SC slaps Iligan judge with P60,000 fine for oppression, tardiness
The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered Iligan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 6 Judge Leonor Quiñones to pay a P60,000 fine after finding her guilty of oppression and tardiness.
In a recent 18-page en banc decision, the SC cited “several incidents of misbehavior” as found by Investigating Justice Maria Filomena Singh.
Quiñones was found to have displayed “antagonistic behavior” towards lawyer Basher Macapado, who appeared as defense counsel in three criminal cases.
The transcript of a May 14, 2012 hearing showed she impatiently scolded Macapado for supposedly asking again about a confirmatory test already tackled in the previous hearing. The abogado tried to explain he was asking the witness about a new object, but the judge kept cutting him off and even threatened him with contempt.
Quiñones also argued with another defense lawyer Gerardo Padilla on January 25, 2011, prompting the latter to utter: “You can do your worst and I will do my best.”
In another case, she humiliated Assistant City Prosecutor Jasmin Guiuo-Diaz in a November 4, 2014 hearing and even drove her to tears.
This was because the judge felt displeased with the prosecutor’s alleged disrespectful behavior. Diaz could not even continue with the presentation of her witness because of the tongue-lashing she got.
Quiñones also shouted at a court staffer while correcting the draft orders she dictated in open court. The judge berated the staffer for 15 minutes and told her “bogo ba nimo (you are stupid),” driving her to tears.
She also humiliated another staffer by repeatedly pointing her mistakes while the judge’s friend—a party in a civil case pending before her court—was present. Inside the staff room, the judge called for an emergency meeting to scold the staffer and curse her out with words such as “punyeta ka, buwisit ka.”
The SC stressed that a “display of petulance and impatience in the conduct of trial is a norm of behavior incompatible with the needful attitude and sobriety of a good judge.”
“Respondent Judge failed to show compassion, patience, courtesy and civility to lawyers who appear before her in contravention of the mandates of the Code of Judicial Ethics, which sets the high standards of demeanor all judges must observe,” read the decision penned by Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.
At the same time, the SC also cited fidings that Quiñones kept coming in late, and court sessions would start around 9 to 10 in the morning. However, the minutes of the proceedings reflected the time at 8:30.
“If the judge is not punctual in his habits, he sets a bad example to the bar and tends to create dissatisfaction in the administration of justice,” the SC said.