Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Intemperate language and unprofessional behavior of judge - A.M. No. RTJ-14-2376, March 5, 2005

"x x x.

Likewise, we are convinced that respondent judge’s actuations in the court premises during the hearing of the petition for commitment to the DSWD constitute abuse of authority and manifest partiality to the accused. Indeed, respondent judge’s utterance of: "I don’t want to see your face!";

"You better transfer to another court!; You are being influenced by politicians" was improper and does not speak well his stature as an officer of the Court. We note the improper language of respondent judge directed towards complainants in his Answers and Comments where he criticized them for their incompetence in handling the subject case. Respondent Bitas' use of abusive and insulting words, tending to project complainant’s ignorance of the laws and procedure, prompted by his belief that the latter mishandled the cause of his client is obviously and clearly insensitive, distasteful, and inexcusable. Complainants, likewise, cannot be blamed for being suspicious of respondent’s bias to the accused considering that the former can be associated with the accused following his admission that his sister was a classmate of one Nora Miralles. Considering the apprehension and reservation of the complainants, prudence dictates that respondent should have inhibited himself from hearing the case. Such abuse of power and authority could only invite disrespect from counsels and from the public.23

In pending or prospective litigations before them, judges should be scrupulously careful to avoid anything that may tend to awaken the suspicion that their personal, social or sundry relations could influence their objectivity. Not only must judges possess proficiency in law, they must also act and behave in such manner that would assure litigants and their counsel of the judges’ competence, integrity and independence.24 Even on the face of boorish behavior from those he deals with, he ought to conduct himself in a manner befitting a gentleman and a high officer of the court.25

The use of intemperate language is included in the proscription provided by Section 1, Canon 4 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct, thus: "Judges shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all the activities of a judge." It bears stressing that as a dispenser of justice, respondent should exercise judicial temperament at all times, avoiding vulgar and insulting language. He must maintain composure and equanimity.

This Court has long held that court officials and employees are placed with a heavy burden and responsibility of keeping the faith of the public. Any impression of impropriety, misdeed or negligence in the performance of official functions must be avoided. This Court shall not countenance any conduct, act or omission on the part of all those involved in the administration of justice which would violate the norm of public accountability and diminish the faith of the people in the Judiciary.

x x x."