Attributing unsupported ill-motives to a judge

In the case of Judge Alpajora v. Atty. Calayan (A.C. No. 8208, January 10, 2018), the Supreme Court emphasized that, as officers of the court, lawyers are duty-bound to observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and judicial officers. They are to abstain from offensive or menacing language or behavior before the court and must refrain from attributing to a judge motives that are not supported by the record or have no materiality to the case.

In Judge Alpajora v. Atty. Calayan, respondent lawyer consistently attributed unsupported imputations against the complainant judge in his pleadings. He insisted that complainant antedated the order, dated August 15, 2008, because the envelopes where the order came from were rubber stamped as having been mailed only on August 26, 2008.

He also accused the complainant judge of being in cahoots and of having deplorable close ties with the adverse counsels; and that complainant irrefutably coached said adverse counsels. However, these bare allegations are absolutely unsupported by any piece of evidence. Respondent did not present any proof to establish complainant's alleged partiality or the antedating. The date of mailing indicated on the envelope is not the date of issue of the said order.Canon 11 and Rule 11.04 of the CPR state that:
Canon 11 - A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to the Courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others. xxx

Rule 11.04 A lawyer shall not attribute to a Judge motives not supported by the record or have no materiality to the case.
In light of the foregoing, the Supreme Court found respondent lawyer guilty of attributing unsupported ill-motives to complainant. It must be remembered that all lawyers are bound to uphold the dignity and authority of the courts, and to promote confidence in the fair administration of justice. It is the respect for the courts that guarantees the stability of the judicial institution; otherwise, the institution would be resting on a very shaky foundation.

Hence, no matter how passionate a lawyer is towards defending his client's cause, he must not forget to display the appropriate decorum expected of him, being a member of the legal profession, and to continue to afford proper and utmost respect due to the courts.

For having violated the CPR and the Lawyer's Oath, respondent's conduct should be meted with a commensurate penalty.

SC'S DECISION: WHEREFORE, the Court ADOPTS and APPROVES the Resolution of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines - Board of Governors dated September 28, 2013. Accordingly, Atty. Ronaldo Antonio V. Calayan is found GUILTY of violating The Lawyer's Oath and The Code of Professional Responsibility and he is hereby ordered SUSPENDED from the practice of law for two (2) years, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or a similar offense will warrant the imposition of a more severe penalty.

ADDITIONAL READINGS:
[1] In Re: Supreme Court Resolution dated 28 April 2003 in G.R. Nos. 145817 & 145822, 685 Phil. 751, 777 (2012).
[2] Judge Madrid vs. Atty. Dealca, 742 Phil. 514, 529 (2014).

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