Court employees' actions must be beyond suspicion, SC rules

As found by Judge Bayhon and Acting Court Administrator Suarez, respondents' acts constitute grave misconduct. Not only are respondents guilty of conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, their actions also tended to engender the public misperception that decisions can be bought by those who are willing and able to pay the price therefor. They made a mockery of the principle enshrined in our fundamental law that a public office is a public trust. It is a much-repeated doctrine often underscored by this Court that public officers and employees are duty bound to serve with the highest degree of responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency. They shall at all times remain accountable to the people. As held by this Court in Caa vs. Santos, "(p)ersons involved in the administration of justice ought to live up to the strictest standard of honesty and integrity in the public service. The conduct of every personnel connected with the courts, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk, should at all times be circumspect to preserve the integrity and dignity of our courts of justice." Respondents are court employees, required to conduct themselves with propriety and decorum, in order that their actions will be beyond suspicion. In this case, they simply failed to comply with the strict rigorous standards required of all public officers and employees. [A.M. No. P-90-454. December 17, 1996]