LEGAL ETHICS (Prob Areas) Digest Case
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Cojuangco vs Palma Facts: A.C. No. 2474 June 30, 2005Facts: On June 22, 1982, respondent Atty. Leo J. Palma, despite his subsisting marriage, wed Maria Luisa Cojuangco, the daughter of complainant Eduardo M. Cojuangco, Jr. Thus, the latter filed on November 1982, a complaint disbarment against respondent. Palma moved to dismiss the complaint. On March 2, 1983, the court referred the case to OSG for investigation and recommendation. The Assistant Solicitor General heard the testimonies of the complainant and his witness in the presence of respondent’s counsel. On March 19, 1984 respondent filed with the OSG an urgent motion to suspend proceedings on the ground that the final actions of his civil case for the declaration of nullity of marriage between him and his wife Lisa, poses a prejudicial question to the disbarment proceeding, but it was denied. The OSG transferred the disbarment case to the IBP, the latter found respondent guilty of gross immoral conduct and violation of his oath as a lawyer, hence, was suspended from the practice of law for a period of three years. In his motion for reconsideration, respondent alleged that he acted under a “firm factual and legal conviction in declaring before the Hong Kong Marriage Registry that he is a bachelor because his first marriage is void even if there is judicial declaration of nullity. Issue: Whether or not a subsequent void marriage still needs a judicial declaration of nullity for the purpose of remarriage. Held: Respondents arguments that he was of the “firm factual and legal conviction when he declared before the HIC authorities that he was a bachelor since his first marriage is void and does not need judicial declaration of nullity” cannot exonerate him. In Terre vs. Terre, the same defense was raised by respondent lawyer whose disbarment was also sought. We held: “xxx respondent Jordan Terre, being a lawyer, knew or should have known that such an argument ran counter to the prevailing case law of this court which holds that purposes of determining whether a person is legally free to contract a second marriage, a judicial declaration that the first marriage was null and void an initio is essential. Even if we were to assume, arguendo merely, that Jordan Terre held that mistaken belief in good faith, the same result will follow. For if we are to hold Jordan Terre to his own argument, his first marriage to complainant Dorothy Terre must be deemed valid, with the result that his second marriage must be regarded as bigamous and criminal.
CALUB vs. SULLER
Facts: Atty. Suller raped the wife of his neighbor Cristino Calub. A criminal complaint for rape was filed against Suller. A complaint for disbarment was also filed by Calub before the SC. The CFI acquitted Suller for failure of the prosecution to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Issue: Can Atty. Suller be disbarred? Held: Yes. Acquittal in a criminal case is not determinative of an administrative case for disbarment. A lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows that he lacks moral character to continue as officer of the court. The rape by a lawyer of his neighbor’s wife constitutes such serious moral depravity.
YOUNG vs. BATUEGAS Facts: YOUNG is the private prosecutor in People of the Phil v Arana. BATUEGAS, et al are the counsels for the accused in the said criminal case. On Dec 13, 2000, BATUEGAS filed a Manifestation with Motion for Bail alleging that the accused has voluntarily surrendered to a person in authority and, as such, is now under detention. Upon verification with the NBI, YOUNG discovered that the accused surrendered on Dec 14, 2000 (not 13). BATUEGAS, et al in their defense alleged that on Dec 13, 2000, upon learning that a warrant of arrest was issued against their client, they filed a Manifestation with Motion for Bail. They immediately fetched accused from Cavite and brought him to NBI to voluntarily surrender. However, due to heavy traffic, they arrived at NBI at 2am the next day. That was why the Certificate of Detention indicated that the accused surrendered on Dec 14, 2000 and not 13. As to lack of notice, YOUNG being a private prosecutor, is not entitled to such as only the State and City prosecutors should be given notices. Investigating Commissioner recommended suspension of 6 months. IBP Commission on Bar Discipline in a resolution approved said recommendation.
ISSUE W/N BATUEGAS, ET AL ARE GUILTY OF FALSEHOOD AND SHOULD BE SUSPENDED HELD YES, CONCEALED TRUTH RATIO A lawyer must be a disciple of truth. He swore upon his admission that he will do no falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in court. As officer of the court, his high vocation is to correctly inform the court upon the law and facts of the case to aid it in arriving at the correct conclusion. The courts, on the other hand, are entitled to expect only complete honesty from lawyers appearing and pleading before them. His lawyer’s solemn duty is to defend his client, his conduct must never be at the expense of truth. In the case at bar, BATUEGAS, et al feel short of the duties and responsibilities expected of them as members of the bar. Anticipating that their Motion for Bail will be denied by the Court found that it had no jurisdiction over the person of the accused, they craftily concealed the truth alleging that the accused had voluntarily surrendered. To knowingly allege an untrue statement in the pleading is a contemptuous conduct that the Court strongly condemns. BATUEGAS, et al violated their oath when they resorted to deception. Hence, BATUEGAS, et al should be suspended for 6 months