People v Opida; G.R. No. L-46272; 13 Jun 1986; 142 SCRA 295

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Appellants were charged with murder as conspirators. During the trial, the judge conducted the interrogation of the appellants, asking adversarial and sometimes irrelevant questions and belaboring their criminal activities and tattoos, cross-examined the lone defense witness and took over the task of impeaching appellants’ credibility.

Whether or not appellants were tried by an impartial judge.

NO. Convictions are based not on the mere appearance of the accused but on his actual commission of crime, to be ascertained with the pure objectivity of the true judge who must uphold the law for all without favor or malice and always with justice. The accused are admittedly notorious criminals who were probably even proud of their membership in a gang even as they flaunted their tattoos as a badge of notoriety. Nevertheless, they were entitled to be presumed innocent until the contrary is proved and had a right not to be held to answer for a criminal offense without due process of law.

Conviction is REVERSED.

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