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ALBANO vs. GAPUSAN May 7, 1976 Ponente: Aquino, J.

Topic: Facts: This is a complaint against Judge Gapusan for malpractice and misconduct. He was alleged by Albano to have notarized a document providing for the personal separation of Valentina Andres and Guillermo Maligta and for the extrajudicial liquidation of their conjugal partnership in 1941. Gapusan was admitted to the bar in 1937 and appointed to the bench in 1946. Albano is asking the Court to take belated disciplinary action against Gapusan as a member of the bar or as a notary. Gapusan denied that he drafted the agreement. He explained that the spouses had been separated for a long time when they signed the separation agreement and that the wife had begotten children with her paramour, and that there was a stipulation in the agreement that the spouses would live together in case of reconciliation. He believed that the separation agreement forestalled the occurrence of violent incidents between the spouses. Albano also complains that Gapusan used his intimacy with Judge Crispin to acquit of frustrated murder Freddie Gapusan Gamboa, a relative of Judge Gapusan. He revealed that the relatives of the accused were saying that their relationship to Judge Gapusan proved to be worthwhile and useful. Gapusan admitted he is close to Crispin having been members of the Municipal Judges League but that his association was purely official and that Freddie is his distant relative but denied he influenced Crispin.
NCC Art. 221: Any contract for personal separation between husband and wife and every extrajudicial agreement, during the marriage, for the dissolution of the conjugal partnership is void.

Issues:

Whether or not Gapusan should be censured for notarizing said agreement?

Decision: Gapusan is censured for notarizing said agreement. Held 1. Gapusan should be censured as member of the bar for having notarized agreement. Ratio There is no question that the agreement is contrary to law, morals, and good custom. It undermines the institution of marriage and family. (Art. 221) A notary should not facilitate the disintegration of a marriage and the family. 2. However, his notarization does not warrant disciplinary action against him as a municipal judge. 3. The second charge should be dismissed for being speculative and unfair to His appointment to the judiciary was screened by the Commission on Appointments. The allegation is anchored on mere suspicion. Also, he should have complained against Judge Crispin and not vent his ire on Gapusan alone.

Judge Crispin. A person has freedom to choose his friends and to hobnot with them. It is not a crime nor unethical per se for a municipal judge to fraternize with another.