Legal&Judicial Ethics Lecture
LECTURE ON LEGAL ETHICS A PROFESSION is a group of men & women pursuing a learned art as a common calling in the spirit of public service; has three elements – (a) organization, (2) learning, and (3) spirit of public service; different from trade/business (economics/making profit is the primary purpose) considering that its primary purpose is the pursuit of a learned art in the interest of public service.
ethics); (c) as independent as a judge (he has control over procedural matters of engagement); his powers are entirely different and superior to those of an ordinary agent. An attorney is a public officer (in a limited sense, not within the statutory or constitutional meaning), he is an officer of the court; a priest of law and successfully passed the bar exams, admitted to the IBP and remains a member in good standing; he is authorized to practice law in the Philippines; Membership in the Bar is a privileged burdened with conditions, one of the most important of which is the cognizance that HE IS AN OFFICER OF THE COURT. In consequence of the latter, (i) public service is of the highest order and (ii) an attorney is subject to the disciplinary authority of the court.
PRACTICE OF LAW: any activity in and out of court which requires the application of laws, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience (Cayetano vs. Monsod, G.R. No. 100113, Sept. 3, 1991); both a RIGHT (a lawyer in good standing can practice anywhere and deprivation of which must only be with due process) and a PRIVILEGE (being limited only to qualified DUTIES OF THE OFFICE: as a privilege saddled with condition, duties includes those under Section 20 of Rule 138 of the Rules of person). Court (impressed with solemnity of Lawyer’s Oath): (i) to maintain WHO MAY PRACTICE LAW: General Rule – Any person admitted allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and support the as a member of the Bar in good and regular standing; exceptions Constitution and obey the laws, (ii) to observe and maintain – (a) law student who have completed 3rd year law and enrolled in respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers, (iii) to a recognized law school’s legal education program approved by counsel or maintain such actions or proceedings only as appears the Supreme Court to represent indigent clients (provided that to him to be just and such defenses as he believes to be honestly such appearance if before the Regional Trial Court should be debatable under the law, (iv) to employ means only consistent accompanied at all times by a supervising lawyer [Rule 138-A]); with truth and honor and never to mislead the judge, (v) to (b) before the MTC, a party may conduct his litigation in person, maintain inviolate the confidence and preserve the client’s with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that secrets, (vi) to abstain from all offensive personality and advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness purpose, or with the aid of an attorney [Rule 138, Section 4]. unless required by the justice of the cause he is charged with, (vii) not to encourage suit or delay any man’s cause for corrupt PRE-REQUISITES & REQUISITES FOR PRACTICE OF LAW: (a) motive, (viii) not to reject the cause of the defenseless or for applicant to Bar [Rule 138, Sec. 2 of Rules of Court] – oppressed for any personal consideration, (ix) in defense of a Philippine citizen, at least 21 years of age, good moral character, person accused of a crime, by all fair and honorable means, Philippine resident, and satisfactory evidence before the Supreme regardless of his personal opinion as to the guilt of the accused, Court of good moral character and that no charges against him to present every defense that the law permits, so that due involving moral turpitude have been filed or pending in any court process may be ensured. Thus, a lawyer’s duty is four-fold, to in the Philippines; and (b) for admission to the Bar – academic Court, to the Public, the Bar and his Client. requirements, passing the bar exam, oath-taking before the Supreme Court, signing of the Attorney’s Roll and issuance of certificate of membership from Clerk of Court of the Supreme PRACTICE OF LAW IS A PROFESSION: a form of public trust, performance of which is ENTRUSTED only to those who are Court (must be in good standing). qualified and of good moral character. Expressive of 3 ideals – (i) Organization – Bar membership is a privilege burdened with POWER TO REGULATE PRACTICE OF LAW: The practice of law conditions/responsibility to live up to exacting standards and is a PRIVILEGE impressed with public interest (thus, a lawyer’s honored traditions, gain is secondary. duty not only to his client, but also to the Court, his brethren and to the public). A lawyer takes part in one of the most important function of the state, that is, the administration of justice. Hence, LEGAL PROFESSION IS NOT A BUSINESS: Gain is secondary being so intimately affected with public interest, law practice is (in Re: Sycip 92 SCRA 1); duty of public service where emolument both a right and a duty of the State to control and regulate it in is by-product; a relation as officer of the court to the order to promote the public welfare. This control is vested by the administration of justice; relation with client is of the highest Constitution to the Supreme Court (see Article 8, Section 5  of fiduciary degree; relation to colleagues at bar characterized by candor, fairness, unwillingness to resort to usual schemes and the Constitution). practices employed in business. Law is not a trade or craft; as a profession its end-view is securing justice for those who seek its HOWEVER, even without constitutional fiat, the right to define aid. For the profession to remain honorable and attain its ideals, and regulate the practice of law naturally and logically belongs to those enrolled in its ranks should not only master its tenets and the Judiciary represented by the Supreme Court considering that principles, but also by their lives, accord continuing fidelity to the practice of law is inseparably connected with the exercise of them (Docena vs. Limon). Thus, the need to study LEGAL ETHICS. its judicial power in the administration of justice. Supreme Court authority to regulate law practice includes the authority to define the term, prescribe qualifications of candidates to and the LEGAL ETHICS: embodiment of all principles of morality and subjects of the Bar Examination, decide who will be admitted to refinement that should govern the conduct of every member of the practice, discipline, suspend or disbar unfit and unworthy the Bar; the branch of moral science that treats of the duties members, reinstate any disbarred or indefinitely suspended which a lawyer owes to the Court, his Client, his Colleagues, and attorney; ordain the integration of the Philippine Bar, punish for the Public; is embodied in the Constitution, rules of Court, Code of contempt unauthorized practice and exercise general supervision Professional Responsibility, Canons of Professional Ethics, jurisprudence, moral laws and special laws. of the legal profession. NATURE OF OFFICE OF ATTORNEY: (a) more than a mere agent (his duty first is to the court and not his client); (b) attorney possesses special powers of trust and confidence reposed in him by his client (relationship of highly fiduciary nature, hence, legal
CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY LAWYER’S DUTIES TO SOCIETY (PUBLIC) 1
CANON 1 – “A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND, AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES. “ – First and foremost duty is to society because a lawyer is a servant of the law; he belongs to a profession to which society has entrusted the administration of law and dispensation of justice (emphasized in the lawyer’s oath and Rule 138 of the Rules of Court).
by means of contracts which retain exorbitant percentages of recovery and illegal charges for court costs and expenses and by settlement for quick returns of fees against the just rights of the injured person.
The useful function of a lawyer is not only to conduct litigation but to avoid it where possible, by advising settlement or withholding suit. It is even the lawyer’s duty to temper the whims and caprices of his client and to temper his client’s propensity to Rule 1.01. – “A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, litigate. dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.” – Lawyer’s moral character displayed when he applied for Bar admission must be Note: The signature of a lawyer on a pleading constitutes a maintained incessantly, lest, his privilege to practice the legal certificate that he read the pleading, to his personal knowledge, profession may be withdrawn from him. As a servant of the law, there is good ground to support it; and it is not for delay (Section he must be an exemplar for others. 3, Rule 7 of Rules of Court). Note: Unlawful conduct – act or omission against the law; dishonest conduct – act of lying or cheating; immoral conduct – involves moral turpitude, that is, anything done contrary to justice, modesty or good morals or any vileness, baselessness or depravity in the private and social duties that a man owes his fellowmen or society contrary to accepted rule of right and duty between man and man.
Rule 1.04 – “A lawyer shall encourage his client to avoid, end or settle a controversy if it will admit of a fair settlement”. – It is the duty of a lawyer in his exulted position as an officer of the court not to be an instigator of any controversy. A compromise settlement is such that a party must give up some of his rights in consideration of the same act on the part of the other side. Settlement of cases in court is authorized and even encouraged by express provision of law (Art. 2028 and 2029 of Rule 1.02. – “A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities the Civil Code). aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system.” – Lawyer should not render any service or Note: Compromise is as often the better part of justice as advice to any client no matter how powerful or important is the prudence is the better part of valor. A lawyer who encourages cause which will involve disloyalty to the laws of the country compromise is no less the client’s champion in settlement in or which he is bound to uphold and obey, lest he invites and merits out of court than he is the client’s champion in battle in court. stern and just condemnation. He advances the honor of his Whenever the controversy will admit of a fair judgment, the client profession and his client’s best interest when he renders service should be advised to avoid or end litigation (this also saves on or gives advice tending to impress upon his client, his additional expense and declogs the court). undertaking exact compliance with strictest principles of moral law. Note: The rights of lawyers to fees due them for services in a Lawyer must also observe and advise his client to observe the law, though until a statute has been construed and interpreted by competent adjudication, he is free and is entitled to advise as to its validity and as to what he conscientiously believes to be its just meaning and extent. In the judicial forum, the client is entitled to the benefit of any and every remedy and defense that is authorized by the law of the land, and he may expect his lawyer to assert every such remedy and defense. However, the GREAT TRUST OF THE LAWYER IS TO BE PERFORMED WITHIN AND NOT WITHOUT THE BOUNDS OF LAW.
case cannot have a higher standing than client’s rights and cannot be the ground for disapproving the compromise. The lawyer affected can enforce his rights in a propery proceeding in accordance with the rules.
Note: As a rule, a lawyer cannot compromise his client’s case or receive anything in full discharge of his client’s claim but the full amount in cash, without special authority. Otherwise, the agreement is unenforceable (may however be ratified by the client). However, a lawyer has exclusive management of procedural aspect of litigation including the enforcement of his client’s rights and remedies. Also, a compromise entered into by Rule 1.03 – “A lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or the lawyer without consent of client may however be ratified by interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any the latter. man’s cause.” – A lawyer owes it to the Court and society not to stir up litigations. While it is not a crime, it is proscribed by rules CANON 2 – A LAWYER SHAL MAKE HIS LEGAL SERVICES of legal ethics. The rule is intended to prevent Barratry (offense of AVAILABLE IN AN EFFICIENT AND CONVENIENT MANNER frequently stirring up quarrels and suits either at law or otherwise COMPATIBLE WITH INDEPENDENCE, INTEGRITY AND except in rare cases where ties of blood, relationship or trust EFFECTIVENESS OF THE PROFESSION – This cannon is a make it his duty to do so; the act of fomenting suit among correlative duty to the necessity of legal representation and right individuals and offering legal services to one of them for to counsel. Legal services should not only be efficient but also monetary motives) and AMBULANCE CHASING (figuratively, a made available and accessible to those who need them in a lawyers’ act of chasing the ambulance chasing the victim of an manner compatible with the ethics of the profession. Whenever a accident for the purpose of talking to him or his relatives and lawyer decides to handle a case or extend his legal services for a offering his legal services to file a case against the person who fee or even for free, he must see to it that he must do so with caused the accident; a lawyer who haunts hospitals and visits the efficiency and convenience with the end in view of maintaining home of afflicted persistently offering his legal services on the independence, integrity and effectiveness of the legal contingent fee). profession. Note: Evils of Ambulance Chasing – fomenting of litigation with resulting burden on courts and the public; subornation of perjury; mulcting of innocent persons by judgment upon manufactured causes of action; defrauding innocent persons having proper cause of action but ignorant of legal rights and court procedure
Rule 2.01 – “A lawyer shall not reject, except for valid reasons, the cause of the defenseless or the oppressed”. – duty stems from one of the obligations incident to the status and privilege of a lawyer, that is, to represent the poor and the oppressed in the prosecution of their claims or the defense of 2
their rights; duty empowers the court to require a lawyer to render professional services to any party in a case who is without means to employ an attorney whose services are necessary or to designate him as “counsel de officio” for the accused. A lawyer must render effective legal services, under pains of disciplinary sanction should he fail to do so. EVERY LAWYER SHOULD WELCOME ASSIGNMENT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO RENDER PUBLIC SERVICE – LAWYERING AFTER ALL IS A PROFESSION. Note: Defenseless – those who are not in a position to defend themselves due to poverty, weakness, ignorance or similar reasons; Oppressed – victims of acts of cruelty, unlawful exaction, domination or excessive use of authority. Note: Valid causes for refusing to accept representation of indigent clients – (a) lawyer is not in a position to carry out the work effectively/competently; (b) lawyer labors under a conflict of interest between him and the prospective client or between a present client and the prospective client. Note: Legal aid is not charity but a public responsibility. (legal aid guidelines of IBP) – A means of correction of social imbalance that may and often do lead to injustice, thus, it is a public responsibility. Rule 2.02 – “In such cases, even if a lawyer does not accept a case, he shall not refuse to render legal advice to the person concerned if only to the extent necessary to safeguard the latter’s rights.” – Under the rule, the lawyer may recommend the client to another lawyer or advice him on preliminary steps to take, refer to proper authorities.
CANON 3 – A LAWYER IN MAKING KNOW HIS LEGAL SERVICES SHALL USE ONLY TRUE, HONEST, FAIR DIGNIFIED AND OBJECTIVE INFORMATION OF STATEMENT OF FACTS. Rule 3.01 – “A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualification or legal services”. – Being a profession, a lawyer cannot, without violating the ethics of the profession, advertise his talents or skills in a manner similar to merchants advertising their wares. However, not all types of advertising or solicitation are prohibited, permitted forms of solicitation include, use of ordinary simple professional card with indication of special branch of law practiced, publication in a reputable law list, simple announcement of opening of law firm, listing in telephone directory. Also, a lawyer is not authorized to use in his legal practice a name other than the one inscribed in the Roll of Attorneys. Rule 3.02. – In the choice of a firm name, no false, misleading or assumed name shall be used. The continued use of the name of a deceased partner is permissible provided that the firm indicates in all its communications that said partner is deceased”. Rule 3.03 – “Where a partner accepts public office, he shall withdraw from the firm and his name shall be dropped from the firm name unless the law allows him to practice law concurrently”.
Rule 3.04 – “A lawyer shall not pay or give anything of value to representatives of the mass media in anticipation Rule 2.03 – “A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done of, or in return for, publicity to attract legal business”. – any act designed primarily to solicit legal business.” – Law Seeking of publicity is prohibited. as a profession is not a money-making trade or business and is further characterized by: (i) duty of public service, where CANON 4 – A LAWYER SHALL PARTICIPATE IN THE emoluments is a by-product; (ii) relation as an officer of the court DEVELOPMENT OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM BY INITIATING OR to the administration of justice, (iii) highest degree of fiduciary SUPPORTING EFFORTS IN LAW REFORM AND IN THE relation with client, and (iv) relation to colleagues at Bar IMPROVEMENT OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE. described by candor, fairness and unwillingness to resort to current business methods of advertising on their practice or CANON 5 – A LAWYER SHALL KEEP ABREAST OF LEGAL directly dealing with their clients. As a profession, it is highly DEVELOPMENTS, PARTICIPATE IN CONTINUING LEGAL unethical for any attorney to advertise his talents or skills as a EDUCATION PROGRAMS, SUPPORT EFFROTS TO ACHIEVE merchant. HIGH STANDARDS IN LAW SCHOOLS AS WELL AS IN THE PRACTICAL TRAINING OF LAW STUDENTS AND ASSIST IN Note: Most worth and efficient advertisement, even for a young DISSEMINATING INFORMATION REGARDING THE LAW AND attorney, is the establishment of a well-merited reputation for JURISPRUDENCE – Law is a progressive science. To comply with professional capacity and fidelity to trust which cannot be forced the demand of professional compliance, a member of the Bar but the outcome of character and conduct. Counsel of repute and must keep himself abreast with the trends of authoritative eminence welcome the opportunity to be appointed counsel de pronouncements. officio for this makes manifest the principle that practice of law is a public service. CANON 6 – THESE CANONS SHALL APPLY TO LAWYERS IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE IN THE DISCHARGE OF THEIR Note: Public policy dictates that a lawyer cannot delegate OFFICIAL TASKS. – Under R.A. 6713, norms of conduct of public authority to represent a client in a case to an unqualified person. officers include: (a) commitment to public interest over personal This does not mean that retained counsel is automatically interest; (b) highest degree of excellence and professionalism; (c) authorized to make such delegation to a qualified person because justness and sincerity, must not discriminate; (d) political this must be with the client’s consent because retained counsel neutrality; (e) promptness, courteous, adequate service; (f) was selected on account of his special fitness through learning nationalism and patriotism; (g) commitment to democracy; and and probity for the work at hand. However, an associate may (h) simple living. Where the misconduct of a lawyer as a appear for the client, unless contracted by client. government official is of such character as to affect his qualification as a lawyer or to show moral delinquency, then he Rule 2.04 – “A lawyer shall not charge rates lower than may be disciplined as a member of the Bar on such grounds. those customarily prescribed unless the circumstances so warrant”. – LAWYERING IS A PROFESSION, hence: (a) public Rule 6.01 – “The primary duty of a lawyer engaged in service, emolument is a by-product; (b) relation as an officer of public prosecution is not to convict but to see to it that the court; (c) fiduciary nature of client-attorney relationship; (d) justice is done. The suppression of facts or the relationship of candor and fairness. concealment of witnesses capable of establishing the innocence of the accused is highly reprehensible and is 3
cause for disciplinary action”. – Hence, fiscal should person the performance of any task which by law may recommend for acquittal of accused whose conviction is on only be performed by a member of the Bar in good appeal if he finds no legal basis for the conviction. standing.” Rule 6.02 – “A lawyer in the government service shall not use his public position to promote or advance his private interests, nor allow the latter to interfere with his public duties”. – Lawyers who are also public officers should refrain from laying themselves open to such doubts and misgivings as to their fitness, not only for the position occupied by them in public office, but also for the membership of the Bar. Rule 6.03 – “A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement or employment in connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in said office”. CANON 7 – A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.
Rule 9.02. – “Lawyer shall not divide legal fees with nonlawyers.” – Confusion on public’s part as to who to consult, causes chaos in the bar plus non-lawyers are not subject to disciplinary measures are the reasons for this rule. Note: Exceptions to the Rule (a) pre-existing agreement with partner/associate that, upon latter’s death, money shall be paid over a reasonable time to his estate or to persons specified in the agreement (insurance/annuity); (b) lawyer undertakes to complete unfinished legal business of deceased lawyer (should not even be considered an exception because this does not involve a non-lawyer); and (c) lawyer/firm includes non-lawyer employees in the retirement plan even if the plan is based in whole or part on a profit-sharing agreement. LAW AND THE COURT
Rule 7.01 – “A lawyer shall be answerable for knowingly making a false statement or suppressing a material fact in connection with his application for admission to the bar”. – it is the fact of concealment and not the commission of the crime itself that makes applicant morally unfit to become a lawyer.
Canon 10 – LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT – rule based on the lawyer’s relation with the court, that is, being an officer of the latter. It is burdensome on court’s part if it cannot take on face-value the assertions of counsel and it is utterly a waste of the court’s time to be verifying such assertions.
Rule 7.02 – “A lawyer shall not support the application for admission to the bar of any person known by him to be unqualified in respect to character, education, or other relevant attribute”. – lawyer’s act of supporting an application to the Bar of any person known to him to be unqualified constitutes gross misconduct in office.
Rule 10.01 – “A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court, nor shall he mislead or allow the court to be misled by any artifice.” – A lawyer must be truthful, remember the lawyer’s oath.
Rule 7.03 – “A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession”. – good moral character includes at least common honesty. Such character is not only a condition precedent for admission to the legal profession but must also remain intact in order to maintain one’s good standing in that exclusive and honored fraternity. The Court may disbar or suspend a layer for misconduct whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, in honesty, probity and good demeanor, thus proving unworthy to continue as an officer of the court. CANON 8 – A LAWYER SHALL CONDUCT HIMSELF WITH COURTESY, FAIRNESS AND CANDOR TOWARD HIS PROFESSIONAL COLLEAGUES AND SHALL AVOID HARASSING TACTICS AGAINST OPPOSING COUNSEL. Rule 8.01 – “A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper”. Rule 8.02 – “A lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly, encroach upon the professional employment of another lawyer; however, it is the right of any lawyer, without fear or favour, to give proper advice and assistance to those seeking relief against unfaithful or neglectful counsel.”
Rule 10.02 – “A lawyer shall not knowingly misquote or misrepresent the contents of a paper, language or argument of opposing counsel or text of a decision or authority or knowingly cite as a law, a provision already rendered inoperative by repeal or amendment or assert as a fact that which has not been proved.” – Quote verbatim. Mere typographical error in citation of an authority is not contemptuous unless intentionally done. Rule 10.03 – “A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and shall not misuse them to defeat the ends of justice.” – The aim of a lawsuit is to render justice. The rules of procedure are precisely designed to attain such objective. A lawyer who misuses the rules to frustrate the ends of justice deserves stern condemnation. Canon 11 – A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE AND MAINTAIN RESPECT DUE COURTS AND JUDICIAL OFFICERS AND SHOULD INSIST ON A SIMILAR CONDUCT BY OTHERS. – Lawyer’s first duty is to the Court being an officer thereof. His public duty takes precedence over his private duties. This canon requires that a lawyer: (a) must be respectful in language and actions, oral or in his pleadings; (b) he must respect not just the judge but other court officers like the clerk of court; (c) any gripe with the court or its officers must be pursued within the bounds of law without promoting distrust in the administration of justice; (d) the highest sign of respect to the Courts is the lawyer’s obedience to court orders and processes [refers from unexplained absences at the court hearing]; (e) pleadings containing derogatory, offensive or malicious statements submitted to the court/judge in which proceedings are pending is DIRECT CONTEMPT.
CANON 9 – A LAWYER SHALL NOT, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ASSIST IN THE UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF Rule 11.01. – “A lawyer shall appear in court properly LAW. attired.” – To maintain the integrity and respectability of the Rule 9.01 – “A lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified court. Traditionally consists of long-sleeves barong tagalong and 4
coat and tie, female lawyers appear in semi-formal attire. will not attend the trial if unprepared, lest he violates rule 11. Improper attire may be cited as contempt. Rule 12.02. – “A lawyer shall not file multiple actions Rule 11.02 – “A lawyer shall punctually appear at court arising from the same cause.” – A lawyer shall not file an hearings.” – This is an attorney’s duty not just to his client but action which is subject of a similar pending action. Duplication or to the court and the public as he has sworn not to delay any multiplicity of suits leads to congestion in court dockets. Forumman’s cause for money or malice. Motions or petitions set for shopping is contemptuous behaviour as an officer of the court. hearing must be attended, even if already moot and academic. Certification of non forum-shopping is required in initiatory Under Rule 20 of the Rules of Court, failure to appear in pre-trial pleadings otherwise the case is dismissed and administrative may result in the plaintiff being non-suited or declaration of as in sanctions may be imposed against the lawyer and/or his litigant. default in the case of the defendant. Tardiness and/or absences may be punished as contempt. Rule 12.03. – “A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings, memorandum or Rule 11. 03. – “A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, briefs, let period lapse without submitting the same or offensive and menacing language or behaviour before the offering explanation for failure to do so.” – The rule is courts.” – Counsel’s language must be dignified in keeping with simple, file your pleadings on time. the dignity of the legal profession. It is his duty to abstain from all offensive personalty and to advance no fact prejudicial to the Rule 12.04 – “A lawyer shall not unduly delay a case, honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the impede execution of judgment or misuse court justice of the cause he is charged with. processes.” – Lawyers should not resort to or abet client’s resort to a series of actions and petition for purpose of thwarting Note: A lawyer’s arguments, written or oral, should be gracious execution of final judgment. Justice demands finality of decision. to both the court and opposing counsel and be of such words as may be properly addressed by one gentleman to another. Rule 12.05. – “A lawyer shall refrain from talking to his Certainly and most especially in our culture, raising one’s voice is witness during a break or recess in trial while witness still a sign of disrespect. under examination.” – The witness’ oath as well as the lawyer’s oath requires that witness and lawyer shall not do any Note: Counsel’s duty to maintain respectful attitude is not for the falsehood. The rule prevents coaching/teaching of witness. sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office but for the maintenance of its supreme importance. CANON 15 – A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, LOYALTY AND FAIRNESS IN ALL DEALINGS AND TRANSACTIONS Rule 11. 04. – “A lawyer shall not attribute to a judge WITH HIS CLIENTS. – This is a lawyer’s duty to his clients, motives not supported by the record and which are failure to comply means he is unfit to remain in the legal immaterial to the case.” – A lawyer may be cited in direct profession. contempt for breach of this rule. At times, it is the judge who misbehaves during a court proceeding, the lawyer affected may Rule 15.01. – “A lawyer shall, as soon as practicable, in demand that the incident be made of record. This act of the conferring with a prospective client, ascertain whether lawyer is not contemptuous. the matter would involve a conflict with another client or his own and if so, forthwith inform the prospective.” – As a Rule 11.05 – “A lawyer shall submit grievance against a safeguard against disclosure of client’s confidences and secrets, judge to the proper authorities only.” – It is his duty to Rule 130, Sec. 24 of the Rules of Court mandates that an attorney defend a judge from unfounded criticisms and groundless cannot, without the consent of his client, be examined as to any personal attack irrespective of whether he loses or wins his case communication made by the client to him or his advice given in the sala of the judge. This duty does not however prevent the thereon in the course of professional employment, this privilege lawyer from filing administrative charges against the erring judge extends to the lawyer’s secretary, stenographer or clerk. The or from accepting cases of clients who have legitimate grievances communication may be oral or written or actions or signs, the against judges. Such a complaint is to be filed with the proper transmission may be direct or through messenger, interpreter or authorities only, that is, the Supreme Court through the Office of other modes of transmission. the Court Administrator, if purely administrative or the office of the Ombudsman, if criminal and not purely administrative. If the Requirements of Privileged Communication – (i) existence of complaint is based on impeachable grounds against Justices of attorney-client relation or consultancy relations with prospective the Supreme Court, the complaint is lodged before the house of client; (ii) communication made in the course of professional Representatives in accordance with the Article 11 of the employment; (iii) communication intended to be confidential. Constitution. Canon 12 – A LAWYER SHALL EXERT EVERY EFFORT AND CONSIDER IT HIS DUTY TO ASSIST IN SPEEDY AND EFFICIENT ADMINISTRATIVE OF THE JUSTICE. – The Constitution guarantees speedy administration of cases, this is the joint responsibility of judges and attorneys. Rule 12.01. – “A lawyer shall not appear for trial unless he has adequately prepared himself with law and facts of his case, the evidence he will adduce and the order of its proferrence. He should also be ready with original documents for comparison with copies.” – It is depressing for a lawyer to appear in chic attire and yet not be ready with his case. A newly-hired attorney is presumed to be acquainted with the case prior to his takeover, it does not however mean that he
The privilege continues to exist even after termination of the attorney-client relationship. This rule is intended to: (a) encourage clients to make full disclosure of facts without fear; and (b) allows the attorney freedom to obtain full information from client. CANON 16 – A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENTS THAT MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION. – An attorney is a trustee of his client’s Money and property. Money collected by the attorney for his client belongs to the client. Consequently, the lawyer is under obligation to hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession. Rule 16.01. – “A lawyer shall account for all money or 5
property collected or received for or from his clients.” – advantage of his influence over the client. On the other hand, the Keep receipts, original or acknowledgment. rule against lending of money to the client is to assure the lawyer’s independent and professional judgment and to prevent Rule 16.02. – “A lawyer shall keep funds of each client the lawyer from acquiring financial interest in the outcome of the separate and apart from his own and those of others kept case and to avoid champertous contract (a void contract where by him.” – Being a mere trustee, he holds in trust moneys the lawyer spends for all legal expenses). and properties he received from his clients, he is accountable therefor to his client. The lawyer must maintain CANON 17 - A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF adequate records of his client’s money or properties. Money HIS CLIENT, MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE delivered to the attorney for a specific purpose such as for filing REPOSED IN HIM. – Fidelity to the cause of his client is the fee, for appeal, for arrangement of amicable settlement, if not essence of the legal profession. Without fidelity, profession will used for failure of counsel to take such steps must forthwith be not survive, o one will engage lawyer anymore. returned. CANON 18 – A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH Note: A lawyer is not relieved of his obligation to make proper COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE. – A lawyer should strive for accounting even if he has an attorney’s lien over client’s money proficiency in his practice and should accept employment in or funds in his possession. He is allowed however to apply so matters in which he is or can become competent after reasonable much if the funds as may be necessary to satisfy his lawful fees preparation. Attainment and maintenance of competence by the and disbursement subject to the condition that he shall promptly lawyer can be attained by: (i) keeping abreast of current legal notify his client. literature; (ii) participating in legal education program; and (iii) concentrating in particular areas of law and availing himself of Rule 16.03. – “A lawyer shall deliver funds and property of these means. his client when due or upon demand. However, he has lien over funds and may apply them to the extent of his lawful Note: Competence required is one beyond formal qualification of fees and disbursement, upon due notice to the client. He lawyer to practice law. Expertise – sufficiency of lawyer’s has a lien to the same extent on all judgments and qualification to deal with a matter in question and includes execution he has secured for his client.” – A lawyer’s failure knowledge, skill and ability to use them effectively in client’s to return upon demand gives rise to the presumption that he has interest. misappropriated the funds for his own use to the prejudice of client and in violation of trust reposed in him. Rule 18.01. – “A lawyer shall not undertake a legal service which he knows he is not qualified to render. He may do Attorney’s lien consists of (a) LAWYER’S RETAINING LIEN – over so, but obtain corroborating counsel competent on the property of client held by him to apply to his claims upon due matter with client’s consent.” – While lawyer, upon admission notice to client; and (b) CHARGING LIENT [Rule 138, Sec. 37 of is qualified to practice law, Rule 18.01 deals with specific Rules of Court] – a lien upon all judgments for the payment of engagement. When lawyer accepts a case, for a fee or not, his money and executions issued in pursuance of such acceptance is an implied representation that he possess the judgments/lawyer causes a statement of his claim of such lien to required degree of academic learning, skill and ability in the be entered upon records of the court that rendered judgment or practice of his profession. That he will exert his best judgment in issuing execution with written notice to client and the adverse the prosecution or defense of the litigation entrusted to him and party. he will exercise reasonable and ordinary care and diligence in the pursuit of the case. Thus, the probation under this rule. Note: A lawyer’s retaining lien however does not apply to public documents introduced in court as exhibits as they are subject to Rule 18.02. – “A lawyer shall not handle any legal matter the court’s custody. without adequate preparation”. – Adequate preparation covers a wide dimension in law practice. Sufficient legal Note: A lawyer cannot be deprived of his attorney’s fees through knowledge, ability in trial technique and high proficiency in the client’s manuever by settling, compromising or settling suit (this formulation of pleadings. Keep abreast with legal developments, needs consent of the attorney). Lawyer is entitled to have and must be a proficient writer. Preparation begins in the law office. Most cases are won within four walls of the office before he goes recover reasonable compensation from his client. to court through hardwork and preparation. Note: Client has prerogative to dismiss his lawyer anytime as the relationship is based on trust and confidence. No illegal dismissal in client-attorney relationship. However, if dismissal is without just cause, client will pay in full attorney’s fees expressly agreed upon in their contract.
Rule 18.03. – “A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in connection therewith renders him liable.” – Law license is a guarantee to the public of licensee’s skill and knowledge, thus, a lawyer owes it to his client. However, a lawyer is not bound to know all laws and Note: Charging lien is a property right, thus, assignable. Assignee he is not an insurer of the outcome of the case. Diligence merely will be subrogated to all of lawyer’s right over charging lien. requires that lawyer should only accept so much cases as he can Charging lien survives client’s death (if duly recorded already), handle. hence, no need to be enforced in settlement proceedings of Rule 18.04. – “A lawyer shall keep the client informed of deceased client’s estate. status of the case and shall respond within a reasonable Rule 16.04. – “A lawyer shall not borrow money from time to client’s request for information.” – A client’s right to client unless client’s interests are fully protected by the be fully informed of status of the case. It is a lawyer’s gross nature of the case or by independent advice. Lawyer shall negligence when he fails to inform client of scheduled pre-trial or not lend money to the client except, when interest of trial or when he misinforms the client. However, it is also the duty justice, he has to advance necessary expenses in a legal of a party-litigant as regard his case/s to keep in touch with his matter he is handling for the client.” – A rule against counsel. No prudent party will have the fate of his case entirely to borrowing money from the client is to prevent lawyer from taking his lawyer. 6
CANON 19 – A LAWYER SHALL REPRESENT CLIENT WITH ZEAL WITHIN BOUNDS OF THE LAW. – A counsel owes entire devotion to the client’s interest, warm zeal in maintenance and defense of his rights and the exertion of his utmost learning and ability. The client is entitled to the benefit of every and any remedy and defense authorized by law and may expect his attorney to assert every such remedy or defense. Such remedy or defense however, must be within and not without the bounds of the law considering that the office of an attorney does not permit, much less does it demand of him for any client, violation of the law or any manner of fraud of law or any manner of fraud or chicanery. He must obey his conscience and not that of his client. It is a lawyer’s duty is not to the client but to the administration of justice. Therefore, his client’s success is wholly subordinate.
in case of unjustified dismissal, the lawyer is entitled to recover the full compensation as stipulated against the client; (ii) Implied – there is no agreement, oral or express, but the client is allowed lawyer to render legal services not intended to be gratuitous without objection, client benefited by reason thereof, the lawyer is entitled to compensation to prevent “unjust enrichment”. It is advisable that attorney’s fees be forthwith determined and fixed, and written.
Rule 19.02. – “A lawyer who has received information that his client has, in the course of representation, perpetuated a fraud upon a person or tribunal, shall promptly call upon his client to rectify the same and failing shich he has to terminate the relationship with such client in accordance with the Rules of Court.” – A lawyer cannot volunteer information about his client’s commission of the fraud to anyone for this will run counter to his duty of confidentiality.
(a) time spent and extent and services rendered and required;
Note: Situation when counsel cannot recover full amount despite written contract for attorney’s fees – (i) when stipulated attorney’s fees are in excess of what the law expressly provides, (ii) attorney is guilty of fraud or bad faith against the client; (iii) counsel’s services were worthless because of his negligence; (iv) contract of employment is illegal; (v) serving adverse interest, Rule 19.01. – “A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest unless he acted with consent of both parties. means to attain Every such remedy or defense is client’s lawful objectives. He shall not present, participate in Note: Fees: (i) fixed/absolute fee – paid regardless of result; (ii) presenting or threatening to present unfounded criminal contingent fee – conditioned upon securing favourable judgment charges to obtain an improper advantage in any case or and execution based on percentage; (iii) fixed fee payable per proceeding.” – A lawyer must not offer in evidence any appearance; (iv) time-charging; (v) fixed fee based on a piece of document which he knows is false. It is an unethical practice to work. counter-charge in order to force adversary of his client to withdraw the case. A lawyer also shall not bribe or attempt to Rule 20.01. – Guidelines in determining attorney’s fees bribe a judge to win his case. (quantum meruit) –
Rule 19.03. – “A lawyer shall not allow his client to dictate the procedure in handling the case.” - In matters of law, the client yields to the lawyer and not the other way around. A lawyer must not accede, but must resist, his client’s unlawful requests and/or instructions. The rationale for the rule is that the lawyer is trained and skilled in law. The rule speaks of procedure only, like, number and order of presenting witnesses, trial dates, etc. The lawyer shall impress upon his client compliance with laws and principles of fairness. A lawyer, as an officer of the court, and not an errand boy at the belk and call of his client, eager and willing to do his bidding. When the client’s request however is proper and lawful, lawyer is bound to obliged, like – (a) client’s decision to settle or not; and (b) client’s decision to appeal or not.
(b) novelty and difficulty of questions involved – requires greater efforts, deeper study and research are bound to burn lawyer’s time and stamina; (c) important of subject matter – more important subject or bigger value of interest or property in litigation, the higher the attorney’s fees to justify and commensurate the greater responsibility to be discharged by the lawyer; (d) skill demanded of lawyer – lawyer of greater skill justifies higher fee than an ordinary practitioner, such skill is evidenced by the quality of his work both in pleadings and trial techniques; attained only after several years of practice, hardwork and devotion to his profession for he gains reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust, lawyer’s skill is not necessarily equated by his income neither is length of practice; (e) customary charges for similar services and IBP schedule of fees; (f) probability of losing other compensation;
CANON 20 – A LAWYER SHALL CHARGE ONLY FAIR AND REASONABLE FEES. – Adequate compensation is necessary to enable the lawyer to serve his client effectively and to preserve integrity and independence of the profession. A lawyer like all other is a human beings has a right to livelihood.
(g) amount involved in controversy and the benefits resulting from the service – the greater the amount or value, the greater the lawyer’s responsibility which requires greater exertion of efforts, however, despite great efforts exerted, if the case is lost, the attorneys is not deprived of his rights to collect his rightful Note: As to fees: (a) Ordinary – reasonable compensation paid to compensation unless the agreement is on “contingent basis”; a lawyer for legal services rendered to a client/based on the fact of the employment by client; (b) Extra-ordinary – indemnity for (h) contingency or certainty of compensation – contingent damages ordered by ordered by the court to be paid by losing agreement is in the nature of an obligation subject to a condition/acceptance of initial fee before or during the progress of party to prevailing party in litigation. litigation does not detract from the contingent nature of fees as Note: Unauthorized counsel is not entitled to the compensation long as the bulk thereof is made dependent upon successful outcome of the case. for services even if such redounded to the benefit of such party. Note: Employment (Contract) as Counsel – (i) Oral – employed without written agreement but conditions and amount of attorneys fees are agreed upon; (ii) Express – in a written contract which is generally conclusive as to the amount of compensation,
Note: A contract for contingent fee is not prohibited under Art. 1491 of the Civil Code, what the latter bars is the act of a lawyer of acquiring rights or property which may be the object of any litigation. A contract for contingent fee is not covered by Art. 7
1491 because the transfer or assignment of property in litigation takes effect only after finality of the favourable judgment. The estate of the deceased attorney may recover the reasonable value of services rendered if said attorney retained on contingent basis died prior to final determination of the case. Note: A champertous contract is void. (i) character of employment, whether occasional or established;
responsibility assumed. Rule 20.03. – “A lawyer shall not, without full knowledge and consent of his client, accept any fee, reward, costs, remuneration, etc., whatsoever related to his professional employment from anyone other than his client.” – To secure fidelity of the lawyer to his client, there should be no room for suspicion by his client that his attorney is receiving compensation in connection with the case from third persons with hostile interest.
(j) professional standing of the lawyer – measured by skill and Rule 20.04 – “A lawyer shall avoid controversies with his competency. client concerning his compensation and shall resort to Note: None of the foregoing considerations in itself is controlling. judicial action only to prevent imposition, injustice or They are mere guides in determining the real worth as close as fraud.” – This is to prevent the public view that lawyers are possible of the services rendered by a lawyer to a client. Resort to mercenaries. Judicial action may be (a) in the same case, that is, the guidelines only when there are no conclusive contracts for filing of appropriate motion or petition as an incident to the main action, or (b) institute a separate civil action. attorney’s fees. CANON 21 – A LAWYER SHALL PRESERVE THE CONFIDENCE AND SECRETS OF HIS CLIENT EVEN AFTER THE ATTORNEYCLIENT RELATION IS TERMINATED. – Confidence relates to the information protected by the attorney-client privilege (Rule 130, Section 21 of the Rules of Court). The attorney cannot, without client’s consent, be examined as to any communication made by his client to him or his advice given thereon in the course of professional employ. Secrets refer to other information gained in the professional relationship that client has requested to be held inviolable or the disclosure of which would be embarrassing or Note: Kinds of Retainers Agreement on Attorney’s Fees – (a) would be detrimental to his client. General Retainer/Retaining Fee – Fee paid to the lawyer to secure his future services as general counsel for any legal problem that may arise in the ordinary business of the client. Future services of Note: Mere attorney-client relation does not raise the lawyer are secured to the retaining client who pays the attorney a presumption of confidentiality. There must be INTENT that fixed retainer fees, fees are paid whether there are cases or not communication relayed by client to the lawyer be confidential. Note: REASONABLENESS OF FEES – There is no hard or fast rule. It is determined from the facts of each case, the rule on fees in the CPR is a guide for consideration. If it is within the capacity of the client to pay and is directly commensurate with value of legal services rendered, it is reasonable. Where however the amount compared to the value of services rendered is clearly disproportionate as to be revolting to the conscience, it is unreasonable.
referred to the lawyer; (b) Special Retainer – fee for a specific Rule 21.01. – Exceptions to the confidentiality rule case or service rendered by attorney to client. includes: (a) authority from client after acquainting him of Note: Fees on QUANTUM MERUIT – “As much as he deserved”, in the consequences of disclosure; (b) required by law; (c) cases when: (a) no express contract for attorney’s fees; (b) fees necessary to collect his fees or defend himself, his stipulated in the contract is found by the court to be employee or associates or by judicial action. – The law may unconscionable or unreasonable; (c) contract for attorney’s fees require attorneys to make disclosure because the law does not is void due to purely formal matters or defects in the execution [if make a law office a nest of vipers in which to hatch crimes or invalid due to illegality of object, lawyer can in no way recover fraud. Thus, the announced intention of a client to commit a attorney’s fees]; (d) counsel, for justifiable cause, was not able to crime is not included within the confidence which a lawyer is finish the case to its conclusion; (e) when lawyer and client bound to respect. He may properly make such disclosures to disregard the contract for attorney’s fees; (f) charging of fees prevent the act or protect those against whom it is threatened. Also where a client jumped bail and his whereabouts are known to beyond what is fixed by law is malpractice. the lawyer, the latter must inform the proper authorities. Finally, the privilege does not cover the commission of future fraud or Rule 20.02. – “In cases of referral, a lawyer shall, with crime. client’s consent, be entitled to a division of the fees in proportion to work performed and responsibility assumed.” – There is no problem if only one counsel handling Rule 21.02. – “A lawyer shall not, to his client’s the case, there would be no division of attorney’s fees. However, disadvantage, use information acquired in the course of where two or more lawyers are engaged simultaneously at engagement, nor shall he use the same to his own different times, the rule is such that, when two lawyers jointly advantage or that of a third person, unless the client with represent a client for a given fee without express agreement on full knowledge of circumstances, consents thereto.” how much each will receive they will share equally (like “special” partners for special purpose). If there are specific contracts for the payment of fees of each lawyer, the contract prevails unless found unconscionable. If lawyers engaged at different stages of the case and no specific contracts have been executed, the lawyer who bore the brunt of prosecuting the case to its successful end is entitled to the full amount of his fees. Note: LAWYER-REFERRAL SYSTEM – if another counsel is referred to a client and the latter agrees to take him as collaborating counsel, without any express contract for attorney’s fees, said counsel (or substituting counsel, if original counsel withdraws) will receive attorney’s fees in proportion to the work performed and
Rule 21.03. – “A lawyer shall not, without the written consent of his client, give information from his files to an outside agency seeking such information for audit, statistics, bookkeeping, accounting, data processing or similar purpose.” Rule 21.04. – “A lawyer may disclose the affairs of his client to his partner or an associate of the firm, unless prohibited by the client.” – This is if the client has engaged the law firm and not a particular counsel. In law firms, partners usually consult each other. 8
Rule 21.05. – “A lawyer shall adopt such measures as may be required to prevent those whose services are utilized by him, from disclosing or using the confidences or secrets of his client.” – This rule is to make an extended application of the rule on confidentiality.
Rule 22.02 – “A lawyer who withdraws or is discharged, subject to a retainer lien, shall immediately turn over all papers and property to which the client is entitled and shall cooperate with his successor in the orderly transfer of the matter. – The rule mentions only a retainer lien because a charging lien only arises after counsel has secured a favorable Rule 21.06. – “A lawyer shall avoid indiscreet judgment. conversations about a client’s affairs even with family members.” – Confidence should not only be in the office but also ADMINISTRATIVE LIABILITIES OF LAWYERS at home. Reckless or imprudent disclosure may jeopardize client’s interest. Membership in the Bar is a privilege burdened with conditions, including, that a lawyer is an officer of the court. The latter then Rule 21.07. – “A lawyer shall not reveal that he has been has the inherent power to adopt proper and adequate measures consulted about a particular case except to avoid possible to preserve its integrity. Membership being a privilege, same may conflict of interest.” – Regardless of whether he was thereafter be suspended or removed from a lawyer for reasons provided in hired as counsel, a lawyer should not divulge to others matters the Rules, law and jurisprudence. The professional activities, as subject of consultation. Violation of this rule is tantamount to well as lawyer’s private lives, insofar as the latter may reflect breach of confidentiality. By way of exception, disclosure in order unfavourably upon the good name and prestige of the profession to avoid conflict of interest is permissible. and courts may at any time be the subject of inquiry. Ultimately, A LAWYER MAY BE WARNED, ADMONISHED, REPRIMANDED, CANON 22 – A LAWYER SHALL WITHDRAW HIS SERVICES SUSPENDED OR DISBARRED FROM THE PROFESSION. ONLY FOR GOOD CAUSE AND UPON NOTICE APPROPRIATE IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES. – Appearance is the act of submitting CONTEMPT VS. DISBARMENT – Power to punish for contempt and or presenting oneself to court, either as plaintiff or defendant the power to disbar are separate and distinct; exercise of one personally or through counsel and seeking general or special does not preclude exercise of the other. Section 27, Rule 138 of relief/s from the court. Two kinds of appearance: (a) General – the Rules of Court provide that the Supreme Court has full party comes to court either as plaintiff or defendant and seeks authority and power to warn, admonish, reprimand, suspend and general relief/s from the court for the satisfaction of claims or disbar a lawyer. counter-claims; or (b) Special – where defendant appears in court solely for the purpose of objecting to the court’s jurisdiction over Section 16, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court – Court of Appeals his person. and Regional Trial Courts may warn, admonish, reprimand and suspend (but cannot disbar) lawyers who appear before them Note: A lawyer who appears de parte in a case before a lower from law practice for any cause mentioned in Section 27 of Rule court is presumed to continue representing his client on appeal 138 of the Rules of Court. unless he files a formal petition withdrawing his appearance in the appeal court (Rule 138, Section 22 of Rules of Court). Regional Trial Courts cannot suspend an attorney for committing indirect contempt. (section 6 of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court) Note: An attorney must make a formal or notice of appearance in order to be made counsel of record, served upon adverse party Municipal Trial Courts have no power even to suspend an attorney and filed with the court, such must be in writing to enable officers though it may cite or hold an attorney in contempt of court for of the court to effectively serve notice on attorney of record. contemptuous acts. Note: An attorney is presumed to be properly authorized to represent any cause in which he appears and no written power of attorney is required to authorize him to appear in court (Rule 138, Section 21 of Rules of Court). Judge however may require counsel on reasonable ground to produce or prove his authority to appear for a client. Note that it is contemptuous to appear for a party without having been engaged as counsel. Rule 22.01. – Instances when counsel may validly withdraw from a case: (a) client is pursuing an illegal or immoral course of action; (b) client’s insistence that the lawyer pursue acts violative of canons and rules; (c) inability of counsel to work with co-counsel; (d) mental or physical inability of counsel to handle case effectively; (e) client’s deliberate failure to pay attorney’s fees agreed upon [while the legal profession is not a business, still, a lawyer is entitled to right to livelihood]; (f) election or appointment to public office; (g) analogous cases. – Death of client terminates ipso facto the relationship, unless, personal representatives of the deceased gives him authority to appear. It is the duty of a lawyer to inform the court immediately of the death of his client and to give the names and residence of his executor, administrator or the legal heirs. On the otherhand, dissolution of the firm or partnership does not terminate relations. Also, client can terminate counsel at any time. The attorney may only withdraw by written consent of the client or with court permission after due notice and hearing.
Justice and Judges being also lawyers, if found guilty of certain crimes and/or causes for disbarment under the Rules of Court, may also be disbarred. However, Supreme Court Justices must be impeached. OBJECTIVES OF DISBARMENT AND SUSPENSION – (a) Compel attorney to deal fairly and honestly with his client; (b) remove from the profession, a person whose misconduct has proved him UNFIT to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities belonging to the office of an attorney; (c) punish lawyer although not so much as to safeguard the administration of justice; (d) set as an example or warning for other members of the Bar; (e) safeguard the administration of justice from incompetence and dishonesty of lawyers; (f) protect the public. NATURE OF DISBARMENT PROCEEDINGS – judicial in nature and can only be exercised by COURTS (constitutional prerogative of the Supreme Court under Sec. 5 of Article IX of the Constitution). DISBARMENT PROCEEDING is sui generis (class by itself) and has the following characteristics: (a) neither civil or criminal; (b) double jeopardy cannot be availed of in a disbarment proceeding against a lawyer as such a lawyer who is convicted like for falsification cannot claim double jeopardy; (c) can be initiated motu proprio by the Supreme Court or the IBP and can be initiated without a complainant; (d) can proceed regardless of the 9
interest or lack thereof, if facts proven warrant; (e) imprescriptible and as such the ordinary statues of limitations have no application to disbarment proceedings however, unexplained delay in filing of an administrative case creates suspicion over the motives of the complainant; (f) conducted confidentially being confidential in nature until its final determination; (g) it is itself due process of law; (h) whatever has been decided in a disbarment case cannot be a source of right that may be enforced in another action like reconveyance or damages; RESTRICTION ON THE POWER TO SUSPEND AND DISBAR – Courts should exercise sound discretion and extreme care in suspending and disbarring lawyers. Such power is not arbitrary or despotic to be exercised at the court’s pleasure or in the form of passion, prejudice or personal hostility. It is to be exercised wisely in a way that rights and independence of the Bar will be scrupulously guarded and maintained by the court as the rights and dignity of the court itself. The power to suspend or disbar should only be evoked upon the finding that the continuance of an attorney in the practice would be subversive to the proper regard for the integrity of the profession.
CASES IN LEGAL ETHICS CLETO DOCENA vs. ATTY. DOMINADOR Q. LIMON, SR., A.C. No. 2387, 9/10/1998 –lawyer disbarred for asking P10,000.00 as bond to stay execution of a decision in a case pending appeal. After favorable judgment in the appeal, Complainant went to court to withdraw his bond only to discover that no such bond was required or ever posted by Respondent. Recommended penalty of suspension is too light. While the amount involved may be small, but the nature of the transgression calls for a heavier penalty for violation of Canon 1, Rule 1(“a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct) and Canon 16 (“a lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received from the client”). Good moral character is not only a condition precedent to admission to the legal profession, but must also be possessed at all times in order to maintain one’s good standing in that exclusive and honored fraternity. The law is not a trade nor a craft but a profession. If it has to remain an honorable profession and attain its basic ideal, those enrolled in its ranks should not only master its tenets and principles but should also, by their lives, accord continuing fidelity to them. By extorting money from his client through deceit and misrepresentation, Respondent has reduced the law profession to a level so base, so low and dishonorable, and most contemptible. He has sullied the integrity of his brethren in the law and has, indirectly, eroded the people’s confidence in the judicial system.
RATIONALE FOR THE RESTRICTION ON THE POWER TO SUSPEND AND DISBAR – Lawyering is a means of support for the lawyer and his family, to deprive him of such an office is often to decree poverty to the lawyer and destitution to his family. Disbarment should never be decreed where any lesser penalty, such as suspension would accomplish the end desired. LINDA VILLARIASA-RIESENBECK vs. ATTY. JAYNES ABARRIENTOS, A.C. No. 6238, 11/4/2004. – Lawyer GROUNDS FOR DISBARMENT (Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of suspended for failing to file the necessary appeal within Court) – (a) Deceit; (b) Malpractice or other gross misconduct in the prescribed period despite having received payment office; (c) Grossly immoral conduct; (d) Conviction of a crime for his services. Canon 17 (“a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause involving moral turpitude; (e) Violation of the Oath of Office; (f) of his client and shall be mindful of the trust and confidence Wilful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court; and (g) reposed in him”)”, Canon 18 (“a lawyer shall serve his client with Corrupt or Wilful appearance as attorney for a party to a case competence and diligence”), Rule 18.03 (“a lawyer shall not neglect legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in without authority to do so. connection therewith shall render him liable”), and Canon 19 (“a Grounds under Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court are not lawyer shall represent his client with zeal within the bounds of limitative. Any misconduct whether in his professional or personal the law”). Otherwise put, the lawyer owes entire devotion to the capacity which put his moral character in serious doubt as a Bar interest of the client, warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of the client’s rights, and the exertion of the lawyer’s utmost member will render him unfit to continue in the legal practice. learning and ability to the end that nothing be taken or withheld from the client, save by the rules of law legally applied. REINSTATEMENT – restoration to a disbarred lawyer of the Aggravating his negligence, Respondent failed to demonstrate privilege to practice law; readmission to the membership in the the candor he owed Complainant – he kept hiding from her the bar; based upon Sec. 5(5) of Art. VIII of the Constitution, exclusive fact that he already received a copy of the resolution despite authority of the SC to readmit. Complainant’s many visits to his law office. Worse, Respondent made Complainant believe that the petition would be filed in time OBJECTIVE AND CRITERION FOR REINSTATEMENT – Whether or not before this Court. Needless to emphasize, a lawyer must not keep an applicant for reinstatement to practice has satisfied and a client in the dark as to the status of and developments in the convinced the Court by positive evidence that the effort he client’s case. The lawyer is obliged to respond within a exerted toward rehabilitation of his character has been reasonable time to a client’s request for information. A client is successful. entitled to the fullest disclosure of the mode or manner by which that client’s interest is defended or why certain steps are taken or Applicant for reinstatement must, like a candidate for Bar omitted. A lawyer who repeatedly fails to answer the inquiries or admission, satisfy the Court that he is a person of good moral communications of a client violates the rules of professional character – a fit and proper person to practice law. courtesy and neglects the client’s interests. Reinstatement to the Roll of Attorneys wipes out the restrictions and disabilities resulting from previous disbarment. However, added conditions may be required incident to reinstatement such as, to acknowledge support for biological child. Executive pardon on a disbarred lawyer does not ipso facto reinstate him to practice. Considering that bar admission/readmission is a constitutional prerogative of the Supreme Court, he must file the appropriate petition with the Supreme Court.
LUCILA S. BARBUCO vs. ATTY. RAYMUNDO N. BELTRAN, A.C. No. 5092, 8/11/2004 – Lawyer suspended for failing to file appellant’s brief resulting to the dismissal of his client’s case. Rule 18.03 (“a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable”). An attorney is bound to protect his client’s interest to the best of his ability and with utmost diligence. Failure to file brief within the reglementary period certainly constitutes inexcusable negligence, more so if the delay of FORTY THREE (43) days resulted in the dismissal of the appeal. That Respondent was involved in a vehicular accident 10
and suffered physical injuries as a result thereof cannot serve to excuse him from filing his pleadings on time considering that he was a member of a law firm composed of not just one lawyer. Respondent could have asked any of his partners in the law office to file the Appellant’s Brief for him or, at least, to file a Motion for Extension of Time to file the said pleading. Failure to timely file a pleading is by itself inexcusable negligence on Respondent’s part and his liability is further compounded by his failure to maintain an open line of communication with his client, in violation of Rule 18.04 (“a lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time to the client’s request for information”). RICARDO A. FORONDA vs. ATTY. ARNOLD V. GUERRERO, A.C. No. 5469, 8/10/2004 – Lawyer suspended for trifling with judicial process by resort to forum shopping in filing multifarious petitions, motions and actions concerning a property despite the fact that SC had upheld the judgment of the trial court and appellate court. While a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client, it should not be at the expense of truth and the administration of justice. In filing multiple petitions before various courts concerning the same subject matter, Respondent violated Canon 12 (“a lawyer shall exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice’) and Rule 12.02 and Rule 12.04 of the Code, as well as a lawyer’s mandate “to delay no man for money or malice.” While lawyers owe their entire devotion to the interest of their clients and zeal in the defense of their client’s right, they should not forget that they are, first and foremost, officers of the court, bound to exert every effort to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. ISIDRA BARRIENTOS vs. ATTY. ELERIZZA METEORO, A.C. No. 6408, 8/31/2004
- Lawyer suspended for having issued worthless checks for the payment of a pre-existing debt. Deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance of worthless checks constitute gross misconduct, for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with suspension from the practice of law. Lawyers are instruments for the administration of justice and vanguards of our legal system. They are expected to maintain not only legal proficiency but also a high standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing so that the people’s faith and confidence in the judicial system is ensured. They conduct themselves in a manner that reflect the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the CPR which explicitly states that, “a lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and for legal processes (CANON 1)”; “a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct(Rule 1.01)”. LINDA VDA. DE ESPINO vs. ATTY. PEPITO C. PREQUITO, A.C. No. 4762, 6/28/2004 FACTS: Complainant’s husband sold a piece of land to Respondent who issued 8 post-dated checks as payment and which checks however subsequently bounced prompting Complainant and her husband to make repeated demands but to no avail. Complainant alleged that Respondent’s unlawful refusal and dilatory tactics partly triggered the death of her husband, who died “disillusioned and embittered”. Respondent countered that, Complainant did not know the “real story”, and that the non-payment of the checks was justified by the unresolved problem of right-of-way which Complainant’s husband supposedly had guaranteed. He also alleged that he was entitled to set-off what he owed for the land acquisition against advances made by Complainant’s husband and for cost incurred when he defended Complainant’s son in a criminal case.
RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED. Respondent issued eight (8) worthless checks, seemingly without regard to its deleterious effects to public interest and public order. The issuance of worthless checks constitutes gross misconduct, and puts the erring lawyer’s moral character in serious doubt, though it is not related to his professional duties as a member of the bar. He not only sets himself liable for a serious criminal offense under B.P. Blg. 22, but also transgresses the CPR, specifically the mandate of Canon 1 to obey the laws of the land and promote the respect for law.
A lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. Possession of good moral character is not only a good condition precedent to the practice of law, but a continuing qualification for all members of the bar. A lawyer may be disciplined for any conduct, in his professional or private capacity, that renders him unfit to continue to be an officer of the court. Thus, the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that, “A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct (Rule 1.01); “a lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession Rule (7.03)”. DOLORES VDA. DE FAJARDO vs. ATTY. BUGARING, A.C. No. 5113, 10/7/2004.
FACTS: Respondent assisted Complainant and her co-heirs in two cases affecting an inherited land. For every hearing, Respondent was fetched from, and driven back to, his residence, paid P1,000appearance fee and sent off with vegetables, candies and other goodies. However, when asked the fee for legal services, he would only say, ‘Huwag na ninyo alalahanin iyon. Para ko na kayong nanay o lola”. Later, Respondent devised two contracts at P50,000.00 with 25% contingency fee for his services and advised Complainant to show them to her co-heirs who had been asking for the cost of legal services. When the cases were eventually settled, Complainant and her co-heirs offered Respondent P100,000 as attorney’s fees, which he rejected. Respondent even secretly proposed to Complainant that he would only charge her P85,000.00 and her co-heirs P1,200,000.00. Three years later, Complainant learned that her property had been attached by Respondent after the latter filed a civil case against her for sum of money.
RULING: RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED. The proper time to deal with the issue of professional fees is upon commencement of the lawyer-client relationship. In this case, Respondent should have determined and entered into an agreement regarding his fees in 1991 at the latest, when he was first retained by complainant as her counsel in the partition case. Such prudence would have spared the Court this controversy over a lawyer’s compensation, a suit that should be avoided except to prevent imposition, injustice or fraud. To be sure, a lawyer is entitled to the protection of the courts against any attempt on the part of a client to escape payment of legitimate attorney’s fees. However, such protection must not be sought at the expense of truth. Complete candor or honesty is expected from lawyers, particularly when they appear and plead before the courts for their own causes against former clients, as in this case. With his armada of legal knowledge and skills, Respondent clearly enjoyed the upper hand. More important, he had the sole opportunity to present evidence in the collection case after complainant was declared in default, and after he was allowed to present his 11
evidence ex parte.
precluded from litigating personally his cases. A party’s right to conduct litigation personally is recognized by Section 34 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court that, “in the court of a justice of the peace a party may conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar”.
Respondent is reminded that he is first and foremost an officer of the court. His bounden duty is to assist it in rendering justice to all. Lest he has forgotten, lawyers must always be disciples of truth. It is highly reprehensible when they themselves make a travesty of the truth and mangle the ends of justice. Such behavior runs counter to the standards of honesty and fair VIOLETA R. TAHAW vs. ATTY. JEREMIAS P. VITAN, Adm. dealing expected from court officers. Case No. 6441, 10/21/2004
PEDRO G. TOLENTINO vs. ATTY. NORBERTO M. MENDOZA, A.C. No. 5151, 11/19/2004.
FACTS: Complainant hired and paid P30,000 to Respondent for the filing of a case for partition of a real property. Almost a year lapsed, Complainant did not hear from Respondent regarding the case status. In response to her letter-inquiry, Respondent assured Complainant that he already filed the case. However, when Complainant personally checked with the clerk of court she discovered no such case filed. When the IBP intervened and required him to comment, Respondent wrote that he would refund Complainant’s money, but, he never did. Complainant then filed for disbarment.
FACTS: Complainants alleged that Respondent, a former judge, abandoned his legal wife and cohabited with a married woman with whom he has two children in whose birth certificates Respondent false indicated that he and his paramour are married. Further, in his certificate of candidacy, Respondent declared his legal wife as his spouse while in a subsequent certificate of candidacy, he declared his civil status as separated. Respondent contended that the fact that he was elected as Mayor shows that RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED. Canon 17 of the CPR provides that, “a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall he has not offended the public’s sense of morality. be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him”. RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY for immorality until he submits satisfactory proof that he has abandoned his immoral course of conduct. That Respondent continues to publicly and openly cohabit with a woman who is not his legal wife, thus, siring children by her, shows his lack of good moral character. Respondent should keep in mind that the requirement of good moral character is not only a condition precedent to admission to the Philippine Bar but is also a continuing requirement to maintain one’s good standing in the legal profession.
The trust and confidence necessarily reposed by clients require in a lawyer a high standard and appreciation of his duty to them. To this end, nothing should be done by any member of the legal fraternity which might tend to lessen in any degree the confidence of the public in the fidelity, honesty, and integrity of the legal profession.
When a lawyer takes a client’s cause, he thereby covenants that he will exert all effort for its prosecution until its final conclusion. Thus, when Respondent’s services were engaged by Complainant, the former took it upon himself to perform the legal services FERDINAND A. CRUZ vs. ATTY. STANLEY CABRERA, A.C. No. required of him. In the instant case, however, Respondent 5737, 10/25/2004 seemed to have forgotten his sworn duty after he received the money from his client. th FACTS: Complainant was a 4 year law student who had personally instituted and appeared in several cases in his own Canon 7 of the CPR mandates that a “lawyer shall at all times behalf. In one such instance, Respondent who was opposing uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession.” The party’s counsel remarked, “Appear ka ng appear, pumasa ka strength of the legal profession lies in the dignity and integrity of muna”. This remark became the basis of an administrative its members. For this reason, this Court has been exacting in its complaint against Respondent charging misconduct in violation of demand of integrity and good moral character of the members of the CPR. the Bar. RULING: Complaint for misconduct in violation of the CPR is DISMISSED, Respondent ADMONISHED to be more circumspect in the performance of his duties as an officer of the court. Respondent’s outburst does not amount to a violation of Rule 8.01. Based on the facts of the case, such came about when Respondent pointed out to the trial court that Complainant is not a lawyer to correct the judge’s impression of Complainant’s appearance, inasmuch as the judge, in her order noted that Complainant is a lawyer. Such single outburst, though uncalled for, is not of such magnitude as to warrant Respondent’s suspension or reproof. It is but a product of impulsiveness or the heat of the moment in the course of an argument between them. It has been said that lawyers should not be held to too strict an account for words said in the heat of the moment, because of chagrin at losing cases, and that the big way is for the court to condone even contemptuous language.
We remind however, Respondent that Complainant is not
ISIDRA TING-DUMALI vs. ATTY. ROLANDO S. TORRES, A.C. No 5161, 4/4/2004 FACTS: Respondent who is Complainant’s brother-in-law, participated in, consented to, and failed to advise against the perjury committed by his wife and his sister-in-law in a deed of extrajudicial settlement which made it appear that the two were the sole heirs of their deceased parents. Complainant also charged that (a) Respondent participated in, consented to, and failed to advise against the forgery of Complainant’s signature in a second deed of extrajudicial settlement despite knowledge that Complainant was working abroad at that time, and (b) Respondent made gross misrepresentation and offered false testimony in a petition for judicial reconstitution of title to the effect that his wife and his sister-in-law Felicisima are the only children and legal heirs of their deceased parents which ultimately resulted in the issuance of a new title in the name only of his wife and Felicisima. 12
RULING: Respondent DISBARRED. Respondent has sufficiently demonstrated that he is morally and legally unfit to remain in the exclusive and honorable fraternity of the legal profession. In his long years as a lawyer, he must have forgotten his sworn pledge as a lawyer. The Lawyer’s Oath to which all lawyers have subscribed in solemn agreement to dedicate themselves to the pursuit of justice is not a mere ceremony or formality for practicing law to be forgotten afterwards; nor is it mere words, drift and hollow, but a sacred trust that lawyers must uphold and keep inviolable at all times. By swearing the lawyer’s oath, they become guardians of truth and the rule of law, as well as instruments in the fair and impartial dispensation of justice.
Canon 1 provides that a lawyer, “bound to uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and for legal processes”, “shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct (Rule 1.01)” , “shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system (Rule 1.02)”, “shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession, and support the activities of the Integrated Bar (CANON 7)”, “shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession (Rule 7.03)”, “owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court (CANON 10)”, “shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; nor shall he mislead or allow the court to be misled by any artifice (Rule 10.01).
relationship with another woman, co-Respondent Villarin. Respondent Alejandro exhibited by his conduct a deplorable lack of that degree of morality required of him as a member of the Bar. MILAGROS N. ALDOVINO vs. ATTY. PEDRO C. PUJALTE, JR., A.C. No. 5082, 2/17/2004 FACTS: Respondent was Complainants’ counsel in a civil case against her sister to compel delivery of their shares in the estate of their deceased mother. Pursuant to the court’s decision, the clerk of court withdrew from the bank and divided into eight shares P1,335,109.68. Respondent represented himself to be authorized to receive P1,001,332.26 pertaining to Complainants’ share in the estate but he failed to deliver their shares . Complainants engaged another lawyer to demand from Respondent their money. Respondent, after deducting P250,000 as attorney’s fees (supposedly based upon a verbal agreement with Complainant Milagros), delivered only P751,332.26 to Complainants. Respondent ignored Complainants’ subsequent demand for him to return P236,000 (Complainants offered him P14,000.00 in addition to the P86,000 he initially received, all in all, P100,000) as his attorney’s fees).
RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED. Canon 16 provides, “A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION”; “A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon demand. However, he shall have a lien over the funds JOVITA ALEJANDRO vs. ATTY. WARFREDO TOMAS and may apply so much thereof as may be necessary to satisfy ALEJANDRO & MARICRIS A. VILLARIN, A.C. No. 4256, his lawful fees and disbursements, giving notice promptly 2/13/2004 thereafter to his client. He shall also have a lien to the same extent on all judgments and executions he has secured for his FACTS: Respondents were administratively charged with bigamy client as provided for in the Rules of Court (Rule 16.03)”. and concubinage. Complainant married Respondent in 1971 and has three sons with him. He abandoned her and their family in 1990 to live with his mistress, Respondent Villarin with whom he Upon Complainants’ demand, Respondent should have promptly had a son. Complainant claimed that her husband, nominated as heeded. Had they not hired a lawyer and charged him with RTC judge is not fit for said position because he, and co- estafa, he would not have turned over the money to them. While respondent Atty. Villarin, do not even possess the basic integrity it may be true that he has “a lien over the funds,” he should have to remain as members of the Philippine Bar. notified Complainants about it in due time. He has no right to
RULING: Respondent Alejandro DISBARRED for gross immorality; complaint against Respondent Villarin (was never served summons) REFERRED BACK to the IBP for further appropriate proceedings. Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the CPR provides that, “a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct”.
The Court has disciplined members of the Bar found guilty of misconduct demonstrating lack of good moral character required of them not only as a condition precedent for admission to the Bar but, likewise, for their continued membership therein. No distinction has been made as to whether the misconduct was committed in the lawyer’s professional capacity or in his private life because a lawyer may not divide his personality so as to be an attorney at one time and a mere citizen at another. He is expected to be competent, honorable and reliable at all times since he who cannot apply and abide by the laws in his private affairs, can hardly be expected to do so in his professional dealings nor lead others in doing so.
retain or appropriate unilaterally as lawyer’s lien, the sum of P250,000.00 based on an alleged verbal agreement. His mere allegation or claim is not proof. Obviously, his failure to return the money to Complainants upon demand gave rise to the presumption that he misappropriated it in violation of the trust reposed on him. His act of holding on to their money without their acquiescence is conduct indicative of lack of, integrity and propriety. He was clinging to something not his and to which he had no right. ANA MARIE CAMBALIZA vs. ATTY. ANA LUZ CRISTALTENORIO, A.C. No. 6290, 7/14/2004.
FACTS: Complainant who was Respondent’s former employee, claimed that (a) Respondent falsely represented herself to be married to Felicisimo Tenorio despite the latter’s prior and subsisting marriage with another woman and that (b) Respondent, assisted Felicisimo in the illegal practice of law being not a member of the Philippine Bar. Respondent admitted that Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., is not a lawyer, but he and a certain Gerardo A. Panghulan, who is also not a lawyer, are named as senior partners because they have investments in her law office. While the disbarment case was pending, Complainant filed a motion to withdraw complaint supposedly because it arose out of Though evidence presented was not sufficient to prove bigamy, a misunderstanding. the evidence sufficiently showed that Respondent Alejandro, while being lawfully married to Complainant, carried on an illicit RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED. An affidavit of withdrawal of 13
the disbarment case allegedly executed by Complainant does not, in any way, exonerate Respondent. A suspension/disbarment case may proceed regardless of interest or lack of interest of the complainant – such proceedings involve no private interest and afford no redress for private grievance and are solely for the public welfare, that is, to preserve courts of justice from the official ministration of persons unfit to practice in them. Hence, if the evidence on record warrants, the respondent may be suspended or disbarred despite the desistance of complainant or his withdrawal of the charges.
Respondent is guilty of assisting in the unauthorized practice of law. The Code provides that, “a lawyer shall not directly or indirectly assist in the unauthorized practice of law (Canon 9), “a lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the performance of any task which by law may only be performed by a member of the Bar in good standing (Rule 9.01)”. Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., is not a lawyer, but he holds himself out as one. His wife (Respondent admitted to abetting and aiding him in the unauthorized practice of the legal profession as he is listed (in the letterhead of the law office) as a senior partners because of an investment in her law office. That is a blatant misrepresentation.
client’s cause. When a lawyer accepts a case, his acceptance is an implied representation that he possesses the requisite academic learning, skill and ability to handle the case. The lawyer has the duty to exert his best judgment in the prosecution or defense of the case entrusted to him and to exercise reasonable and ordinary care and diligence in the pursuit or defense of the case. A lawyer has the duty to give adequate attention and time to every case he accepts. A lawyer impliedly warrants that he possesses the necessary diligence, learning and skill to handle each case. He should exert his best judgment and exercise reasonable and ordinary care and diligence in the pursuit or defense of his client’s cause. A license to practice law is a guarantee by the courts to the public that the licensee possesses sufficient skill, knowledge and diligence to manage their cases. The legal profession demands from a lawyer the vigilance and attention expected of a good father of a family.
Rule 18.01 of the Code is clear. A lawyer shall not undertake a legal service that he is not qualified to render. Rule 18.02 of the Code provides that a lawyer shall not handle any legal matter without adequate preparation. He has the duty to prepare for trial with diligence and deliberate speed. Rule 18.03 of the Code also The (Sagip Communication Radio Group) identification card is provides that a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted another proof that Respondent assisted Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., to him and his negligence shall render him liable. in misrepresenting to the public that he is a lawyer. Notably, the identification card stating that he is “Atty. Felicisimo Tenorio, Jr.,” Pariñas’s affidavit of withdrawal of the disbarment case does not bears the signature of the respondent as Chairperson of the exonerate Paguinto in any way. A compromise or withdrawal of Group. charges does not terminate an administrative complaint against a lawyer, especially in this case where the lawyer admitted his The lawyer’s duty to prevent, or at the very least not to assist in, misconduct. the unauthorized practice of law is founded on public interest and policy. Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to IN RE: SUSPENSION FROM LAW PRACTICE IN THE those individuals found duly qualified in education and character. TERRITORY OF GUAM OF ATTY. LEON G. MAQUERA, B.M. The permissive right conferred on the lawyer is an individual and No. 793, 7/30/2004. limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper standards of moral and professional conduct. The purpose FACTS: May a Philippine Bar member, disbarred or suspended is to protect the public, the court, the client, and the bar from the from law practice in a foreign jurisdiction be meted the same incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to practice law sanction as a member of the Philippine Bar for the same and not subject to the disciplinary control of the Court. infraction committed in the foreign jurisdiction? Atty. Leon Maquera, admitted to the Phil. Bar in 1958, was later admitted to DOLORES D. PARIÑAS vs. ATTY. OSCAR P. PAGUINTO, A.C. law practice in the territory of Guam in 1974. The District Court of No. 6297, 7/13/2004. Guam wrote (and subsequent transmitted certified copies of the records) the Supreme Court that the Superior Court of Guam FACTS: Respondent accepted from Complainant P2,500 for filing SUSPENDED Atty. Maquera from law practice for two (2) years fee and P10,000 (as partial payment for the P25,000) acceptance pursuant to a decision in a disciplinary case filed by the Guam Bar fee to annul her marriage. About a month later, Respondent Ethics Committee for misconduct in acquiring (by way of represented to Complainant that the case was already filed and redemption right assigned by his client) his client’s property as had been set for hearing (but was postponed on various payment for his legal services, which property he later sold for occasions). Upon inquiry with the court, Complainant learned that profit. no petition for annulment of her marriage had been filed. Respondent returned Complainant’s money only after she filed a complaint for disbarment against him. Subsequently, RULING: Atty. Leon G. Maquera REQUIRED TO SHOW CAUSE Complainant filed an affidavit withdrawing her disbarment within 15 days from receipt of resolution why he should not be complaint stating that the complaint arose due to suspended or disbarred for his acts which gave rise to his misapprehension of facts and misunderstanding. suspension in Guam; Atty. Maquera SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one year or until he shall have paid his RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED. Rule 16.01 provides that, “a membership dues, whichever comes later. lawyer shall account for all money or property collected for or from the client”. Acceptance of money from a client establishes an attorney-client relationship and gives rise to the duty of fidelity Power to disbar or suspend a lawyer for acts or omissions to the client’s cause. Money entrusted to a lawyer for a specific committed in a foreign jurisdiction is found in Section 27, purpose, such as for filing fee, but not used for failure to file the Rule 138 (Revised Rules of Court), as amended by February case must immediately be returned to the client on demand. 13, 1992 SC Resolution that “x x x disbarment or Paguinto returned the money only after Pariñas filed this suspension of a member of the Philippine Bar by a administrative case for disbarment. competent court or other disciplinary agency in a foreign jurisdiction where he has also been admitted Paguinto should know that as a lawyer, he owes fidelity to his as an attorney is a ground for his disbarment or 14
suspension if the basis of such action includes any of the acts hereinabove enumerated. The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign court or disciplinary agency shall be prima facie evidence of the ground for disbarment or suspension”.
The Guam court found that Maquera acquired his client’s property by exercising the right of redemption previously assigned to him by the client in payment of his legal services. Such transaction falls squarely under Article 1492 in relation to Article 1491(par.5) of the Civil Code which prohibits the lawyer’s acquisition by assignment of the client’s property which is the subject of the litigation handled by the lawyer. This prohibition is founded on public policy because, by virtue of his office, an attorney may easily take advantage of the credulity and ignorance of his client and unduly enrich himself at the expense of his client. Such acts are violative of a lawyer’s sworn duty to act with fidelity toward his clients. They are also violative of the CPR, that, “a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and shall be mindful the trust and confidence reposed in him (Canon 17)”, and Rule 1.01 which prohibits lawyers from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. The requirement of good moral character is not only a condition precedent to admission to the Philippine Bar but is also a continuing requirement to maintain one’s good’s standing in the legal profession.
The Guam Superior Court’s judgment ordering Maquera’s suspension from the practice of law in Guam does not automatically result in his suspension or disbarment in the Philippines. Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court, the acts which led to his suspension in Guam are mere grounds for disbarment or suspension in this jurisdiction, at that only if the basis of the foreign court’s action includes any of the grounds for disbarment or suspension in this jurisdiction. Maquera however is suspended from law practice for non-payment of his IBP membership dues from 1977 up to the present. Under Section 10, Rule 139-A of the Revised Rules of Court, non-payment of membership dues for six (6) months shall warrant suspension of membership in the IBP, and default in such payment for one year shall be ground for removal of the name of the delinquent member from the Roll of Attorneys. DAN JOEL V. LIM vs. ATTY. EDILBERTO BARCELONA, A.C. No. 5438, 3/10/2004 FACTS: In a joint complaint, businessmen Joel Lim and Richard Tan charged Respondent (formerly chief of the Public Assistance Center of the NLRC) with robbery or extortion and violation of the R.A. 3019. Both Complainants alleged that Respondent had demanded money from them supposedly in settlement of labor cases purportedly filed by their employees and, had even threatened to close their businesses and have them jailed if they refused to settle. Complainant Tan sought the NBI’s assistance and Respondent was apprehended in the act of receiving marked money.
RULING: Respondent DISBARRED for corrupt activity, deceit and gross misconduct.
practice. Want of moral integrity is to be more severely condemned in a lawyer who holds a responsible public office. Rule 1.02 of the CPR provides that “a lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system”. Extortion by a government lawyer, an outright violation of the law, calls for the corresponding grave sanctions. With the aforesaid rule a high standard of integrity is demanded of a government lawyer as compared to a private practitioner because the delinquency of a government lawyer erodes the people’s trust and confidence in the government.
Needless to say, lawyers owe it to the court and to society not to stir up litigations. Employees of the billiards hall, Ditan and Ubante, swore that respondent public officer encouraged complainant Lim’s workers to file a case against the latter. Rule 1.03 of the same Code states that “a lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any man’s cause”.
As lawyer and chief of NLRC Public Assistance Center, Respondent failed to observe prudence by hanging out and playing in the billiard hall. By so doing, he exposed himself unnecessarily to certain elements and situations which could compromise his official position and his status as a lawyer.
The practice of law is a noble profession, a special privilege bestowed only upon those who are competent intellectually, academically and morally. A lawyer must at all times conduct himself, especially in his dealings with his clients and the public at large, with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach. A violation of the high standards of the legal profession subjects the lawyer to administrative sanctions which includes suspension and disbarment. More importantly, possession of good moral character must be continuous as a requirement to the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice; otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground for the revocation of such privilege.
ROSARIO H. MEJARES vs. ATTY. DANIEL T. ROMANA, A.C. No. 6196, 3/17/2004
FACTS: Complainant alleged that she and her union engaged Respondent to represent them in the labor case for illegal termination against their employer. Respondent demanded P500 per union member, and collected, all in all, about P100,000, on top of the agreed 10% attorney’s fee on contingent basis. Respondent supposedly duped the union president into signing a document increasing his attorney’s fees from 10% to 30%. After union members objected to the said increase, Respondent supposedly abandoned the union’s case and neglected to inform them of the dismissal of their case then with the Court of Appeals resulting in the denialwhich neglect adversely affected their case because the motion for reconsideration filed by their new counsel, was denied for being filed late.
RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 6 months for violating Rule 16.01 and Rule 18.04 of the CPR; DIRECTED to render an If a lawyer’s misconduct in the discharge of his official duties as accounting, within thirty (30) days from notice of this Decision, of government official is of such a character as to affect his all the money he received from the union. qualification as a lawyer or to show moral delinquency, he may be disciplined as a member of the Bar on such ground. More significantly, lawyers in government service in the discharge of A lawyer should be scrupulously careful in handling money their official tasks have more restrictions than lawyers in private 15
entrusted to him in his professional capacity. Consequently, when a lawyer receives money from a client for a particular purpose, the lawyer is bound to render an accounting to his client, showing that he spent the money for the purpose intended. Rule 16.01 of the Code provides that, “a lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client”.
The Code also provides that, “a lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence (Canon 18)” and “a lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time to the client’s request for information (Rule 18.04)”. Indeed, the relationship of lawyer-client being one of confidence, there is ever present the need for the lawyer to inform timely and adequately the client of important developments affecting the client’s case. The lawyer should not leave the client in the dark on how the lawyer is defending the client’s interests.
Respondent failed to inform timely and adequately his clients of the decision. Instead of simply leaving a note to his clients, Respondent should have immediately contacted them, explained the decision to them, and advised them on further steps that could be taken to protect their interest. Had not two of his clients persisted in following-up their case, the Union members would not have known of the CA decision. It is clear that Respondent’s nonchalance contributed to the subsequent denial of his clients’ motion for reconsideration, filed by another counsel. By his lackadaisical handling of his clients’ case, respondent all too clearly indicated his “failure to exercise such skill, care, and diligence as men of the legal profession commonly possess and exercise in such matters of the professional employment.”
Respondent’s argument that to disbar him now is tantamount to deprivation of property without due process of law is also untenable. As he himself admits, the practice of law is a privilege. Disbarment proceedings are intended to “to protect the administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this important function shall be competent, honorable and reliable; men in whom courts and clients may repose confidence.” “A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not in any sense a civil action where the complainant is plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a defendant. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and afford no redress for private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for the public welfare, and for the purpose of preserving courts of justice from the official ministrations of persons unfit to practice them.”
For the same reasons, we are disinclined to take Respondent’s old age and the fact that he served in the judiciary in various capacities in his favor. If at all, we hold Respondent to a higher standard for it, for a judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence, and his conduct should be above reproach. The fact that respondent has chosen to engage in private practice does not mean he is now free to conduct himself in less honorable – or indeed in a less than honorable – manner. We stress that membership in the legal profession is a privilege, demanding a high degree of good moral character, not only as a condition precedent to admission, but also as a continuing requirement for the practice of law. Sadly, herein respondent falls short of the exacting standards expected of him as a vanguard of the legal profession.
MICHAEL BARRIOS vs. ATTY. FRANCISCO MARTINEZ, A.C. No. 4585, 11/12/2004 SUSAN CUIZON vs. ATTY. RODOLFO MACALINO, A.C. NO. 4334, 7/7/2004. FACTS: This is a verified petition for disbarment against Respondent for having been convicted by final judgment of a FACTS: Complainant hired Respondent to represent her husband crime (violation of BP22) involving moral turpitude. Twice fined for convicted of a drug charge. Upon Respondent’s suggestion, failing to comment, he was cited in contempt (three years later) Complainant delivered possession of her car to Respondent as and ordered imprisoned and was subsequently released only after compensation for legal services. Later, Respondent offered to buy paying the fine and filing his two-paged comment. Pending the the car for P85,000.00 and paid a P24,000-downpayment. case, the Court received a letter that Respondent was charged in However, Complainant was forced to hire another lawyer because another estafa case and was ordered in another case to return Respondent failed to attend to her husband’s case. After the P60,000 (of the P90,000) he withheld as attorney’s fees in a Complainant filed for Respondent’s disbarment, she reported to civil suit involving victims of the Doña Paz tragedy in 1987 which the Supreme Court that he again committed an infraction of the case he accepted pro bono. law by issuing a worthless check. RULING: Respondent DISBARRED, his name ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. In the present case, Respondent has been found guilty and convicted by final judgment for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 for issuing a worthless check in the amount of P8,000. The issue which concerns us is whether or not said crime involves moral turpitude. Moral turpitude “includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.” It involves “an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes his fellow men, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and woman, or conduct contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.”
RULING: Respondent DISBARRED for gross misconduct rendering him unfit to discharge the duties of his office and unworthy of the trust and confidence reposed on him as an officer of the court. No lawyer is obliged to act either as adviser or advocate for every person who may wish to become his client. However, once he agrees to take up the client’s cause, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. He must serve his client with competence and diligence, and champion the latter’s cause with whole-hearted fidelity. AN ATTORNEY WHO UNDERTAKES TO CONDUCT AN ACTION IMPLIEDLY STIPULATES TO CARRY IT TO ITS CONCLUSION.
Enumerating the elements of that crime, we held that the act of a person in issuing a check knowing at the time of the issuance that he or she does not have sufficient funds in, or credit with, the After agreeing to represent Complainant’s husband, taking drawee bank for the check in full upon its presentment, is a possession of their car and persuading Complainant to sell the manifestation of moral turpitude. same to him for a nominal amount, Respondent refused to carry out his duties as counsel prompting Complainant to secure 16
another lawyer’s services. Respondent clearly breached his pending case, he would again put blame on his third wife in order obligation under Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the CPR which provides to send the marriage to oblivion. that, “a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable”. Respondent has exhibited the vice of entering into multiple marriages and then leaving them behind by the mere expedient Respondent’s infraction is compounded by his issuance of a check of resorting to legal remedies to sever them. The impact of in favor of Complainant’s husband which was later dishonored. respondent’s conduct is incalculable upon his ex-wives as well as Such conduct indicates Respondent’s unfitness for the trust and the children he had by them, their lives having been dislocated confidence reposed on him, shows such lack of personal honesty beyond recall. Such pattern of misconduct by Respondent and good moral character as to render him unworthy of public undermines the institutions of marriage and family, institutions confidence and constitutes a ground for disciplinary action. that this society looks to for the rearing of our children, for the development of values essential to the survival and well-being of FLORENCE MACARRUBO vs. ATTY. EDMUNDO L. our communities, and for the strengthening of our nation as a MACARRUBO, A.C. No. 6148, 2/27/2004 whole. This must be checked if not stopped. FACTS: Complainant, by herself and her two children sought to disbar Respondent for having deceived her into marrying him by representing that his previous marriage with a certain Helen Esparza was void. Respondent later abandoned Complainant and their children and then entered a third marriage with one Josephine T. Constantino. Respondent denied employing deception in marrying Complainant and insisted that she, despite full knowledge of his prior marriage, dragged him against his will to a sham wedding to protect her and her family’s reputation because she was 3-months pregnant. Respondent presented a court decision declaring the nullity of his marriage to Complainant for being a sham, vitiated by fraud, deceit, force and intimidation, barred by legal impediment and want of a valid marriage license.
RULING: Respondent DISBARRED and his name STRICKEN OFF from Roll of Attorneys due to gross immorality. Respondent breached the following precepts of the CPR, that: “a lawyer shall not engage in A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct (Rule 1.01); “a lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession, and support the activities of the Integrated Bar” (CANON 7); and, “a lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession (Rule 7.03)”.
While Respondent’s marriage to Complainant has been annulled by final judgment, this does not cleanse his conduct of every tinge of impropriety. Having lived with Complainant as husband and wife in December 1991 when his first marriage was still subsisting, makes him liable for concubinage – his first marriage having been only annulled on August 21, 1998. Such conduct is inconsistent with the good moral character required for the continued right to practice law as a member of the Philippine bar. It imports moral turpitude and is a public assault upon the basic social institution of marriage. Even assuming that, Complainant coerced him into marriage, the duress, by his own admission ceased after their wedding day, yet, Respondent freely cohabited with her and even begot a second child by her.
In both his marriages to his first wife and to Complainant, Respondent claimed having entered into the marital union against his will. That claim is an affront to the intelligence of the members of this Court to distinguish fact from fiction, reality from fantasy. It is not easy to believe that a lawyer like Respondent could easily be cowered to enter into any marriage. One incident of a “shotgun marriage” is believable, but two such in succession would tax one’s credulity. And then, there is a third marriage to Josephine T. Constantino which is again the subject of another annulment case. It would not come as a surprise if in that
As officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be perceived to be of good moral character and must lead a life in accordance with the highest moral standards of the community. The moral delinquency that affects the fitness of a member of the bar to continue as such, including that which makes a mockery of the inviolable social institution of marriage, outrages the generally accepted moral standards of the community. HON. MARIANO S. MACIAS vs. ATTY. ALANIXON A. SELDA, A.C. No. 6442, 10/21/2004 FACT: Reasoning that he could not cope with the pace of the proceedings vis-à-vis his workload, Respondent submitted to Complainant his withdrawal as counsel for protestee in an election contest before Complainant – motion was granted. Subsequently, Respondent executed an affidavit disavowing his ground for withdrawal and declared that the real reason for withdrawing was that Complainant supposed pre-judged the case and even insinuated to him that his client would lose in the protest. On the basis of Respondent’s affidavit, the protestee moved to inhibit Complainant, which motion, Complainant granted. However, the Supreme Court set aside complainant’s inhibition after finding no strong and valid reason therefor, and directed Complainant to continue hearing the case and to resolve it with reasonable dispatch. Complainant charged that Respondent’s conduct constituted “serious deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct as a lawyer and in utter violation of the lawyer’s oath”. RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 1 year; STERNLY WARNED that repetition of a similar offense will call for a more severe consequence. All members of the legal profession made a solemn oath to, inter alia, “do no falsehood” and “conduct [themselves] as [lawyers] according to the best of [their] knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to [their] clients.” These particular fundamental principles are reflected in the CPR, specifically that, “a lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court(Canon 10)”, “a lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court, nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by an artifice(Rule 10.01)”. When Respondent executed his affidavit retracting his reason for withdrawing as counsel for protestee, he acknowledged, under oath, his misrepresentation. He misled the court in clear violation of his oath as lawyer and failed to abide by the CPR. Candor towards the courts is a cardinal requirement of the practicing lawyer. In fact, this obligation to the bench for candor and honesty takes precedence. Thus, saying one thing in his Motion to Withdraw as Counsel for Private Protestee and another in his subsequent affidavit is a transgression of this imperative 17
which necessitates appropriate punishment.
by their license and the law, the court may be justified in suspending or removing them from that
ROBERTO SORIANO vs. ATTY. MANUEL DIZON, A.C. No. 6792, 1/25/2006 EDUARDO MENESES vs. ATTY. RODOLFO MACALINO, A.C. No. 6651, 2/27/2006 FACTS: Respondent, who was driving his car under the influence of liquor, reacted violently when the taxicab driven by FACTS: Respondent, for a “package deal” of P60,000 offered his Complainant overtook him. When Respondent caught up with legal services to help secure the release of Complainant’s car Complainant, he confronted Complainant and tried to physically from the Bureau of Customs. Despite Complainant’s repeated assault the latter. Respondent, being elderly, was easily subdued attempts to inquire as to the status of the release of his car and but when Complainant let go and returned to his car, Respondent having already paid therefor a total of P40,000.00, more than a got his gun and shot Complainant who was unarmed. year lapsed without any update. After Complainant filed a Complainant fell and held on to Respondent’s thigh, Respondent complaint against Respondent before the NBI, Respondent made simply pushed him out and fled the scene. Criminal charged, partial payment of P20,000.00 but never fully paid Complainant. Respondent was convicted for frustrated murder. Complainant filed for the disbarment of Respondent who neither filed answer nor showed up for the investigation despite due RULING: Respondent DISBARRED; his name ORDERED notice. STRICKEN from Attorney’s Roll. Under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, conviction for a crime involving moral RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 1 year; ORDERED TO turpitude is a ground for disbarment or suspension. By such RETURN to complainant within 30 days from receipt of decision conviction, a lawyer is deemed to have become unfit to uphold full amount of P20,000 with 12% interest per annum. the administration of justice and to be no longer possessed of good moral character. In this case, Respondent has been found Respondent liable for violation of Canon 16, Rule 16.01, guilty; and he stands convicted, by final judgment, of frustrated Rule 16.03, and Rule 18.04 of the CPR. The relationship of homicide. The only question that stands is whether such lawyer-client being one of confidence, it is the lawyer’s duty to conviction involves moral turpitude? keep the client regularly and fully updated on the developments of the client’s case. After receiving P40,000, Respondent was Moral turpitude has been defined as “everything which is done never heard of again, kept Complainant in the dark about the contrary to justice, modesty, or good morals; an act of baseness, status of the release of the car. Only after Complainant filed a vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which a man complaint with the NBI did Respondent communicate with owes his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to justice, Complainant. Moreover, it appears that Respondent failed to honesty, modesty, or good morals.” Homicide may or may not render any legal service to facilitate the car’s release and in fact, involve moral turpitude depending on the degree of the crime. failed to secure the release of the same. Moral turpitude is not involved in every criminal act and is not shown by every known and intentional violation of statute, but The CPR mandates that every “lawyer shall hold in trust all whether any particular conviction involves moral turpitude may moneys and properties of his client that may come into his be a question of fact and frequently depends on all the possession” and that “a lawyer shall account for all money or surrounding circumstances. property collected or received for or from the client” and that he “shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due and Respondent was definitely the aggressor, as he pursued and shot upon demand.” Complainant when the latter least expected it. The act of aggression shown by Respondent will not be mitigated by the fact Respondent specifically received the P40,000 for his legal that he was hit once and his arm twisted by Complainant. Under services and for the processing fee to facilitate the release of the circumstances, those were reasonable actions clearly Complainant’s car. Since Respondent failed to render any legal intended to fend off the lawyer’s assault. Further, there was service to Complainant and he also failed to secure the car’s treachery as a further indication of Respondent’s skewed morals – release, Respondent should have promptly accounted for and he shot the victim when the latter was not in a position to defend returned the money to complainant. But even after demand, himself. In fact, under the impression that the assault was Respondent did not return the money. Again, Respondent waited already over, the unarmed complainant was merely returning until complainant filed a complaint with the NBI before he Respondent’s eyeglasses when he was shot. To make matters refunded the P20,000. Even then, Respondent failed to return the worse, respondent wrapped the handle of his gun with a balance of P20,000 as he promised. His failure to return handkerchief so as not to leave fingerprints. In so doing, he Complainant’s money upon demand is conduct indicative of lack betrayed his sly intention to escape punishment for his crime. of integrity and propriety and a violation of the trust reposed on him. Respondent’s unjustified withholding of money belonging to The totality of the facts unmistakably bears the earmarks of the complainant warrants the imposition of disciplinary action. moral turpitude. By his conduct, respondent revealed his extreme arrogance and feeling of self-importance. As it were, he Respondent’s actuation reveals a high degree of irresponsibility acted like a god on the road, who deserved to be venerated and and shows his lack of respect for the IBP and its proceedings. never to be slighted. Clearly, his inordinate reaction to a simple Respondent’s attitude demonstrates a character which stains the traffic incident reflected poorly on his fitness to be a member of nobility of the legal profession. the legal profession. It is also glaringly clear that respondent seriously transgressed Canon 1 of the Code of Professional RUTHIE LIM-SANTIAGO vs. ATTY. CARLOS B. SAGUCIO, A.C. Responsibility. No. 6705, 3/31/2006 Conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude may relate, not to the exercise of the profession of lawyers, but certainly to their good moral character. Where their misconduct outside of their professional dealings is so gross as to show them morally unfit for their office and unworthy of the privileges conferred upon them
FACT: Complainant, the daughter and special administratrix of the estate of the late Alfonso Lim, took over the management of Taggat Industries, Inc. Respondent, prior to his appointment as provincial prosecutor was the former personnel manager and retained counsel of Taggat Industries. A criminal case filed by 18
Taggat employees against Complainant for non-payment of wages was assigned to Respondent for preliminary investigation. Thereafter, Respondent recommended the filing of the information against Complainant for violation of Art. 222 in relation to Art. 116 of the Labor Code. Complainant sought to disbar Respondent for violating Rule 15.03 of the CPR and for defying the prohibition against private practice of law while working as a government prosecutor (alleging that Respondent continued to accept monthly retainer’s fee even when he was already a government prosecutor).
the CPR. Here, respondent’s violation of RA 6713 also constitutes a violation of Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, which mandates that “[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.” Respondent’s admission that he received from Taggat fees for legal services while serving as a government prosecutor is an unlawful conduct, which constitutes a violation of Rule 1.01.
RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 6 months; although exonerated from the charge of violating Rule 15.03 of the CPR, Respondent is guilty of violating Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the same code against unlawful conduct when he violated Section 7(b)(2) of RA6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees). Canon 6 provides that the CPR “shall apply to lawyers in government service in the discharge of their official duties.” A government lawyer is thus bound by the prohibition “not [to] represent conflicting interests.” However, this rule is subject to certain limitations as when there is no conflict of interest, when written consent of all concerned is given after a full disclosure of the facts or when no true attorney-client relationship exists.
FACTS: Respondent executed a deed assigning all his rights and interest over a townhouse unit and lot in favor of Complainant for the price of P1.5M. Complainant paid P750,000 with the balance to be paid on staggered basis covered by post-dated checks with Respondent’s undertaking to deliver to Complainant a copy of his contract to sell with the townhouse developer and to have the latter execute a deed of absolute sale in Complainant’s favor. After Respondent encashed the first check, Complainant learned from the developer that Respondent had not paid the townhouse in full when he assigned it to Complainant. Complainant stopped payment for the second check and demanded, alternatively for Respondent to deliver a deed of absolute sale in her favor or the return of her money. Respondent asked for time to comply but never did so.
Here, there is no conflict of interests when Respondent handled the preliminary investigation of the criminal complaint filed by Taggat employees in 1997. The issue in the criminal complaint pertains to non-payment of wages that occurred from April 1, 1996 to July 15, 1997. Clearly, Respondent was no longer connected with Taggat during that period since he resigned sometime in 1992. To charge Respondent for representing conflicting interests, evidence must be presented to prove that Respondent used against Taggat, his former client, any confidential information acquired through his previous employment. The only established participation Respondent had with respect to the criminal complaint is that he was the one who conducted the preliminary investigation. On that basis alone, it does not necessarily follow that respondent used any confidential information from his previous employment with complainant or Taggat in resolving the criminal complaint.
RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 3 years. Respondent may have acted in his private capacity when he entered into a contract with Complainant representing to have the rights to transfer title over the townhouse unit and lot in question. When he failed in his undertaking, Respondent fell short of his duty under Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the CPR. It cannot be gainsaid that it was unlawful for respondent to transfer property over which one has no legal right of ownership. Respondent was likewise guilty of dishonest and deceitful conduct when he concealed this lack of right from Complainant. He did not inform Complainant that he has not yet paid in full the price for the subject property and therefore, had no right to sell, transfer or assign said property at the time of the execution of the Deed of Assignment. His acceptance of the bulk of the purchase price amounting to P937,500.00, despite knowing he was not entitled to it, made matters worse for him.
The fact alone that Respondent was the former Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat and the case he resolved as government prosecutor was labor-related is not a sufficient basis to charge him for representing conflicting interests. A lawyer’s immutable duty to a former client does not cover transactions that occurred beyond the lawyer’s employment with the client. The intent of the law is to impose upon the lawyer the duty to protect the client’s interests only on matters that he previously handled for the former client and not for matters that arose after the lawyer-client relationship has terminated.
Respondent’s adamant refusal to return to Complainant the money she paid him, which was the fruit of her labor as an Overseas Filipino Worker for ten (10) years, is morally reprehensible. By his actuations, Respondent failed to live up to the strict standard of morality required by the Code of Professional Responsibility and violated the trust and respect reposed in him as a member of the Bar, and an officer of the court.
“Private practice of law” contemplates a succession of acts of the same nature habitually or customarily holding one’s self to the public as a lawyer. Respondent argues that he only rendered consultancy services to Taggat intermittently and he was not a retained counsel of Taggat from 1995 to 1996 as alleged. This argument is without merit because the law does not distinguish between consultancy services and retainer agreement. For as long as Respondent performed acts that are usually rendered by lawyers with the use of their legal knowledge, the same falls within the ambit of the term “practice of law.”
FACTS: Complainant paid Respondent P2,000 as attorney’s fees to file an unlawful detainer suit. When Respondent failed to file the case, Complainant wrote demanding for the return of her documents. Respondent refused and failed to return her papers resulting in the prescription of the case. Respondent claimed that, by Complainant’s letter withdrawal, he thought that suit was unnecessary as the parties had supposedly agreed that the occupant would voluntarily vacate. Respondent further claimed that he advised Complainant that they could not file the case because the position of municipal trial court judge was vacant.
MARILI C. RONQUILLO, ET. AL. vs. ATTY. HOMOBONO T. CEZAR, A.C. No. 6288, 2006.
FIDELA VDA. DE ENRIQUEZ vs. ATTY. MANUEL G. SAN JOSE, A.C. No. 3569, 2/23/2007
Respondent’s action violated RA6713, however, violations of this RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 6 months; ORDERED TO act is not subject to the disciplinary action under the CPR unless RETURN Complainant’s money plus 12% per annum. The CPR in the violations also constitute infractions of specific provisions of Rule 18.03 enjoins “a lawyer not to neglect a legal matter 19
entrusted to him”, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable. A lawyer engaged to represent a client in a case bears the responsibility of protecting the latter’s interest with utmost diligence. It is the duty of a lawyer to serve his client with competence and diligence and he should exert his best efforts to protect, within the bounds of the law, the interest of his client. It is not enough that a practitioner is qualified to handle a legal matter; he is also required to prepare adequately and give the appropriate attention to his legal work. Respondent fell short of the diligence required of a lawyer entrusted with a case. Complainant hired Respondent and after he wrote a demand to vacate, nine months lapsed and he had done nothing further in connection with the case. AN ATTORNEY WHO UNDERTAKES TO CONDUCT AN ACTION IMPLIEDLY STIPULATES TO CARRY IT TO ITS CONCLUSION. Respondent’s failure to file a pleading is by itself inexcusable negligence. He further aggravates his misconduct by blaming the courts, that is, his excuse that the MCTC having jurisdiction over the case was vacant; that filing of a case would be useless; and that the best thing to do was to wait for the vacancy to be filled, finds no support in the practice of law. The vacancy in court did not suspend the court’s official existence, much less render it functus oficio.
and on the lips (with one hand holding her breast) on two separate occasions, Complainant alleged that she had been meeting Respondent to discuss a collection suit she was intending to file when he committed the acts complained of. In his defense, Respondent admitted kissing Complainant after she offered her lips to him and that considering he had dropped her off at a busy street teeming with people, it would have been impossible to commit the acts imputed to him. RULING: Complaint for disbarment DISMISSED. Respondent REPRIMANDED to be more prudent and cautious in his dealing with his clients; STERN WARNING that repetition of same or similar offense would be sanctioned more severely. The CPR provides that, “a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct (Rule 1.01, Canon 1)”; “a lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar (Canon 7)”; “a lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession (Rule 7.03)”.
MELVIN D. SMALL vs. ATTY. JERRY BANARES, A.C. No. 7021, Possession of good moral character is a continuing condition to 2/21/2007 preserve membership in the Bar in good standing, as such, it is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the FACTS: Complainant paid Respondent P20,0000 as acceptance highest standards of morality. The legal profession exacts from fee and P60,000 as filing fees to file several cases. Despite its members nothing less. This requirement of good moral constant follow-up regarding the status of the cases, Respondent character has four ostensible purposes, namely: (1) to protect the merely informed Complainant that he was still preparing the public; (2) to protect the public image of lawyers; (3) to protect necessary documents. Months later, when Respondent failed, prospective clients; and (4) to protect errant lawyers from upon demand, to present all the documents he supposedly themselves. prepared, Complainant demanded for a full refund and even engaged another lawyer to recover her money. Respondent failed Immorality has not been confined to sexual matters, but includes to comply, prompting Complainant to file a disbarment complaint. conduct inconsistent with rectitude, or indicative of corruption, indecency, depravity and dissoluteness; or is willful, flagrant, or shameless conduct showing moral indifference to opinions of respectable members of the community, and an inconsiderate attitude toward good order and public welfare. Acts of kissing or beso-beso on the cheeks as mere gestures of friendship and camaraderie, forms of greetings, casual and customary. The Code provides that “a lawyer shall serve his client with Respondent’s acts though, in turning the head of Complainant competence and diligence”; “shall keep the client informed of the towards him and kissing her on the lips are distasteful. However, status of his case”; and, “shall respond within a reasonable time such act, even if considered offensive and undesirable, cannot be to the client’s request for information”. After money, Respondent considered grossly immoral. was never heard from again and failed to give Complainant an update on the status of the cases and even actually file the Complainant’s bare allegation that Respondent made use and appropriate cases. Respondent’s failure to communicate with took advantage of his position as a lawyer to lure her to agree to Complainant was an unjustified denial of Complainant’s right to have sexual relations with him, deserves no credit. Burden of be fully informed of the status of the cases. When he agreed to proof rests on Complainant, and she must establish the case be Complainant’s counsel, Respondent undertook to take all the against Respondent by clear, convincing and satisfactory proof. A necessary steps to safeguard Complainant’s interests. By his mere charge or allegation of wrongdoing does not suffice. inaction, Respondent disregarded his duties as a lawyer. Accusation is not synonymous with guilt. RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 2 years for violating Canons 16 and 18 and Rules 16.01, 16.03, and 18.04 of the CPR; ORDERED to RETURN Complainant’s P80,000, with interest at 12% per annum.
The Code also mandates for every lawyer to hold in trust all moneys of his client that may come into his possession. Furthermore, he shall account for all money received from the client and deliver the funds of the client upon demand. Respondent received money and since he failed to render any legal service to Complainant, he should have promptly accounted for and returned the money, but he failed to do so.
Respondent admitted kissing Complainant on the lips but the same was not motivated by malice because right after Complainant expressed her annoyance at being kissed, Respondent promptly extended his apology via cellular phone text message. Also, the incident happened in a place where there were several people in the vicinity considering that Roosevelt Avenue is a major jeepney route for 24 hours. If respondent truly had malicious designs on complainant, he could have brought her CYNTHIA ADVINCULA vs. ATTY. ERNESTO M. MACABATA, to a private place or a more remote place where he could freely A.C. No 7204, 3/7/2007 accomplish the same. FACTS: Complainant sought to disbar Respondent for allegedly The primary purposes of disciplinary proceedings are to protect taking advantage of her, that is, forcibly kissing her on the check the public; to foster public confidence in the Bar; to preserve the 20
integrity of the profession; and to deter other lawyers from similar misconduct. The power to disbar or suspend ought always to be exercised on the preservative and not on the vindictive principle, with great caution and only for the most weighty reasons and only on clear cases of misconduct which seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and member of the Bar.
considering that said proceedings are either “taken by the Supreme Court motu proprio, or by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) upon the verified complaint of any person.” Thus, if the complainant in a disbarment case fails to attach a certification against forum shopping, the pendency of another disciplinary action against the same respondent may still be ascertained with ease.
ROSA YAP-PARAS vs. ATTY. JUSTO PARAS, A.C. No. 4947, Respondent does not deny authorship of the threatening letter to 6/7/2007 Complainant, even spiritedly contesting the charge that the letter is unethical. Canon 19 of the CPR states that, “a lawyer shall FACTS: Based upon the administrative complaint (for deceit, represent his client with zeal within the bounds of the law,” malpractice, grave misconduct, grossly immoral conduct and reminding legal practitioners that a lawyer’s duty is not to his violation of the lawyer’s oath) filed by his wife, Respondent was client but to the administration of justice; to that end, his client’s sentenced to one-year suspension from law practice. Upon receipt success is wholly subordinate; and his conduct ought to and must of the decision, Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration. always be scrupulously observant of law and ethics. In particular, Pending said motion, Complainant filed a motion to cite Rule 19.01 commands that a “lawyer shall employ only fair and Respondent in contempt and/or to disbar his for having continued honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client and shall his law practice despite the one-year suspension order. not present, participate in presenting or threaten to present Respondent belatedly (due to deteriorating health) filed his court- unfounded criminal charges to obtain an improper advantage in any case or proceeding.” Under this Rule, a lawyer should not file required comment to the motion to cite him in contempt. or threaten to file any unfounded or baseless criminal case or RULING: Motion for Contempt and/or Disbarment DENIED; cases against the adversaries of his client designed to secure a Respondent REPRIMANDED for failure to observe the respect leverage to compel the adversaries to yield or withdraw their own due the Court in not promptly complying with this Court’s cases against the lawyer’s client. resolution; WARNED that a more drastic punishment will be In the case at bar, Respondent did exactly what Canon 19 and its imposed upon him for a repetition of the same act. Rule proscribe. Through his letter, he threatened complainant The purpose of disbarment is not meant as a punishment to that should the latter fail to pay the amounts they propose as deprive an attorney of a means of livelihood but is rather settlement, he would file and claim bigger amounts including intended to protect the courts and the public from members of moral damages, as well as multiple charges such as tax evasion, the bar who have become unfit and unworthy to be part of the falsification of documents, and cancellation of business license to esteemed and noble profession. Likewise, the purpose of the operate due to violations of laws. The threats are not only exercise of the power to cite for contempt is to safeguard the unethical for violating Canon 19, but they also amount to functions of the court to assure respect for court orders by blackmail – that is, “the extortion of money from a person by attorneys who, as much as judges, are responsible for the orderly threats of accusation or exposure or opposition in the public administration of justice. We find no sufficient basis to support prints,…obtaining of value from a person as a condition of petitioner-movant’s allegation that e himself took the initiative to refraining from making an accusation against him, or disclosing some secret calculated to operate to his prejudice.” inform the lower court of his one-year suspension. All told, the Court deems a reprimand with warning as a sufficient sanction for Respondent’s failure to promptly comply with its directives. The imposition of this sanction in the present case would be more consistent with the avowed purpose of a disciplinary case, which is not so much to punish the individual attorney as to protect the dispensation of justice by sheltering the judiciary and the public from the misconduct or inefficiency of officers of the court.
It is quite obvious that Respondent’s threat to file cases against Complainant was designed to secure some leverage to compel the latter to give in to his client’s demands. It was not Respondent’s intention to point out Complainant’s violations of the law as he so gallantly claims. Far from it, the letter even contains an implied promise to “keep silent” about the said violations if payment of the claim is made on the date indicated.
Indeed, the writing of demand letters is a standard practice and FERNANDO MARTIN O. PENA vs. ATTY. LOLITO G. APARICIO, tradition in this jurisdiction, usually done by a lawyer pursuant to the principal-agent relationship with his client, the principal. Thus, A.C. No. 7298, 6/25/2007 in the performance of his role as agent, the lawyer may be tasked to enforce his client’s claim and to take all the steps necessary to FACTS: Respondent was counsel for an employee of Respondent collect it, such as writing a letter of demand requiring payment in a labor complaint for illegal dismissal against Complainant. The within a specified period. However, the letter in this case contains latter rejected Respondent’s claim for separation pay and ordered more than just a simple demand to pay. It even contains a threat the employee concerned to report back to work. Respondent then to file retaliatory charges against complainant which have wrote Complainant reiterating the claim for separation pay with nothing to do with his client’s claim for separation pay. the threat that, in case of non-compliance, Complainant would be facing bigger liability from criminal cases for tax evasion and Respondent cannot claim the sanctuary provided by the falsification, being held in abeyance. privileged communication rule under which a private communication executed in the performance of a legal duty is not RULING: Respondent REPRIMANDED for violation of Rule 19.01 actionable. The privileged nature of the letter was removed when of Canon 19 of the CPR; STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of respondent used it to blackmail complainant and extort from the the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely. latter compliance with the demands of his client. As to the necessity of a certification against forum shopping to a While the writing of the letter went beyond ethical standards, we disbarment complaint, it would seem that the scenario sought to hold that disbarment is too severe a penalty to be imposed on be avoided, i.e., the filing of multiple suits and the possibility of respondent, considering that he wrote the same out of his conflicting decisions, rarely happens in disbarment complaints 21
overzealousness to protect his client’s interests. Accordingly, the protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our laws. more appropriate penalty is reprimand. Respondent admittedly is aware of Section 2 of Article XV (The JOSELANO GUEVARRA vs. ATTY. JOSE EMMANUEL EALA, Family), that, “Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the A.C. No. 7136, 8/1/2007 foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State. In this connection, the Family Code, echoing this constitutional FACTS; Complainant first met Respondent in 2000 when Irene, his provision, obligates the husband and the wife “to live together, then fiancée (later that year became his wife) introduced observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help Respondent as her friend who was married and with three and support.” Respondent then violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of children. After their wedding, Complainant noticed his wife the CPR which prohibits a lawyer from engaging in “unlawful, receiving calls and text messages (some read, “I love you or I dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct,” and Rule 7.03 of Canon miss you”) from Respondent. Also, his wife started coming home 7 of the same Code which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in either late or early in the morning at other times, did not go home any “conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice at all. A confrontation ensued after Complainant saw his wife with law.” Respondent, thereafter, his wife left the conjugal house. Complainant later found a love letter from Respondent bearing That the marriage between Complainant and Irene was the date of their wedding day. Still later, Complainant learned that subsequently declared void ab initio is immaterial. The acts Respondent and his wife had been seen on various occasions in complained of took place before the marriage was declared null public, and that they were already living together, and in fact, and void. As a lawyer, Respondent should be aware that a man already had a child of their own. In answer to the disbarment and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife are complaint, Respondent posited that, his special friendship with presumed, unless proven otherwise, to have entered into a lawful Irene was low-profile and not scandalous (as Complainant contract of marriage. In carrying on an extra-marital affair with claimed), and that, he had damaged the institution of marriage as Irene prior to the judicial declaration that her marriage with he was still civil and in good terms with his wife who supposedly complainant was null and void, and despite Respondent himself knew of his relationship with Irene. being married, he showed disrespect for an institution held sacred by the law. And he betrayed his unfitness to be a lawyer. RULING: Respondent DISBARRED for grossly immoral conduct in violation of his oath of office, and violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 TAN TIONG BIO vs. ATTY. RENATO L. GONZALES, A.C. No. and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the CPR. 6634, 8/23/2007 From his answer, Respondent does not deny his adulterous relationship with Irene, “adultery” defined in Art. 333 of the Revised Penal Code as that “committed by any married woman who shall have sexual intercourse with a man not her husband and by the man who has carnal knowledge of her, knowing her to be married, even if the marriage be subsequently declared void.” What Respondent denies is having flaunted such relationship, he maintaining that it was “low profile and known only to the immediate members of their respective families.” Respondent’s denial is a negative pregnant – a denial with admission of the substantial facts in the pleading responded to which are not squarely denied. Without doubt, the adulterous relationship between Respondent and Irene has been sufficiently proven by more than clearly preponderant evidence – that evidence adduced by one party which is more conclusive and credible than that of the other party and, therefore, has greater weight than the other – which is the quantum of evidence needed in an administrative case against a lawyer.
FACTS: Complainant made a purchase for a real property from the vendor, Fil-Estates Property, Inc., represented by Alice Bondco. The deed of sale therefore was notarized by Respondent (with notarial commission for the jurisdiction of Quezon City). When the vendor failed to deliver the title to a second property purchased by Complainant, he instituted estafa charges and a complaint for disbarment against Respondent for having notarized a deed of sale in Pasig City (at vendor’s headquarter) and for not having required the presence of the parties to the deed of sale. RULING: Respondent PERMANENTLY BARRED from being commissioned as Notary Public; SUSPENDED from law practice for 2 years. There can be quibbling that Respondent breached the injunction against notarizing a document in a place outside one’s commission. Respondent acknowledged that from February 1, 1996 to September 30, 2001, within which period the questioned document was notarized, his notarial commission then issued was for Quezon City, yet the document was notarized in Pasig City. To compound matters, he admitted having notarized hundreds of documents in Pasig City, where he used to hold office, during the period that his notarial commission was only for and within Quezon City.
Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court which provides the ground for disbarment/suspension uses the phrase “grossly immoral conduct,” not “under scandalous circumstances.” While seemingly appearing to be a harmless incident, Sexual intercourse under scandalous circumstances is, following Respondent’s act of notarizing documents in a place outside of or Article 334 (Concubinage) of the Revised Penal Code. beyond the authority granted by his notarial commission, partakes of malpractice of law and falsification. Notarization is not On the charge of immorality, Respondent does not deny that he an empty, meaningless, routinary act, it is invested with had an extra-marital affair with complainant, albeit brief and substantive public interest, such that only those who are qualified discreet, and which act is not “so corrupt and false as to or authorized may act as notaries public. Hence, the constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible requirements for the issuance of a commission as notary public to a high degree” in order to merit disciplinary sanction. While are treated with a formality definitely more than casual. the mere fact of sexual relations between two unmarried adults is not sufficient to warrant administrative sanction for such illicit For all legal intents and purposes, Respondent, by performing behavior, it is not so with respect to betrayals of the marital vow through the years notarial acts in Pasig City where he is not so of fidelity. Even if not all forms of extra-marital relations are authorized, has indulged in deliberate falsehood. By such punishable under penal law, sexual relations outside marriage is malpractice as a notary public, respondent likewise violated considered disgraceful and immoral as it manifests deliberate Canon 7 of the CPR, which directs every lawyer to uphold at all disregard of the sanctity of marriage and the marital vows times the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. 22
WILFREDO T. GARCIA vs. ATTY. BENIAMINO A. LOPEZ, A.C. interest that it is both a power and a duty of the State (through No. 6422, 8/28/2007 this Court) to control and regulate it in order to protect and promote the public welfare. Rule 138 of the Rules of Court FACTS: After Complainant secured a favorable judgment (final and provides for the statutory requirements to practice law. executory) in favor of the late Angelina Sarmiento in a petition for registration of title, he moved to cite the Land Registration May a lawyer who has lost his Filipino citizenship still practice law Authority in contempt for failing to issue the decree of in the Philippines? No. The Constitution provides that the practice registration and certificate of title. Respondent then, claiming to of all professions in the Philippines shall be limited to Filipino be counsel for the heirs of Sarmiento, filed his entry of citizens save in cases prescribed by law. Since Filipino citizenship appearance and motion for postponement. Complainant was is a requirement for admission to the bar, loss thereof terminates surprise by Respondent’s entry considering that he (Complainant) membership in the Philippine bar and, consequently, the privilege had not withdrawn from the case. Complainant contended that to engage in the practice of law. In other words, the loss of Respondent should be sanctioned for misrepresenting to the court Filipino citizenship ipso jure terminates the privilege to practice that he was the counsel of all the heirs of Sarmiento and omitting law in the Philippines. The practice of law is a privilege denied to to mention that complainant was the counsel of record. foreigners. Complainant claimed that, his attorney's fee being on contingent basis, Respondent’s attempt to enter his appearance at the final The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason of stage of the proceedings was tantamount to “unfair harvesting” naturalization as a citizen of another country but subsequently of the fruit of Complainant's labors. reacquired pursuant to RA 9225. This is because “all Philippine citizens who become citizens of another country shall be deemed RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 1 month for violating not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the conditions of Canons 8 and 10, Rules 8.02 and 10.01 of the CPR; WARNED that RA 9225.” Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of commission of the same or similar act will be dealt with more another country is deemed never to have lost his Philippine severely. Lawyers are officers of the court who are empowered to citizenship if he reacquires it in accordance with RA 9225. appear, prosecute and defend the causes of their clients. The law Although he is also deemed never to have terminated his imposes on them peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities. membership in the Philippine bar, no automatic right to resume Membership in the bar imposes on them certain obligations. They law practice accrues. are duty bound to uphold the dignity of the legal profession. They must act honorably, fairly and candidly towards each other and Before a lawyer who reacquires Filipino citizenship pursuant to RA otherwise conduct themselves beyond reproach at all times. 9225 can resume his law practice, he must first secure from this Court the authority to do so, conditioned on: (a) updating and Complainant was the counsel of Sarmiento, the original applicant. payment in full of the annual membership dues in the IBP; (b) Upon her death, the attorney-client relationship was terminated. payment of professional tax; (c) completion of at least 36 credit However, complainant was retained as counsel by Gina Jarviña hours of mandatory continuing legal education; this is specially and Alfredo Ku. In filing an entry of appearance with motion of significant to refresh the applicant/petitioner’s knowledge of postponement in behalf of the “compulsory heirs of the late Philippine laws and update him of legal developments and (d) Angelita Sarmiento” when in truth he was merely representing retaking of the lawyer’s oath which will not only remind him of his some of the heirs but not all of them, Respondent was guilty of duties and responsibilities as a lawyer and as an officer of the misrepresentation which could have deceived the court. He had Court, but also renew his pledge to maintain allegiance to the no authorization to represent all the heirs. He clearly violated his Republic of the Philippines. lawyer's oath that he will “do no falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in court.” (Canon 10, Rule 10.01, Canon 8 of the CLARITA J. SAMALA vs. ATTY. LUCIANO D. VALENCIA, A.C. CPR). No. 5439, January 2007. Even assuming that it was not a calculated deception, Respondent was still reiss in his duty to his fellow lawyer and the court. He should have been more careful about his actuation since the court was relying on him in its task of ascertaining the truth. PETITION FOR LEAVE TO RESUME PRACTICE OF LAW, BENJAMIN M. DACANAY, Petitioner,, B.M. No. 1678, 12/17/2007 FACTS: Petitioner was admitted to the Phil. Bar in 1960 and practiced law till he migrated to Canada in December 1998. He later applied and became a Canadian citizen in 2004 to avail of Canda’s free medical aid program for his ailments. In July 2006, pursuant to RA9225 (Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003), Petitioner reacquired his Phil. Citizenship. It is his intention to resume his law practice, hence, the question – whether Petitioner lost his membership in the Phil. Bar when he gave up his citizenship in 2004. RULING: Petition GRANTED, subject to compliance with conditions stated above and submission of such compliance to the Bar Confidant, after which he may retake his oath as a member of the Philippine bar. The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions. It is so delicately affected with public
FACTS: Complainant charged that, in one case for non-payment of rentals, Respondent acted as counsel for the defendant (Valdez) and also as counsel for the tenants (Lagmay, Bustamante, etc.), then, in another case for ejectment, Respondent acted as counsel for the plaintiff (Valdez and Alba) against Bustamante. Later, in a civil suit for rescission of contract, Respondent represented plaintiff (Valdez) against Alba (a former client). Further, Complainant charged that Respondent knowingly misled the court by submitting as evidence for his client, plaintiff (Valdez) title to real property which had already been cancelled to prove his client’s ownership. Lastly, Complainant alleged that Respondent is immoral for siring illegitimate children. RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 3 years for misconduct and violation of Canons 21, 10 and 1 of the CPR. Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the CPR provides that a lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests, except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. A lawyer may not, without being guilty of professional misconduct, act as counsel for a person whose interest conflicts with that of his present or former client. This stern rule is founded on the principles of public policy and good taste and springs from the relation of attorney and client which is one of trust and confidence. Lawyers are expected not only to keep inviolate the client’s confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-dealing for 23
only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to the completion of the specific task for which the attorney was their lawyers, which is of paramount importance in the employed. In this case, upon their appointment as special coadministration of justice. administrators of the estate, Complainants terminated their attorney-client relationship with Respondent. Notably, the Respondent MUST comply with Canon 21 of the CPR that, “a difference between revocation of the authority by the act of the lawyer shall preserve the confidences and secrets of his client client and by the act of the attorney is that the first may be done even after the attorney-client relation is terminated.” This is so at any time with or without cause, whereas the second can be because attorney-client relation is one of trust and confidence of made only with the client’s written consent or for justified cause. the highest degree. A lawyer becomes familiar with all the facts connected with his client’s case. He learns from his client the Respondent’s obstinate refusal to withdraw from the intestate weak and strong points of the action – this knowledge must be proceedings was improper. Since his unauthorized appearance considered sacred and guarded with care. was willful, he could have been cited in contempt as an officer of the court who has misbehaved in his official transactions. In Respondent cannot feign ignorance of the fact that the title he addition, he may be disciplined for professional misconduct. A submitted, in a case filed in 2002, proving his client’s ownership lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for any violation of his was already cancelled in lieu of a new title in favor of the oath, a patent disregard of his duties, or an odious deportment defendant considering that the new title was issued in 1995. unbecoming an attorney. Among the grounds enumerated in Respondent failed to comply with Canon 10 of the CPR that, “a Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court are deceit; malpractice; lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of gross misconduct in office, etc. any in court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice”. A LAWYER IS THE SERVANT OF THE LAW AND A lawyer must at no time be wanting in probity and moral fiber BELONGS TO A PROFESSION TO WHICH SOCIETY HAS ENTRUSTED which are not only conditions precedent to his entrance to the Bar THE ADMINISTRATION OF LAW AND DISPENSATION OF JUSTICE. AS but are likewise essential demands for his continued membership SUCH, HE SHOULD MAKE HIMSELF MORE EXEMPLAR FOR OTHERS therein. TO EMULATE. CELIA ARROYO-POSIDIO vs. ATTY. JEREMIAS R. VITAN, A.C. NAPOLEON R. GONZAGA vs. ATTY. EUGENIO V. No. 6051, 4/2/2007 VILLANUEVA, JR., A.C. No. 1954, 7/23/07 FACTS: Complainant paid P20,000 for Respondent to represent FACTS: Respondent, representing himself to be a relative of her in an estate settlement case. When Respondent withdrew, Complainants, offered to handle pro bono, the criminal case she was forced to hire another lawyer. Respondent later involving the murder of their parents. After accepting his offer, convinced Complainant to file another case to recover her share Respondent made Complainants sign a piece of paper in certain properties which he claimed had been left out in the purportedly authorizing him to appear in said case. Later, prior estate settlement case. This time, Complainant paid Complainants engaged one Atty. Mirano to institute estate Respondent P100,000 as legal fees. After several months lapsed proceedings for their deceased parents’ estate. Respondent also without any action filed by Respondent, Complainant decided to filed a similar intestate petition without Complainants’ knowledge forego filing and demanded the return of her P100,000. Due to his and consent and despite knowledge of the filing of a prior refusal to heed Complainant’s repeated demands, Complainant petition. Complainants were shocked when Respondent showed filed a civil case against Respondent which was decided in them the paper they had previously signed on which was inserted Complainant’s favor. To satisfy the judgment against him, his supposed authority to represent them in the estate Respondent issued a P120,00000-check which later on bounced. proceedings. So as not to embarrass Respondent, Complainants allowed him to assist their counsel in the intestate proceedings, RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 1 year; STERNLY but even after Complainants’ appointment as co-administrators WARNED that repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt (and formal termination of Respondent’s appearance in the with more severely. The ethics of the legal profession rightly intestate case), Respondent continued to appear. Administrative enjoin every lawyer to act with the highest standards of complaint against Respondent was filed in 1978 but was resolved truthfulness, fair play and nobility in the course of his practice of by IBP on 2003 due to repeated postponements. During the law. Lawyers are prohibited from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, pendency of the complaint, Complainants died and Respondent’s immoral or deceitful conduct and are mandated to serve their whereabouts were unknown. clients with competence and diligence. To this end, nothing should be done by any member of the legal fraternity which RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 6 months; WARNING might tend to lessen in any degree the confidence of the public in that a repetition of the same or similar acts as those complained the fidelity, honesty, and integrity of the profession. of, to be dealt with more severely. Rule 16.01, Canon 16 of the CPR requires the lawyer “to account Complainants never intended to authorize Respondent to for all money or property collected or received for or from his represent them in the intestate proceedings considering that, (i) client”. Where a client gives money to his lawyer for a specific after signing the questioned “authority” in Respondents’ favor, purpose, such as to file an action, the lawyer should, upon failure Complainants engaged another lawyer for that purpose, (ii) the to take such step and spend the money for it, immediately return other lawyer actually filed the petition signed by all heirs, (iii) the money to his client. Respondent received P100,000.00 as Respondent’s petition was signed only by him and contained legal fees but he failed to file the case. It was imperative that he glaring errors on the ages and respective residences of the heirs, immediately return the amount to Complainant upon demand (iv) Complainants did not appear before the notary public who therefor. Respondent was unjustified in keeping money received supposedly acknowledged the supposed “authority”. as payment for services not rendered. His refusal to return Complainant’s money despite demand constitutes a violation of The relation of attorney-client may be terminated by (1) act of the his oath not to delay any man for money and to conduct himself client; (2) act of the attorney; (3) death of the client; (4) death of with good fidelity to his clients. the attorney; or (5) accomplishment of the purpose for which it was created. Ordinarily, the attorney-client relation is ended by A lawyer should, at all times, comply with what the court lawfully 24
requires. Respondent failed to comply with the order to pay complainant the amount of P100,000.00 as well as interest and attorney’s fees. This refusal constitutes a willful disobedience to the court’s lawful orders. As officers of the court, lawyers are particularly called upon to obey court orders and processes and are expected to stand foremost in complying with court directives. The act of issuing a bouncing check further compounded Respondent’s infractions. A lawyer’s act of issuing a check without sufficient funds constitutes willful dishonesty and immoral conduct as to undermine the public confidence in law and lawyers. Such conduct indicates the respondent’s unfitness for the trust and confidence reposed on him, shows such lack of personal honesty and good moral character as to render him unworthy of public confidence and constitutes a ground for disciplinary action.
commissioned when he is not, is indulging in deliberate falsehood, which the lawyer’s oath similarly proscribes. These violations fall squarely within the prohibition of Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides that “a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.” DOLORES DELA CRUZ vs. ATTY. JOSE R. DIMAANO, JR., A.C. No. 7781, 9/12/2008.
FACTS: Complainants alleged that Respondent notarized a deed of extrajudicial settlement which allowed their sister (Navarro) to assume full ownership of their deceased parents’ estate. Complainants alleged that the signatures in the said deed are forged, that they never appeared and acknowledged the same before Respondent. Respondent explained that, having known, and being neighbors with Navarro for a long time, he believed she would not lie to him and that he relied on her representation that Membership in the legal profession is a privilege. Whenever it is the signatures and community tax certificates appearing in the made to appear that an attorney is no longer worthy of the trust document were true and correct. and confidence of the public, it becomes not only the right but also the duty of this Court, which made him one of its officers and RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 1 year; notarial gave him the privilege of ministering within its Bar, to withdraw commission REVOKED; DISQUALIFIED from being a commission as the privilege. notary public for 2 years. Notaries public should refrain from affixing their signature and notarial seal on a document unless JESSICA UY vs. ATTY. EMMANUEL SAÑO, A.C. No. 6505, the persons who signed it are the same individuals who executed 9/11/2008. and personally appeared before them to attest to the truth of what are stated therein. Without such appearance, notaries public FACTS: Complainant charged Respondent of notarizing several would be unable to verify the genuineness of the signatures of documents despite the expiration of his notarial commission. the acknowledging parties and to ascertain that the document is Respondent admitted the act complaint of, but claimed that the the party’s free act or deed. Further, notaries public are required office aide assigned had represented to him that his commission by the Notarial Law to certify that the party to the instrument has acknowledged and presented the proper residence certificate had already been renewed. while the Notarial Law requires the party to the instrument to RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED from law practice for 6 present competent proof of identity. months; present notarial commission REVOKED; DISQUALIFIED from reappointment as notary public for 2 years; WARNED that Lawyers commissioned as notaries public are mandated to discharge with fidelity the duties of their offices, such duties any similar act/infraction would be dealt with more severely. being dictated by public policy and impressed with public Practice of law, not a right but a privilege bestowed by the State interest. Notarization is not a mere routinary, meaningless act, for on those who show that they possess, and continue to possess, notarization converts a private document to a public instrument, qualifications required by law for conferment of such privilege. making it admissible in evidence without the necessity of preliminary proof of its authenticity and due execution. Membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. Notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary act. It is invested with substantive public interest, such that only those who are qualified and authorized may act as notaries public as such act converts a private document into a public document, making it admissible in evidence without further proof of authenticity. A notarial document is, by law, entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. For this reason, notaries public must observe with utmost care the basic requirements in the performance of their duties.
ATTY. RICARDO SALOMON, JR. vs. ATTY. JOSELITO FRIAL, A.C. No. 7820, 9/12/2008
Facts: Respondent, as counsel in a civil complaint against Complainant, secured the attachment of 2 of the latter’s vehicles. Instead of depositing said vehicles, Respondent took possession of them upon his own undertaking and without court approval. Complainant averred that, on several occasions, one of the vehicles was spotted being used by unauthorized individuals. The second vehicle was destroyed in a fire while being parked in the Respondent’s alleged reliance upon the representation of the residence of Respondent who failed to inform the court of such office aide shows disregard of the requirements for issuance of a fact. notarial commission. To be sure, the requirements for the issuance of a notarial commission must not be treated as a mere RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 1 year for grave casual formality. A LAWYER’S ACT OF NOTARIZING DOCUMENTS misconduct and infidelity in the custody of properties in custodial WITHOUT THE REQUISITE COMMISSION THEREFOR IS egis. A writ of attachment issues to prevent the defendant from REPREHENSIBLE, CONSTITUTING AS IT DOES, NOT ONLY disposing of the attached property, thus securing satisfaction of MALPRACTICE, BUT ALSO THE CRIME OF FALSIFICATION OF PUBLIC any judgment that may be recovered by the plaintiff or any proper party. When the attached objects are destroyed, then the DOCUMENTS. attached properties would necessarily be of no value and the Where the notarization of a document is done by a member of the attachment would be for naught. Bar at a time when he has no authorization or commission to do so, the offender may be subjected to disciplinary action, being a Respondent is guilty of grave misconduct for violating Canon 11 violation of the lawyer’s oath to obey the laws, more specifically, of the Canons of Professional Ethics (“lawyer should refrain from the Notarial Law. Also, by making it appear that he is duly any action whereby for his personal benefit or gain he abuses or 25
takes advantage of the confidence reposed in him by his client x receiving the full amount of legal fees and after assuring the x x money of the client or collected for the client or other trust client of his commitment and responsibility violates the CPR. property coming into the possession of the lawyer should be reported and accounted for promptly and should not under any circumstance be commingled with his own or be used by him”). “A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct” (Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the CPR). Deceitful Disbarment is meted out only in clear cases of misconduct that conduct involves moral turpitude and includes anything done seriously affect the standing and moral character of a lawyer as contrary to justice, modesty or good morals. It is an act of an officer of the court and member of the bar. Disbarment, baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and social duties jurisprudence teaches, should not be decreed where any which a man owes to his fellowmen or to society in general, punishment less severe, such as reprimand, suspension, or fine, contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals. would accomplish the end desired. This is as it should be Representing to Complainant that he would take care of the cases considering the consequence of disbarment on the economic life filed against him, assuring Complainant that his property involved and honor of the erring person. in a civil case would be safeguarded, and then collecting the full amount of legal fees of PhP900,000.00, only to desert the PHILUX, INC. vs. NLRC, G.R. No. 151854, 9/3/2008 complainant after receipt of the fees, were manifestly deceitful and dishonest. FACTS: Petitioner ascribes to their lawyer the failure to attach the required appeal bond to his motion for reconsideration. Due to said defect, the NLRC dismissed the appeal taken by Petitioner from the Labor Arbiter’s decision finding illegal dismissal. A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence. A Petitioner argues that they should not suffer the consequences of lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his their counsel’s negligence and/or gross ignorance of the rules of negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable. procedure because gross injustice would result. RULING: Petition is DENIED. Petitioners’ case does not fall under the exception but rather is squarely within the ambit of the general rule, that, A CLIENT IS BOUND BY THE ACTS, EVEN MISTAKES, OF HIS COUNSEL IN THE REALM OF PROCEDURAL TECHNIQUE. The exception to this rule is WHEN COUNSEL’S NEGLIGENCE IS SO GROSS, RECKLESS AND INEXCUSABLE THAT THE CLIENT IS DEPRIVED OF HIS DAY IN COURT, IN WHICH CASE THE REMEDY IS TO REOPEN THE CASE AND ALLOW THE PARTY DENIED HIS DAY IN COURT TO ADDUCE HIS EVIDENCE. This ground cannot be lightly invoked, otherwise, there would never be an end to a suit so long as new counsel would be employed who could allege and show that prior counsel had not been sufficiently diligent, or experienced, or learned.
The CPR further provides that a lawyer is required to keep the client informed of the status of his case and to respond within a reasonable time to the client’s request for information. The respondent did the opposite. Despite Complainant’s efforts to consult him and notwithstanding numerous attempts to contact him, simply to ask for an update of the status of the cases, Respondent was able to avoid Complainant and never bothered to reply.
“A lawyer shall account for all money and property collected or received for and from the client” (Rule 16.01, Canon 16). Complainant paid p900,000.00 to Respondent for legal services to be rendered. However, since Respondent did not carry out any of TORBEN B. OVERGAARD vs. ATTY. GODWIN VALDEZ, A.C. the services he was engaged to perform, he must immediately No. 7902, 9/20/2008 return the money he received from the client upon demand. However, he refused to return the money he received from FACTS: Complainant, a Dutch national paid Respondent P900,000 Complainant despite written demands, and was not even able to to represent him in several cases filed by, and against him. give a single report regarding the status of the cases. Despite continued efforts to contact (via unanswered phone calls and e-mails) Respondent to inquire on the status of the cases, Later, Complainant learned that Respondent did not file his entry of appearance in the cases he filed. Further, Respondent failed to Acceptance of money from a client establishes an attorney-client inform him that he was entitled to prepare a counter-affidavit to relationship and gives rise to the duty of fidelity to the client's answer the complaint for other light threats. Worse, Complainant cause. Money entrusted to a lawyer for a specific purpose – such had no knowledge that there had already been arraignment dates as for filing fees – but not used for failure to file the case, must for the criminal cases against him, and that warrants had already immediately be returned to the client on demand. been issued for his non-attendance.
WILFREDO M. CATU vs. ATTY. VICENTE G. RELLOSA, A.C. RULING: Respondent DISBARRED, his name STRICKEN from the No. 5738, 2/19/2008 Roll of Attorneys; ordered to immediately RETURN to Complainant all his papers and documents and his money. FACTS: Respondent entered his appearance as counsel for the defendants in an ejectment case when he, as barangay captain, had previously presided over the Lupon conciliation proceedings involving the same parties in the ejectment case. Respondent has indubitably fallen below the exacting standards demanded of members of the bar. He did not merely neglect his RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 6 months for professional client’s cause, he abandoned his client and left him without any misconduct in violating his lawyer’s oath and Canons 1 and 7 and recourse but to hire another lawyer. To hide from Complainant, Rule 1.01 of the CPR; STERNLY WARNED that any repetition of avoid his calls, ignore his letters, and leave him helpless is similar acts shall be dealt with more severely. unforgivable; and to commit all these acts and omissions after 26
Respondent cannot be found liable for violation of Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. As worded, that Rule applies only to a lawyer who has left government service and in connection “with any matter in which he intervened while in said service.” In PCGG v. Sandiganbayan, we ruled that Rule 6.03 prohibits former government lawyers from accepting “engagement or employment in connection with any matter in which [they] had intervened while in said service.” Respondent was an incumbent punong barangay at the time he committed the act complained of. Therefore, he was not covered by that provision.
language. Language abounds with countless possibilities for one to be emphatic but respectful, convincing but not derogatory, illuminating but not offensive. In keeping with the dignity of the legal profession, a lawyer’s language even in his pleadings must be dignified. It is of no consequence that the allegedly malicious statements of respondent were made not before a court but before the BSP.
Respecting respondent’s argument that the matters stated in the Answer he filed before the BSP were privileged, it suffices to stress that lawyers, though they are allowed a latitude of pertinent remark or comment in the furtherance of the causes Section 90 of RA 7160, Not Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713, Governs they uphold and for the felicity of their clients, should not trench The Practice of Profession of Elective Local Government Officials. beyond the bounds of relevancy and propriety in making such While certain local elective officials (like governors, mayors, remark or comment. provincial board members and councilors) are expressly subjected to a total or partial proscription to practice their This Court has consistently considered disbarment and profession or engage in any occupation, no such interdiction is suspension of an attorney as the most severe forms of made on the punong barangay and the members of the disciplinary action to be imposed with great caution and to be sangguniang barangay. Since they are excluded from any meted out only for duly proven serious administrative charges. prohibition, the presumption is that they are allowed to practice Thus, while Respondent is guilty of using infelicitous language, their profession. And this stands to reason because they are not such transgression is not of a grievous character as to merit mandated to serve full time. In fact, the sangguniang barangay is respondent’s disbarment. In light of respondent’s apologies, the supposed to hold regular sessions only twice a month. Court finds it best to temper the penalty for his infraction which, Accordingly, as punong barangay, respondent was not forbidden under the circumstances, is considered simple, rather than grave, to practice his profession. However, he should have procured misconduct. prior permission or authorization from the head of his Department, as required by civil service regulations. WILSON CHAM vs. ATTY. EVA PAITA-MOYA, A.C. No. 7494, As punong barangay, respondent should have therefore obtained the prior written permission of the Secretary of Interior and Local Government before he entered his appearance as counsel. Respondent’s failure to comply with Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Rules constitutes a violation of his oath as a lawyer: to obey the laws. Lawyers are servants of the law. In acting as counsel for a party without first securing the required written permission, respondent not only engaged in the unauthorized practice of law but also violated civil service rules which is a breach of Rule 1.01 of the CPR that, “A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct”.
6/27/2008 FACTS: Respondent leased an apartment unit from Greenville Realty and Development Corp. represented by Complainant as its president and general manager. Her total unpaid account reached P71,1007.88. Despite repeated demands, Respondent failed to pay her account and even vacated the leased premises without notifying Complainant. RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 1 month; WARNED that repetition of same or similar act will be dealt with more severely. Having incurred just debts, Respondent had the moral duty and legal responsibility to settle them when they became due.
JOSE C. SABERON vs. ATTY. FERNANDO T. LARONG, A.C. Respondent left the apartment unit without settling her unpaid No. 6567, 4/16/2008 obligations, and without the complainant’s knowledge and consent. Respondent’s abandonment of the leased premises to FACTS: Complainant filed before the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas avoid her obligations for the rent and electricity bills constitutes (BSP) to cancel Surigaonon Rural Banking Corporation’s deceitful conduct violative of the Code of Professional registration and franchise for refusing to return various checks Responsibility, particularly Canon I (“a lawyer shall uphold the and land titles given as security for a loan despite alleged full constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for payment. Respondent, as counsel for the bank filed various law and legal processes”) and Rule 1.01 (“a lawyer shall not pleadings with the BSP allegedly using abusive and offensive engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct”). language hinting that Complainant was merely blackmailing/ coercing the bank for financial gain. Lawyers are instruments for the administration of justice. As RULING: Respondent FINED P20,000 for simple negligence in using intemperate language; STERNLY WARNED that repetition of this or similar act will be dealt with more severely. The CPR mandates that, “A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel” (Canon 8), particularly that, “a lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper” Rule 8.01).
vanguards of our legal system, they are expected to maintain not only legal proficiency but also a high standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing. In so doing, the people’s faith and confidence in the judicial and legal system is ensured. MARISA BACATAN WILLIAMS vs. ATTY. RODRIGO ICAO, A.C. No. 6882, 12/24/2008
FACTS: Complainants claim that Respondent notarized a “Declaration of Heirship and Partition making it appear that three of the signatories thereto signed it in his presence when in truth The adversarial nature of our legal system has tempted members they did not. of the bar to use strong language in pursuit of their duty to advance the interests of their clients. However, while a lawyer is RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 1 year from practice of law entitled to present his case with vigor and courage, such and from his commission as a notary public; WARNED that enthusiasm does not justify the use of offensive and abusive commission of same or similar acts will be dealt with more 27
FACT: Complainant and Respondent were married in 1942 and with 12 children. Sometime in 1968, Respondent abandoned his The document does not bear the residence certificate number of family and cohabited with Benita (a married woman) with whom one of the signatories. In subsequently notarizing the document, he has 4 children. Complainant prayed for Respondent’s Respondent violated the Notarial Law then effective which disbarment on grounds of immorality and abandonment. required the notary public to certify that a party to the instrument which was acknowledged before him had presented the proper RULING: Respondent DISBARRED; his name STRICKEN from residence certificate. This formality is mandatory and cannot be Attorney’s Roll, for violating Rule 1.01 (“a lawyer shall not engage neglected, failure to comply with which results in the revocation in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct”), Canon 7 of a notary’s commission. (“a lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar”), By Respondent’s admission, the signatories to the document did and Rule 7.03 (“a lawyer shall not engage in conduct that not personally sign it in his presence. He, however, claims that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor should he, they appeared before him and confirmed their identities and whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner acknowledged that the signatures appearing thereon were theirs. to the discredit of the legal profession”). If indeed the heirs-signatories and their witnesses had personally appeared before respondent, it is beyond comprehension why he The requirement of good moral character is of much greater did not ask them to affix their signatures in his presence. By such import, as far as the general public is concerned, than the omission, he failed to heed his duty as a notary public to demand possession of legal learning. Good moral character is not only a that the document for notarization be signed in his presence. condition precedent for admission to the legal profession, but it must also remain intact in order to maintain one’s good standing WALTER WILKIE vs. ATTY. SINAMAR E. LIMOS, A.C. No. in that exclusive and honored fraternity. 7505, 10/24/2008 Immoral conduct has been described as that conduct which is so FACTS: Complainant hired Respondent for his petition to adopt his willful, flagrant, or shameless as to show indifference to the wife’s nephew. Sometime later, Respondent borrowed opinion of good and respectable members of the community. To P250,000.00 covered by a loan agreement stipulating for 24% per be the basis of disciplinary action, such conduct must not only be annum. Respondent issued two post-dated checks to cover for immoral, but grossly immoral. her loan which later however “bounced” due to insufficiency of funds. Repeated demands were merely ignored by Respondent. As officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen to be of good moral RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 3 months; WARNED that character and leading lives in accordance with the highest moral repetition of same or similar acts will merit a more severe penalty. standards of the community. A member of the bar and an officer of the court is not only required to refrain from adulterous We have held that the issuance of checks which were later relationships or keeping a mistress but must also so behave dishonored for having been drawn against a closed account himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the indicates a lawyer’s unfitness for the trust and confidence impression that he is flouting those moral standards. reposed on her. It shows a lack of personal honesty and good moral character as to render her unworthy of public confidence. The issuance of a series of worthless checks also shows the remorseless attitude of respondent, unmindful to the deleterious effects of such act to the public interest and public order. It also manifests a lawyer’s low regard to her commitment to the oath she has taken when she joined her peers, seriously and irreparably tarnishing the image of the profession she should hold in high esteem.
While the onus rests Complainant proffering the charges to prove the same, Respondent owes himself and the Court the duty to show that he is morally fit to remain a member of the bar. Mere denial of wrongdoing would not suffice in the face of clear evidence demonstrating unfitness. When one’s moral character is assailed, such that his right to continue practicing his cherished profession is imperiled, it behooves the individual concerned to meet the charges squarely and present evidence, to the satisfaction of the investigating body and this Court, that he is Section 5, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court provides in part that, morally fit to keep his name in the Roll of Attorneys. “no investigation shall be interrupted or terminated by reason of the desistance, settlement, compromise, restitution, withdrawal ANTONIO DE ZUZUARREGUI, JR. vs. ATTY. APOLONIA of the charges, or failure of the complainant to prosecute the SOGUILON A.C. No. 4495, 10/8/2008 same”. FACTS: Complainant charged that Respondent, as counsel for Disbarment is meted out only in clear cases of misconduct that petitioner in a case for reconstitution of title submitted certain seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an documents as evidence, and thereby misled the trial court by not officer of the court. While we will not hesitate to remove an erring calling its attention to the notations indicated in the documents. attorney from the esteemed brotherhood of lawyers, where the evidence calls for it, we will also not disbar him where a lesser RULING: Petition DENIED; administrative complaint for penalty will suffice to accomplish the desired end. In this case, disbarment of Respondent DISMISSED for lack of merit. Respondent has fully paid her obligation to Complainant. The criminal cases filed by Complainant have been dismissed and this The crux of the controversy is whether Respondent maliciously is the first time a complaint of such nature has been filed against misled the court by failing to point out material notations in the Respondent. Under these circumstances, the Court rules and so documents she had submitted. Respondent did not employ deceit holds that a suspension of three months from the practice of law or misrepresentation in acting as counsel for the petitioner in the would be sufficient sanction on the respondent. petition for reconstitution of title. Anent respondent’s failure to point out the notations in the documents, there was absence of REBECCA B. ARNOBIT vs. ATTY. PONCIANO P. ARNOBIT proof that Respondent had intended to mislead or deceive the A.C. No. 1481, 10/17/2008 trial court. In fact, the said notations were laid bare for the trial court’s evaluation. There were no attempts on respondent’s part 28
to manipulate or hide them.
In administrative cases for disbarment or suspension against lawyers, the quantum of proof required is clearly preponderant evidence and the burden of proof rests upon the complainant. In the present case, Complainant, who notably owns one of the properties subject of the title sought to be reconstituted, and is consequently an adverse party, failed to present clear and preponderant evidence to show Respondent’s guilt of the charges he had leveled against her.
The pendency of the criminal case against Respondent is of no moment. Respondent, being a member of the bar, should note that administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from and they may proceed independently of criminal cases. A criminal prosecution will not constitute a prejudicial question even if the same facts and circumstances are attendant in the administrative proceedings. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and afford no redress for private grievance but, are undertaken and prosecuted AURELIO M. SIERRA, versus JHOSEP Y. LOPEZ, ET. AL., A.C. solely for the public welfare and for preserving courts of justice from the official ministration of persons unfit to practice law. No. 7549, 8/29/2008 FACTS: Complainant filed several criminal cases before the Manila City Prosecutor’s Office. Later, in her complaint for disbarment, Complainant charged Respondents (all assistant city prosecutors) with dereliction of duty and gross ignorance of the law for not requiring the parties in the criminal cases to appear simultaneously during preliminary investigation.
The fact that respondent went into hiding in order to avoid service upon him of the warrant of arrest issued by the court (where his criminal case is pending) exacerbates his offense. Respondent’s contumacious behavior grossly degrades the legal profession and warrants the imposition of a much graver penalty --- disbarment. Of all classes and professions, the lawyer is most sacredly bound to uphold the laws. He is their sworn servant; and for him, of all men in the world, to repudiate and override the laws, to trample them underfoot and to ignore the very bonds of society, argues recreancy to his position and office, and sets a pernicious example to the insubordinate and dangerous elements of the body politic.
RULING: Complaint DENIED for lack of merit. Rule 112 of the Rules of Court lays down the basic procedure in preliminary investigation. This provision of the Rules does not require a confrontation between the parties. Preliminary investigation is ordinarily conducted through submission of affidavits and supporting documents, through the exchange of pleadings. Since confrontation between the parties is not imperative, it follows that it is not necessary that the counter-affidavit of respondent be JUANITA MANOIS vs. ATTY. VICTOR DECIEMBRE, A.C. No. sworn to before the investigating prosecutor himself. It can be 5364, 8/20/2008 sworn to before another prosecutor. FACTS: Complainant loaned P20,000.00 from Respondent and Lastly, we hold that the investigating prosecutors did not abuse delivered to him blanks checks to be accordingly filled out by their discretion when they denied the request of the complainant Respondent with the agreed monthly installments. Despite full for the conduct of clarificatory questioning. The rule provides payment, Respondent refused to return the remaining blank that the conduct of clarificatory questioning is discretionary upon checks supposedly because the loan had not yet been fully paid the prosecutor. as payments made were allegedly credited to interest on the loan. Respondent thereafter filled out the blank checks to an CATHERINE & HENRY YU vs ATTY. ANTONIUTTI K. PALAÑA, amount of P287,500.00 and later used this checks as basis in filing cases against Complainant for estafa and violation of B.P. A.C. No. 7747, 7/14/2008 22. FACTS: Complainants invested their money in Wealth Marketing and General Services Corp., a company engaged in spot currency trading which company issued post-dated checks to cover for their investments. When said checks bounced, Complainants learned that the company had ceased operation and a new corporation was formed. Complainants met Respondent (in the office of the new corporation) who assured them that the new corporation would assume the rights and pay the obligations of the previous company. Respondent even signed an agreement to put some semblance of validity to his representation. Despite demand, Complainants were never paid and were forced to file criminal charges for syndicated estafa and violation of BP22. They also sought to disbar Respondent. Despite the standing warrant for his arrest, Respondent went into hiding and has been successful in defying the law, to this date. RULING: Respondent DISBARRED; STRICKEN from Attorney’s Roll.
Lawyers are instruments in the administration of justice. As vanguards of our legal system, they are expected to maintain not only legal proficiency but also a high standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing. In so doing, the people’s faith and confidence in the judicial system is ensured. In the present case, two corporations were created where the respondent played a vital role, being Wealth Marketing’s Chairman of the Board and Ur-Link’s representative. Respondent’s conduct falls short of the exacting standards expected of him as a vanguard of the legal
RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY for gross misconduct and violation of Rule 1.01 and 7.03 of the CPR. A lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes (Canon 1); “lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct (Rule 1.01).” The CPR likewise mandates that “a lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession”. To this end, nothing should be done by any member of the legal fraternity which might tend to lessen in any degree the confidence of the public in the fidelity, honesty and integrity of the profession. Respondent failed to comply with the foregoing canons. Complainant had supplied Respondent with blank personal checks as security for the P20,000 loan contracted and which Respondent later deceitfully filled out with various amounts they had not agreed upon and with full knowledge that the loan had already been paid. After the filled-out checks had been dishonored upon presentment, Respondent even imprudently filed multiple lawsuits against Complainant. Verily, Respondent is guilty of serious dishonesty and professional misconduct. He committed an act indicative of moral depravity not expected from and highly unbecoming of a member of the Bar. The fact that the conduct pertained to Respondent’s private dealings with complainant is of no moment. A lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral 29
character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. Possession of good moral character is not only a good condition precedent to the practice of law, but also a continuing qualification for all members of the Bar.
principal does not make this case less serious since it is immaterial whether Ms. Samaniego is in pari delicto. We must emphasize that this Court’s investigation is not about Ms. Samaniego’s acts but Atty. Ferrer’s conduct as one of its officers and his fitness to continue as a member of the Bar.
JUDGE ALDEN CERVANTES vs. ATTY. JUDE JOSUE SABIO, A.C. No. 7828, 8/11/2008 Finally, it is opportune to remind Atty. Ferrer and all members of the bar of the following norms under the CPR: “A lawyer shall not FACTS: Complainant, a retired MTC judged formerly presided over engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct” ejectment cases filed by Extra-Ordinary Development Corporation (Rule 1.01); “A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and (EDC) against Respondent’s clients. Respondent had, in these dignity of the legal profession and support the activities of the cases, sought for Complainant’s inhibition supposedly because integrated bar” (Canon 7); and “A lawyer shall not engage in EDC gave Complainant a house and lot. These motions were conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor denied. Respondent then lodged a complaint for bribery against shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous Complainant after the latter’s retirement claiming that manner to the discredit of the legal profession” (Rule 7.03). Complainant’s orders and decisions came from a computer when Respondent ought always to keep in mind the responsibilities of a the court did not have one; that an EDC personnel would go to father to all his children. If there be a resultant hardship on them court with certain papers for Complainant to sign; that because of this case, let it be impressed on all concerned that the Complainant allegedly received P500.00 for every order or direct cause thereof was his own misconduct. decision released in EDC’s favor; that Complainant refused attempts to postpone hearings of EDC’s complaints to expedite EUGENIA MENDOZA vs. ATTY. VICTOR V. DECIEMBRE, A.C. the disposition thereof. When the Office of the Court No. 5338, 2/23/2009 Administrator (OCA) dismissed Respondent’s complaint for being “unsubstantiated and motivated by plain unfounded suspicion”, FACTS: Complainant charged that Respondent had fraudulently Complainant filed a disbarment complaint against Respondent. filled up blank post-dated checks without her authority and used the same for filing unfounded criminal suits against her. For a RULING: Respondent FINED P5,000 Pesos; WARNED that certain loan Complainant took out, she delivered several blank repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more checks to Respondent. Later, claiming that Complainant had severely. Respondent ought to be aware that if a court official or received P100,000, Respondent filled up two of the blank checks employee or a lawyer is to be disciplined, the evidence against for P50,000 each. When these checks bounced, Respondent him should be substantial, competent and derived from direct initiated BP22 cases against Complainant. knowledge, not on mere allegations, conjectures, suppositions, or on the basis of hearsay. RULING: Respondent DISBARRED for gross misconduct and violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the No doubt, it is this Court’s duty to investigate the truth behind CPR; his name ORDERED STRICKEN OFF the Attorney’s Roll. charges against judges and lawyers. But it is also its duty to The practice of law is not a right but merely a privilege bestowed shield them from unfounded suits which are intended to, among by the State upon those who show that they possess, and other things, harass them. continue to possess, the qualifications required by law for the conferment of such privilege. A high sense of morality, honesty By filing the groundless bribery charge against Complainant, and fair dealing is expected and required of members of the bar. Respondent violated the proscription of the Code of Professional They must conduct themselves with great propriety, and their Responsibility against “wittingly or willingly promot[ing] or su[ing] behavior must be beyond reproach anywhere and at all times. any groundless suit” including baseless administrative complaints against judges and other court officers and employees. Absence of attorney-client relationship in this case what with the Respondent violated Canons 10, 11 and 12 and Rule 11.04 of the transactions having been entered into by Respondent in his CPR under his oath of office. private capacity cannot shield Respondent, as a lawyer, from liability. A lawyer may be disciplined for acts committed even in MARJORIE F. SAMANIEGO vs. ATTY. ANDREW V. FERRER, his private capacity for acts which tend to bring reproach on the legal profession or to injure it in the favorable opinion of the A.C. No. 7022, 6/18/2008 public. FACTS: Complainant was Respondent’s client. The lawyer-client relationship became intimate, they lived together as husband and wife (1996-1997) and had a daughter. In 2000, the affair ended and since then Respondent failed to give support to their daughter. As it so happened, Respondent prior to his cohabitation with Complainant was already married with 10 children (Complainant claimed that he did not know that Respondent was already married; Respondent insists that Complainant was complacent, knowing well that he was a married man). RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 6 months for gross immorality; WARNED that the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely. Respondent did not abandon Complainant, he simply returned to his family. On another point, we may agree with respondent’s contention that complainant was not entirely blameless. She knew about his wife but blindly believed him to be unmarried. However, that one complicit in the affair complained of immorality against her co-
Respondent's offenses are manifold. First, he demands excessive payments from his borrowers; then he fills up his borrowers' blank checks with fictitious amounts, falsifying commercial documents for his material gain; and then he uses said checks as bases for filing unfounded criminal suits against his borrowers in order to harass them. Such acts manifest respondent's perversity of character, meriting his severance from the legal profession. While the power to disbar is exercised with great caution and is withheld whenever a lesser penalty could accomplish the end desired, the seriousness of Respondent's offense compels the Court to wield its supreme power of disbarment. Indeed, the Court will not hestitate to remove an erring attorney from the esteemed brotherhood of lawyers where the evidence calls for it because in exercising this disciplinary power , the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of the Court, with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper and honest 30
administration of justice. As respondent's misconduct brings confidence in the legal system. intolerable dishonor to the legal profession, the severance of his privilege to practice law for life is in order. A lawyer shall represent his client with zeal within the bounds of the law (Canon 19 of the CPR). For this reason, Rule 15.07 of the REY VARGAS vs. ATTY. MICHAEL IGNES, AC#8096, 7/5/10 CPR requires a lawyer to impress upon his client compliance with the law and principles of fairness. A lawyer must employ only fair FACTS: Koronadal Water District (KWD), a gov’t-owned and and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client. It controlled corporation (GOCC), with approval from the Office of is his duty to counsel his clients to use peaceful and lawful the Gov’t corporate Counsel (OGCC), hired Respondent Ignes as methods in seeking justice and refrain from doing an intentional its attorney on a one-year retainer. Respondent Ignes then filed wrong to their adversaries. certain cases where co-respondents Nadua, Viajar and Mann served as his collaborating counsels. Complainants charged that Respondents filed and continued to appear in KWD cases without legal authority. A lawyer’s duty is not to his client but to the administration of justice. To that end, his client’s success is wholly subordinate. His conduct ought to and must always be scrupulously observant of the law and ethics. Any means, not honorable, fair and honest RULING: Petition GRANTED. Respondents GUILTY of willfully which is resorted to by the lawyer, even in the pursuit of his appearing as attorneys for a party to a case without authority to devotion to his client’s cause, is condemnable and unethical. do so; FINED P5,000 each; STERNLY WARNED that a similar offense in the future will be dealt with more severely. Respondent Ignes appeared as KWD counsel without authority, after such had expired. While the OGCC and COA approved his retainership contract for one (1) year effective April 17, 2006, even assuming that he was not notified of the pre-termination contract, the records disprove his claim that he stopped representing KWD after April 17, 2007 – he continued appearing in KWD cases by arguing a motion on January 28, 2008 and filing a notice of appeal on February 28, 2008. Respondents Nadua, Viajar and Mann had no valid authority to appear as KWD collaborating counsels there being no proof that their engagements were with OGCC and COA approvals.
TANU REDDI vs. ATTY. DIOSDADO C. SEBRIO, JR., A.C. No. 7027, 2009 Jan 30
FACTS: Respondent was introduced to Complainant (an American citizen) whom he enticed to acquire certain real estate to further her philanthropic desire of establishing a hospital for the poor. Respondent advised Complainant (being a foreigner), to use corporate vehicles (thus, the formation of three corporations) for the purchases of lands in Tagaytay City (which turned out to be have been acquired by another person via foreclosure sale), Las Piñas City, Makati City(which she later discovered was not actually owned by the buyer), Quezon City (which lot is occupied by SM North Mall but claimed by Respondent to be owned by his client), and Pasay City (supposedly vacant lots which were actually owned by certain banks). Complainant alleged that Respondent duped her into giving him a total of $3M for these purchases.
Respondents’ continued unatuhorized appearance for KWD is wilful and deliberate. They had full grasp that there are indispensable conditions before a GOCC can hire private counsel and that for non-compliance with the requirements set by Memorandum Circular No. 9, the private counsel would have no authority to file a case in a GOCC’s behalf. Still, respondents acted as counsels of KWD without complying with what the rule requires. They signed pleadings as counsels of KWD. They presented themselves voluntarily, on their own volition, as RULING: Respondent DISBARRED for violating Canon 1 (to counsels of KWD even in the absence of authority threfor. uphold the Constitution, obey laws of the land and promote respect for the law and legal processes), Rule 1.01 (not to engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct), Canon 16 (to hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession), Rule 16.01 (not to state or imply that RURAL BANK OF CALAPE, INC. vs. ATTY. JAMES FLORIDO, he is able to influence any public official, tribunal or legislative body); his name ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys; AC#5736, 6/18/10 ORDERED TO RETURN to Complainant US$544,828. Respondent violated FACTS: Respondent and his clients (the minority stockholders of Complainant), through force and intimdation and with the use of armed men, forcibly took over the banks’ management and premises, forcibly evicted the the bank manager, destroyed the bank vault thereafter changing its lock, and installed their own staff to run the bank. Members of the Board filed for Respondent’s disbarment for acts for “acts constituting grave coercion and threats in violation of his oath and the CPR. RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for one year from law practice. A lawyer’s first and foremost duty is to maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Phippines, uphold the Constitution and obey the laws of the land. Likewise, it is his duty to promote respect for the law and legal processes and to abstain from activities aimed at defiance of the lawor lessening
By Respondent’s own admission, he received a total of US$544,828 from Complainant, which he could not properly account for. The orchestrated manner in which he carried out his fraudulent scheme, in connivance with other persons, and by taking advantage of Complainant’s naivete in the workings of the real estate business in the Philippines, depict a man whose character falls way, way short of the exacting standards required of him as a member of the bar and an officer of the court. Thus, Respondent is no longer fit to remain as such. Respondent only ordered to return US$544,828 because, while Complainant submitted documents showing her bank remittances involving different sums of money, some of these remittances were not made in Respondent’s name. Complainant herself declares, the amount of US$3,000,000 as a mere estimate of her total claim (Complainant is not precluded from litigating her claim 31
for any balance due her in the proper forum).
certificate could have easily passed off as a document evidencing title. In fact, Complainant actually tried, but failed, to register the ROSARIO MECARAL vs. ATTY. DANILO VASQUEZ, AC#8392, Certificate of Land Occupancy in the Register of Deeds. Complainant readily parted with P70T because of the false EN BANC, 6/29/10 assurance afforded by the sham certificate.
FACTS: Complainant was Respondent’s secretary (in 2002), later she became his lover and common-law wife. Still later, Respondent brought her to a mountainous part in Biliran where he left her with the Faith Healers Association of the Philippines, a religious group which Respondent headed. Thereafter, and upon Respondent’s instruction, his followers tortured, brainwashed and injected Complainant with drugs. She remained in captivity until her mother aided by the Provincial Welfare Development and the police, rescued her. Complainant sought Respondent’s disbarment alleging as well that Respondent contracted a bigamous marriage in marrying Leny Azur despite the subsistence of a prior marriage to Ma. Shirley Yunzal.
Respondent violated Rule 1.01 (not to engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct) of the CPR. Conduct, as used in the Rule, is not confined to the performance of a lawyer’s professional duties. A lawyer may be disciplined for misconduct committed either in his professional or private capacity. The test is whether his conduct shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity, and good demeanor, or whether it renders him unworthy to continue as an officer of the court.
Respondent acted in his private capacity, misrepresented that he owned the lot he sold to Complainant, later refused to return his money. As a final blow, he denied having any transaction with RULING: Respondent DISBARRED for violating Canon 1 (A complainant. It is crystal-clear in the mind of the Court that he fell lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land short of his duty under Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of and promote respect for law and legal processes) and Rule 7 (A Professional Responsibility. lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession) of the CPR; his name ORDERED STRICKEN from the REYNARIA BARCENAS vs. ATTY. ANORLITO ALVERO, Roll of Attorneys. Respondent’s acts of converting his secretary AC#8159, 4/23/10 into a mistress, contracting two marriages with Shirley and Leny are grossly immoral which no civilized society in the world can countenance. Complainant’s subsequent detention and torture is gross misconduct which only a beast may be able to do. Canon 1 FACTS: Upon receiving P300T from Complainant to redeem his of the CPR (Complainant’s) deceased father’s rights as tenant of a ricefield, Respondent issued a receipt stating he would deposit the money in court because the creditor refused to accept the same. Complainant later learned that Respondent was losing a lot of When a lawyer’s moral character is assailed, such that his right to money in cockfights, and the redemption money was never continue practicing his cherished profession is imperiled, it judicially deposited. In his letters, Respondent admitted receiving behooves him to meet the charges squarely and present Complainant’s money, promised to return the same, but never evidence, to the satisfaction of the investigating body and this did. Court, that he is morally fit to keep his name in the Roll of Attorneys. In fine, by engaging himself in acts which are grossly RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for two years from law immoral and acts which constitute gross misconduct, Respondent practice; WARNED that repetition of the same or a similar act will has ceased to possess the qualifications of a lawyer. be dealt with more severely. Undoubtedly, Respondent breached Rule 1.01 (not to engage in unlawful dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct), Canon 1 (uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal process) ALFREDO ROA vs. ATTY. JUAN MORENO, AC#8382, 4/21/10 and Rules 16.01 (account for money and property collected/received for or from a client), 16.02 (keep funds of each client separe and apart from his own and those of others kept by him) and 16.03 (deliver funds and property of his client when due FACTS: Complainant paid Respondent P70T for the purchase of a or upon demand xxx), Canon 16 (hold in trust all moneys and piece of land. Instead of a deed of sale, Respondent issued a properties of his client that may come into his possession) of the temporary receipt and a certificate of land occupancy assuring CPR. Complainant that he could already use the lot. Complainant, upon learning that the certificate could not be registered with the Register of Deeds, then confronted Respondent who admitted that the real owner was a certain Rubio and that the lot was still When a lawyer receives money from a client for a particular pending litigation. purpose, the lawyer is bound to render an accounting to the client showing that the money was spent for a particular purpose. If he does not use the money for the intended purpose, he must promptly return the money to his client. These, Respondent RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED from law practice for 2 years. failed to do. This omission demonstrated his lack of integrity and Respondent’s credibility is highly questionable – he even issued a moral soundness, and warranted the imposition of disciplinary bogus certificate of land occupancy to Complainant whose only action. fault was that he did not know better. To the unlettered, said 32
SPS. MANUEL & LOLITA RAFOLS BARRIOS, AC#4973, 3/15/10
RICARDO FACTS: Respondent, not being an incumbent board member of Gen. Marinao Alvarez Service Cooperative, Inc. (GEMASCO), prepared the notice for a special general assembly, and actually presided over the said assembly during which Complainant (plus 3 other persons) was removed from the Board. Day after said FACTS: Respondent, on at least two occasions, facilitated private assembly, Respondent and his group took over the GEMASCO meetings between his clients (Complainants) and the trial judge, office and its premises, pumphouses, water facilities and during which, said judge asked for P150T in exchange for a operations. favorable decision. Fearing that the judge would be biased against them, Complainants paid a total of P130T. After sensing that they were being duped, Complainants consulted a friend in the media which led to an expose being published in the local newspaper. Subsequently, Respondent and the judge attempted several times to appease Complainants (sending gifts and offering to return a portion of the money). Complainants also claimed that Respondent demanded P25T (on top of other cash demands) to secure the testimony of a certain witness. Respondent insisted he had no part in the supposed bribe but admitted receiving P80T from Complainants – a loan supposedly made by the judge. Of said amount, Respondent admitted keeping P30T upon the judge’s instruction as a token of their friendship.
RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for two years from law practice. Respondent, by conniving with Gerangco (who became President of the Board) in taking over the Board and GEMASCO facilities, violated provisions of the Cooperative Code of the Philippines and GEMASCO’s by-laws as well as the Lawyer’s oath which provides that a lawyer shall support the Constitution and obey the laws.
When, after obtaining an extension of time to file comment on the complaint, Respondent failed to file any and ignored this Court’s subsequent show cause order, he violated Rule 12.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which states that “A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let the period lapse without RULING: Respondent DISBARRED. Respondent and the submitting the same or offering an explanation for his failure to disgraced Judge Dizon, being conspirators against the former’s do so.” own clients whom he was sworn to protect and to serve with utmost fidelity and morality, both deserve the highest penalty. The disbarment of the respondent is in order, because such sanction is on par with the dismissal of Judge Dizon, Jr. ATTY. BONIFACIO BARANDON, JR. vs. ATTY. EDWIN FERRER, AC#5768, 3/26/10
Respodnent’s denial of knowledge of the transaction between Complainants and Judge Dizon was not only implausible but also unsubstantiated. Respondent himself introduced Complainants to the judge – an act strongly implying that Respondent was aware of the judge’s purpose in wanting to talk with Complainants. Further, Respondent’s admission of having received P80T from Complainants, keeping P30T of it pursuant to the judge’s instructions proved that Respondent had known all along of the “illegal transaction” and belied his feigned knowledge of delivery of money to the judge.
Respondent did not measure up to the exacting standards of the Law Profession demanding of him, as an attorney, absolute abdication of any personal advantage that conflicted in any way, directly or indirectly, with the interest of his clients. For monetary gain, he disregarded the vow to “delay no man for money or malice” and to “conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion, with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients” that he made when he took the Lawyer’s Oath. He also disobeyed the explicit command to him as an attorney “to accept no compensation in connection with his client’s business except from him or with his knowledge and approval.” He conveniently ignored that the relation between him and his clients was highly fiduciary in nature and of a very delicate, exacting, and confidential character.
FACTS: Respondent is charged of (a) filing a pleading with abusive, offensive and improper language insinuating that Complainant presented a falsified document in court, (b) filing a case (which was later dismissed) for falsification against Complainant involving a document notarized when Complainant was not yet even a lawyer nor a signatory thereto, (c) of making threats (i.e. “Laban kung laban, patayan kung patayan, kasama ang lahat ng pamilya. Wala na palang magaling na abogado ditto sa Camarines Norte”), while evidently drunk, against Complainant inside a courtroom before trial therein began.
RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for one year from law practice. Practice of law is a privilege given to lawyers who meet the high standards of legal proficiency and morality – any violation of these standards exposes the lawyer to administrative liability. Respondent’s actions do not measure up to Canon 8 (to conduct themselves with courtesy, fairness and candor towards their fellow lawyers and avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel) and Rule 8.01 (not to use, in his professional dealings, abusive, offense or otherwise improper language) of the CPR.
Respondent violated Canon 7 (to uphold dignity and integrity of legal profession at all times) and Rule 7.03 (not to engage in conduct that adversely reflect on his fitness to practice law or behave in a scandalous manner tothe discredit of the legal profession). Evidently, Respondent’s utterances inside the courtroom were with the intent annoy, humiliate, incriminate, and ATTY. ILUMINADA FABROA vs. ATTY. OSCAR PAGUINTO, discredit Atty. Barandon in the presence of lawyers, court AC#6273, 3/15/10 personnel, and litigants waiting for the start of hearing in court. These language is unbecoming a member of the legal profession. 33
The Court cannot countenance it.
Lawyers must use dignified language in their pleadings despite the adversarial nature of our legal system. Lawyer’s language may be forceful and emphatic, yet, always dignified and respectful, befitting the dignity of the legal profession. The use of intemperate language and unkind ascriptions has no place in the dignity of judicial forum.
LIGAYA MANIAGO vs. ATTY. LOURDES DE DIOS, AC#7472, 3/30/10 FACTS: Due to a prior admin case, Respondent was penalized with a 6-month suspension beginning May 16, 2001. Complainant filed a criminal case against Miyata (a Japanse national). Respondent served as counsel for Miyata in said criminal case (as well as in other cases). Complainant averred that Respondent ought to be disbarred for her flagrant violation and deliberate disobedience of a lawful suspension order of the Supreme Court.
Respondent Garrido did not possess the good moral character required of a lawyer at the time of his admission to the Bar. As a lawyer, he violated his lawyer’s oath, Section 20(a) of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, and Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, all of which commonly require him to obey the laws of the land. In marrying Complainant, he committed the crime of bigamy, as he entered this second marriage while his first marriage with Constancia was subsisting. He openly admitted his bigamy when he filed his petition to nullify his marriage to Maelotisea.
He violated ethical rules of the profession, specifically, Rule 1.01 (not to engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct), Canon 7 ( at all time to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession), Rule 7.03 (not to engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law or to behave in a scandalous manner to discredit the profession) of the CPR.
ATTY. ELMER SOLIDON vs. ATTY. ELMER MACALALAD, AC#8158, 2/24/10 RULING: Petition DENIED. Respondent had served her prior 6months suspension and resumed her law practice on November 17, 2001. A suspended lawyer must first present proof of his compliance by submitting certifications from the IBP and Executive Judge that he has indeed desisted from the practice of law during the period of suspension. Thereafter, the Court, after evaluation, and upon a favorable recommendation from the Office of the Bar Confidant will issue a resolution lifting the suspension order and allowing him to resume his practice. It was unfortunate that this procedure was overlooked with regards to suspension order in the prior admin case against Respondent.
MAELOTISEA GARRIDO vs. ATTY. ANGEL ROMANA VALENCIA, AC#6593, MARCH 2010
FACTS: Complainant solicited Respondent’s services at P80T to handle a petition for judicial titling of a land owned by Complainant’s relatives. P50T was initially paid and the balance was to be paid upon delivery of the tile. However, Respondent never filed such petition despite Complainant’s various attempts to follow-up on the status of said petition.
RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 6 months from law practice; STERNLY WARNED that repetition of the same/similar acts would be dealt with more severely; ORDERED TO RETURN Complainant’s money. Mere failure of a lawyer to perform the obligations due to the client is considered per se a violation. Respondent failed to act as he committed when he failed to file the required petition. He cannot now shift the balme to his client since it was his duty as a lawyer to communicate with them. Respondent violated Rule 18.03 (not to neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable) and Rule 16.01 (to account for all the money received from the client) of the CPR.
FACTS: Complainant alleged that she was Respondent Garrido’s legal wife with whom she has 6 children, one of whom confided that an unknown caller claimed to be Respondent Garrido’s daughter. Later, another daughter admitted to Complainant about seeing Respondent in a mall with another woman. To confirm her suspicions, Complainant obtained a birth certificate confirming that Respondents had a child and were married in Hongkong. Thereafter, Respondent left the conjugal home and lived with corespondent. Respondent Garrido denied that Complainant was his CONRADO QUE vs. legal wife due to a prior subsisting marriage with one Constancia AC#7054, 12/4/09 David.
RULING: Respondents DISBARRED. Laws dealing with double jeopardy or with procedure – such as the verification of pleadings and prejudicial questions, or in this case, prescription of offenses or the filing of affidavits of desistance by the complainant – do not apply in the determination of a lawyer’s qualifications and fitness for membership in the Bar. Ergo, the time that elapsed between the immoral acts charged and the filing of the complaint is not material in considering the qualification of Respondent Garrido when he applied for admission to law practice, and his continuing qualification to be a member of the profession.
FACTS: Complainant charged Respondent with multiple infractions of the CPR and Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, to include: (a) abuse of court remedies and processes by filing various petitions (in violation of the rule against forum-shopping) attacking the MeTC and RTC decisions in an unlawful detainer case against his clients; (b) wilful and revolting falsehood that unjustly maligned and defaned the good name and reputation of the deceased/former counsel of his clients; (c) deliberate, fraudulent and unauthorized appearances in court for 15 litigants (three of whom were already dead) and appearing as counsel for the Republic of the Philippines without authority to do so.
the return of its money yet Respondent failed to comply. RULING: Respondent DISBARRED from the practice of law. Respondent is guilty of serious misconduct for abusing court procedures and processes to shield his clients from the execution of challenged final judgments. These repeated attempts go beyond the legitimate means allowed by professional ethical rules in defending the client’s interest and are already uncalled for measures to avoid the enforcement of final judgments in violation of Rule 10.03 (to observe rules of procedure and . . . not to misuse them to defeat the ends of justice) of the CPR. By his actions, Respondent used procedural rules to thwart and obstruct the speedy and efficient administration of justice, resulting in prejudice to the winning parties in that case.
Respondent likewise violated Rule 12.02 and Rule 12.04, Canon 12 of the CPR, as well as the rule against forum shopping, both of which are directed against the filing of multiple actions to attain the same objective. Both violations constitute abuse of court processes that tend to degrade the administration of justice, wreck havoc on orderly judicial procedure, and add to the congestion of the heavily burdened dockets of the courts.
To support the charge of extrinsic fraud in his petition for annulment of judgment, Respondent attacked the name and reputation of the late Atty. Catolico and accused him of deliberate neglect, corrupt motives and connivance with the counsel for the adverse party. However, Respondent failed to demonstrate how he came upon his accusation against Atty. Catolico. By this, Respondent has been less than fair in his professional relationship with Atty. Catolico and is thus liable for violating Canon 8 (to conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues) of the CPR. He was unfair because he imputed wrongdoing to Atty. Catolico without showing any factual basis therefor; he effectively maligned Atty. Catolico, who is now dead and unable to defend himself.
Respondent twice represented parties without proper authorization: first, in the petition for annulment of judgment; and second, in the second petition for annulment of title. In both instances, Respondent violated Sections 21 and 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court when he undertook the unauthorized appearances. The settled rule is that a lawyer may not represent a litigant without authority from the latter or from the latter’s representative or, in the absence thereof, without leave of court. Such willful unauthorized appearance by a lawyer for a party in a given case constitutes contumacious conduct and also warrants disciplinary measures against the erring lawyer for professional misconduct.
ARELLANO UNIVERSITY, INC. MIJARES III, AC#8380, 11/20/09
RULING: Respondent DISBARRED for violating of Rules 1.01 and 1.02, Canon 15, Rule 15.05, Canon 16, Rules 16.01 and 16.03, and Canon 18, Rule 18.04 of the CPR; ORDERED TO RETURN all documents in his possession covering the titling matter referred to him. Every lawyer has the responsibility to protect and advance the interests of his client such that he must promptly account for whatever money or property his client may have entrusted to him. A lawyer’s conversion of funds entrusted to him is a gross violation of professional ethics.
Even more unfortunate for Respondent, he admitted under oath having bribed a government official to act favorably on his client’s application to acquire title to a dried-up creek. That is quite dishonest. The Court is not, therefore, inclined to let him off with the penalty of indefinite suspension which is another way of saying he can resume his practice after a time if he returns the money and makes a promise to shape up.
PEDRO LINSANGAN vs. ATTY. NICOMEDES TOLENTINO, AC#6672, 9/4/09
FACTS: Complainant, of the Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan Law Office, claimed that Respondent (aided by a private individual named Lobiano) solicited clients and encroached upon professional services by persistently texting and calling Complainant’s clients in order to convince them to transfer legal representation with promises of financial assistance and expeditious collection of claims. Respondent’s calling card bears such promise of financial assistance and even one of Complainant’s clients swore that he was asked to transfer (from Complainant) to Respondent in exchange for a loan of P50T.
RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED from law practice for 1 year; STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely. Lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a profession and not a business; they should not advertise their talents as merchants advertise their wares. To allow a lawyer to advertise his talent or skill is to commercialize the practice of law, degrade the profession in the public’s estimation and impair its ability to efficiently render that high character of service to which every member of the bar is called. Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers. Such actuation constitutes malpractice, a ground for disbarment.
FACTS: Complainant hired Respondent to secure the certificate of title for a certain property. Complainant then gave Respondent P500T which he claimed was for “facilitation and processing” expenses. When Respondent claimed that he already secured the required MMDA approval, Complainant demanded for copies thereof. Respondent failed to meet Complainant’s demand and later made himself scarce prompting Complainant to withdraw all cases entrusted to him. Complainant sent two demand letters for
Respondent clearly solicited clients violating Rule 2.03 (not to do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal business), Rule 1.03 (not to encourage any suit/proceeding or delay any man’s cause for any corrupt motive or interest), Canon 3 (to use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective information or statement of facts in making his legal services) of the CPR and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court.
relationships (being himself a human being) in disposing of cases. He must base his decision solely on evidence and law. Moreover, by engaging in a money-lending venture with his clients as borrowers, Respondent violated Rule 16.04 (not to Rule 2.04 – “A judge shall refrain from influencing, in any manner borrow money from his clients or to lend money to a client x x x). the outcome of litigation or dispute pending before another court or administrative agency.”
JUDICIAL ETHICS – branch of moral science which treats of the right and proper conduct to be observed by all judges in trying and deciding controversies brought before them for adjudication which conduct must be demonstrative of IMPARTIALITY, INTEGRITY, COMPETENCE, INDEPENDENCE & FREEDOM FOR IMPROPRIETY.
CANON 3 – A JUDGE SHALL PERFORM OFFICIAL DUTIES HONESTY AND WITH IMPARTIALITY. – Judges being visible representative of the law must be model for uprightness, fairness and honesty. He should observe the prescribed periods for rendition of judgment. He may ask clarificatory questions to the witness for full understanding of facts. However, if the judge extensively propounds questions to the witness with the effect of or will tend to build or bolster the case for one of the parties, this is partiality.
Rule 3.12 – DISQUALIFICATIONS – A judge shall have no part in proceedings where his impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including in: (a) where judge has personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding; (b) where judge served as executor, administrator, guardian, trustee or lawyer in a case or matter in controversy or a former associate of the judge served as counsel during their association or where the judge or lawyer was a material witness therein; (c) where the judge’s ruling in the lower court is the subject of review; (d) IMPORTANCE OF JUDICIAL ETHICS – When rule of law ends, law of where he is related by blood or affinity to a party-litigant within tyranny begins. Law of force rather than force of law will thrive. the 6th degree or to counsel within the 4th civil degree; (e) where Judicial ethics is preventive of tyranny and anarchy. the judge knows that the judge’s spouse or child has financial interest as an heir, legatee, creditor, fiduciary or otherwise, in a CANON 1 – JUDGES SHALL UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND subject matter in controversy. INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY Sources of Judicial Ethics – (i) Code of Judicial Conduct (effective October 20, 1989); (ii) Constitutional provisions (Article VIII, Article XI, Article III of the Constitution); (iii) provisions of the rules of court; (iv) Revised Penal Code provisions; (v) RA 3019; (vi) Canons of Judicial Ethics; (vii) Code of Professional Responsibility; (viii) Judiciary Act of 1948; (ix) BP 129 (Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980); and (x) Supreme Court decisions.
Rule 1.01 – “A judge shall be the embodiment of competence, integrity and independence.” – A judge is the visible representation of the law and justice; he should avoid even the slightest infraction of law. Judges are projected as personification of proficiency (competence), incorruptibility (integrity), and impartiality (independence).
Mere friendship between the judge and counsel is not a ground for disqualification. Petition for disqualification must be filed before rendition of judgment. Rule 137, Section 1 of Rules of Court provides of grounds for disqualification. Rule 140 of the Rules of Court provide the grounds for dismissal to include serious misconduct and inefficiency.
Rule 1.02 – “A judge shall administer justice impartiality and without delay.” – A party-litigant is entitled to no less than the Rule 3.13 – REMITTAL OF DISQUALIFICATION – Instead of cold neutrality of an impartial judge. Justice delayed is justice withdrawing, the judge may disclose on record the basis for denied. disqualification, if parties and counsel independently of judge’s participation all agree in writing that the reason to inhibit is Rule 1.03 – “A judge shall be vigilant against any attempt to immaterial or unsubstantial, the judge may participate in the subvert the independence of the judiciary and shall resist proceedings – the written agreement shall be incorporated in the pressure from whatever source.” records. CANON 2 – A JUDGE SHALL AVOID IMPROPRIETY AND THE CANON 4 – A JUDGE SHALL ENGAGE IN ACTIVITES TO IMPROVE APPEARANCE OF IMPROPRIETY. THE LAW, THE LEGAL SYSTEM AND THE ADMINISTRATIION OF JUSTICE. – Judge must speak, lecture and even teach. Rule 2.01 – “A judge shall behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the CANON 5 – A JUDGE SHAL REGULATE HIS EXTRA-JUDICAL judiciary.” – Judge’s conduct and his behaviour in performance of ACTIVITIES TO MINIMIZE RISK OF CONFLICT WITH JUDICIAL his duties should be free from appearance of impropriety and DUTIES. – A judge is not prohibited from engaging or having any must be beyond reproach. Even in his private life, he must be interest in any lawful business but he is to refrain only from those beyond reproach. Thus, in-chamber sessions without the which would lead to partiality or disqualification. He cannot presence of the other party and his counsel must be avoided. This engage in private practice of law. He may entertain personal rule is intended to preserve public faith. views on political questions but he should avoid the suspicion of political partisanship, thus, he cannot also make political Rule 2.02 – “A judge should not seek publicity for personal speeches, contribute to party funds or publicly endorse vainglory.” – as in the case of lawyers, the rule is a bar to candidates (this rule is against electioneering). subjudice and prevents pre-judgment of a case. A judge’s comments may lay basis for disqualification and worst, might In no of the proceedings should judge’s impartiality be reasonably undermine the dignity and impartiality of a judge. questioned. Rule 2.03 – “A judge shall not allow family, social or other relations to influence judicial conduct or judgment.” – Judges must insulate himself from the thread of his interpersonal
CASES IN JUDICIAL ETHICS
SALVADOR SISON vs. JUDGE JOSE F. CAOIBES, JR., A.M. No. visible representation of the law. The irresponsible or improper RTJ-03-1771, 5/27/2004 conduct of judges erodes public confidence in the judiciary; as such, a judge must avoid all impropriety and the appearance FACTS: Complainant, an MMDA traffic enforcer issued a ticket for thereof. traffic violation against Respondent’s son, notwithstanding the fact that, the latter introduced himself as a son of a judge. RUFINO CASIMIRO vs. JUDGE OCTAVIO FERNANDEZ, A.M. Complainant claimed that Respondent issued an order requiring No. MTJ-04-1525, 1/29/2004. him to appear and explain the traffic incident and that when he failed to comply, he was cited in contempt and ordered arrested. Complainant further claimed that he was only discharged after he FACTS: Respondent failed to return the P4,000-cash bond posted admitted before Respondent that hat he made a mistake and that in a criminal case by Complainant despite the dismissal of the the traffic incident was all a misunderstanding. Respondent criminal complaint against the latter. Complainant claimed that vehemently denied the accusations saying that he was merely he gave the cash bond to the Respondent (who then handed it to preserving the dignity and honor due to the courts. He explained the clerk of court); no official receipt was issued therefore. that, at the time Complainant flagged down his son, the latter Respondent claimed that he had issued a check to refund was on official business, that is, on an errand for Respondent, to Complainant’s cash bond and that the same had been remitted to which Complainant reportedly uttered, “Walang Judge, Judge his counsel because Complainant had supposedly changed his Caoibes sa akin; kahapon nga, abogado ang hinuli ko.” address without informing the court, thus, he could not be contacted. RULING: Respondent DISMISSED from service with forfeiture of all retirement benefits except accrued leave credits with prejudice to re-employment in any branch or instrumentality of the government including government-owned or controlled corporations for serious impropriety unbecoming a judge in violation of Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
Initially, Respondent appeared to be justified in holding Complainant for contempt, due to the latter’s refusal to comply with his Order. However, it is not lost upon this Court that Complainant was not a party to any of the cases pending. What triggered the contempt charge was, in fact, the traffic violation incident involving Respondent’s son. Since the incident involved his own son and the matter was personal to him, Respondent should have refrained from ordering Complainant’s arrest and detention. That Respondent insisted that Complainant personally file his comment in court gives rise to doubts as to the motive behind it.
Respondent Judge was not justified to so consider Complainant’s act and remarks as thereby displaying arrogance towards and deliberate disregard of the usual respect, courtesy and accommodation due to a court of law and its representative. As a public official himself, Respondent knew that Complainant was only doing his duty of enforcing evenly the particular traffic regulation against swerving into a one-way street from the wrong direction, regardless of the office or position of the violator’s father. Respondent and his son should have challenged the issuance of the traffic violation receipt pursuant to the pertinent rules if they did not agree with the basis of the apprehension and also administratively charged Complainant for any unwarranted act committed. Since neither was done by them, but, on the contrary, both ultimately accepted the validity of the apprehension, as borne out by the retrieval of the driver’s license and payment of the corresponding fine, it follows that Respondent had the consciousness that his son was at fault, instead of Complainant.
RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for 3 months without pay; FINED P20,000.00, with WARNING that repetition of the same or similar offenses will be dealt with more severely for gross misconduct in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
Per SC Circular No. 50-95, all collections from bail bonds, rental deposits and other fiduciary collections shall be deposited within 24 hours by the Clerk of Court concerned, upon receipt thereof, with the Land Bank of the Philippines, in the name of the court, with its Clerk of Court and the Executive Judge as authorized signatories; and every withdrawal thereof via withdrawal slips bearing the signature of the Executive/ Presiding Judge and countersigned by the Clerk of Court must be accompanied by a court order which indicates the amount to be withdrawn.
Upon acceptance of Complainant’s cash bond then, Respondents were bound by law to immediately turn it over to the custody of the official or bank authorized to receive them. Following proper procedure for the withdrawal of fiduciary funds, respondent Judge should have issued an order directing the withdrawal of the cash bond from the authorized depository bank and referred the matter to the authorized signatories.
While there is no direct and hard evidence that Respondent made personal use of the cash bond, his wife’s issuance of her personal check to Complainant in the amount of the cash bond, indicates so. By his actuations then, Respondent placed his honesty and integrity under serious doubt.
The Code of Judicial Conduct dictates that a judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities. Rule 2.01 of Canon 2 of the Canon of Judicial Ethics mandates that a judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. A judge should thus be above reproach and free from the appearance of impropriety, and should at all times conduct Respondent’s act in citing a person in contempt of court in a himself in such a manner as to be above suspicion. manner which smacks of retaliation, is appalling and violative of Rule 2.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which mandates that “a judge should so behave at all times to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.” The very delicate Both the safekeeping of funds and collections are essential to an function of administering justice demands that a judge should orderly administration of justice and no protestation of good faith conduct himself at all times in a manner which would reasonably can override the mandatory nature of the circulars which are merit the respect and confidence of the people, for he is the designed to promote full accountability for government funds. It 37
needs no emphasis that failure to deposit fiduciary collections immediately with the authorized bank deprives the National Treasury of the interest which such collections should have earned. Respondent judge’s paying back of the collection does not thus absolve him.
hearing of the complaint filed by Respondent’s wife, Complainant and another witness Ruel Mutia (who were on-board the same boat as Respondent) were arrested and detained by police officers following Respondent’s report that they (Complainant and Mutia) were would-be assassins. Hence, this administrative complaint against Respondent for oppression, abuse of authority, GEORGE L. KAW vs. JUDGE ADRIANO R. OSORIO, A.M. No. incriminating an innocent person, grave misconduct and obstruction of justice. Complainant latter wrote that he was RTJ-03-1801, 2004. withdrawing his complaint the contents of which he claimed he FACTS: In exchange for a favorable judgment in criminal cases for did not read and was merely prepared for him and instigated by estafa filed by Complainant, Respondent demanded P100,000. Respondent’s wife. Complainant paid P40,000 with the balance payable upon promulgation of judgment. Respondent also extracted money from Complainant on various occasions, such as, his birthday, his RULING: Respondent FINED p20,000 for oppression. The son’s project, his wife’s wake. Complainant heard rumors that the withdrawal or disavowal by a complainant of the contents of his alleged mastermind of the accused had bragged that he would be administrative complaint does not necessarily warrant its acquitted having supposedly paid Respondent P1,000,000. When dismissal. Administrative actions cannot depend on the will or asked to inhibit from the case, Respondent denied such motion pleasure of the complainant who may, for reasons of his own, and ultimately rendered judgment acquitting the alleged condone what may be detestable. The Court does not dismiss mastermind (though convicting the other co-accused). administrative cases against members of the Bench merely on the basis of withdrawal of the charges. Desistance cannot divest RULING: Respondent is FINED P40,000.00 for violation of the the Court of its jurisdiction to investigate and decide the Code of Judicial Conduct and Canons of Judicial Ethics to be complaint against the respondent because public interest is at deducted from his retirement benefits. Having retired upon stake in the conduct and actuations of officials and employees of reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70, it is no longer the judiciary. possible to impose the penalty of dismissal or suspension on him. While Respondent may not necessarily be held liable for extortion and graft and corruption as it was not substantially proven, he Having purportedly not seen the list of witness against him in the should be made accountable for violating Code of Judicial immorality complaint, Respondent may not indeed have known Conduct that prescribes that, “a judge should avoid impropriety that Complainant was going to testify against him, yet, and appearance of impropriety in all activities(CANON 2)”, “a Respondent was well aware that Mutia, who was in Complainant’s judge should so behave at all times as to promote public company in the same boat ride taken by Respondent (and who confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary(Rule was also arrested and detained by the Pasay City Police), was in 2.01)”, “a judge should regulate extra-judicial activities to the said list of witnesses. Respondent’s disclaimer then that he minimize the risk of conflict with judicial duties(CANON 5)”, “a could not have committed “obstruction of justice” does not judge or any immediate member of the family shall not accept a readily persuade. gift, bequest, favor or loan from anyone except as may be allowed by law(Rule 5.04)”. Respondent judge’s conduct fell short of the standard expected of a magistrate of the law. His act of inviting complainant and his wife to his birthday party corroded public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, considering that complainant had a pending case in his sala. A judge is not only required to be impartial; he must also appear to be impartial. Fraternizing with litigants tarnishes this image. Respondent was not only aware of the money given by Complainant on the occasion of his wife’s death, he signed the back of the check and even encashed it. This contravenes the Canons of Judicial Ethics that expressly provides that a judge should not accept any present or favors from litigants or from lawyers practicing before him. No position exacts a greater demand on the moral righteousness and uprightness of an individual than a seat in the judiciary. A magistrate of the law must comport himself at all times in such a manner that his conduct, official or otherwise, can bear the most searching scrutiny of the public that looks up to him as an epitome of integrity and justice. ENGRACIO DIALO, JR. vs. JUDGE MARIANO MACIAS, A.M. RTJ-04-1859, 7/13/2004 FACTS: A prior administrative complaint was filed by Respondent’s wife for immorality. Complainant, upon request by Respondent’s wife to help catch and gather evidence to prove her husband’s philandering, witnessed Respondent retreat to the house of his suspected mistress. On their way to Manila for the
By respondent’s act of requesting for complainant’s and his companion’s warrantless arrest, he violated complainant’s constitutional right, an act which partakes of the nature of oppression, defined as an “act of cruelty, severity, unlawful exaction, domination or excessive use of authority.” ATTY. GLORIA LASTIMOSA-DALAWAMPU vs. JUDGE RAPHAEL B. YRASTORZA, A.M. No. RTJ-03-1793, 2/5/2004 FACTS: Complainant appeared before Respondent’s court and asked for a resetting but Respondent cut her off by saying that, “Do not give me so many excuses, Atty. Dalawampu! I don’t care who you are!”. As she was leaving the courtroom, Respondent said, “I don’t care who you are”. “You can file one thousand administrative cases against me. I don’t care”. In another case, Complainant appeared as private prosecutor, Respondent scolded her for failure to file pre-trial brief. Subsequently, when pre-trial was conducted and Complainant was absent due to another engagement, Respondent ordered Complainant’s client to produce the original documents in five minutes, or the case would be dismissed – this, despite the fact that, Complainant’s submitted pre-trial brief indicating that documentary exhibits would be marked in the course of trial.
RULING: Respondent REPRIMANDED for discourtesy against Complainant; WARNED that repetition of this or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. Mere desistance on Complainant’s part does not warrant dismissal of an administrative complaint against any member of the bench and the judiciary. The Court’s interest in the affairs of the judiciary is a paramount concern that 38
knows no bounds. Hence, instead of dismissing the charge as recommended, the Court, in the exercise of its power of administrative supervision, resolves to reprimand respondent judge for his failure to exercise greater circumspection in dealing with the complainant.
RULING: Respondent FINED P5,000.00 for notarizing documents without the requisite notarial commission. It is settled that a judge may be disciplined for acts committed prior to his appointment to the judiciary. This is recognized by the new Rule itself which provides for the immediate forwarding to the Supreme Court for disposition and adjudication of charges against justices and judges before the IBP, including those filed prior to Upon his assumption to office, a judge ceases to be an ordinary their appointment to the judiciary. mortal. He becomes the visible representation of the law and, more importantly, of justice. He must be the embodiment of competence, integrity and independence. A magistrate of the law Good moral character is a requirement that is not dispensed with must comport himself at all times in such manner that his upon admission to the Bar. It is not only a condition precedent to conduct, official or otherwise, can bear the most searching admission to the legal profession – its continued possession is scrutiny of the public that looks up to him as the epitome of essential to maintain one’s good standing in the profession. Thus, integrity and justice. a lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or good The tenor of Respondent’s statement can easily instill in the demeanor. Possession of good moral character is not only a minds of those who heard them that as a judge he is above the prerequisite to admission to the bar but also a continuing law. Such a remark creates an impression on the public that requirement to the practice of law. whatever administrative case they will file against respondent or against any judge will only be a futile exercise. Statements such as those made by respondent judge erode the public’s confidence in the integrity of the judiciary. Respondent’s unwarranted statement is a clear derogation of his duty to be faithful to the law which he swore to uphold as a member of the judiciary.
Respondent is being charged not for acts committed as a judge; he is charged, as a member of the bar, with notarizing documents without the requisite notarial commission therefor. Even then, though Respondent has already retired from the judiciary, he is still considered as a member of the bar and as such, is not immune to the disciplining arm of the Supreme Court, pursuant to Respondent’s unfounded act of insulting Complainant in open Article VIII, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution. court and cutting her off in mid-sentence while she was still explaining her side exhibited a manifest disregard by respondent of his duty to be patient, attentive, and courteous to lawyers. A The requirements for the issuance of a commission as notary judge should conduct proceedings in court with fitting dignity and public must not be treated as a mere casual formality. The Court decorum. has characterized a lawyer’s act of notarizing documents without the requisite commission therefore as “reprehensible, constituting as it does not only malpractice, but also the crime of falsification A judge’s duty to observe courtesy to those who appear before of public documents.” him is not limited to lawyers. The said duty also includes being courteous to litigants and witnesses. Respondent’s conduct towards Consuelo Aznar leaves a lot to be desired. Respondent’s act in this instance smacks of judicial tyranny. A judge anywhere should be the last person to be perceived as a petty tyrant holding imperious sway over his domain. Thus, the role of a judge in relation to those who appear before his court must be one of temperance, patience and courtesy.
Judges are strictly mandated to abide by the law, the Code of Judicial Conduct and existing administrative policies in order to maintain the faith of our people in the administration of justice. Any act which falls short of the exacting standard for public office, especially on the part of those expected to preserve the image of the judiciary, shall not be countenanced. HEINZ R. HECK vs. JUDGE ANTHONY E. SANTOS, A.M. No. RTJ-01-1657, 2/23/2004
Pursuant to Resolution A.M. No. 02-9-02-SC, administrative cases against erring justices of the CA and the Sandiganbayan, judges, and lawyers in the government service may be automatically treated as disbarment cases. However, this case was filed prior to the effectivity of said resolution, hence, the latter will not apply in this case.
To protect members of the judiciary from harassing complaint, an administrative complaint against a retiring or retired judge or justice to be dismissed outright requires the concurrence of the following: (1) the complaint must have been filed within six months from the compulsory retirement of the judge or justice; (2) the cause of action must have occurred at least a year before such filing; and, (3) it is shown that the complaint was intended to harass the respondent. In this case, the complaint was filed more than one year after Respondent retired compulsorily from the service. Likewise, the ground for disbarment or disciplinary action alleged to have been committed by Respondent did not occur a year before Respondent’s separation from the service. Furthermore, and most importantly, the instant complaint was not prima facie shown to be without merit and intended merely to harass the respondent.
FACTS: “MAY A RETIRED JUDGE CHARGED WITH NOTARIZING DOCUMENTS WITHOUT THE NECESSARY COMMISSION MORE THAN 20 YEARS AGO BE DISCIPLINE THEREFOR? Complainant charged that, prior to appointment as RTC Judge, Respondent violated the notarial law for notarizing documents in 1980 to 1984 without being duly commissioned as notary public. Respondent countered that Complainant was neither privy to, nor prejudiced by the documents in question and that further, RODRIGO Q. TUGOT vs. JUDGE MAMERTO COLIFLORES, Complainant had an axe to grind being one of the defendants in a A.M. No. MTJ-00-1332, 2/16/2004 civil suit which he decided in favor of the plaintiff therein.
FACTS: Respondent dismissed an ejectment case wherein Complainant was one of the plaintiffs who were later advised to re-file their notice of appeal because the latter was not in the records transmitted to the appellate court. As it turned out, the notice of appeal was not lost but was simply misplaced in Respondent’s office. Also, Respondent waited for 900 days for defendants to submit their pre-trial brief, and conducted the preliminary conference in violation of the requirements of the applicable rules on summary procedure.
RULING: Respondent FINED P20,000 for negligence and violation of a Supreme Court Rule and directive. Courts exist to dispense and promote justice. The realization of this solemn purpose depends to a great extent on the intellectual, moral and personal qualities of the men and women who are called to serve as judges. Verily, the Code of Judicial Conduct mandates that they possess the highest degree of competence, integrity and independence.
Judicial competence demands that judges should be proficient in both procedural and substantive aspects of the law. They have to exhibit more than just cursory acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules and be conversant, as well, with basic legal principles and well-settled authoritative doctrines. To the end that they be the personification of justice and rule of law, they should strive for a level of excellence exceeded only by their passion for truth. Anything less than this strict standard would subject them to administrative sanction.
Respondent failed to demonstrate the required competence in administering an ejectment case. Unlawful detainer and forcible entry cases are covered by summary procedure because they involve the disturbance of the social order which must be restored as promptly as possible. Respondent caused undue delay in dispensing the civil suit by failing to observe the period within which to conduct the preliminary conference which, according to Sec. 8 of Rule 70, shall be held “not later than thirty (30) days after the last answer is filed.” Respondent conducted the preliminary conference more than two years after the filing of the last answer. Note that the adoption of the Rule on Summary Procedure is part of the commitment of the judiciary to enforce the constitutional right of litigants to a speedy disposition of their cases. Any member of the judiciary who causes the delay sought to be prevented by the Rule is sanctionable.
as “lies, they are lies”, “Lies! Can you do that even if they are lies? Even if you are being deceived?”) at the council members. Municipal officials later filed a joint affidavit-complaint for Respondent’s dismissal and disbarment. Respondent admitted his presence during the council session, but contended that he was not drunk and that he was there merely in his private capacity as a taxpayer.
RULING: Respondent FINED P20,000 for conduct unbecoming of a judge in violation of Canon 2, Rule 2.01 and Rule 2.03 of the Code of Judicial Conduct; with STERN WARNING that the commission of the same or a similar act or omission in the future will be dealt with more severely. His actuations constitute palpable violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, that, “a judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities (Canon 2)”, “a judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary (Rule 2.01)”; “a judge shall not allow family, social, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. The prestige of judicial office shall not be used or lent to advance the private interests of others, nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge (Rule 2.03)”.
Respondent needs to be reminded that his judicial identity does not terminate at the end of the day when he takes off his judicial robes. Even when garbed in casual wear outside of the halls of justice, a judge retains the air of authority and moral ascendancy that he or she wields inside the sala.
A judge’s official life cannot simply be detached or separated from his personal existence. Indeed, the Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 2 in particular, mandates that a judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities, as well as behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Thus, the Court has to dismiss outright Judge Malanyaon’s suggestion that his actions be evaluated as one of a taxpayer or ordinary citizen and not as that of a judge. In fact, his utterances were not made under a cloak of anonymity, for the members of the council, as well as some of the people in the gallery knew very well that he was a judge. It is highly probable that his invectives took on a greater imperative on the listeners precisely because he was a judge, with all the authority attendant to the office.
The misplacement of the notice of appeal indicates gross negligence. Respondent should have been more prudent in determining the cause of its temporary loss, which caused unnecessary inconvenience to Complainant, whose right to appeal was affected. As administrative officers of the courts, judges should organize and supervise court personnel to ensure the prompt and efficient dispatch of business, as well as the observance of high standards of public service and fidelity at all times. He should adopt a system of records management, so that files are kept intact despite the temporary absence of the person primarily responsible for their custody.
ELENA R. ALCARAZ vs. JUDGE FRANCISCO S. LINDO, A.M. No. MTJ-04-1539, 4/14/2004
FACTS: A session was conducted wherein revocation of two previous resolutions granting authority to operate a cockpit in the locale was being deliberated. Respondent, whose nephew-in-law was one of the cockpit operators, heckled and interrupted the session by hurling various accusatory remarks and insults (such
RULING: Respondent FINED P5,000 for violating Rule 3.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct; WARNED that repetition of this or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. Rule 9, Section 3 (a) of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides that, “a party in
FACTS: Complainant alleged that she and her co-defendants in a civil suit for collection before Respondent were declared in default. After ex-parte presentation of evidence by plaintiff, judgment was rendered against Complainant and her codefendants from which they filed a motion to annul judgment. The latter motion however was denied. Complainant alleged that she was not furnished various pleading and orders including plaintiff’s motion to declare defendants in default and the order HON. JULIETA DECENA vs. JUDGE NILO MALANYAON, A.M. granting the same. No. RTJ-02-1669, 4/14/2004
default shall be entitled to notice of subsequent proceedings but shall not take part in the trial”. As such, even when a defendant is already declared in default, he is entitled to notice of subsequent proceedings. Complainant’s assertion that she was not furnished, not only with the order of default, but the subsequent orders of Respondent and Respondent’s failure to controvert this allegations, leaves us with no other conclusion other than that respondent judge was remiss in his duty to observe the Rules.
As an advocate of justice and a visible representation of the law, a judge is expected to keep abreast with and be proficient in the interpretation of our laws. Having accepted the exalted position of a judge, Respondent owes the public and the court she sits in proficiency in the law. Respondent also clearly violated Rule 2.01 of Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct that, “a judge should behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary”. Respondent showed partiality in accused’s favor when she ordered the dismissal of the criminal case supposedly due to payment of civil liability and private complainant’s disinterest in prosecuting the criminal aspect when the records revealed that on that same day, Complainants had refused to sign the affidavit of desistance already prepared for them.
Respondent’s failure to comply with the elementary dictates of procedural rules constitutes a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The Code is explicit in its mandate that, “a judge shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence”. Competence is the mark of a good judge. Having accepted the exalted position of a judge, whereby he judges his own fellowmen, the judge owes it to the public who depend on him, Rule 3.01, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct mandates that and to the dignity of the court he sits in, to be proficient in the “a judge shall be faithful to the law and maintain professional law. competence”. Unfamiliarity with the Rules of Court is a sign of incompetence. When a judge displays an utter lack of familiarity with the rules, such incompetence erodes the public’s confidence We reiterate that judges are duty bound to be faithful to the law in the competence of our courts. Basic rules of procedure must and to maintain professional competence at all times. Their role be at the palm of a judge’s hands.
in the administration of justice requires a continuous study of the law, lest public confidence in the judiciary be eroded by We cannot countenance Respondent’s discourtesy in insulting Complainant during the hearing and her statement then was incompetence and irresponsible conduct. unbecoming a judge – a display of petulance and impatience in SPS. RODOLFO & SYLVIA CABICO vs. JUDGE EVELYN L. the conduct of a trial which is incompatible with the needful DIMACULANGAN-QUERIJERO, A.M. No. RTJ-02-1735, attitude and sobriety of a good judge. Respondent’s actuations violated Rule 3.04 of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, 4/27/2007 that, “a judge should be patient, attentive, and courteous to lawyers, especially the inexperienced, to litigants, witnesses, and FACTS: Complainants were the parents of a 17-year old rape others appearing before the court. A judge should avoid victim in a criminal case pending before Respondent’s sala. When unconsciously falling into the attitude of mind that the litigants Complainants’ counsel manifested in court that there would be no are made for the courts, instead of the courts for the litigants”. settlement in the rape case, Respondent angrily shouted at Complainant (Silva) to right then and there return all the money already received as partial payment for settlement of the civil MARISSA MONDALA vs. JUDGE REBECCA MARIANO, A.M. aspect. Later, Respondent forced them to sign an affidavit of No. RTJ-06-2010, 1/25/2007 desistance, and despite their refusal, issued an order dismissing the case against the three accused supposedly on the ground of FACTS: Complainant, who is Respondent’s legal researcher, full payment of civil liability and disinterest to prosecute the charged that Respondent misrepresented in the January 2005 criminal aspect. Respondent claimed that the charges against her Report of Pending Cases by reporting that a decision had already was a machination of Complainants’ counsel who had an axe to been rendered in a certain civil case when in fact it was still with grind against her for losing a petition for habeas corpus decided Complainant for research and drafting. Respondent claimed mere by Respondent. Respondent added that in disposing the criminal oversight on her part and not misrepresentation, considering that, case, she applied Section 2(a), Rule 18 of the Rules of Court at the time she prepared the monthly report, a decision had requiring courts to “consider the possibility of an amicable actually been prepared. settlement or of a submission to alternative modes of resolution.” RULING: Respondent FINED P40,000 for gross misconduct due to RULING: Respondent FINED P21,000 for gross ignorance of the violations of the Canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct and law; with STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or provisions of Supreme Court Administrative Circular No. 4-2004, similar act will merit more severe sanction. Respondent as well as of making untruthful statements in the monthly dismissed the criminal case after the accused had paid their reports; with STERN WARNING that a commission of the same individual civil liability. This is in utter disregard and in gross or a similar offense will be dealt with more severely. ignorance of the law because payment of civil liability does not extinguish criminal liability. There is no merit in Respondent’s claim that the inclusion of the Amanet case in the list of decided cases was due to the fact that The victim’s affidavit of desistance] (subsequently made) could a decision had already been prepared and was due for printing in not have justified the dismissal of the criminal cases. Republic final form. A decision in a civil case is rendered only upon the Act No. 8353, (Anti-Rape Law of 1997) having reclassified rape as signing by the judge who penned the same and upon filing with a crime against persons, any public prosecutor, even without the the clerk of court. What constitutes rendition of judgment is not complaint of the victim or her parents, or guardian, can the mere pronouncement of the judgment in open court but the prosecute the offender. Even further, the victim’s affidavit of filing of the decision signed by the judge with the Clerk of Court. desistance, would not justify the dismissal because said affidavit, A draft of a decision does not operate as judgment on a case until by itself, is not a ground for the dismissal of an action, once the the same is duly signed and delivered to the clerk for filing and action has been instituted in court. When a law or a rule is promulgation. basic, a judge owes it to his office to simply apply the law. Anything less is gross ignorance of the law. Respondent misrepresented herself regarding the promulgation date of the decision in the Amanet case. While the January 2005 41
monthly report was submitted on March 7, 2005, the subject reasonable extension of time to dispose of his cases. decision in the Amanet case had not yet been printed. Amanet had obviously not yet been decided in January 2005. As frontline of the judiciary, judges should, at all times, act with efficiency and with probity. They are duty-bound not only to be Under SC Admin. Cir. No. 4-2004, the penalty for judges and faithful to the law, but likewise to maintain professional clerks of court who are responsible for inaccurate entries in their competence to sustain the trust and confidence which the public monthly reports is to have their salaries withheld. However, the reposed in them and the institution they represent. The judge is circumstances in the instant case warrant a penalty under the the visible representation of the law and, more importantly, of Rules of Court as the entries are not simply inaccurate or the justice. Thus, he must be the first to abide by the law and weave result of mere oversight, but rather the product of a deliberate an example for the others to follow. He should be studiously misrepresentation of the status of Amanet and other undecided careful to avoid committing even the slightest infraction of the cases. Under Sec. 1, Canon 2 of the New Code of Judicial Rules. Conduct, judges ought to ensure that not only is their conduct above reproach, but that it is perceived to be so in the view of a JULIO VERSOZA vs. JUDGE MANUEL CONTRERAS, A.M. No. reasonable observer. Integrity is essential not only to the proper MTJ-06-1636, 3/12/2007 discharge of the judicial office but also to the personal demeanor of judges. FACTS: Respondent, whose information to the police regarding the looting of a PLDT tower implicating Complainant as accessory GIDEON JUSON vs. JUDGE VICENTE MONDRAGON, A.M. No. thereto, later conducted the preliminary investigation over the MTJ-07-1685, 10/3/2007 criminal case involving the alleged looting. Complainant claimed that Respondent was motivated with ill-will because he FACTS: Complainant charged that Respondent unduly delayed (Complainant) had surmised that Respondent is the mastermind resolving (for over three years), the motion to intervene which of treasure-hunting activities. Complainant filed in a civil case for recovery of possession of a land. The pendency of Complainant’s motion caused numerous RULING: Respondent REPRIMANDED for violating Rule 3.12(a), postponements and resetting of the main case. Respondent Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct; WARNED that a admitted the delays but cited, failing health due to a stroke and repetition of the same or similar act in the future shall be dealt his load of supervising three courts at a time, as causes of delay. with more severely. The issue of whether a judge should voluntarily inhibit himself is addressed to his sound discretion RULING: Respondent FINED P10,000 for undue delay in the pursuant to Sec. 1 (2), Rule 137, Rules of Court, that, “a judge disposition of Complainant’s motion for intervention; WARNED may, in the exercise of his sound discretion, disqualify himself that a repetition of the same or similar act shall be dealt with from sitting in a case for just or valid reason other than those more severely. mentioned in the first paragraph”. Rules prescribing time within which certain acts must be done, or certain proceedings taken, are considered absolutely indispensable to the prevention of needless delays and the orderly and speedy discharge of judicial business. By their very nature, these rules are regarded as mandatory. Judicial office exacts nothing less than faithful observance of the Constitution and the law in the discharge of official duties. Section 15(1), Article VIII of the Constitution, mandates that cases or matters filed with the lower courts must be decided or resolved within three months from the date they are submitted for decision or resolution.
True, a judge should possess proficiency in law so that he can competently construe and enforce the law. However, it is more important that he should act and behave in such a manner that the parties before him have confidence in his impartiality. In this case, Respondent had prior knowledge of the looting and dismantling at the PLDT Tower and he was instrumental in the apprehension of the robbers. Respondent should have been aware of the impropriety of conducting the preliminary investigation considering that Rule 3.12(a), Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct enjoins a judge from taking part in proceedings where the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned. Respondent ignored said rule, warranting disciplinary Rule 3.05, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, directs judges sanction from this Court. to “dispose of the court’s business promptly and decide cases within the required periods.” Strict adherence to this rule is That, his prior knowledge of the commission of a crime is not a intended to preserve the integrity, competence, and mandatory ground to recuse himself from conducting preliminary independence of the judiciary and make the administration of investigation, holds no water. As a judge, Respondent must keep justice more efficient and in order not to negate the Court’s himself abreast with the law. He should have known that it is well efforts minimize, if not totally eradicate, the twin problems of entrenched in the Code of Judicial Conduct, prevailing at that congestion and delay that have long plagued Philippine courts. time, that personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts Canons 6 and 7 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics also exhort judges concerning the proceedings disqualifies him from taking part in “to be prompt in disposing of all matters submitted to him, such proceeding as the same would necessarily spawn a remembering that justice delayed is often justice denied” and “to perception that he is bias and impartial. It is of no moment that be punctual in the performance of his judicial duties x x x”. the finding of probable cause was sustained by the provincial prosecutor. His failing health, as an excuse for the delay hardly merits serious consideration. Even if he was stricken by an illness hampering his FRANCISCO PALON, JR. vs. JUDGE PLACIDO VILLARTA, A.M. due performance of his duties, it was incumbent upon him to No. MTJ-04-1530, 3/7/2007 inform this Court of his inability to seasonably decide the cases assigned to him. As to his additional work in supervising three FACTS: Complainant was the accused in a frustrated murder case courts at a time, such will not exonerate him. His failure to decide filed by one Carlos Pangilinan before Respondent’s court. the case on time cannot be ignored. Respondent should have Respondent failed to act on Complainant’s motion for remand of know that if his caseload, additional assignments or designations, the case, postponed at his (Respondent’s) instance hearings, and health reasons or other facts prevented the timely disposition of refused Complainant’s request for resetting when his counsel was his pending cases, all he had to do was simply ask this Court for a unavailable and even uttered during one hearing that it was best 42
for Complainant to use money intended for bail as indemnity for Pangilinan. In another criminal case for attempted homicide filed by Complainant (as offended party), Carlos Pangilinan was one of the accused. In this second criminal case, Respondent failed to sign the arrest warrants for the accused including Pangilinan who was Respondent’s 4th degree relative by affinity.
RULING: Respondent FINED P20,000.00 for gross inefficiency. Sec. 15, Art. 8 of the Constitution requires lower courts to decide or resolve all cases within three months from date of submission. Rule 3.05, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct states that, “a judge shall dispose of the court’s business promptly and decide cases within the required periods”. The 90-day period is mandatory. Any delay in the administration Complainant lodged a complaint for Ignorance of the Law, of justice, no matter how brief, deprives the litigant of his right to Dereliction of Duty, and Partiality against Respondent. a speedy disposition of his case. Respondent, instead of submitting his answer to the complaint, tendered his resignation letter. Respondent failed to decide five (5) cases and to resolve a pending motion within the mandatory period, and offered no RULING: Respondent GUILTY as charged, all benefits due him are explanation for it. Worse, he submitted his compliance with the FORFEITED, with prejudice to re-employment in the government OCA directives only two (2) years after they were issued against service, including government-owned or controlled corporations. him. Failure to decide even a single case within the required constitutes gross Every officer or employee in the judiciary has the duty to obey period, absent sufficient justification, the orders and processes of this Court without delay. A court inefficiency meriting administrative sanction. resolution requiring comment on an administrative complaint is not a mere request and cannot be complied with partially, Regarding directives from the OCA, judges should treat them as if inadequately, or selectively. Respondents in administrative issued directly by the Court and comply promptly and complaints should comment on all accusations or allegations conscientiously with them since it is through the OCA that this against them because it is their duty to preserve the judiciary’s Court exercises its constitutionally mandated administrative integrity. There is no place in the judiciary for those who cannot supervision over all courts and the personnel thereof. Failure to meet the exacting standards of judicial conduct and integrity. It is do so constitutes misconduct and exacerbates administrative gross misconduct, even disrespect to the highest Court of the liability. land, for a respondent judge to exhibit indifference to the resolution requiring him to comment on the accusations in the In the case at bar, suspension is not an option considering that complaint. Judge Bagundang retired compulsorily on July 10, 2004. Hence, the imposition of a fine. Complainant alleged that Respondent “failed to evaluate the information” or “sign the warrant of arrest” because the latter is SILAS Y. CAÑADA vs. ILDEFONSO B. SUERTE, A.M. No. RTJrelated by affinity within the 4th civil degree to one of the 04-1884, 2/22/2008 accused. Rule 3.12, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides that, “a judge should take no part in a proceeding where FACTS: Complainant alleged that sometime in 1998, he refused the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned, Respondent who was trying to sell him a dilapidated cargo truck including proceedings where x x x (d) The judge is related by and Daewoo car. Later, Respondent allegedly offered to act as consanguinity or affinity to a party litigant within the sixth degree broker for the sale of Complainant’s real property, to which or to counsel within the fourth civil degree x x x”. This Complainant agreed. When he had a prospective buyer, disqualification springs from the long-standing precept that a Respondent demanded that of the P1.6M purchase price he would judge should not handle a case where there is a perception, get a P1M-commission. Complainant refused, and the sale did not rightly or wrongly, that he is susceptible to bias and partiality push through, thereupon Respondent became angry and because of relationship or some other ground. threatened Complainant that, as a judge, he could deprive As a dispenser of justice, a judge should demonstrate sensitivity in his choice of words as normally expected of men of his stature. Respondent had used language hardly the kind of circumspect words expected of a magistrate. Judges must observe judicial decorum, which requires a magistrate to be at all times temperate in his language, refraining from vilification or inflammatory rhetoric. Patience is an essential part of dispensing justice and courtesy is a mark of culture and good breeding. Belligerent behavior has no place in the judiciary where its judges and personnel should act at all times with self-restraint and civility even when confronted with rudeness and insolence.
Complainant of his property, even have him arrested and executed. Later, despite the deal being botched, Respondent demanded a P200T-commission, Complainant allegedly paid P100T. In his defense, Respondent denied forcing Complainant to purchase certain vehicles but made no mentioned about receiving P100T from Complainant. RULING: RULING: Respondent FINED p40,000 for dishonesty; DISBARRED for violating Canons 1 and 11 and Rules 1.01 and 10.01 of the CPR; his name ORDERED STRICKEN from Attorney’s Roll. While this case was pending, respondent was dismissed from the service in another administrative case for gross misconduct, gross ignorance of the law and incompetence.
OCA vs. vs. JUDGE ISMAEL BAGUNDANG, A.M. No. RTJ-051937 In administrative proceedings, complainant has the burden of proving the allegations in his complaint with substantial evidence, FACTS: Following a judicial and physical inventory of cases, in i.e., that amount of relevant evidence which a reasonable mind March 2003, Respondent was ordered by the Office of the Court might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion. If a judge should Administrator (OCA) to explain his failure to decide and take be disciplined for a grave offense, the evidence against him action on various cases. About two years later, Respondent should be competent and derived from direct knowledge. Here, submitted his compliance attaching copies of the decisions and Complainant failed to present concrete evidence to substantiate orders issued by him in the cases cited by the OCA memo in his charges against Respondent. He did not appear before the 2003. He however offered no explanation as to his failure to investigating justice to prove his allegations . While he attached decide within the mandatory period the cases cited in the same to his complaint two affidavits to corroborate his story, the memo. affiants—a prospective business partner and an AFP comrade— were not disinterested witnesses whose statements could be given credence. Mere allegations will leave an administrative 43
complaint with no leg to stand on. However, Respondent should be held for dishonesty. Respondent claimed he never owned a dilapidated cargo pick-up truck and could not recall if he had a Daewoo car in 1998. But his Statements of Assets and Liabilities for the years 1998 to 2001 on file in the Court prove otherwise. They show that among his personal properties were a Daewoo car acquired in 1996 and an L-200 double cab acquired in 1998.
The use of a letterhead should not be considered independently of the surrounding circumstances of the use – the underlying reason that marks the use with the element of “impropriety” or “appearance of impropriety”. Respondent crossed the line of propriety when he used his letterhead to report a complaint involving an alleged violation of church rules and, possibly, of Philippine laws. Coming from a judge with the letter addressed to a foreign reader, such report could indeed have conveyed the impression of official recognition or notice of the reported violation.
Dishonesty is defined as the disposition to lie, cheat, deceive or defraud; untrustworthiness; lack of integrity; lack of honesty, probity or integrity in principle; lack of fairness and straightforwardness; disposition to defraud, deceive or betray. This is a grave offense that carries the extreme penalty of dismissal from the service, even for the first offense. Respondent showed his capacity to lie and evade the truth. His dishonesty not only tended to mislead the Court but also tarnished the image of the judiciary. It will warrant the maximum penalty of dismissal, if not for the fact that he has already been dismissed from the service in another administrative case.
The same problem that the use of letterhead poses, occurs in the use of the title of “Judge” or “Justice” in the correspondence of a member of the Judiciary. While use of the title is an official designation as well as an honor that an incumbent has earned, a line still has to be drawn based on the circumstances of the use thereof. While the title can be used for social and other identification purposes, it cannot be used with the intent to use the prestige of his judicial office to gainfully advance his personal, family or other pecuniary interests. Nor can the prestige of a judicial office be used or lent to advance the private interests of others, or to convey or permit others to convey the impression CONRADO LADIGON vs. JUDGE RIXON GARONG, A.M. No. that they are in a special position to influence the judge. To do any of these is to cross into the prohibited field of impropriety. MTJ-08-1712, 8/20/2008 FACTS: Respondent wrote a letter-complaint to the Chairman of the Administrative Council of the First United Methodist Church in Michigan, USA, complaining of the surreptitious manner of the incorporation of the Banard Kelly Memorial United Methodist Church and singling out Complainant to be part of the deception. Complainant, prompted by Respondent’s letter, complained to the Justices of this Court against the Respondent’s improper conduct as an MTC Judge and his use in a private communication of his official court stationery and his title as a judge. Respondent, admitting that he used his court’s letterhead and signed his letter using the word “judge”, reasoned that he merely used an ordinary bond paper and typed thereon his court’s station “to indicate the return or inside address”. He further alleged that he “did not see any harm or abuse in using the word ‘judge’ on the honest belief that he is entitled to use such appellation.
SYLVIA SANTOS vs. JUDGE EVELYN S. ARCAYA- CHUA, A.M. No. RTJ-07-2093, 2009.
FACTS: Complainant, an aunt of Respondent’s husband sought Respondent’s help in connection with pending cases involving Complainant’s friend before the Supreme Court. Respondent, a former employee of the Court, said that she could help as she had connections with some Justices of the Court and for that purpose, she needed P100,000 to give an employee of the Court for the speedy resolution of said cases. Sometime after giving the money however, Respondent told Complainant that there was a problem considering that the other party was offering P10 million to the Justices. Complainant asked respondent to return the P100,000.00; however respondent could no longer be contacted. After the filing of the administrative complaint against Respondent, Complainant moved to withdraw the same citing the RULING: Respondent ADMONISHED to be ever mindful of the return of the money and familial considerations as reasons for standards he has to observe in his use of hi letterhead and title; withdrawal. WARNED that a repetition of this transgression shall be dealt RULING: Respondent SUSPENDED for gross misconduct; with more severely. WARNED that commission of the same or a similar act will merit What is involved here is the rule that “Judges shall avoid a more severe penalty. It is settled in administrative proceedings, impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of their the quantum of proof required to establish malfeasance is not activities”. Indeed, members of the Judiciary should be beyond proof beyond reasonable doubt, but substantial evidence, i.e., reproach and suspicion in their conduct, and should be free from that amount of relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might any appearance of impropriety in the discharge of their official accept as adequate to support a conclusion. duties as well as in their personal behavior and everyday life. No position exacts a greater demand for moral righteousness and Try as she might to show the implausibility of complainant's claims, respondent could not deny that she and complainant met uprightness on the individual than a seat in the Judiciary. at her office sometime in September 2002; that she and her That Respondent used an ordinary bond paper and placed husband knew Muñoz and associated with her on several thereon his official station as return address is not totally occasions, and that it was she (respondent), being a former unmeritorious. This is not an unusual practice and it would be employee of the Supreme Court, who stood to know who Tolosa hypocritical to deny its occurrence at all levels of the Judiciary, was. But most telling of all the circumstances pointing to eg., some members of the Judiciary may use a social card with respondent's guilt is the unwavering stance of complainant that the letterhead of their office to indicate their address as well as respondent did solicit and receive P100,000.00 from her in order their station within the judicial hierarchy; some also use notepads to facilitate a favorable ruling in Muñoz's cases. While bearing their names, designation and station. A thin line, Complainant's claim that Respondent returned the money to her however, exists between what is proper and what is improper in was given during a clarificatory hearing and Respondent did make such use, and this was the line that the Respondent crossed when a belated objection to this testimony via a motion filed one month he used his letterhead and title the way he did. Respondent’s later, still, Respondent could not deny that she was present transgression was not per se in the use of the letterhead, but in during the clarificatory hearing and could have very well objected not being very careful and discerning in considering the to and refuted complainant's declaration on the matter. Respondent, however, did not make any objection at the time, circumstances surrounding the use of his letterhead and his title. 44
which failure is truly damaging.
system. There are agents of the law, specifically, officers of the court and the police who can be called upon to implement As defined, misconduct is a transgression of some established contempt orders and restore order as needed. and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, unlawful behavior, willful in character, improper or wrong Respondent overreacted in his handling of the situation before his behavior; while “gross,” has been defined as “out of all measure; court. Bringing out a gun for everyone present in the court to see, beyond allowance; flagrant; shameful; such conduct as is not to even for purposes of maintaining order and decorum in the court, be excused. is inexcusable in the absence of overt acts of physical aggression by a party before the court. The New Code of Judicial Conduct As a final word, let it be stressed once again that the office of a requires “`(Judges) shall ensure that not only is their conduct judge is sacred and imbued with public interest. The need to above reproach, but that it is perceived to be so in the view of a maintain the public’s confidence in the judiciary cannot be made reasonable observer,” and their “behavior and conduct x x x must to depend solely on the whims and caprices of complainants who reaffirm the peoples' faith in the integrity of the judiciary”. are, in a real sense, only witnesses therein. Thus, withdrawal of a complaint or desistance from a complaint will not deprive this The Code itself sets limits on how a judge should do this. Section Court of its power under the Constitution to ferret out the truth 6, Canon 6 of the Code provides: “Judges shall maintain order and and discipline its members accordingly. decorum in all proceedings before the court and be patient, dignified and courteous in relation to litigants, witnesses, lawyers ATTY. ANTONIO CAÑEDA vs. JUDGE ERIC MENCHAVEZ, A.M. and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity. Judges shall require similar conduct of legal representatives, court No. RTJ-06-2026, 3/4/2009 staff and others subject to their influence, direction or control. FACTS: Complainant was counsel for one of the defendants in a civil case for partition before Respondent’s sala. During the hearing, Respondent asked Complainant if his clients were amenable to segregate only a share of one of the plaintiffs, to Complainant advanced the idea that the parties go to mediation. Respondent then blurted out, “never mind mediation, walay hinundan na (it's useless).” When Respondent checked on the progress of the case, Complainant remarked that it was being delayed because no proper summons (by publication) had been served on defendants residing outside the country. Respondent reacted by angrily banging his gavel and shouting, “I said no publication period.” He banged the gavel so hard, it broke and its head flew into the air almost hitting Complainant. Respondent then slammed the table with his hand, went inside his chambers and later returned with a holstered handgun which he smashed on the table. Angrily Respondent shouted at Complainant, “Unsay gusto nimo? Yawa! Gahig ulo!” (What do you want? Devil! Hardheaded!). RULING: Respondent FINED for for vulgar and unbecoming conduct a judge; WARNED that repetition of the same or similar infraction will be dealt with more severely; Complainant ADMONISHED to be mindful of the respect due to the court and avoid actions bordering on disrespect in representing his clients. There were basic disagreements on approaches and issues in the partition case. In the courtroom, a lawyer makes submissions before a judge whose role is to hear and consider the submissions, and subsequently rule on the matter. It is not a situation where two equals, such as the opposing counsels, argue against each other. Respondent apparently had a misplaced concept of what a courtroom situation should ideally be, so that he was effectively arguing with counsel as shown by his clearly contentious stance when he made his ruling. This was Respondent’s first error; he should have coolly ruled and allowed counsel to respond to his ruling, instead of proceeding in a manner that invited further arguments. Complainant also erred since he continued to argue despite Respondent’s ruling. Respondent judge’s response, under this situation, should have been to direct Complainant to wind up his arguments under pain of direct contempt if this warning would be disregarded. Thereafter, he could have declared Complainant in direct contempt if he persisted in his arguments. A direct contempt, of course, is not enforced by a judge’s act of bringing out his weapon and asking counsel the direct question “What do you want?” This confrontational manner – shown usually in the western genre of movies – has no place in our present justice 45