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Question A14

XIV

(Question XIV, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 2018 Bar Exam)

Cacai, a law student, filed an administrative complaint against RTC Judge Casimiro Conde, her professor in law school, based on the following allegations:

(a) In a school convocation where Judge Conde was the guest speaker, Judge Conde openly disagreed and criticized a recently-decided Supreme Court decision and even stressed that the decision of the Supreme Court in that case was a serious violation of the Constitution.

(b) In his class discussions, Judge Conde named Cacai’s mother, an MTC judge, as one of the judges involved in a marriage scam. At that time, the case against her mother was still pending. Judge Conde also included in his class discussion Cacai’s brother whom he referred to as a “court-noted drug addict.”

Cacai asserted that the acts of Judge Conde were open displays of insensitivity, impropriety, and lack of delicadeza bordering on oppressive and abusive conduct. She also alleged that Judge Conde acted with absolute disrespect for the Court and violated the “sub judice rule” when he discussed the marriage scam involving her mother because, at that time, the case was still pending.

In his defense, Judge Conde argued that the case he discussed in the school convocation was already of public knowledge and had been published after it had become final. He also said it was part of his academic freedom to openly discuss and criticize a decision of the Court since it was already decided with finality, was patently erroneous, and clearly a violation of the Constitution. With respect to discussions in class about Cacai’s mother, he said that the marriage scam where her mother was charged scandalized the Judiciary and became public knowledge when the Office of the Court Administrator held a press conference on the matter and, that as a citizen, he could comment thereon in the exercise of his rights to freedom of speech and expression. He also asserted that his discussions in both fora could not be the subject of an administrative complaint because they were not done in the performance of his judicial duties.

Rule on each of the charges raised by Cacai, and the corresponding defenses raised by Judge Conde. (2.5% each)

Suggested Answer:

1) On the charge of disagreeing and criticizing a recently-decided Supreme Court decision and stressing that the decision of the Supreme Court in that case was a serious violation of the Constitution:

Judge Conde’s defenses are not valid. Answer

Under the Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Further, under the New Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of their activities. Rule

In the case at bar, Judge Conde’s defenses of public knowledge and academic freedom are not valid. While he may have the right to discuss the case within the context of teaching, he should still conduct himself in a manner as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Accordingly, he should avoid impropriety and appearance of impropriety in all his acts. His conduct is already unbecoming of a judge when he made those comments in a school convocation or to the general public as it erodes public confidence on the judiciary.

Thus, Judge Conde may be subject to disciplinary action. Apply

2) On the charge of naming Cacai’s mother, an MTC judge, as one of the judges involved in a marriage scam, which at that time, the case against her mother was still pending, as well as his class discussion on Cacai’s brother whom he referred to as a “court-noted drug addict”:

Judge Conde’s defenses are not valid. Answer

Under the Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge should abstain from making public comments on any pending or impending case and should require similar restraint on the part of court personnel. Further, a judge, like any other citizen, are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly, but in exercising such rights, they shall always conduct themselves in such a manner as to preserve the dignity of the judicial office and the impartiality and independence of the judiciary.

In the case at bar, Judge Conde’s defense on freedom of speech is not proper. As a judge, he is prohibited from making public comments related to the case of Cacai’s mother since it is pending and a potential case against his brother. Further, the exercise of his freedom of speech was not in consistent in a manner as to preserve the dignity of the judicial office and the impartiality and independence of the judiciary. It was unbecoming of a judge. Apply

Thus, Judge Conde may be subject to disciplinary action. Apply

..

(Notice: The suggested answers simulate those that a bar examinee may provide, and thus specific citations are not provided. Notwithstanding, in the reviewers, the bar exam question is answered under the appropriate topic which discusses the concepts and principles, as well as provide for specific citations. Accordingly, please refer to it on the reviewer or in the Library.)

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