January 2011 Philippine Supreme Court Decisions on Legal and Judicial Ethics

Here are selected January 2011 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on legal and judicial ethics:

Attorney; dishonesty. Respondent was accused of filing  various pleadings on behalf of parties who were already deceased. To all attorneys, truthfulness and honesty have the highest value, for, as the Court has said in Young v. Batuegas: “A lawyer must be a disciple of truth. He swore upon his admission to the Bar that he will ‘do no falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in court’ and he shall ‘conduct himself as a lawyer according to the best of his knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to his clients.’ He should bear in mind that as an officer of the court his high vocation is to correctly inform the court upon the law and the facts of the case and to aid it in doing justice and arriving at correct conclusion. The courts, on the other hand, are entitled to expect only complete honesty from lawyers appearing and pleading before them. While a lawyer has the solemn duty to defend his client’s rights and is expected to display the utmost zeal in defense of his client’s cause, his conduct must never be at the expense of truth.”  Respondent lawyer was found not liable as he had disclosed in a pleading the death of the deceased parties and the fact that he was representing the successors in interest of the deceased parties.  Jessie R. De Leon vs. Atty. Eduardo G. Castelo, A.C. No. 8620, January 12, 2011.

Court personnel; conduct prejudicial to service. The respondents were accused of failing to serve a court order and delaying the issuance and implementation of the writ of execution. Due to this negligence, the writ’s implementation was delayed for almost two years, thereby gave the defendants sufficient time to conceal and/or dissipate their assets to thwart plaintiffs’ efforts to recover in full the judgment awarded to them. Court employees bear the burden of observing exacting standards of ethics and morality. This is the price one pays for the honor of working in the judiciary.  Those who are part of the machinery dispensing justice, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk, must conduct themselves with utmost decorum and propriety to maintain the public’s faith and respect for the judiciary. Respondents were held guilty of conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service. Judge Philbert I. Iturralde, et al. vs. OIC Branch Clerk of Court Babe SJ. Ramirez, et al., A.M. No. P-03-1730, January 18, 2011.

Court personnel; dereliction of duty. Respondent received sheriff’s fees without court approval, accepted monthly allowance in the course of the performance of his duties and engaged in moonlighting activities by assisting in the collection of rents for one of the parties. Respondent is guilty of dereliction of duty. A sheriff may collect fees for his expenses from the party requesting the execution of a writ but only in accordance with the procedure laid down Section 9, Rule 141 of the Rules of Court, i.e., subject to the approval of the court. Moreover, sheriffs are not allowed to receive any voluntary payments from parties in the course of the performance of their duties. To do so would be inimical to the best interest of the service because even assuming arguendo such payments were indeed given and received in good faith, this fact alone would not dispel the suspicion that such payments were made for less than noble purposes. Sheriffs cannot receive gratuities or voluntary payments from parties they are ordered to assist. Court personnel shall not accept any fee or remuneration beyond what they receive or are entitled to in their official capacity. Furthermore, respondent received money for extra work he rendered. Respondent’s defense that he is not using government time in doing his duties is not tenable considering that there is a prohibition for all officials and employees of the judiciary to engage directly in any private business, vocation or profession even outside office hours. Respondent’s acts can be considered as moonlighting, which, though not normally considered as a serious misconduct, amounts to malfeasance in office. Reina Edenlyne Garcia vs. Robert V. Alejo, Sheriff IV, RTC, Br. 142, Makati City, A.M. No. P-09-2627, January 26, 2011.

Court personnel; dishonesty. Respondent failed to (1) immediately account for and return the excess in the cash bond she received; (2) issue appropriate receipts; (3) safekeep monies received; and, (4) remit/deposit cash bonds in the government depository upon receipt. The Court ruled that these constituted dishonesty and grave misconduct for which she deserves to be dismissed from the service. Dishonesty is any act which shows lack of integrity or a disposition to defraud, cheat, deceive or betray. It consists of an intent to violate the truth, in a matter of fact relevant to one’s office or connected with the performance of his duties. Office of the Court Administrator vs. Marissa U. Angeles, etc./ Judge Analie C. Aldea-Arocena vs. Marissa U. Angeles, etc., A.M. No. P-11-2887/A.M. No. P-10-2880, January 18, 2011.

Court personnel; dishonesty. The OCA audit team found that there were shortages in the Judiciary Development Fund and Fiduciary Fund. Respondents admitted making false entries in the receipts but justify their actions by saying that they were just following the orders of their superior. The Court found them guilty of dishonesty. A cash clerk is an accountable officer entrusted with the great responsibility of collecting money belonging to the funds of the court and, thus, considered as public funds. It was incumbent upon them to be more circumspect and discerning in performing their assigned tasks, even in the seemingly inconsequential details – such as making sure that there was a carbon paper to make duplicate and triplicate copies when issuing receipts. Moreover, restitution of the missing amount does not erase their liability. A public servant is expected to exhibit, at all times, the highest degree of honesty and integrity, and should be made accountable to all those whom he serves. There is no place in the judiciary for those who cannot meet the exacting standards of judicial conduct and integrity. Report of the Financial Audit Conducted on the Books of Account of Sonia L. Dy and Atty. Graciano D. Cuanico, Jr., RTC, Catarman Northern Samar/Virgilio O. Gallano vs. Atty. Graciano D. Cuanico, Jr., Clerk of Court and Sonia L. Dy, Social Welfare Officer II etc., A.M. No. P-07-2364/A.M. No. P-11-2902. January 25, 2011.

Court personnel; dishonesty. The OCA audit team discovered unreported and unremitted collections that respondent made in connection with his duties. The Court found him guilty for dishonesty and grave misconduct. He violated OCA Circular 50-95, which states that “all collections from bail bonds, rental deposits, and other fiduciary collections shall be deposited within 24 hours by the Clerk of Court concerned, upon receipt thereof, with the Land Bank of the Philippines.”  Likewise, he violated OCA Circular 26-97, which directed judges and clerks of court to compel collecting officials to strictly comply with the provisions of the Auditing and Accounting Manual citing Article VI, Sections 61 and 113 which required collecting officers to promptly issue official receipts for all money received by them. Office of the Court Administrator vs. Victorio A. Dion, Former Clerk of Court, Municipal Circuit Trial Court, San Fabian-San Jacinto, Pangasinan, A.M. No. P-10-2799, January 18, 2011.

Court personnel; grave misconduct. An Information was filed against respondent for possession of dangerous drugs. Consequently, an administrative complaint was filed against him. The Court defines misconduct as a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by a public officer. The misconduct is grave if it involves any of the additional elements of corruption, willful intent to violate the law, or to disregard established rules, which must be established by substantial evidence. As distinguished from simple misconduct, the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law, or flagrant disregard of established rule, must be manifest in a charge of grave misconduct. Corruption, as an element of grave misconduct, consists in the act of an official or fiduciary person who unlawfully and wrongfully uses his station or character to procure some benefit for himself or for another person, contrary to duty and the rights of others. An act need not be tantamount to a crime for it to be considered as grave misconduct as in fact, crimes involving moral turpitude are treated as a separate ground for dismissal under the Administrative Code. Respondent committed grave misconduct which, under Section 52 (A)(3), Rule IV of the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases, is a grave offense punishable by dismissal even for the first offense. Office of the Court Administrator vs. Claudio M. Lopez, Process Server, MTC, Sudipen. La Union, A.M. No. P-10-2788, January 18, 2011.

Court personnel; gross misconduct. Respondent sheriff refused to take any sincere effort to implement the Writ of Execution in order to compel the complainant to agree to his demand for a 35% share in whatever may be collected. The Court found the respondent guilty of gross misconduct. Time and again, the Court has pointed out the heavy burden and responsibility which court personnel are saddled with in view of their exalted positions as keepers of the public faith. They should, therefore, be constantly reminded that any impression of impropriety, misdeed or negligence in the performance of official functions must be avoided. Those who work in the judiciary must adhere to high ethical standards to preserve the courts’ good name and standing. They should be examples of responsibility, competence and efficiency, and they must discharge their duties with due care and utmost diligence, since they are officers of the court and agents of the law. Indeed, any conduct, act or omission on the part of those who would violate the norm of public accountability and diminish or even just tend to diminish the faith of the people in the judiciary shall not be countenanced. Office of the Court Administrator vs. Jose M. Ramano, Deputy Sheriff, Regional Trial Court, Branch 140, Makati City, A.M. No. P-90-488. January 25, 2011.

Court personnel; gross neglect of duty. The settled rule is that a clerk of court is grossly negligent for his or her failure to promptly remit or deposit cash collections with the local or nearest Land Bank of the Philippines Branch, in accordance with Court administrative circulars and issuances. No protestation of good faith can override the mandatory observance of court circulars which are designed to promote full accountability of government funds. Restitution of the amount of the shortages does not erase administrative liability. Office of the Court Administrator vs. Merlinda T. Cuachon and Fe P. Alejano, Court Stenographer, MCTC, Ilog-Candoni, Negros Occidental, A.M. No. P-06-2179, January 12, 2011.

Court personnel; misconduct. Respondent sheriff levied on the  trucks of the complainant even if the notice of levy was addressed to another person. The complainant claimed ownership of the trucks but the respondent sheriff went ahead with the levy without taking steps to first ascertain the trucks’ ownership.  Well-settled is the rule that “[t]he duty of a sheriff in enforcing writs of execution is ministerial and not discretionary.” However, “errors in the levy of properties do not necessarily give rise to liability if circumstances exist showing that the erroneous levy was done in good faith.”   In the instant case however, the conduct of respondent is inexcusable. The facts clearly show that the two (2) trucks seized by her did not belong to the addressee of the notice but to herein complainant. What is more, she could have acted in good faith and checked from the LTO the identity of the registered owners of the said vehicles before proceeding with their seizure. Respondent is guilty of misconduct in the discharge of her functions. Misconduct is a transgression of an established rule of action. More particularly, misconduct is the unlawful behavior of a public officer. It means the “intentional wrongdoing or deliberate violation of a rule of law or standard of behavior, especially by a government official.” In order for misconduct to constitute an administrative offense, it should be related to or connected with the performance of the official functions and duties of a public officer. Corazon Tenorio, represented by Imelda Tenorio-Ortiz vs. Alyn C. Perlas, Sheriff III, A.M. No. P-10-2817, January 26, 2011.

Court personnel; simple neglect of duty. Respondent failed to reflect in the minutes of the hearing the correct documentary evidence marked. A court interpreter is duty-bound to prepare and sign the minutes of court sessions which is an important document, for it gives a brief summary of the events that take place thereat including a statement of the date and time of the session; the name of the judge, clerk of court, court stenographer, and court interpreter who are present; the names of the counsel for the parties who appear; the parties presenting evidence; the names of the witnesses who testified; the documentary evidence marked; and the date of the next hearing. Failure to reflect in the minutes the correct documentary evidence marked constitutes simple neglect of duty, defined as the failure to give attention to a task expected of him and signifies a disregard of a duty resulting from carelessness or indifference. Freddy Reyes vs. Vivian Pabilane, Court Interpreter, MTC, Tagkawayan, Quezon, A.M. No. P-09-2696, January 12, 2011.

Court personnel; simple neglect of duty. Respondent clerk of court failed to detect the irregularities committed by the court employees in handling the court funds. The Clerk of Court is primarily accountable for all funds that are collected for the court, whether personally received by him or by a duly appointed cashier who is under his supervision and control. Being the custodian of the court’s funds, revenues, and records, the Clerk of Court is likewise liable for any loss, shortage, destruction, or impairment of said funds and property.  The Court held that his failure to properly supervise and manage the financial transactions in his court constituted simple neglect of duty. Simple neglect of duty is the failure to give attention to a task, or the disregard of a duty due to carelessness or indifference. As the Court has pronounced in the past, even simple neglect of duty lessens the people’s confidence in the judiciary and, ultimately, in the administration of justice. Thus, the Court cannot allow those who commit this offense to escape liability. Report of the Financial Audit Conducted on the Books of Account of Sonia L. Dy and Atty. Graciano D. Cuanico, Jr., RTC, Catarman Northern Samar/Virgilio O. Gallano vs. Atty. Graciano D. Cuanico, Jr., Clerk of Court and Sonia L. Dy, Social Welfare Officer II etc., A.M. No. P-07-2364/A.M. No. P-11-2902. January 25, 2011.

Judges; administrative Proceedings against judges; how instituted. Section 1, Rule 140 provides three ways by which administrative proceedings against judges may be instituted: (1) motu proprio by the Supreme Court; (2) upon verified complaint with affidavits of persons having personal knowledge of the facts alleged therein or by documents which may substantiate said allegations; or (3) upon an anonymous complaint supported by public records of indubitable integrity.  An unverified complaint against a judge, where the facts alleged are disputed or are not easily verifiable from public records, will generally be dismissible for being unsubstantiated. Re: Letter-complaint of Atty. Ariel Samson C. Cayetuna, et al., all employees of Associate Justice Michael P. Elbinias against Associate Justice Michael P. Elbinias, CA – Mindanao Station, A.M. OCA IPI No. 08-127-CA-J. January 11, 2011.

Administrative proceedings; substantial evidence required.  As correctly pointed out by the Investigating Judge, to sustain a finding of administrative culpability, only substantial evidence is required. The present case is an administrative case, not a criminal case, against respondent.  Therefore, the quantum of proof required is only substantial evidence, or that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.  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 dismissalof the administrative case.  Office of the Court Administrator vs. Claudio M. Lopez, Process Server, MTC, Sudipen. La Union, A.M. No. P-10-2788, January 18, 2011.

Judge; burden of proof. It is well-settled that in administrative proceedings, the burden of proof that respondent committed the acts complained of rests on the complainant. Re: Letter-complaint of Atty. Ariel Samson C. Cayetuna, et al., all employees of Associate Justice Michael P. Elbinias against Associate Justice Michael P. Elbinias, CA – Mindanao Station, A.M. OCA IPI No. 08-127-CA-J. January 11, 2011.

Judge; burden of proof. The respondent Justice and court employee were charged of corruption. Where one seeks the imposition of a penalty upon a judicial officer or magistrate on the ground of corruption, it behooves him/her to establish the charge beyond reasonable doubt, for the general rules with regard to admissibility of evidence in criminal cases apply. The Court ruled that the corruption charges were not proved by sufficient evidence. It emphasized that while the Court will never tolerate or condone any act, conduct or omission that would violate the norms of public accountability or diminish the people’s faith in the judiciary, neither will it hesitate to reject suits that only serve to disrupt rather than promote the orderly administration of justice.  Re: Anonymous Letter Relative to the Alleged Corruption in the Court of Appeals, Cagayan de Oro City, A.M. No. 07-6-14-CA, January 18, 2011.

Judge; gross ignorance of the law. Respondent was charged with gross ignorance of the law for reversing motu proprio a final and executory order rendered by another court ten years earlier. The Court ruled that the respondent is guilty of gross ignorance of the law. He failed to conform to the high standards of competence required of judges under the Code of Judicial Conduct. Competence is a mark of a good judge.  When a judge exhibits an utter lack of know-how with the rules or with settled jurisprudence, he erodes the public’s confidence in the competence of our courts. It is highly crucial that judges be acquainted with the law and basic legal principles. Ignorance of the law, which everyone is bound to know, excuses no one – not even judges. Imelda R. Marcos vs. Judge Fernando Vil Pamintuan, A.M. No. RTJ-07-2062. January 18, 2011.

Judge; gross ignorance of the law. Respondent judge failed to cause the raffle of an injunction case and failed to follow the procedural requirements in issuing a TRO and a writ of preliminary injunction as he issued them without prior notice to the defendant and without a hearing. The Court found respondent judge liable for gross ignorance of the law and procedure. Though not every judicial error bespeaks ignorance of the law or of the rules, and that, when committed in good faith, does not warrant administrative sanction, the rule applies only in cases within the parameters of tolerable misjudgment.  When the law or the rule is so elementary, not to be aware of it or to act as if one does not know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law.  A judge is expected to keep abreast of the developments and amendments thereto, as well as of prevailing jurisprudence. Ignorance of the law by a judge can easily be the mainspring of injustice.  In the absence of fraud, dishonesty, or corruption, the acts of a judge in his judicial capacity are not subject to disciplinary action.  However, the assailed judicial acts must not be in gross violation of clearly established law or procedure, which every judge must be familiar with. Spouses Democrito and Olivia Lago vs. Judge Godofredo B. Abul, Jr., RTC, Br. 43. Gingoog City, A.M. No. RTJ-10-2255, January 17, 2011.

Judge; gross ignorance of the law. Respondent judges, without authority, took cognizance of cases pending before another court in the absence of a presiding judge for that court. The Court held that they were guilty of gross ignorance of the law. While they might have been motivated by noble intentions in taking cognizance of the pending cases because they wanted to uphold the accused’s right to liberty, they still cannot escape liability. However well-intentioned they might have been, they still did not have the authority to act on the cases as these were not pending before their respective salas. Their lack of authority was so patent and so self-evident; to disregard it would itself be ignorance of the law. Office of the Court Administrator vs. Judge Benjamin P. Estrada, RTC, Br. 9, Malaybalay, Bukidnon and Judge Josefina Gentiles-Bacal, RTC, Br 10, Malaybalay, Bukidnon, A.M. No. RTJ-09-2173, January 18, 2011.

Judge; gross incompetence and inefficiency. Respondent judge failed to decide 102 criminal cases and 43 civil  cases within the reglementary period. As a general principle, rules prescribing the time within which certain acts must be done, or certain proceedings taken, are considered absolutely indispensable to the prevention of needless delays and for the orderly and speedy discharge of judicial business. By their very nature, these rules are regarded as mandatory.  In the same vein, Canon 3, Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct is emphatic in enjoining judges to administer justice without delay by disposing of the court’s business promptly and deciding cases within the period prescribed by law. Corollary to this, Administrative Circular No. 3-99 dated January 15, 1999, requires all judges to scrupulously observe the periods prescribed in the Constitution for deciding cases, because failure to comply therewith violates the constitutional right of the parties to speedy disposition of the cases. Only in certain meritorious cases, that is, those involving difficult questions of law or complex issues, may a longer period to decide the case be allowed but only upon proper application for extension of the period has been made by the concerned judge. Respondent judge is guilty of gross incompetence and gross inefficiency. Office of the Court Administrator vs. Former Judge Leonardo L. Leonida of the RTC, Br. 27, Sta. Cruz, Laguna, A.M. No. RTJ-09-2198. January 18, 2011.

Judge; impropriety. Respondent judge sent a letter, in his official letterhead, to one of the parties in a case pending before his own court, inviting the latter to a conference to discuss the case. The Court found the respondent guilty of impropriety. Employees of the court have no business meeting with litigants or their representatives under any circumstance. This prohibition is more compelling when it involves a judge who, because of his position, must strictly adhere to the highest tenets of judicial conduct; a judge must be the embodiment of competence, integrity and independence. Mansueta Rubin vs. Judge Jose Aguirre, Jr., RTC, Br. 55, Himamaylan, Negros Occidental, A.M. No. RTJ-11-2267, January 19, 2011.

Judge; gross misconduct. Respondent judge obtained commodity and cash loans from the complainant for the construction of his home. Respondent judge pleaded innocence reasoning that the loans were obtained when there was no case pending in his sala where the complainant is a party. The above disclaimer notwithstanding, the Court held that respondent judge is guilty of gross misconduct. Respondent judge violated the New Code of Judicial Conduct. Although at the time he and his family had business dealings with complainant there was no pending case involving the businessman, he should have been more circumspect in securing the construction materials.  The sphere of complainant’s business operations was within his territorial jurisdiction.  As the OCA aptly noted, “it is neither impossible nor remote that a case might be filed in his court with complainant as a party.  In such a case, his (respondent) business and financial dealings with complainant would create a doubt about his fairness and impartiality in deciding the case and would tend to corrode the respect and dignity of the court.” In addition, the Court found that Judge respondent committed impropriety in talking with litigants outside court proceedings. His improper conduct was further aggravated by the fact that these conversations took place in the absence of the opposing litigants and/or the opposing counsel. Time and again, the Court have emphasized that judges are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that would enhance respect and confidence of the people in the judicial system. The New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary mandates that judges must not only maintain their independence, integrity and impartiality; they must also avoid any appearance of impropriety or partiality, which may erode the people’s faith in the Judiciary.  These standards apply not only to the decision itself, but also to the process by which the decision is made. Victoriano Sy vs. Judge Oscar E. Dinopol, etc., A.M. No. RTJ-09-2189, January 18, 2011.

Judge; gross misconduct. Respondent committed acts unbecoming of a judge, in particular, talking to a prospective litigant in his court, recommending a lawyer to the litigant, and preparing  a motion for the litigant, which pleading was filed in his court and was acted upon by him.  The conduct of a judge should be beyond reproach and reflective of the integrity of his office.  Indeed, as stated by the OCA, the said acts of respondent violate Section 1 of Canon 2 (Integrity), Section 2 of Canon 3 (Impartiality), and Section 1 of Canon 4 (Propriety) of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary. The aforementioned acts of respondent constitute gross misconduct.  “Misconduct” means a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, wilful in character, improper or wrong behavior.  “Gross” has been defined as “out of all measure, beyond allowance; flagrant; shameful; such conduct as is not to be excused.” Florenda V. Tobias vs. Judge Manuel Q. Limsiaco, Jr., MCTC, Valladolid, Negros Occidental, A.M. No. MTJ-09-1734, January 19, 2011.

Judge; gross misconduct; penalty. Section 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court classifies gross misconduct constituting a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct as a serious charge.  Under Section 11 of the same Rule, the respondent found guilty of a serious charge may be meted any of the following sanctions: (1) Dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all or part of the benefits as the Court may determine, and disqualification from reinstatement or reappointment to any public office; (2) Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more than three months but not exceeding six months; or (3) A fine of more than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00. Victoriano Sy vs. Judge Oscar E. Dinopol, RTC, Br. 24, Koronadal City, A.M. No. RTJ-09-2189, January 18, 2011.

Judge; insubordination; simple misconduct. Some court personnel’s bundy cards were punched-in even though they were in fact absent. Respondent judge failed to investigate the bundy cards incident from the time the leader of the judicial audit team had reported it to him in his capacity as the Acting Executive Judge and despite an order from the OCA for him to do so. Section 3, Canon 2 of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary directs a judge to take or initiate appropriate disciplinary measures against lawyers or court personnel for unprofessional conduct of which the judge may have become aware.  This imperative duty becomes the more urgent when the act or omission the court personnel has supposedly committed is in the nature of a grave offense, like the bundy-cards incident involved herein. For disobeying or ignoring the directive to investigate the bundy-cards incident, respondent judge is guilty of insubordination, an omission that constitutes simple misconduct. In re: Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted in the Regional Trial Court, Br. 45, Urdaneta, Pangasinan, and Report on the Incident at Br. 49, Same Court, A.M. No. 08-4-253-RTC, January 12, 2011.

Judge; misconduct. Office of the Court Administrator uncovered the mismanagement of the records of Urdaneta RTC Branch 45 presided by respondent judge. An orderly and efficient case management system is no doubt essential in the expeditious disposition of judicial caseloads, because only thereby can the judges, branch clerks of courts, and the clerks-in-charge of the civil and criminal dockets ensure that the court records, which will be the bases for rendering the judgments and dispositions, and the review of the judgments and dispositions on appeal, if any, are intact, complete, updated, and current. Such a system necessarily includes the regular and continuing physical inventory of cases to enable the judge to keep abreast of the status of the pending cases and to be informed that everything in the court is in proper order. In contrast, mismanaged or incomplete records, and the lack of periodic inventory definitely cause unwanted delays in litigations and inflict unnecessary expenses on the parties and the State. Although the presiding judge and his or her staff share the duty of taking a continuing and regular inventory of cases, the responsibility primarily resides in the presiding judge. The judge should not forget that he or she is duty-bound to perform efficiently, fairly, and with reasonable promptness all his or her judicial duties, including the delivery of reserved decisions. Respondent judge is of simple misconduct. In re: Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted in the Regional Trial Court, Br. 45, Urdaneta, Pangasinan, and Report on the Incident at Br. 49, Same Court, A.M. No. 08-4-253-RTC, January 12, 2011.

Judge; undue delay in the disposition of cases. The respondent judge failed to resolve the case within the 90-day reglementary period. No less than the Constitution sets the limits on this all-important aspect in the administration of justice.  It mandates that lower courts have three (3) months or ninety (90) days within which to decide cases or matters submitted to them for resolution. Also, the Code of Judicial Conduct requires judges to dispose of the Court’s business promptly and decide cases within the prescribed period. It cannot be over emphasized that judges need to decide cases promptly and expeditiously.  Delay in the disposition of cases is a major cause in the erosion of public faith and confidence in the justice system. For this fundamental and compelling reason, judges are required to decide cases and resolve motions with dispatch within the reglementary period.  Failure to comply constitutes gross inefficiency, a lapse that warrants the imposition of administrative sanctions against the erring magistrate. Prosecutor Hilario Ronson H. Tilan vs. Judge Ester Piscoso-Flor, RTC, Br. 34, Banaue, Ifugao, A.M. No. RTJ-09-2188, January 10, 2011.

(Mon thanks Rachel T. Uy for her assistance in the preparation of this post.)