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Extra Judicial

Activities of Judges
and Justices
By:
Cherry Diane Feliciano Garcia
and
Bianca Ricci Bautista

CANON 5 OF THE CODE OF


JUDICIAL CONDUCT
A JUDGE SHOULD REGULATE
EXTRA-JUDICIAL ACTIVITIES
TO MINIMIZE THE RISK OF
CONFLICT WITH JUDICIAL
DUTIES.

A.M. No. MTJ-99-1204 July 28, 2008


(Formerly OCA IPI No. 97-355-MTJ)
GERONIMO C. FUENTES, Complainant,
vs.
JUDGE ROMUALDO G. BUNO, Presiding Judge,
Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC), Talibon-Getafe,
Bohol, Respondent.

FACTS
An Administrative case was filed by Geronimo

Fuentes against Judge Romualdo Buno of the


Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) charging him
with abuse of discretion and authority and graft and
corruption.

In his complaint, Fuentes alleged that he is one of

the heirs of their father who owned an agricultural


land and that respondent Judge prepared and
notarized
an
Extra-Judicial
Partition
with
Simultaneous Absolute Deed of Sale of the said
land.

According to complainant Fuentes, respondent judge

notarized a document as ex-officio Notary Public,


thereby abusing his discretion and authority as well as
committing graft and corruption.

Respondent Judge contended that he could not be

charged of graft and corruption, since in a municipality


where a notary public is unavailable, a municipal judge
is allowed to notarize documents or deed as ex-officio
notary public.

ISSUE
Whether or not respondent Judge
Buno has the authority to prepare and
notarize the document in question,
which has no direct relation to the
performance of his official functions
as a judge.

HELD
YES
The Court laid down the scope of said authority in SC

Circular No. 1-90. Pertinently, the said Circular reads:


MTC and MCTC judges may act as notaries public ex
officio in the notarization of documents connected only
with the exercise of their official functions and duties.
They may not, as notaries public ex officio, undertake the
preparation and acknowledgment of private documents,
contracts and other acts of conveyances which bear no
direct relation to the performance of their functions as
judges.

In this case, respondent judge admitted that he prepared

both the document itself, entitled "Extra-judicial Partition


with Simultaneous Absolute Deed of Sale" and the
acknowledgment of the said document, which had no
relation at all to the performance of his function as a
judge. These acts of respondent judge are clearly
proscribed by the aforesaid Circular.

The 1989 Code of Judicial Conduct not only enjoins


judges to regulate their extra-judicial activities in order
to minimize the risk of conflict with their judicial duties,
but also prohibits them from engaging in the private
practice of law (Canon 5 and Rule 5.07).

A.M. No. RTJ-04-1823 August 28, 2006


ARCELY Y. SANTOS, Complainant,
vs.
JUDGE UBALDINO A. LACUROM, Presiding Judge,
Regional Trial Court, Cabanatuan City, Branch 29 and
Pairing Judge, Branch 30, Respondent

FACTS
An administrative complaint was filed by Arcely Y.

Santos ("complainant") against Judge Ubaldino A.


Lacurom ("respondent judge"), Presiding Judge,
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cabanatuan City,
Branch 29 and Pairing Judge, Branch 30.

Complainant charged respondent judge with gross


misconduct, grave abuse of judicial authority, gross
bias and partiality, and gross violation of the Code
of Judicial Ethics.

Complainant alleged that respondent judge used his

office to advance and protect the interests of


Santos, respondent judges "close friend," to the
prejudice of complainant and in violation of the
Code of Judicial Conduct.

Respondent judge on the other hand explained that

Santos became a "close friend" when Santos lent


his portable bunker to Dr. Ferdinand Lacurom ("Dr.
Lacurom"), respondent judges son, during the
construction of Dr. Lacuroms house in the
subdivision.

Respondent judge also admitted that the officers of

Faberns Inc. extended a favor to Dr. Lacurom when


they facilitated the cementing of the road in front of
Dr. Lacuroms house. However, respondent judge
denied that he received any favor from Santos.

ISSUE
Whether or not respondent Judge
Lacurom
committed
grave
misconduct in violation of canon
5.04 when his brother accepted a
favor from from the party litigant.

Yes

HELD

On respondent judges admission that Dr. Lacurom received a


favor from the officers of Faberns Inc., respondent judge
violated Rule 5.04 of the Code which states that A judge or
any immediate member of the family shall not accept a gift,
bequest, favor or loan from anyone except as may be allowed
by law.

Faberns Inc. is the petitioner in Cadastral Case No. 384-AF,

which was then pending before respondent judges sala.


Respondent judge should have advised Dr. Lacurom not to
accept any favor from Faberns Inc. or from any of its officers
or principal stockholders.

Judges, as occupants of exalted positions in the

administration of justice, must pay a high price for


the honor bestowed on them. Their private, as well
as their official conduct, must always be free from
the appearance of impropriety.

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Canon 5.10
LEONILA A. VISTAN, complainant,
vs.
JUDGE RUBEN T. NICOLAS, Municipal
Trial Court, Pandi, Bulacan, respondent.
A.C. No. 3040 September 13, 1991

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Facts:

the respondent judge circulated a letter voicing out his intent to run as a
congressman

parts of his letter are as follows:


Ako po ay napiling kandidato bilang Kongresista o Kinatawan ng ikalawang
purok ng Bulacan na binubuo ng mga bayan ng Bukawe, Balagtas, Pandi,
Guiguinto, Plaridel, Baliwag, at Bustos.
Dahil dito, kayo po ay malugod kong inaanyayahan na dumalo sa "kaukusmiting" sa aking tahanan sa 117 Wakas, Bukawe, Bulakan sa Sabado, Pebrero
21, 1987 sa ganap na ikalawa ng hapon (2:00 p.m.) upang talakayin kung
paano nating makakamit ang layunin nating ito.
Umaasa po ako sa inyong pakikipagtulungan at pagdalo sa nasabing "kaukusmiting."
Maraming salamat po at pag-utusan po ninyo.
Lubos na sumasainyo,
RUBEN T. NIC0LAS
Hukom at naging bokal.

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Issue:
Whether or not respondent judge is allowed to hold
himself out as a candidate in an elective office while
still member of the bench.

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Ruling:
No. For having held himself out as a congressional candidate
while still a member of the Bench, Respondent took advantage
of his position to boost his candidacy, demeaned the stature
of his office, and must be pronounced guilty of gross
misconduct.

Rule 5.10. A judge is entitled to entertain personal views on


political questions. But to avoid suspicion of political
partisanship, a judge shall not make political speeches,
contribute to party funds publicly endorse candidates for
political office or participate in other partisan political
activities

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A.M. No. RTJ-08-2132 July 31, 2009


[Formerly A.M. OCA IPI No. 07-2549-RTJ]
ATTY. FLORENCIO ALAY BINALAY, Complainant,
vs.
JUDGE ELIAS O. LELINA, JR., Respondent.

Admitting having engaged in the private practice of


law while he was under preventive suspension,
respondent explains that he was forced to do so out
of his sense of responsibility to ameliorate the
pitiful condition of his family. The justification does
not lie. As a member of the judiciary, albeit a
suspended one, he still had the duty to comply with
the Rules and the New Code of Judicial Conduct.

The Court cannot lend credence to respondents claim that


he would sometimes go to Nivel Hills Casino in Cebu to
accompany his wife who want[ed] to have some
excitement and recreation... playing only the slot
machines. Slot machines are not placed in casinos for
recreational purposes, but for gambling. A slot machine
does not work unless a coin, which is the bet, is inserted
into it.
The Court finds it incredible for respondent to travel all the
way from Tagbilaran City to Cebu City and spend his
precious time just to watch his wife play the slot
machines. If he did just that, respondent must have more
than the patience of Job. It is fair and reasonable to
conclude that respondent also gambled in the casino. City of Tagbilaran v Judge Hontanosas
[A.M. No. MTJ-98-1169. January 29, 2002]

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