrative charge for the same acts before the Supreme Court.
Thus, the Ombudsman may not initiate or investigate a criminal or administrative complaint before
his office against petitioner judge, pursuant to his power to investigate public officers. The Ombudsman
must indorse the case to the Supreme Court, for appropriate action. - Fuentes v. Office of the Ombudsman-
Mindanao, G.R. No. 124295, October 23, 2001

Whether the MTC can take cognizance of a complaint of reckless imprudence against an
incumbent judge pending the resolution of an administrative complaint arising from the same
facts
• On January 31, 2003, complainant filed a letter complaint before the Ombudsman-Vizayas, charging
Judge Rodolfo B. Garcia, then Presiding Judge of the MCTC, Calatrava-Toboso, Negros Occidental
with the crime of murder and the administrative offenses of grave misconduct and abuse of
authority.

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• The complaint arose from the death of complaianant’s husband, on November 12, 2002, as a result of
a vehicular mishap between a Toyota Land Cruiser driven by Judge Garcia and the motorcycle driven
by the deceased.
• The Graft Investigation Officer found the existence of probable cause for the crime of Reckless
Imprudence Resulting to Homicide and recommended the filing of the corresponding charges against
Judge Garcia.

Cont…

• Judge Garcia filed a Motion to Quash the Information on the following grounds:xxx; (2) that the court
trying the case has no jurisdiction over the offense charged and over his person; and,xxx.

• Petitioner [judge] argues that respondents violated this Court’s pronouncements in Caoibes, Jr. v.
Ombudsman, directing the Ombudsman to refer all cases against judges and court personnel filed
before his office to the Supreme Court; and, in Fuentes v. Office of the Ombudsman-Mindanao,
restricting not only the Ombudsman and the prosecution arm of the government, but also
other official and functionary thereof in initiating or investigating judges and court
personnel.

Held
In the case at bar, the criminal case filed against petitioner was in no way related to the performance of
his duties as a judge.
From the foregoing, the filing of the criminal charges against the petitioner before the MCTC was
warranted by the above circumstances.
To reiterate, the case filed against petitioner before the MCTC is a criminal case under its own jurisdiction
as prescribed by law and not an administrative case. To be sure, trial courts retain jurisdiction over the
criminal aspect of offenses committed by judges of the lower courts. – Garcia v. Miro, G.R. No. 167409,
March 20, 2009

When to file administrative case against judges


Now, the established doctrine and policy is that disciplinary proceedings and criminal actions against
Judges are not complementary or suppletory of, nor a substitute for, these judicial remedies, whether
ordinary or extraordinary. Resort to and exhaustion of these judicial remedies, as well as the entry of
judgment in the corresponding action or proceeding, are pre-requisites for the taking of other
measures against the persons of the judges concerned, whether of civil, administrative, or criminal
nature. It is only after the available judicial remedies have been exhausted and the appellate
tribunals have spoken with finality, that the door to an inquiry into his criminal, civil, or administrative
liability may be said to have opened, or closed. - Bello III v. Judge Diaz, AM-MTJ-00-1311. October 3, 2003

Cont…
Prosecution of the judge can be had only if “there be a final declaration by a competent court in some
appropriate proceeding of the manifestly unjust character of the challenged judgment or order,
and also evidence of malice or bad faith, ignorance of inexcusable negligence, on the part of the judge in
rendering said judgment or order” or under the stringent circumstances set out in Article 32 of the Civil
Code. – Bello III v. Judge Diaz, AM-MTJ-00-1311. October 3, 2003

Anonymous complaint
First, we clear the objection of respondent judge that the letter-complaint should not be given due course
because it is only anonymous. Section 1, Rule 140 of the Revised Rules of Court provides that the
disciplinary proceedings against judges and justices may be instituted under either of three ways:
1. by the Supreme Court motu proprio;

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2. upon a verified complaint; or
3. upon an anonymous complaint, supported by public records of indubitable integrity.
Re: Anonymous Complaint against Judge Gedorio, A.M. No. RTJ-05-1955, May 25, 2007

Lack of verification is
only a formal defect
As to the contention of respondent that the Court should not have taken cognizance of the complaint
because the letter-complaint was not verified, as required in Rule 139-B, §1 of the Rules of Court on
Disbarment and Discipline of Attorneys, suffice it to say that such constitutes only a formal defect and
does not affect the jurisdiction of the Court over the subject matter of the complaint. "The
verification is merely a formal requirement intended to secure an assurance that matters which are alleged
are true and correct — the court may simply order the correction of unverified pleadings or act on it
and waive strict compliance with the rules in order that the ends of justice may be served." (Fernandez v.
Atty. Novero Jr., A.C. No. 5394, December 02, 2002)

Effect of retirement of respondent judge


Respondent's retirement from office did not render the present administrative case moot and academic.
Neither does it free him from liability. (Lagcao v. Judge Gako, A.M. RTJ-04-1840, August 2, 2007)

Death of respondent judge


The dismissal of the administrative case against Judge Butacan by reason of his demise is in accordance
with Bote v. Judge Eduardo where the Court held that in view of the death of Judge Escudero, for
humanitarian reasons, it is inappropriate to impose any administrative liability of a punitive nature; and
declared the administrative complaint against the respondent Judge, dismissed, closed and terminated. -
RE: Application for retirement/gratuity benefits xxx., A.M. No. 12535-ret., April 22, 2008

Judge also liable if court employee fraternized with litigant


Unfortunately, these standards were not met by respondent Judge Alagar in this case having tolerated
unknowingly his employee to fraternize, receive or give personal favors no matter how small, with
party litigants in a case pending before his sala.

Thus, while this Court finds the respondent Judge to have acted with impartiality and propriety in dealing
with the complainants in Criminal Case No. 4252 , we find fault on his part in failing to supervise the
conduct and behavior of his court employee for the latter’s improper use of his vehicle, to the detriment
of the court’s image. - Balderama v. Judge Alagar, A.M. No. RTJ-99-1449. January 18, 2002

Having lunch with counsel


For respondent judge to eat lunch with counsel is not wrong per se. The Canons, however, provides
that as much as possible he should be scrupulously careful to avoid any suspicion that his social or business
or friendly relationship is an element in “determining his judicial course.” Knowing that Atty. Verano, Jr., is
counsel of the petitioner in an annulment case pending before him, the respondent judge should have
thought twice about joining counsel for lunch, especially in the courtroom at that. - Pertierra v. Judge
Lerma, A.M. No. RTJ-03-1799. September 12, 2003

Effect of reconciliation of the parties


The subsequent reconciliation of the parties to an administrative proceeding does not strip the court of its
jurisdiction to hear the administrative case until its resolution. Atonement, in administrative cases, merely
obliterates the personal injury of the parties and does not extend to erase the offense that may have been
committed against the public service. (Flores v. Judge Garcia, A.M. No. MTJ-03-1499, October 6, 2008)

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Conviction in a criminal case
Evidence to support a conviction in a criminal case is not necessary, and the dismissal of the criminal case
against the respondent in an administrative case is not a ground for the dismissal of the administrative case.
Conversely, conviction in the criminal case will not automatically warrant a finding of guilt in the
administrative case. We emphasize the well-settled rule that criminal and civil cases are altogether different
from administrative matters, and each must be disposed of according to the facts and the law applicable to
it. In other words, the disposition in the first two will not necessarily govern the third, and vice versa.
(Velasco v. Judge Adoracion G. Angeles A.M. No. RTJ-05-1908, August 15, 2007)

Effect of resignation from office


Verily, the resignation of Judge Quitain which was accepted by the Court without prejudice does not render
moot and academic the instant administrative case. The jurisdiction that the Court had at the time of the
filing of the administrative complaint is not lost by the mere fact that the respondent judge by his
resignation and its consequent acceptance – without prejudice – by this Court, has ceased to be in office
during the pendency of this case. The Court retains its authority to pronounce the respondent official
innocent or guilty of the charges against him. A contrary rule would be fraught with injustice and pregnant
with dreadful and dangerous implications. (Non-disclosure before the JBC of the administrative case
filed against Judge Jaime V. Quitain, JBC no. 013, August 22, 2007)

Grounds for outright dismissal

• Thus, in order for an administrative complaint against a retiring judge or justice to be dismissed
outright, the following requisites must concur:
(1) the complaint must have been filed within six months from the compulsory retirement of the
judge or justice;
(2) the cause of action must have occurred at least a year before such filing; and
(3) it is shown that the complaint was intended to harass the respondent. (Miguel Colorado v. Judge
Ricardo M. Agapito, A.M. no. MTJ-06-1658, July 3, 2007)

Warning is not a penalty


A warning, however, no matter how stern, is not a penalty. - Rosauro M. Miranda v. Judge Cesar A.
Mangrobang, Sr., A.M. No. RTJ-01-1665, November 29, 2001
Gross ignorance of the law
To constitute gross ignorance of the law, the subject decision, order or actuation of the judge in the
performance of his official duties must not only be contrary to existing law and jurisprudence but,
most importantly, he must be moved by bad faith, fraud, dishonesty or corruption. In the case
before us, the administrative complaint does not even allege that the erroneous decision of respondent was
thus motivated. - Sps. Daracan v. Judge Natividad, A.M. No. RTJ-99-1447. September 27, 2000

Rendering an unjust judgment

• Knowingly rendering an unjust judgment is both a criminal and an administrative charge. As


a crime, it is punished under Art. 204 of the Revised Penal Code the elements of which are:
(a) the offender is a judge;
(b) he renders a judgment in a case submitted to him for decision;
(c) the judgment is unjust; and
(d) the judge knows that his judgment is unjust.

• The gist of the offense therefore is that an unjust judgment be rendered maliciously or in bad faith,
that is, knowing it to be unjust. - Sps. Daracan v. Judge Natividad, A.M. No. RTJ-99-1447.
September 27, 2000

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There is no liability at all for a mere error
An unjust judgment is one which is contrary to law or is not supported by evidence or both. The source of
an unjust judgment may be error or ill-will. There is no liability at all for a mere error. It is well-settled
that a judicial officer, when required to exercise his judgment or discretion, is not liable criminally for
any error which he commits, provided he acts in good faith.
Bad faith is therefore the ground of liability. If in rendering judgment the judge fully knew that the
same was unjust in the sense aforesaid, then he acted maliciously and must have been actuated and
prevailed upon by hatred, envy, revenge, greed or some other similar motive. - Sps. Daracan v. Judge
Natividad, A.M. No. RTJ-99-1447. September 27, 2000

Cont…
Mere error therefore in the interpretation or application of the law does not constitute the crime. - Sps.
Daracan v. Judge Natividad, A.M. No. RTJ-99-1447. September 27, 2000

When good faith will not be applied


We need not belabor jurisprudence to accommodate respondent’s argument which in effect posits that not
every judicial error bespeaks ignorance of the law and that, if committed in good faith, does not
warrant administrative sanction. So we have ruled and so we have acted, but only in cases within the
parameters of tolerable judgment.
Where, however, the issues are so simple and the facts so evident as to be beyond permissible
margins of error, to still err thereon amounts to ignorance of the law which, hopefully, was not
merely feigned to subserve an unworthy purpose. – Sps. Daracan v. Judge Natividad, A.M. No. RTJ-99-
1447. September 27, 2000

Complaint for gross ignorance of the law is impermissible if case is appealed


The main issue for our resolution is whether the instant administrative complaint for gross ignorance of the
law is permissible in light of the filing by complainants of a notice of appeal and a petition for
certiorari assailing respondent judge’s decision and his order of execution.

In the present case, the complainants filed this administrative case against respondent judge while their
appeal and petition for certiorari challenging his decision and order were still pending with the
RTC. Following our settled pronouncements cited above, the instant complaint is impermissible. –
Camacho v. Judge Gatdula, A.M. No. MTJ-00-1252. December 17, 2002

Period to decide or resolve the case submitted for decision


The 90-day period to decide or resolve the case submitted for decision, fixed no less by the Constitution, is
a mandatory requirement. Hence, non-compliance thereof shall subject the erring judge to
administrative sanction as this Court may deem appropriate.
It is only in certain meritorious cases, i.e., those involving difficult questions of law or complex issues or
when the judge is burdened by heavy caseloads, that a longer period to decide may be allowed but only
upon proper application made with the Supreme Court by the concerned judge.- Dr. Seares v. Judge
Salazar, A.M. No. MTJ-98-1160 November 22, 2000

Judge attended the hearing of his brother

Judge Dojillo “sat beside the counsel of his brother” and “actively coached, aided, assisted, and guided said
counsel by now and then saying something, handing piece of writing, reminding, and or stopping the
counsel from manifesting something to the court, and other similar acts.”
Cont…
Respondent, in his defense, stated that he attended the hearing of his brother’s election protest case just to
give moral support and, in the process, also observe how election protest proceedings are conducted.
Although concern for family members is deeply ingrained in the Filipino culture, respondent, being a judge,

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should bear in mind that he is also called upon to serve the higher interest of preserving the
integrity of the entire judiciary. Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct requires a judge to avoid not
only impropriety but also the mere appearance of impropriety in all activities. - Vidal v. Judge Dojillo, Jr.,
A.M. No. MTJ-05-1591. July 14, 2005

Judge is a heckler
The regular session of a municipal council was interrupted by a heckler in the audience hurling various
accusatory remarks and insults at the council members. The heckler is a judge, the incident, the subject of
this case.
All told, Judge Malanyaon did not dispute the facts as laid down by the complainants and the latter’s
witnesses. He justified his behavior though as the fulminations of a righteously outraged citizen
which according to him should be segregated from his function as a judge.
Judge Malanyaon deserves to be taken to task for his outrageous behavior as it clearly violates the Code of
Judicial Conduct. – Hon. Decena v. Judge Malanyaon AM No. RTJ-02-1669. April 14, 2004

No dichotomy of personality
Thus, the Court has to dismiss outright Judge Malanyaon’s 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. -Hon. Decena v. Judge Malanyaon AM No. RTJ-02-1669, April 14, 2004

………
Indeed, the private life of an employee cannot be segregated from his public life. – Marquez v. Aida Clores-
Ramos, A.M. No. P-96-1182. July 19, 2000

Comment on Certiorari filed by public respondent judge in behalf of private respondent

• Further, respondent judge, in signing and filing a comment with the court on behalf of one of
the parties, engaged in the private practice of law.
• Under Section 35, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court, and Rule 5.07 of the Code of Judicial
Conduct, judges are prohibited from engaging in the private practice of law.
• In filing such comment, respondent judge violated the provision in the Revised Rules of Court
which provides:
“Unless otherwise specifically directed by the court where the petition is pending, the public
respondents shall not appear in or file an answer or comment to the petition or any pleading therein.
If either party elevates the case to a higher court, the public respondents shall be included therein as
nominal parties. However, unless otherwise specifically directed, they shall not appear or participate
in the proceedings therein. - Tuzon v. Judge Cloribel-Purugganan, A.M. No. RTJ-01-1662 [2001]

Can the members of the Supreme Court be removed from office only by impeachment?
Justice Reyes maintains that Members of the Court may be removed from office only by
impeachment. Since removal from office is a disciplinary or administrative sanction, it follows that there is
no manner by which a Justice of this Court may be disciplined for acts done during his incumbency.
Considering that the power to impeach a Justice of this Court is lodged in the legislative branch of the
government, the Court is without authority to proceed against and discipline its former Member. He added
that what constitutes impeachable offenses is a purely political question which the Constitution has left to
the sound discretion of the legislature, and that the misconduct of leakage is not one of the impeachable

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offenses. - In Re: Undated Letter of Mr. Louis C. Biraogo, Petitioner in Biraogo v. Nograles and
Limkaichong, G.R. No.179120A.M. No. 09-2-19-SC : August 11, 2009

Cont…
When Justice Reyes compulsorily retired upon reaching the mandatory age of 70, his perceived mantle
of protection and immunity, that the mode of his removal from office can be done only through
impeachment, no longer exists. His duties and responsibilities as a Justice having ceased by reason of his
retirement, he is reverted to the status of a lawyer and, consequently, can be subjected to appropriate
sanctions for administrative offenses, particularly, an act of misconduct. The fact that the Investigating
Committee, created per Resolution dated December 10, 2008 of the Court, commenced the
investigation during the incumbency of Justice Reyes is of no moment, as he was then not yet a
respondent in an administrative matter against him. - In Re: Undated Letter of Mr. Biraogo, Petitioner
in Biraogo v. Nograles and Limkaichong, G.R. No.179120 A.M. No. 09-2-19-SC : August 11, 2009

Application of Res Ipsa Loquitor doctrine


Under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, the Court may impose its authority upon erring judges whose
actuations, on their face, would show gross incompetence, ignorance of the law or misconduct. – Atty.
Macalintal v. Judge the, A.M. No. RTJ-97-1375 October 16, 1997

In these res ipsa loquitur resolutions, there was on the face of the assailed decisions, an inexplicable grave
error bereft of any redeeming feature, a patent railroading of a case to bring about an unjust decision, or a
manifestly deliberate intent to wreak an injustice against a hapless party. The facts themselves,
previously proven or admitted, were of such a character as to give rise to a strong inference that
evil intent was present. Such intent, in short, was clearly deducible from what was already of
record.

…….

The res ipsa loquitur doctrine does not except or dispense with the necessity of proving the facts on which
the inference of evil intent is based. It merely expresses the clearly sound and reasonable conclusion that
when such facts are admitted or are already shown by the record, and no credible explanation that would
negative the strong inference of evil intent is forthcoming, no further hearing to establish them to support a
judgment as to the culpability of a respondent is necessary. - In Re: Undated letter of Mr. Louis C. Biraogo,
petitioner in Biraogo v. Nograles and Limkaichong, G.R. no. 179120, A.M. No. 09-2-19-SC, February 24, 2009

Quantum of evidence
It is likewise a settled rule in administrative proceedings that the burden of proving the allegations in the
complaint with substantial evidence falls on the complainant. - Bautista v. Justice Abdulwahid A.M.
OCA IPI No. 06-97-CA-J [2006]

Quantum of evidence required for removal of judge from office

• Jurisprudence dictates –

“The ground for the removal of a judicial officer should be established beyond reasonable
doubt. Such is the rule where the charges on which the removal is sought is misconduct in
office, willful neglect, corruption or incompetence. The general rules with regard to
admissibility of evidence in criminal trials apply. - Jabon v. Judge Sibanah E. Usman, A.M.
No. RTJ-02-1713 [2005]

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Acts of a collegial court
It is also imperative to state that the Resolution dated May 31, 2004 was not rendered by Justice Abdulwahid
alone, in his individual capacity. The Court of Appeals is a collegiate court whose members reach their
conclusions in consultation and accordingly render their collective judgment after due deliberation. Thus,
we have held that a charge of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act on the ground that a
collective decision is "unjust" cannot prosper. Consequently, the filing of charges against a single
member of a division of the appellate court is inappropriate. - Bautista v. Justice Abdulwahid A.M.
OCA IPI No. 06-97-CA-J [2006]
The act of a single member, though he may be its head, done without the participation of the others,
cannot be considered the act of the collegial body itself. – ASP Jamsani-Rodriguez v. Justice Ong, et, al.
A.M. No. 08-19-SB-J August 24, 2010

“Rendering knowingly unjust judgment" does not apply to a collegial court


Respondents should know that the provisions of Article 204 of the Revised Penal Code as to
"rendering knowingly unjust judgment" refer to an individual judge who does so "in any case
submitted to him for decision" and even then, it is not the prosecutor who would pass judgment on the
"unjustness" of the decision rendered by him but the proper appellate court with jurisdiction to review
the same, either the Court of Appeals and/or the Supreme Court. Respondents should likewise know
that said penal article has no application to the members of a collegiate court such as this Court or its
Divisions who reach their conclusions in consultation and accordingly render their collective judgment
after due deliberation. It also follows, consequently, that a charge of violation of the AntiGraft and
Corrupt Practices Act on the ground that such a collective decision is "unjust" cannot prosper. -
Bautista v. Justice Abdulwahid A.M. OCA IPI No. 06-97-CA-J [2006]

Judge's conviction by the RTC does not necessarily warrant her suspension
The mere existence of pending criminal charges against the respondent-lawyer cannot be a ground for
disbarment or suspension of the latter. To hold otherwise would open the door to harassment of attorneys
through the mere filing of numerous criminal cases against them.
By parity of reasoning, the fact of respondent's conviction by the RTC does not necessarily warrant
her suspension. We agree with respondent's argument that since her conviction of the crime of child
abuse is currently on appeal before the CA, the same has not yet attained finality. As such, she still enjoys
the constitutional presumption of innocence. - Re: Conviction of Judge Angeles A.M. No. 06-9-545-
RTC January 31, 2008

Existence of a presumption indicating the guilt of the accused does not in itself destroy the
constitutional presumption of innocence
It must be remembered that the existence of a presumption indicating the guilt of the accused does not in
itself destroy the constitutional presumption of innocence unless the inculpating presumption, together
with all the evidence, or the lack of any evidence or explanation, proves the accused's guilt beyond a
reasonable doubt. Until the accused's guilt is shown in this manner, the presumption of innocence
continues. - Re: Conviction of Judge Angeles A.M. No. 06-9-545-RTC January 31, 2008

Preventive suspension not applicable to judges


Based on the foregoing disquisition, the Court is of the resolve that, while it is true that preventive
suspension pendente lite does not violate the right of the accused to be presumed innocent as the same is
not a penalty, the rules on preventive suspension of judges, not having been expressly included in
the Rules of Court, are amorphous at best. – Re: Conviction of Judge Angeles A.M. No. 06-9-545-RTC
January 31, 2008

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Preventive suspension for erring lawyer
Rule 139-B Sec. 15. Suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court. - After receipt of respondent's answer or
lapse of the period therefor, the Supreme Court, motu proprio, or at the instance of the IBP Board of
Governors upon the recommendation of the Investigator, may suspend an attorney from the practice of
his profession for any of the causes specified in Rule 138, Section 27, during the pendency of the
investigation until such suspension is lifted by the Supreme Court.

Collegial court needs to


act as one body
Respondent Justices contend that they preserved the collegiality of the Fourth Division despite their having
separately conducted hearings, considering that the three of them were in the same venue and were
acting within hearing and communicating distance of one another.

The information and evidence upon which the Fourth Division would base any decisions or other judicial
actions in the cases tried before it must be made directly available to each and every one of its members
during the proceedings. This necessitates the equal and full participation of each member in the trial and
adjudication of their cases. It is simply not enough, therefore, that the three members of the Fourth
Division were within hearing and communicating distance of one another at the hearings in
question, as they explained in hindsight, because even in those circumstances not all of them sat
together in session. - ASP Jamsani-Rodriguez v. Justice Ong, et, al. A.M. No. 08-19-SB-J August 24,
2010

Impeachable officers [attorneys] cannot be disbarred unless impeached


There is another reason why the complaint for disbarment here must be dismissed. Members of the
Supreme Court must, under Article VIII (7) (1) of the Constitution, be members of the Philippine Bar and
may be removed from office only by impeachment (Article XI [2], Constitution). To grant a complaint for
disbarment of a Member of the Court during the Member's incumbency, would in effect be to circumvent
and hence to ran afoul of the constitutional mandate that Members of the Court may be removed from
office only by impeachment for and conviction of certain offenses listed in Article XI (2) of the Constitution.
……
Precisely the same situation exists in respect of the Ombudsman and his deputies (Article XI [8] in relation
to Article XI [2], Id.), a majority of the members of the Commission on Elections (Article IX [C] [1] [1] in
relation to Article XI [2], id.), and the members of the Commission on audit who are not certified public
accountants (Article XI [D] [1] [1], id.), all of whom are constitutionally required to be members of the
Philippine Bar. – Cuenco v. Hon. Marcelo B. Fernan, A.M. No. 3135 February 17, 1988

Automatic conversion of administrative cases against justices and judges to disciplinary


proceedings against them as lawyers
Under the same rule, a respondent may forthwith be required to comment on the complaint and show
cause why he should not also be suspended, disbarred or otherwise disciplinary sanctioned as member of
the Bar. The rule does not make it mandatory, before respondent may be held liable as a member of the bar,
that respondent be required to comment on and show cause why he should not be disciplinary sanctioned
as a lawyer separately from the order for him to comment on why he should not be held administratively
liable as a member of the bench. In other words, an order to comment on the complaint is an order to give
an explanation on why he should not be held administratively liable not only as a member of the bench but
also as a member of the bar.
……
This is the fair and reasonable meaning of automatic conversion of administrative cases against justices and
judges to disciplinary proceedings against them as lawyers. This will also serve the purpose of A.M. No. 02-
9-02-SC to avoid the duplication or unnecessary replication of actions by treating an administrative
complaint filed against a member of the bench also as a disciplinary proceeding against him as a lawyer by
mere operation of the rule. Thus, a disciplinary proceeding as a member of the bar is impliedly instituted

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with the filing of an administrative case against a justice of the Sandiganbayan, Court of Appeals and Court
of Tax Appeals or a judge of a first- or second-level court. - OCA v. Judge Indar, A.M. No. RTJ-10-2232, April
10. 2012

Continuous use of the


title “Judge”

• The penalty imposed upon him in said case included forfeiture of all leave and retirement benefits
and privileges to which he may be entitled with prejudice to reinstatement and/or reemployment in
any branch or instrumentality of government, including government-owned or controlled agencies or
corporations. Certainly, the use of the title Judge is one of such privileges.

• We have previously declared that the use of titles such as Justice is reserved to incumbent and retired
members of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan and may not be used by
any other official of the Republic, including those given the rank of Justice…

……
By analogy, the title Judge should be reserved only to judges, incumbent and retired, and not to those who
were dishonorably discharged from the service. As correctly pointed out by the Investigating
Commissioner, the right to retain and use said title applies only to the aforementioned members of the
bench and no other, and certainly not to those who were removed or dismissed from the judiciary, such as
respondent. - San Jose Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Atty. Roberto B. Romanillos, A.C. No. 5580. June 15,
2005

A non-counsel of record can file an administrative complaint


Finally, there is no merit in the contention of respondent Judge that Atty. Oliva lacks personality to file this
administrative complaint because he was not the counsel of record of complainant in the criminal case
for qualified theft. First, we are not aware of any rule that one must be a counsel of record in another case
before an administrative complaint can be filed or prosecuted. Second, contrary to the assertion of
respondent Judge, Atty. Oliva was one of the counsels of record of the complainant in the qualified theft
case. An examination of the records reveals that complainant was being represented by Oliva Finne and
Associates Law Firm, with Atty. Malapitan as the handling lawyer. - Extra Excel International Philippines,
Inc. v. Judge Afable E. Cajigal, A.M. No. RTJ-18-2523, June 06, 2018

Meaning of "automatic conversion" of administrative cases


In other words, an order to comment on the complaint is an order to give an explanation on why he should
not be held administratively liable not only as a member of the bench but also as a member of the bar. This
is the fair and reasonable meaning of "automatic conversion" of administrative cases against
justices and judges to disciplinary proceedings against them as lawyers. This will also serve the
purpose of A.M. No. 02-9-02-SC to avoid the duplication or unnecessary replication of actions by treating
an administrative complaint filed against a member of the bench also as a disciplinary proceeding against
him as a lawyer by mere operation of the rule.
Thus, a disciplinary proceeding as a member of the bar is impliedly instituted with the filing of an
administrative case against a justice of the Sandiganbayan, Court of Appeals and Court of Tax Appeals or a
judge of a first- or second-level court. - Olga M. Samson v. Judge Virgilio G. Caballero, A.M. No. RTJ-08-2138 ,
August 5, 2009

A judge can simultaneously violate the CJC and CPR


Respondent Judge William Simon P. Peralta, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila,
Branch 50, with undue delay in the disposition of pending motions in connection with that case.
Violation of the fundamental tenets of judicial conduct embodied in the Code of Judicial Conduct
constitutes a breach of Canons 1 and 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR):

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CANON 1 — A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND
PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND FOR LEGAL PROCESSES.
………
CANON 11 — A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE AND MAINTAIN THE RESPECT DUE TO THE COURTS AND
TO JUDICIAL OFFICERS AND SHOULD INSIST ON SIMILAR CONDUCT BY OTHERS.
Respondent’s delay also runs counter to Canon 12 and Rule 12.04 of the CPR which provides:
CANON 12 — A LAWYER SHALL EXERT EVERY EFFORT AND CONSIDER IT HIS DUTY TO ASSIST IN
THE SPEEDY AND EFFICIENT ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.
xxx xxx xxx
Rule 12.04 – A lawyer shall not unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a judgment or misuse Court
processes.
- Dee C. Chuan & Sons, Inc. v. Judge William Simon P. Peralta, A.M. No. RTJ-05-
1917, April 16, 2009

Propensity of a judge to lose patience


Public policy demands that the outcome of judicial proceedings should reflect maximum efficiency and, as
much as possible, excellence of performance on the part of those who man the courts. Naturally, these
cannot be expected from one who suffers an incurable malady so obviously affecting the
functioning of the nerves as to impair his powers of locomotion and speech and to cause frequent
paroxysms of coughing and what is worse, shortness of temper. The propensity of a judge to lose
patience without much provocation does not lend to the equanimity and judiciousness that should be the
constant marks of a dispenser of justice. – Kalalang v. Judge Fernandez, A.C. No. 175-J. June 10, 1971

Old age is not a mitigating factor


For the same reasons, we are disinclined to take respondent's old age and the fact that he served in the
judiciary in various capacities in his favor. If at all, we hold respondent to a higher standard for it, for a
judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence, and his conduct should be
above reproach.
The fact that respondent has chosen to engage in private practice does not mean he is now free to
conduct himself in less honorable - or indeed in a less than honorable - manner. - Barrios v. Atty.
Martinez, A.C. NO. 4585 : November 12, 2004

Death of both complainant

Jurisprudence holds that the death of the complainant does not warrant the withdrawal of the
charges against the respondent nor does this development render the complaint moot; the complainant
is treated only as a witness in this type of proceedings. – Mercado v. Hon. Judge Salcedo, A.M. No. RTJ-
03-1781, October 16, 2009

Death of respondent
On the other hand, the death of the respondent in an administrative case, as a rule, does not preclude a
finding of administrative liability.
The recognized exceptions to this rule are:
first, when the respondent has not been heard and continuation of the proceedings would deny him of
his right to due process;
second, where exceptional circumstances exist in the case leading to equitable and humanitarian
considerations; and
third, when the kind of penalty imposed or imposable would render the proceedings useless. None
of these exceptional circumstances are present in the case. – Mercado v. Hon. Judge Salcedo, A.M. No. RTJ-
03-1781, October 16, 2009

Thank you for your attention!!

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