"x x x.
As to the second issue, the Court of Appeals did not require respondent judge to inhibit himself from further hearing the case despite the serious grounds raised as to respondent judge's cold neutrality and impartiality, having acted as counsel in the prosecution of petitioners second wife, was related to and former lawyer of his brother-in-law. The Court of Appeals, however, suggested that respondent judge exercise discretion in a way that the people's faith in the courts of justice is not impaired and that the better course for the judge under such circumstance is to disqualify himself. Had respondent judge followed the court's exhortation, perhaps the case would not have reached this Court, thus wasting the time of the Court, which could have been devoted to more important legal issues. At any rate, on January 31, 1995, respondent Judge retired from the service upon reaching the compulsory retirement age of seventy.
Because of the compulsory retirement of respondent judge, the issue of his inhibition has been rendered moot. Nonetheless, we take this occasion once more, to impress upon trial judges that they must at all times maintain and preserve the trust and faith of parties litigants in the court's impartiality, and that the slightest doubt in the actions of the judge, whether well grounded or not, will leave the judge no better alternative than to recuse himself as the ideal mode to preserve the image of the judiciary.
We deem it important to point out that a judge must preserve the trust and faith reposed in him by the parties as an impartial and objective administrator of justice. When he exhibits actions that give rise, fairly or unfairly, to perceptions of bias, such faith and confidence are eroded, and he has no choice but to inhibit himself voluntarily. It is basic that [a] judge may not be legally prohibited from sitting in a litigation, but when circumstances appear that will induce doubt [on] his honest actuations and probity in favor of either party, or incite such state of mind, he should conduct a careful self-examination. He should exercise his discretion in a way that the peoples faith in the courts of justice is not impaired. The better course for the judge is to disqualify himself.
x x x."