A judge should be like Caesar's wife

Partiality and dishonesty have no room in the administration of justice, for they contradict its very essence. Indeed, like Caesar's wife, a judge must not only be pure, but must also be beyond suspicion.A judge should uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary. A judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity and independence. A judge should administer justice with impartiality and without delay.

Canon 1[1] and Rule 1.02,[2] as well as Canon 2[3] and Rule 2.01[4] of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Thus, he must be sanctioned.[5] In this connection, the Supreme Court said:

"Well-known is the judicial norm that `judges should not only be impartial but should also appear impartial.' Jurisprudence repeatedly teaches that litigants are entitled to nothing less than the cold neutrality of an impartial judge. The other elements of due process, like notice and hearing, would become meaningless if the ultimate decision is rendered by a partial or biased judge. Judges must not only render just, correct and impartial decisions, but must do so in a manner free of any suspicion as to their fairness, impartiality and integrity.

"This reminder applies all the more sternly to municipal, metropolitan and regional trial court judges like herein respondent, because they are judicial front-liners who have direct contact with the litigating parties. They are the intermediaries between conflicting interests and the embodiments of the people's sense of justice. Thus, their official conduct should remain `free from any appearance of impropriety' and `should be beyond reproach."[6]

A review of past decisions of the Supreme Court shows a wide range of penalty for cases of lack of impartiality. These penalties include mere reprimand,[7] withholding of salary,[8] fine,[9] suspension,[10] and even dismissal.[11]  

[1] "A judge should uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary."

[2] "A judge should administer justice impartially and without delay."

[3] "A judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities."

[4] "A judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary."

[5] See Prudential Bank v. Castro, 142 SCRA 223, June 5, 1986.

[6] Macasasa v. Imbing, A.M. No. RTJ-99-1470, pp. 21-22, August 16, 1999, per Kapunan, J.

[7] See Ardosa v. Gal-lang, 284 SCRA 58, January 8, 1998; Tabao v. Butalid, 262 SCRA 559, September 30, 1996.

[8] See Santos v. De Gracia, 119 SCRA 189, December 15, 1982.

[9] See Espiritu v. Jovellanos, 280 SCRA 579, October16, 1997; Sandoval v. Manalo, 260 SCRA 611, August 22, 1996; Benjamin Sr. v. Alaba, 261 SCRA 429, September 5, 1996; Vda. de Coronel v. Danan, 225 SCRA 212, August 9, 1993.

[10] See Fernandez v. Imbing, 260 SCRA 586, August 21, 1996; Abundo v. Manio, AM No. RTJ-98-1416, August 6, 1999.

[11] See Meris v. Ofilada, 293 SCRA 606, August 5, 1998.