Legal Ethics

Office of the Court Administrator vs Romeo Atillo, Jr.

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A.M. No. RTJ-21-018 – Legal Ethics – Judicial Ethics – New Code of Judicial Conduct – Integrity – Propriety – Improper Facebook Posts by a Judge

Judge Romeo Atillo, Jr. maintains a Facebook profile page. He posted pictures of him where he was half-naked revealing tattoos on his torso. Apparently, this did not sit well with someone who was able to view the pictures and that someone sent an anonymous complaint against Judge Atillo to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA).

The OCA conducted an investigation. Judge Atillo explained that the privacy settings of his posts were “friends only” which means that his posts were meant to be viewed not by the public but only by him and his friends. He explained that someone hacked his Facebook account and changed the privacy settings of his posts to “public”.

ISSUE: Whether or not Judge Atillo acted with impropriety.

HELD: Yes. If the posts were made by an ordinary citizen, there would have been nothing wrong about it. But, Judge Atillo, as a judge, has to strictly comply with the exacting standards required of a judge.

The Supreme Court adopted the findings of the OCA that the pictures posted by Judge Atillo create an altogether different impression on the viewers and somehow would make a layman question the fitness of Judge Atillo as a judge. These negative impressions of the public in general are what taint Judge Atillo’s propriety as a judge.

Judges must always conduct themselves irreproachably and in a manner exemplifying integrity, honesty, and uprightness, not only in the discharge of duties but also in their personal lives. As the visible personification of law and justice, judges are held to higher standards of conduct.

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