(Question IX, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 2018 Bar Exam)
In a case pending before the Sandiganbayan, the Sandiganbayan justices themselves actually took part in the questioning of a defense witness and the accused. The records show that, while a witness was asked 16 questions on direct examination by the defense counsel and six (6) questions by the prosecutor on cross-examination, one justice interjected a total of 27 questions. After the defense opted not to conduct any re-direct examination, another justice asked 10 more questions. With respect to one of the accused, both justices asked a total of 67 questions after cross-examination, and with respect to the other accused, a total of 41 questions after cross-examination. More importantly, the questions of the justices were in the nature of cross-examinations characteristic of confrontation, probing, and insinuation.
Is this manner of questioning proper? (5%)
Under jurisprudence, a trial judge has the right to question witnesses with a view to satisfying his mind upon any material point which presents itself during the trial of a case over which he presides. However, it should be limited to asking clarificatory. Further, it should not appear that the judge has taken the cudgels of one of the parties by asking cross-examination questions which question the impartiality of the judge. Rule
In the case at bar, the Sandiganbayan justices asked the questions in the nature of cross-examinations characteristic of confrontation, probing, and insinuation. These were not just clarificatory questions. Further, they asked far more questions that the counsels of each litigant. Apply
Thus, this manner of questioning is not proper. Conclusion
.. (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.)
Lawyer, Author, Mentor