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any activity, not limited to the conduct of cases in court, which requires the application of law, legal procedures, knowledge, training and expertise. The fact that respondents employ paralegals to carry out its services does not matter but its engagement in the practice of law due to the nature of the services it renders. This brings them within the statutory prohibitions against advertisements of the legal profession. In relation, Canon 3 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer in making known his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective information or statement of facts. Furthermore, Rule 3.01 states that he is not supposed to use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal services and that, in accordance with Rule 3.04, he shall not pay or give something of value to representatives of the mass media in anticipation of, or in return for, publicity to attract legal business. Thus, stands of legal profession condemn lawyer’s advertisement of his talents like a merchant does of his goods because of the fact that law is a profession. In addition, the canons of profession provide that the best advertising possible for a lawyer is a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust which must be earned as the outcome of character and conduct. Although there are exceptions, as given in the case of Bates vs. State Bar, which is used by the respondents as a defense, it is not applicable in the case at bar. Hence, the Court resolved to restrain and enjoin the Legal Clinic, Inc., from issuing or causing the publication or dissemination of any advertisement in any form which is of the same or similar tenor and purpose as Annexes A and B of this petition, and from conducting, directly or indirectly, any activity, operation or transaction proscribed by the Code of Professional Responsibility.
CANON 4 - A LAWYER SHALL PARTICIPATE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM BY INITIATING OR SUPPORTING EFFORTS IN LAW REFORM AND IN THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.
CANON 5 - A LAWYER SHALL KEEP ABREAST OF LEGAL DEVELOPMENTS, PARTICIPATE IN CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS, SUPPORT EFFORTS TO ACHIEVE HIGH STANDARDS IN LAW SCHOOLS AS WELL AS IN THE PRACTICAL TRAINING OF LAW STUDENTS AND ASSIST IN DISSEMINATING INFORMATION REGARDING THE LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE.
Canon 4 IN THE MATTER OF ATTY. LOPE ADRIANO vs. REMEGIO ESTABIA Facts: Remigio Estebia was convicted of rape by the Court of First Instance of Samar and was sentenced to suffer the capital punishment. On December, Lope Adriano was appointed as Estebia’s counsel de oficio when his case came up before the Supreme Court on review. Adriano was required to prepare and file his brief within 30 days from notice. Adriano sought a 30-day extension to file appellant’s brief in mimeograph form. After obtaining 4 extensions, he, then, sought a special extension of five days. All of these motions for extension were granted by the Court and the brief was nearly due. However, no brief was filed. For failing to comply, the Supreme Court resolved to impose upon Adriano a fine of P500 with a warning that a more drastic disciplinary action will be taken against him upon further non-compliance. Adriano was ordered to show cause why he should not be suspended from the practice of law for gross misconduct and violation of his oath of office as attorney. A resolution was personally served upon him on December 18, 1968 however Adriano ignored the said resolution. Issue: Whether or not the conduct of Atty Lope E. Adriano as member of the bar deserve disciplinary action. Held: Yes. By specific authority, this Court may assign an attorney to render professional aid to a destitute appellant in a criminal case who is unable to employ an attorney. Correspondingly, a duty is imposed upon the lawyer so assigned "to render the required service." A lawyer so appointed "as counsel for an indigent prisoner", our Canons of Professional Ethics demand, "should always exert his best efforts" in the indigent's behalf. No excuse at all has been offered for non-presentation of appellant's brief. And yet when he received notice of his appointment, and when the last show cause order was issued by this Court, more than sufficient time was afforded counsel to prepare and file his brief de oficio. In the face of the fact that no brief has ever been filed, counsel's statements in his motions for extension have gone down to the level of empty and meaningless words; at best, have dubious claim to veracity. Adriano’s pattern of conduct reveals a propensity to be numb appreciation of his obligation as counsel de oficio and of the courtesy and respect that should be accorded this Court. For the reasons given Attorney Lope E. Adriano was suspended from the practice of law throughout the Philippines for a period of one year.
PEOPLE vs ROSCOE DABAN Y GANZON SIXTO P. DIMAISIP Facts: Respondent, Attorney Sixto P. Demaisip, started as counsel de parte of appellant. He filed a motion for extension of time of 30-days within which to file appellant's brief. It was granted. So were subsequent motions for extension. After having obtained 13 extensions in all, he filed a motion asking that in view of the father of appellant being unable to raise money for printing expenses, he be allowed to retire as counsel de parte and be appointed as counsel de oficio instead to enable him to file a typewritten brief, a draft of which, according to him, he had by then finished. This Court granted him to be appointed counsel de oficio, but required him to file a mimeographed rather than a typewritten brief. In the light of his own representation, it seems that Demaisip has no brief prepared yet because this time as counsel de oficio, he kept on filing motions for postponement, four in number, likewise granted by this Tribunal. All in all, he had 17 extensions. Still there was no appellant's brief. It was only when this Court issued a resolution requiring Atty. Sixto P. Demaisip to explain, within ten (10) days why disciplinary action should not be taken against him. What passed for an explanation for appellant's persistent failure to file appellant's brief was submitted worded thus: "[Comes now] the accused-appellant, by and thru the undersigned counsel de oficio, unto this Honorable Supreme Court most respectfully manifests and explains that, in the opinion of the undersigned lawyer, grounded on settled jurisprudence, the escape of the prisoner automatically makes the appeal useless and unnecessary because it is considered abandoned." It is his prayer, therefore, that the above be considered a satisfactory explanation. Issue: Whether or not Respondent was negligent of his duty? Held: Yes. Doctrine: “There is need anew in this disciplinary proceeding to lay stress on the fundamental postulate that membership in the bar carries with it a responsibility to live up to its exacting standard. The law is a profession, not a trade or a craft. Those enrolled in its ranks are called upon to aid in the performance of one of the basic purposes of the State, the administration of justice. To avoid any frustration thereof, especially in the case of an indigent defendant, a lawyer may be required to act as counsel de oficio. The fact that his services are rendered without remuneration should not occasion a diminution in his zeal. Rather the contrary. This is not, of course, to ignore that other pressing matters do compete for his attention. After all, he has his practice to attend to. That circumstance possesses a high degree of relevance since a lawyer has to live; certainly he cannot afford either to neglect his paying cases. Nonetheless, what is incumbent upon him as counsel de oficio must be fulfilled Nothing can be clearer, therefore, than that respondent Demaisip, by such gross neglect of duty, notwithstanding the many extensions granted him, was recreant to the trust reposed in him as counsel de oficio. Respondent Demaisip ought to have known better. His explanation disregards the facts and betrays ignorance of the law. Respondent Demaisip, according to his motion wherein he prayed that he be appointed counsel de oficio and permitted to submit a mimeographed brief, had assured this Court that he had already prepared a draft. If he were not careless of the truth, then there was no excuse why he was unable to submit such a brief to this Court. It is not to be ignored either that as of that date he had already secured thirteen extensions, ordinarily many more than any counsel is entitled to but nonetheless granted him, because the sentence imposed was one of death.
The liability incurred by respondent Demaisip is thus unavoidable. He had failed to fulfill his responsibility as defense counsel. Whether as counsel de parte ora counsel de oficio, he was indeed truly remiss in the discharge of a responsibility which, as a member of the Bar, he cannot evade. It is by such notorious conduct of neglect and indifference on the part of counsel that a court's docket becomes unnecessarily clogged. His transgression is indisputable; what remains is the imposition of an appropriate penalty. Thus, respondent Sixto P. Demaisip is suspended from the practice of law except for the sole purpose of filing the brief for appellant Roscoe Daban y Ganzon.
Canon 5 JUAN DULALIA vs. ATTY. PABLO C. CRUZ Facts: Atty. Pablo C. Cruz, Municipal Legal Officer of Meycauayan, Bulacan, respondent, is charged by Juan Dulalia, Jr., complainant, of violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Complainant’s wife Susan Soriano Dulalia filed an application for building permit for the construction of a warehouse. Despite compliance with all the requirements for the purpose, she failed to secure a permit, she attributing the same to the opposition of respondents who wrote a letter to Carlos J. Abacan, Municipal Engineer and concurrent Building Official of Meycauayan saying that unbearable nuisances that the construction creates and its adverse effects particularly the imminent danger and damage to their properties, health and safety of the neighbours adjoining the site. By complainant’s claim, respondent opposed the application for building permit because of a personal grudge against his wife Susan who objected to respondent’s marrying her first cousin Imelda Soriano while respondent’s marriage with Carolina Agaton is still subsisting. Respondent married Imelda Soriano at the Clark County, Nevada, USA, when the Family Code of the Philippines had already taken effect. He invokes good faith, however, he claiming to have had the impression that the applicable provision at the time was Article 83 of the Civil Code. For while Article 256 of the Family Code provides that the Code shall have retroactive application, there is a qualification there under that it should not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in accordance with the Civil Code or other laws. In respondent’s case, he being out of the country since 1986, he can be given the benefit of the doubt on his claim that Article 83 of the Civil Code was the applicable provision when he contracted the second marriage abroad. From 1985 when allegedly his first wife abandoned him, an allegation which was not refuted, until his marriage in 1989 with Imelda Soriano, there is no showing that he was romantically involved with any woman. And, it is undisputed that his first wife has remained an absentee even during the pendency of this case. Respondent’s misimpression that it was the Civil Code provisions which applied at the time he contracted his second marriage and the seemingly unmindful attitude of his residential community towards his second marriage notwithstanding, respondent may not go scot free. Issue: Whether or not Respondent violated Canon 5 of the Code of Responsibility? Held: Yes. Respondent’s claim that he was not aware that the Family Code because he was in the United Stated does not lie, as "ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith." It must be emphasized that the primary duty of lawyers is to obey the laws of the land and promote respect for the law and legal processes. They are expected to be in the forefront in the observance and maintenance of the rule of law. This duty carries with it the obligation to be well-informed of theexisting laws and to keep abreast with legal developments, recent enactments and jurisprudence. It is imperative that they be conversant with basic legalprinciples. Unless they faithfully comply with such duty, they may not be able to discharge competently and diligently their obligations as members of thebar. Worse, they may become susceptible to committing mistakes.
JONAR SANTIAGO vs. ATTY. EDISON RAFANAN Facts: Jonar Santiago, an employee of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), filed a complaint for the disbarment of Atty. Edison V. Rafanan with the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). It charged Atty. Rafanan with deceit; malpractice or other gross misconduct. Complainant alleged, among others, that Respondent in notarizing several documents on different dates failed and/or refused to: a)make the proper notation regarding the cedula or community tax certificate of the affiants; b) enter the details of the notarized documents in the notarial register; and c) make and execute the certification and enter his PTR and IBP numbers in the documents he had notarized, all in violation of the notarial provisions of the Revised Administrative Code. Likewise, he alleged that Respondent executed an Affidavit in favor of his client and offered the same as evidence in the case wherein he was actively representing his client. Finally, Complainant alleges that on a certain date, Respondent accompanied by several persons waited for Complainant after the hearing and after confronting the latter disarmed him of his side arm and thereafter uttered insulting words and veiled threats. Atty. Rafanan filed his verified Answer. He admitted having administered the oath to the affiants whose Affidavits were attached to the verified Complaint. He believed, however, that the non-notation of their Residence Certificates in theAffidavits and the Counter-affidavits was allowed. He opined that the notation of residence certificates applied only to documents acknowledged by a notary public and was not mandatory for affidavits related to cases pending before courts and other government offices. He pointed out that in the latter, the affidavits, which were sworn to before government prosecutors, did not have to indicate the residence certificates of the affiants. Neither did other notaries public in Nueva Ecija -- some of whom were older practitioners -- indicate the affiants residence certificates on the documents they notarized, or have entries in their notarial register for these documents. As to his alleged failure to comply with the certification required by Section 3 of Rule 112 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, respondent explained that ascounsel of the affiants, he had the option to comply or not with the certification. To nullify the Affidavits, it was complainant who was duty-bound to bring the said noncompliance to the attention of the prosecutor conducting the preliminary investigation. The IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XVI-2003-172 approving and adopting the Investigating Commissioners Report that respondent had violated specific requirements of the Notarial Law on the execution of a certification, the entry of such certification in the notarial register, and the indication of the affiants residence certificate. The IBP Board of Governors found his excuse for the violations unacceptable. ISSUE: Whether or not Respondent violated Canon 5 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. HELD: YES. Section 3 of Rule 112 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure expressly requires respondent as notary -- in the absence of any fiscal, state prosecutor or government official authorized to administer the oath -- to certify that he has personally examined the affiants and that he is satisfied that they voluntarilyexecuted and understood their affidavits. Respondent failed to do so with respect to the subject Affidavits and Counter-Affidavits in the belief that – as counsel for the affiants -- he was not required to comply with the certification requirement. It must be emphasized that the primary duty of lawyers is to obey the laws of the land and promote respect for the law and legal processes.They are expected to be in the forefront in the observance and maintenance of the rule of law. This duty carries with it the obligation to be well-informed of the existing laws and to keep abreast with legal developments, recent enactments and jurisprudence.
It is imperative that they be conversant with basic legal principles. Unless they faithfully comply with such duty, they may not be able to discharge competently and diligently their obligations as members of the bar. Worse, they may become susceptible to committing mistakes. Having undertaken the defense of the accused, respondent, as defense counsel, was thus expected to spare no effort to save his clients from a wrong conviction. He had the duty to present -- by all fair and honorable means -- every defense and mitigating circumstance that the law permitted, to the end that his clients would not be deprived of life, liberty or property, except by due process of law.The Affidavit executed by Atty. Rafanan was clearly necessary for the defense of his clients, since it pointed out the fact that on the alleged date and time of the incident, his clients were at his residence and could not have possibly committed the crime charged against them. Notably, in his Affidavit, complainant does not dispute the statements of respondent or suggest the falsity of its contents.
CANON 6 - THESE CANONS SHALL APPLY TO LAWYERS IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE IN THE DISCHARGE OF THEIR OFFICIAL TASKS. Rule 6.01 - The primary duty of a lawyer engaged in public prosecution is not to convict but to see that justice is done. The suppression of facts or the concealment of witnesses capable of establishing the innocence of the accused is highly reprehensible and is cause for disciplinary action. 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. 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 service.
AQUILINO PIMENTEL JR. vs. ATTYs ANTONIO M. LLORENTE and LIGATA P. SALAYON Facts: Attys. Antonio Llorente and Ligaya Salayon were election officers of the COMELEC and held the position of Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively for the Pasig City Board of Candidates. The respondents helped conduct and oversee the 1995 elections. Then Senatorial candidate Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. alleged that the respondents tampered with the votes received by them by either adding more votes for particular candidates in their Statement of Votes (SoV) or reducing the number of votes of particular candidates in their SoV. Pimentel filed an administrative complaint for their disbarment. Respondents argued that the discrepancies were due to honest mistake, oversight and fatigue. Respondents also argued that the IBP Board of Governors had already exonerated them from any offense and that the motion for reconsideration filed by Pimentel was not filed in time. Issue: Whether or not Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is applicable to the to the case at bar? Held: A l a w y e r w h o h o l d s a g o v e r n m e n t position may not be disciplined as a member of the bar for misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a government official. However, if the misconduct also constitutes a Violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility of the Lawyer's Oath or is of such character as t o a f f e c t h i s q u a l i f i c a t i o n a s a L a w y e r o r shows Moral Delinquency on his part, such individual may be disciplined as a member of the bar for such misconduct. Here, by c e r t i f y i n g a s t r u e a n d c o r r e c t t h e S O V s i n question, respondents committed a breach of Rule 1.01 of the Code which stipulates that “A Lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.” By express provision of Canon 6, this is made applicable to Lawyers in Government service. In addition, they likewise violated their Oath o f O f f i c e a s L a w y e r s “ t o d o n o f a l s e h o o d ” . T h e c o u r t f o u n d t h e r e s p o n d e n t s g u i l t y o f m i s c o n d u c t a n d f i n e d t h e m P 1 0 , 0 0 0 e a c h and issued a stem warning that similar conduct in the future will be severely punished.
GISELA HUYSSEN vs. ATTY. FRED L. GUTIERREZ Facts: In 1995, the complainant and her three sons, all American citizens, applied for Philippine Visas. The respondent who was then connected with the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) informed them that they needed to deposit a certain amount of money in order that their visa applications will be approved. Complainant then deposited with respondent on six different occasions from April 1995 to April 1996 the total amount of US $20,000. However, the respondent refused to issue copies of official receipts despite the demand of the complainant. After one year, complainant demanded from respondent the return of US $20,000 who assured her that said amount would be returned. Instead of returning the money, the respondent issued postdated checks which were dishonored. After respondent made several unfulfilled promises to return the said amount, a complaint for disbarment was filed in the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Issue: Whether or not Atty. Gutierrez should be disbarred for the act complained of in the case. Held: The respondent was DISBARRED from the practice of law and ordered to return the amount he received from the complainant with legal interest from his receipt of the money until payment. Respondent’s acts of asking money from complainant in consideration of the latter’s pending application for visas is violative of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which prohibits members of the Bar from engaging or participating in any unlawful, dishonest, or deceitful acts. Moreover, said acts also constitute a breach of Rule 6.02 of the Code which bars lawyers in government service from promoting their private interests. Promotion of private interests includes soliciting gifts or anything of monetary value in any transaction requiring the approval of his office or which may be affected by the functions of his office. As a lawyer, who was also a public officer, respondent miserably failed to cope with strict demands and high standards of the legal profession
CHAPTER II. LAWYER AND THE LEGAL PROFESSION 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 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. 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. 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.
RE: COMPLAINTS OF MRS. LEE AGAINST ATTY. GIL R. CAPITO Facts: Atty Gil Capito, Court Attorney IV at the Office of the Chief Attorney was changed with grave misconduct and willful failure to pay just debts amounting to Php 16,000 by Milagros Lee and her daughter Samantha Lee. For several times, Mrs. Lee calles Atty. Capito in the OCAT through phone, but she received an answer “wala pa” until Mrs. Lee told him to give the exact date when to pay her. Mrs. Lee alleged the Atty. Capito promised to pay her on September 20, 2008. On said date, Mrs. Lee together with her daughter Samantha went early to the said office but she was told “wala pa.” Lee got angry, as they needed the money already that is why they came early to see him at his office. When Milagros finally met respondent on September 30, 2008, respondent, in the presece of several others, told her, “Eh kung sabihin ko na sugar monny kita,” adding that “Nagpapakantot ka naman sa akin.” Leonora F. Dino, Executive Assistant at the OCAT, corroborated complainant Milagros’ account of the Semprember 30, 2008 incident the respondent while engaged in a heated argument with Milagros loudly uttered: “Nagpakantot ka naman…!” Atty. Eden T. Candelaria, Deputy Clerk of Court and Chief Administrative Officer found respondent’s utterance of vulgar words, given that the words were uttered in the presence of Milagros’ daughter and in public. Atty. Candelaria thus concluded that respondent is liable for gross discourtesy. Issue: Whether Atty. Capito is liable for gross discourtesy. Held: Yes. The Court finds that respondent is indeed guilty of gross discourtesy amounting to conduct unbecoming of a court employee. By such violation, respondent failed to live up to his oath of office as member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and violated Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Gross discourtesy in the course of official duties is classified as less grave offense under the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service. The Court has consistently been reminding officials and employees of the Judiciary that their conduct or behavior is circumscribed with a heavy burden of responsibility which, at all times, should be characterized by, among other things, strict propriety and decorum. As such, they should not use abusive, offensive, scandalous, menacing and improper language. Their every act or word should be marked by prudence, restraintm courtesy and dignity.
RE: 2003 BAR EXAMINATIONS Facts: On September 22, 2003, the day following the bar examination in Mercantile Law, Justice Jose C. Vitug, Chairman of the 2003 Bar Examinations Committee, was apprised of a rumored leakage in the examination on the subject. He then reported to Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. and to the other members of the Court, recommending that the examination on the subject be nullified and that an investigation be conducted forthwith. On September 2003, the Court adopted the recommendation of Justice Vitug and resolved to nullify the examination in Mercantile Law and to hold another exam on the said subject against which petitions were filed. The petitions voiced out the support to nullifying the exam on the said subject and not to take another exam due to the emotional, physical and financial burdens it will cause the barristers. Alternative proposals were submitted to the Court. The Court moved to nullify and to spread out the weight of the Mercantile Law between the remaining seven bar subjects. The Court resolved also to create a Committee composed of three retired members of the Court that would conduct a thorough investigation of the incident subject of the September 23, 2003 resolution. The Investigating Committee found that the leaked test questions in Mercantile Law were the questions, which the examinee, Atty. Balgos had prepared and submitted to Justice Jose Vitug. His questions constituted 82% of the questions asked in the examination in Mercantile Law in the morning of September 21, 2003, Sunday, in some cases with slight changes, which were not substantial, and in other cases exactly as Atty. Balgos, 71 years old, proposed. The circumstances that the leaked test questions consisted entirely of test questions prepared by Atty. Balgos proves conclusively that the leakage originated from his office, not from the Office of Justice Vitug. Atty. Balgos claimed that he prepared the leaked test questions on his computer. Without any doubt, the source of the leaked test questions was Atty. Balgos’ computer. The culprit who stole or downloaded them from Atty. Balgos’ computer without the latter’s knowledge and consent, and who faxed them to other persons, was Atty. Balgos’ legal assistant, Atty. Danilo De Guzman, who voluntarily confessed the deed to the Investigating Committee. De Guzman revealed that he faxed the test questions, with the help of his secretary Villasis to his frat brods in Beta Sigma Lambda Fraternity, namely, Garvida, Arlan, and Erwin Tan. In turn, Garvida faxed the test questions to Iñigo and Bugain. Iñigo passed a copy or copies to other Betan Guiapal who gave a copy to the MLQU-Beta Sigma’s Most Illustrious Brother, Ronald Collado who ordered the printing and distribution of 30 copies to the MLQU’s 30 bar candidates. Atty De Guzman’s act of downloading Balgos’ test questions I mercantile law from the latter’s computer, without his knowledge and permission, was a criminal act of larceny. It was theft of intellectual property. Besides theft, De Guzman also committed an unlawful infraction of Balgos’ right to privacy of communication and to security of his papers and effects against unauthorized search and seizure—rights zealously protected by the Bill of Rights of our Constitution. He transgressed the very first canon of the lawyers’ Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land, and promote respect for law and legal processes. De Guzman also violated rule 1.01 of Canon 1, as well as Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for members of the Bar, which provide: Rule 1.01—A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. 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. He is guilty of grave misconduct unbecoming a member of the Bar. Also, the Investigating committee does not believe that he acted alone. Palma, secretary of Atty. Balgos and Atienza knew of the password. Certain brods should also be investigated. The committee does not believe De Guzman did this out of love for the fraternity. There must have been an ulterior material consideration for his breaking the law and tearing the shroud of secrecy that, he very well knows, covers the bar examinations. Atty. Balgos is also negligent.He could have just used the typewriter considering his lack of adeptness with the computer. Issue: Whether or not Danilo De Guzman should be disbarred Held: YES. He should be disbarred plus he ought to make a public apology and pay damages to the Supreme Court Atty. Balgos should be reprimanded by the Court and make a written apology as a result of his negligence. He is not entitled to receive any honorarium as examiner for that subject. Further examination of the others should be held to show accountability and also to find out how De Guzman was able to secure a copy of the Supreme
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 favor, to give proper advice and assistance to those seeking relief against unfaithful or neglectful counsel.
BARANDON, JR. vs. FERRER, SR. Facts: Atty. Bonifacio T. Barandon, Jr. filed a complaint with the IBP seeking the disbarment, suspension from the practice of law, or imposition of appropriate disciplinary action against respondent Atty. Edwin Z. Ferrer, Sr. for series of offenses, such as; falsification of public documents, abusive, offensive, improper language, sexual harassment and acts of lasciviousness. The Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan of the IBP-CBD submitted to the Court a Report, recommending the suspension for two years of Atty. Ferrer. The Investigating Commissioner found enough evidence on record to prove Atty. Ferrer’s violation of Canons 8.01 and 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The IBP Board of Governors however, passed Resolution adopting and approving the Investigating Commissioner’s recommendation but reduced the penalty of suspension to only one year. Atty. Ferrer filed a motion for reconsideration but the Board denied. Nonetheless, the Court resolved to treat Atty. Ferrer’s comment as a petition for review under Rule 139 of the Revised Rules of Court. Issue: Whether the respondent, Atty. Ferrer, violated Canons 8.01 and 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Held: Yes. The 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. Atty. Ferrer violated Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which commands all lawyers to conduct themselves with courtesy, fairness and candor towards their fellow lawyers and avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel, specifically, in Rule 8.01. The Court has constantly reminded lawyers to use dignified language in their pleadings despite the adversarial nature of our legal system. Though a lawyer’s language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be 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. Atty. Ferrer had likewise violated Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility that enjoins lawyers to uphold the dignity and integrity of the legal profession at all times. Rule 7.03 which prohibit lawyers, whether in public or private life, to behave in scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. Atty. Ferrer ought to have realized that this sort of public behavior can only bring down the legal profession in the public estimation and erode public respect for it. All lawyers should take heed that they are licensed officers of the courts who are mandated to maintain the dignity of the legal profession, hence they must conduct themselves honorably and fairly. Atty. Ferrer’s display of improper attitude, arrogance, misbehavior, and misconduct in the performace of his duties both as a lawyer and officer of the court, before the public and the court, was a patent transgression of the very ethics that lawyers are sworn to uphold.
PEDRO L. LINSANGAN vs. ATTY. NICOMEDES TOLENTINO Facts: Pedro Linsangan of the Linsangan & Linsangan Law office filed a complaint for disbarment against Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of professional services. The respondent was alleged that he was convincing his clients to transfer legal representation and promised them financial assistance and expeditious collection on their claims. Also, he induce his clients to hire his services by calling them and sending them text messages. Issue: Whether or not respondent acted in contravention of Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Held: The respondent violated Rule 8.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which rules that a lawyer should not steal another lawyer’s client nor induce the latter to retain him by a promise of better service, good result or reduced fees for his services. He, then committed an unethical, predatory overstep into another’s legal practice. The rule is intended to safeguard the lawyer’s independence of mind so that the free exercise of his judgment may not be adversely affected. It seeks to ensure his undivided attention to the case he is handling as well as his entire devotion and fidelity to the client’s cause.
CANON 9 - A LAWYER SHALL NOT, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ASSIST IN THE UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW. Rule 9.01 - 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 9.02 - A lawyer shall not divide or stipulate to divide a fee for legal services with persons not licensed to practice law, except: a) Where there is a pre-existing agreement with a partner or associate that, upon the latter’s death, money shall be paid over a reasonable period of time to his estate or to persons specified in the agreement; or b) Where a lawyer undertakes to complete unfinished legal business of a deceased lawyer; or c) Where a lawyer or law firm includes non-lawyer employees in a retirement plan, even if the plan is based in whole or in part, on a profitable sharing arrangement.
LUZVIMINDA C. LIJAUCO vs. ATTY. ROGELIO P. TERRADO Facts: The present was complaint was prompted by the alleged inability of the respondent lawyer to “meet his end of the bargain” after collecting excessive lawyer’s fees. He was the counsel of the petitioner who gave him P 70,000 for the recovery of P 180,000 from the Planter’s Bank and the release of the petitioner’s foreclosed lot in Laguna as well. It was also alleged that he only appeared as counsel for the petitioner for the recovery of the bank deposit and did not appear in the hearing of the Writ of Possession of the lot in Laguna. In his denial, the respondent claims that the amount he collected was only for the recovery of deposit and not for the recovery of the foreclosed lot. He claimed further that the amount was not excessive for it was the referral fees for two other individuals who were non-lawyers. Upon investigation, it was found that he was involved in the release of the foreclosed Laguna lot because he was the one who made the Compromise Agreement in favor of the client. The IBP-Commission on Discipline found his acts violative of the Code of Professional responsibility. Issue: Whether or not he indeed violated the Code of Professional responsibility. Held: The Supreme Court approved the decision of the Commission on discipline that he violated the Code of Professional responsibility specifically Canon 9.2. By openly admitting he divided the Php 70,000.00 to other individuals as commission/referral fees respondent violated Rule 9.02, Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall not divide or stipulate to divide a fee for legal services with persons not licensed to practice law. The practice of law is a privilege bestowed on those who show that they possessed and continue to possess the legal qualifications for it. Indeed, lawyers are expected to maintain at all times a high standard of legal proficiency and morality, including honesty, integrity and fair dealing. Respondent’s claim that the attorney’s fee pertains only to the recovery of complainant’s savings deposit from Planter’s Development Bank cannot be sustained. Records show that he acted as complainant’s counsel in the drafting of the compromise agreement between the latter and the bank relative to LRC Case No. B-2610. Acceptance of money from a client establishes an attorney-client relationship and gives rise to the duty of fidelity to the client’s cause. The canons of the legal profession require that once an attorney agrees to handle a case, he should undertake the task with zeal, care and utmost devotion.
PLUS BUILDERS, INC. and EDGARDO GARCIA vs. Atty. ANASACIO REVILLA Facts: The respondent herein is the counsel of the tenants/ farmers in cases regarding the properties owned by the petitioners Plus Builders, Inc. The respondent allegedly resorted to unlawful strategies and machinations after the Provincial Adjudicator of Cavite rendered a decision against the tenants regarding ownership of the subject properties. Among these machinations and strategies include his involvement in the unauthorized practice of law by allowing a group of non-lawyers to submit a pleading collectively representing themselves as law partners in KDC Legal Services, Law Officers, and Associates and solicited fees for such. The respondent contends that he only did such in good faith to exert utmost efforts to defend his clients, no matter how guilty he may appear to be. This prompted the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline to review the matter and eventually found the respondent guilt of unlawful practice of law because he was not able to deny that the allegations were true, violation the Code of Professional Responsibility. Issue: Whether or not the respondent is guilty of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility specifically Canon 9. Held: He indeed violated Canon 9. The Canon states that "— A lawyer shall not directly or indirectly assist in the unauthorized practice of law0.” 'Rule 9.01 — 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.' In the present case, respondent claims good faith in pursuing the cause of his clients. The records show, however, that his course of legal action was obviously a stratagem to delay unduly the execution of the provincial adjudicator's Decision. the silence or failure of respondent to challenge the allegation that he allowed non-lawyers to engage in the unauthorized practice of law may be deemed an admission of the truth of the accusation. The lawyer's duty to prevent, or at the very least not to assist in, the unauthorized practice of law is founded on public interest and policy. Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those individuals found duly qualified in education and character.
CHAPTER III. THE LAWYER AND THE COURTS CANON 10 - A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT. 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. Rule 10.02 - A lawyer shall not knowingly misquote or misrepresent the contents of paper, the language or the argument of opposing counsel, or the text of a decision or authority, or knowingly cite as law a provision already rendered inoperative by repeal or amendment, or assert as a fact that which has not been proved. Rule 10.03 - A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and shall not misuse them to defeat the ends of justice.
RE: SUBPOENA DUCAS TECUM Acting Director Aleu Amante PIAB-C Office of the Ombudsman Facts: The subpoena duces tecum was issued in relation to a criminal complaint filed by the complainants Lozano for the alleged violation by retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. and retired Associate Justice Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez of Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, as amended ( the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act ). An order was issued dismissing the Lozano complaint and referring it to the Supreme Court for appropriate action. The order was premised on the Memorandum issued by Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo who directed all complaints against judges and other members of the Judiciary be immediately dismissed and referred to the Supreme Court for appropriate action. Issue: Whether the complainants Lozano acted properly as members of the Bar, as officers of this Court, and as professionals governed by norms of ethical behavior, in filing their complaint Held: No. The complainants gave a slanted view of the powers of this Court to suit their purposes; for these same purposes, they wrongly cited and misapplied the provisions of the Constitution, not just any ordinary statute. As lawyers, the complainants must be familiar and well acquainted with the fundamental law of the land, and are charged with the duty to apply the constitutional provisions in light of their prevailing jurisprudential interpretation. As law practitioners active in the legal and political circles, the complainants can hardly be characterized as “unknowing” in their misuse and misapplication of constitutional provisions. They should, at the very least, know that the 1973 Constitution and its provisions have been superseded by the 1987 Constitution, and that they cannot assail- invoking the 1973 Constitution- the judicial acts of members of the Supreme Court carried out in 2003 when the 1987 Constitution was in effect. Their misuse of the Constitution is made more reprehensible when the overriding thrust off their criminal complaint is considered; they used the 1973 provisions to falsely attribute malice and injustice to the Supreme Court and its Members. As such, the complainants’ errors do not belong to the genre of plain and simple errors that lawyers commit in the practice of their profession. Their plain disregard, misuse and misrepresentation of constitutional provisions constitute serious misconduct that reflects on their fitness for continued membership in the Philippine Bar. At the very least, their transgressions are blatant violations of Rule 10.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides that a lawyer shall not knowingly misquote or misrepresent the contents of a paper, the language or the argument of opposing counsel, or the 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.
SANTECO vs AVANCE Facts: In an En Banc Decision dated December 11, 2003, the Court found respondent guilty of gross misconduct for, among others, abandoning her client’s cause in bad faith and persistent refusal to comply with lawful orders directed at her without any explanation for doing so. She was ordered suspended from the practice of law for a period of five years. Subsequently, while respondent’s five-year suspension from the practice of law was still in effect, Judge Consuelo Amog-Bocar, Presiding Judge of the RTC of Iba, Zambales, Branch 71, sent a letter-report dated November 12,2007 to the Court Administrator informing the latter that respondent had appeared and actively participated in three cases wherein she misrepresented herself as “Atty. Liezl Tanglao”. When opposing counsels confronted her and showed to the court a certification regarding her suspension, respondent admitted and conceded that she is Atty. Luna B. Avance, but qualified that she was only suspended for three years and that her suspension has already been lifted. Acting on Judge Amog-Bocar’s letter-report, the Court, in a Resolution dated April 9, 2008, required respondent to comment within ten days from notice. Respondent, however, failed to file the required comment. On June 10, 2009, the Court reiterated the directive to comment. Still, respondent failed to comply despite notice. Accordingly, this Court issued a Resolution on September 29, 2009 finding respondent guilty of indirect contempt. Respondent was ordered to pay a fine in the amount of ₱30,000.00 which respondent failed to pay. Issue: Whether or not Atty. Avance should be disbarred. Held: Respondent Atty. Luna B. Avance is disbarred for gross misconduct and wilful disobedience of lawful orders of a superior court. Her name is ordered stricken off from the Roll of Attorneys. As an officer of the court, it is a lawyer’s duty to uphold the dignity and authority of the court. The highest form of respect for judicial authority is shown by a lawyer’s obedience to court orders and processes. We have held that failure to comply with Court directives constitutes gross misconduct, insubordination or disrespect which merits a lawyer’s suspension or even disbarment. Sebastian V. Bajar teachers Respondent’s cavalier attitude in repeatedly ignoring orders of the Supreme Court constitutes utter disrespect to the judicial institution. Respondent’s conduct indicates a high degree or irresponsibility. A Court’s Resolution is “not to be construed as a mere request, nor should it be complied partially, inadequately, or selectively. Respondent’s obstinate refusal to comply with the Court’s orders not “only betrays recalcitrant flaw in her character; it also underscores her disrespect of the Court’s lawful orders which is only too deserving of reproof”. Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court a member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from office as an attorney for gross misconduct and/or for a wilful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, to wit:
CANON 11 - A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE AND MAINTAIN THE RESPECT DUE TO THE COURTS AND TO JUDICIAL OFFICERS AND SHOULD INSIST ON SIMILAR CONDUCT BY OTHERS. Rule 11.01 - A lawyer shall appear in court properly attired. Rule 11.02 - A lawyer shall punctually appear at court hearings. Rule 11.03 - A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behavior before the Courts. Rule 11.04 - A lawyer shall not attribute to a Judge motives not supported by the record or have no materiality to the case. Rule 11.05 - A lawyer shall submit grievances against a Judge to the proper authorities only.
IN RE SOTTO Facts: Respondent Atty. Vicente Sotto was required by this Court to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt of court for having issued a written statement in connection with the decision of this Court in In re Angel Parazo for contempt of court, which statement, as published in the Manila Times and other daily newspapers of the locality, reads as follows: “As author of the Press Freedom Law (RA 53), interpreted by the Supreme Court in the case of Angel Parazo, reporter of a local daily, who has now to suffer 30 days imprisonment, for his refusal to divulge the source of a news published in his paper, I regret to say that our High Tribunal has not only erroneously interpreted said law, but that it is once more putting in evidence the incompetency or narrow mindedness of the majority of its members. In the wake of so many blunders and injustices deliberately committed during these last years, I believe that the only remedy to put an end to so much evil is to change the members of the Supreme Court. To this effect, I announce that one of the first measures, which I will introduce in the coming congressional sessions, will have as its object the complete reorganization of the Supreme Court. As it is now constituted, the Supreme Court of today constituted a constant peril to liberty and democracy. It need be said loudly, very loudly, so that even the deaf may hear: the Supreme Court of today is a far cry from the impregnable bulwark of Justice of those memorable times of Cayetano Arellano, Victorino Mapa, Manuel Araullo and other learned jurists who were the honor and glory of the Philippine Judiciary.” He contends that under section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, which confers upon this Supreme Court the power to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure, “this Court has no power to impose correctional penalties upon the citizens, and that the Supreme Court can only impose fines and imprisonment by virtue of a law, and a law has to be promulgated by Congress with the approval of the Chief Executive.” He also alleges in his answer that “in the exercise of the freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution, the respondent made his statement in the press with the utmost good faith and with no intention of offending any of the majority of the members of this High Tribunal, who, in his opinion, erroneously decided the Parazo case; but he has not attacked, nor intended to attack the honesty or integrity of anyone.” Issue: Whether or not the Supreme Court may hold respondent guilty for contempt of court. Held: Any publication; pending a suit, reflecting upon the court, the parties, the officers of the court, the counsel, etc., with reference to the suit, or tending to influence the decision of the controversy, is contempt of court and is punishable. The power to punish for contempt is inherent in all courts. The summary power to commit and punish for contempt tending to obstruct or degrade the administration of justice, as inherent in courts as essential to the execution of their powers and to the maintenance of their authority is a part of the law of the land.
IN RE: ALMACEN Facts: Vicente Raul Almacen’s “Petition to Surrender Lawyer’s Certificate of Title,” filed on Sept. 26,1967, in protest against what he therein asserts is “a great injustice committed against his client by Supreme Court”. He indicts SC, in his own phrase, as a tribunal “peopled by men who are calloused to our pleas for justice, who ignore without reasons their own applicable decisions and commit culpable violations of the Constitution with impunity.” His client’s he continues, who was deeply aggrieved by this Court’s “unjust judgment,” has become one of the sacrificial victims before the altar of hypocrisy.” He ridicules the members of the Court, saying “that justice as administered by the present members of the Supreme Court is not only blind , but also deaf and dumb.” He then vows to argue the cause of his client ”in the people’s forum,” so that “ people may know of the silent injustices committed by this court’ and that “whatever mistakes, wrongs and injustices that were committed must never be repeated.” He ends his petition with a prayer that:” xxx a resolution issue ordering the Clerk of Court to receive the certificate of the undersigned attorney that at any time in the future and in the event we regain our faith and confidence, we may retrieve our title to assume the practice of the noblest profession.” The genesis of this unfortunate incident was a civil case entitled Yaptichay v. Calero, in which Atty. Almacen was counsel for the defendant. The trial court rendered judgment against his client. On June 15,1966 atty. Almacen receive a copy of the decision. Twenty days later on he moved for its reconsideration but did not notify the latter of the time and place of hearing on said motion. Meanwhile, on July 18, 1966, the plaintiff moved for execution of the judgment. For lack of proof of service, ‘the trial court denied both motions. To prove that he did serve on the adverse party a copy of his first motion for reconsideration, Atty. Almacen filed on August 17, 1966 a second motion for reconsideration, however, was ordered withdrawn by the trial court on August 30, 1966, upon verbal motion of Atty. Almacen himself, who earlier, that is, on Aug.22, 1966 had already perfected the appeal. Motion for reconsideration was denied by Court of Appeals. Issue: Whether or not Almacen is guilty of acts unbecoming of a lawyer. Held: Well-recognized is the right of a lawyer, both as an officer of the court and as citizen, to criticize in properly respectful terms and through legitimate channels the acts of courts and judges. As a citizen and as officer of the court, a lawyer is expected not only to exercise the right, but also to consider it his duty to avail of such right. No law may abridge this right. Nor is he “professionally answerable for a scrutiny into the official conduct of the judges, which would not expose him to legal animadversion as a citizen.
CANON 12 - A LAWYER SHALL EXERT EVERY EFFORT AND CONSIDER IT HIS DUTY TO ASSIST IN THE SPEEDY AND EFFICIENT ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE. Rule 12.01 - A lawyer shall not appear for trial unless he has adequately prepared himself on the law and the facts of his case, the evidence he will adduce and the order of its preferences. He should also be ready with the original documents for comparison with the copies. Rule 12.02 - A lawyer shall not file multiple actions arising from the same cause. Rule 12.03 - A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let the period lapse without submitting the same or offering an explanation for his failure to do so. Rule 12.04 - A lawyer shall not unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a judgement or misuse Court processes. Rule 12.05 - A lawyer shall refrain from talking to his witness during a break or recess in the trial, while the witness is still under examination. Rule 12.06 - A lawyer shall not knowingly assist a witness to misrepresent himself or to impersonate another. Rule 12.07 - A lawyer shall not abuse, browbeat or harass a witness nor needlessly inconvenience him. Rule 12.08 - A lawyer shall avoid testifying in behalf of his client, except: a) on formal matters, such as the mailing, authentication or custody of an instrument, and the like, or b) on substantial matters, in cases where his testimony is essential to the ends of justice, in which event he must, during his testimony, entrust the trial of the case to another counsel.
CONRADO QUE vs ATTY. ANASTACIO REVILLA, JR. Facts: In a complaint for disbarment Conrado Que (complainant) accused Atty. Anastacio Revilla Jr. (respondent) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Committee on Bar Discipline (IBP Committee on Bar Discipline or CBD) of committing the following violations of the provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. Complainant alleged the respondent’s commission of forum-shopping by filing the subject cases in order to impede, obstruct, and frustrate the efficient administration of justice for his own personal gain and to defeat the right of the complainant and his siblings to execute the MeTC and RTC judgments in the unlawful detainer case. In his Answer, the respondent declared that he is a member of the Kalayaan Development Cooperative (KDC) that handles pro bono cases for the underprivileged, the less fortunate, the homeless and those marginalized sector in Metro Manila. He agreed to take over the cases formerly handled by other KDC members. Investigating Commissioner ruled that the act of the respondent in filing two petitions for annulment of title, a petition for annulment of judgment and later on a petition for declaratory relief were all done to prevent the execution of the final judgment in the unlawful detainer case and constituted prohibited forum-shopping. Issue: Whether or not respondent is guilty of forum shopping Held: YES. Respondent is guilty of forum shopping. Respondent violated Rule 12.02 and Rule 12.04, Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, 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 they tend to degrade the administration of justice; wreak havoc on orderly judicial procedure; and add to the congestion of the heavily burdened dockets of the courts. While the filing of a petition for certiorari to question the lower courts’ jurisdiction may be a procedurally legitimate (but substantially erroneous) move, the respondent’s subsequent petitions involving the same property and the same parties not only demonstrate his attempts to secure favorable ruling using different for a, but his obvious objective as well of preventing the execution of MeTC and RTC decisions in the unlawful detainer case against his clients. This intent is most obvious with respect to the petitions for annulment of judgment and declaratory relief , both geared towards preventing the execution of the unlawful detainer decision, long after this decision had become final. Hence, Atty. Anastacio Revilla, Jr. is found liable for professional misconduct for violations of the Lawyer’s Oath and Canons of Professional Responsibility and should be disbarred from the practice of law.
VAFLOR-FABROA vs. PAGUINTO Facts: An Information for Estafa was filed against Atty. Fabroa (complainant) along with others based on a joint affidavit-complaint which Atty. Paguinto (respondent) prepared and notartized. As the joint affidavit-complaint did not indicate the involvement of complainant filed a Motion to Quash the information which the trial court granted. A Special General Assembly was presided by respondent and PNP Sr. Supt. Gerangco, who were not members of the ten current Board. Gerangco declared himself Chair, appointed others to replace the removed directors, and appointed respondent as Board Secretary. Paguinto and his group took over the GEMASCO office and its premises and sent letternotices to Fabroa and the four removed directors informing them to their removal from the Board and as members of GEMASC, and advising them to cease and desist from further discharging the duties of their positions. Complainant filed with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA-Calamba) a complaint for annulment of the proceedings taken during the special general assembly. Despite the Court’s grant, on respondent’s motion, of extension of time to file Comment, respondent never filed any comment. Issue: Whether the respondent committed misconduct for convincing with in taking over the water facilities and filing criminal complaints against complainant. Held: The Court finds that by conniving with Gerangco in taking over the Board of Directors and the GEMASCO facilities, respondent violated the provisions of the Cooperative Code of the Philippines and the GEMASCO By-Laws. He also violated the Lawyer’s Oath, which provides that a law shall support the Constitution and obey the laws. When respondent caused the filing of baseless criminal complaints against complainant, he violated the Lawyer’s Oath that a lawyer shall “not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid or consent to the same.” 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 the time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let the period lapse without submitting the same or offering an explanation for his failure to do so. The Court notes that respondent had previously been suspended from the practice of law for six months for violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility, he having been found to have received an acceptance fee and misled the client into believing that he had filed a case for her when he had not. It appears, however, that respondent has not reformed his ways. A more severe penalty this time is thus called for.
CANON 13 - A LAWYER SHALL RELY UPON THE MERITS OF HIS CAUSE AND REFRAIN FROM ANY IMPROPRIETY WHICH TENDS TO INFLUENCE, OR GIVES THE APPEARANCE OF INFLUENCING THE COURT Rule 13.01 - A lawyer shall not extend extraordinary attention or hospitality to, nor seek opportunity for cultivating familiarity with Judges. Rule 13.02 - A lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party. Rule 13.03 - A lawyer shall not brook or invite interference by another branch or agency of the government in the normal course of judicial proceedings.
RE: LETTER OF THE UP LAW FACULTY ENTITLED "RESTORING INTEGRITY: A STATEMENT BY THE FACULTY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES COLLEGE OF LAW ON THE ALLEGATIONS OF PLAGIARISM AND MISREPRESENTATION IN THE
SUPREME COURT" Facts: On April 28, 2010, the ponencia of Justice Del Castillo in Vinuya, et al. v. Executive Secretary was promulgated. Subsequently, the counsel for Vinuya et al., or “Malaya Lolas”, Atty. Roque and Atty. Bagares, filed a Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration, where they posited for the first time their charge of plagiarism as one of the grounds to reconsider the decision. They also claimed that evidence bears out the fact not only of extensive plagiarism but also of twisting the true intents of the plagiarized sources by the ponencia to suit the arguments of the assailed Judgment for denying the Petition. On that same day, some journalists posted an article, entitled "SC justice plagiarized parts of ruling on comfort women," on the Newsbreak website. The same article appeared on the GMA News TV website also. Thereafter, Atty. Roque’s column, entitled "Plagiarized and Twisted," appeared in the Manila Standard Today. In the said column, Atty. Roque claimed one of the authors purportedly not properly acknowledged in the Vinuya decision confirmed that his work had been plagiarized. On even date, Justice Del Castillo wrote to his colleagues on the Court in reply to the charge of plagiarism contained in the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration. Meanwhile, another purportedly plagiarized author in the Vinuya decision, Dr. Mark Ellis, wrote the Court expressing his dismay. The Court, then, formed the Ethics Committee and referred the letter of Justice Del Castillo to the Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee required Attys. Roque and Bagares to comment on the letter of Justice Del Castillo. Afterwards, a statement dated entitled "Restoring Integrity: A Statement by the Faculty of the University of the Philippines College of Law on the Allegations of Plagiarism and Misrepresentation in the Supreme Court" was posted in Newsbreak’s website and on Atty. Roque’s blog. A report regarding the statement also appeared on various on-line news sites on the same date. The statement was likewise posted at the University of the Philippines College of Law’s bulletin board and at said college’s website. Dean Leonen of UP submitted a copy of the Statement to the Court. During the hearing of the ethics case against Justice Del Castillo, the Ethics Committee directed Atty. Roque to present the signed copy of the said Statement within three days from said hearing. Indubitable from the actual signed copy of the Statement was that only 37 of the 81 faculty members appeared to have signed the same. The Ethics Committee referred the matter to the Court en banc the latter made the following observations that while the statement was meant to reflect the educators’ opinion on the allegations of plagiarism against Justice Del Castillo, they treated such allegation not only as an established fact, but a truth. In particular, they expressed dissatisfaction over Justice Del Castillo’s explanation on how he cited the primary sources of the quoted portions and yet arrived at a contrary conclusion to those of the authors of the articles supposedly plagiarized. Beyond this, however, the statement bore certain remarks which raise concern for the Court. The first paragraph concludes with a reference to the decision in Vinuya v. Executive Secretary as a reprehensible act of dishonesty and misrepresentation by the Highest Court of the land.
While most agree that the right to criticize the judiciary is critical to maintaining a free and democratic society, there is also a general consensus that healthy criticism only goes so far. Many types of criticism leveled at the judiciary cross the line to become harmful and irresponsible attacks. The Court could hardly perceive any reasonable purpose for the faculty’s less than objective comments except to discredit the April 28, 2010 Decision in the Vinuya case and undermine the Court’s honesty, integrity and competence in addressing the motion for its reconsideration. As if the case on the comfort women’s claims is not controversial enough, the UP Law faculty would fan the flames and invite resentment against a resolution that would not reverse the said decision. This runs contrary to their obligation as law professors and officers of the Court to be the first to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, to which they owe fidelity according to the oath they have taken as attorneys, and not to promote distrust in the administration of justice. Issue: Should the respondents be reprimanded for their scornful remarks against the esteemed Court? Thus this constitute a violation of CANON 13? Held: YES. The Court ruled that no matter how firm a lawyer’s conviction in the righteousness of his cause there is simply no excuse for denigrating the courts and engaging in public behavior that tends to put the courts and the legal profession into disrepute. That humiliating the Court into reconsidering the Vinuya Decision in favor of the Malaya Lolas was one of the objectives of the Statement. It is also proposed that the choice of language in the Statement was intended for effective speech; that speech must be "forceful enough to make the intended recipients listen." One wonders what sort of effect respondents were hoping for in branding this Court as, among others, callous, dishonest and lacking in concern for the basic values of decency and respect. The Court fails to see how it can ennoble the profession if they allow respondents to send a signal to their students that the only way to effectively plead their cases and persuade others to their point of view is to be offensive. As for the claim that the respondents’ noble intention is to spur the Court to take "constructive action" on the plagiarism issue, the Court has some doubts as to its veracity. For if the Statement was primarily meant for this Court’s consideration, why was the same published and reported in the media first before it was submitted to this Court? It is more plausible that the Statement was prepared for consumption by the general public and designed to capture media attention as part of the effort to generate interest in the most controversial ground in the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration filed in the Vinuya case by Atty. Roque, who is respondents’ colleague on the UP Law faculty. In this regard, the Court finds that there was indeed a lack of observance of fidelity and due respect to the Court, particularly when respondents knew fully well that the matter of plagiarism in the Vinuya decision and the merits of the Vinuya decision itself, at the time of the Statement’s issuance, were still both pending final disposition of the Court. These facts have been widely publicized. If it is true that the respondents’ outrage was fueled by their perception of indifference on the part of the Court then, when it became known that the Court did intend to take action, there was nothing to prevent respondents from recalibrating the Statement to take this supervening event into account in the interest of fairness.
Speaking of the publicity this case has generated, the Court finds no merit in the respondents’ reliance on various news reports and commentaries in the print media and the internet as proof that they are being unfairly "singled out." On the contrary, these same annexes to the Common Compliance show that it is not enough for one to criticize the Court to warrant the institution of disciplinary or contempt action. The Court takes into account the nature of the criticism and weighs the possible repercussions of the same on the Judiciary. When the criticism comes from persons outside the profession who may not have a full grasp of legal issues or from individuals whose personal or other interests in making the criticism are obvious, the Court may perhaps tolerate or ignore them. However, when law professors are the ones who appear to have lost sight of the boundaries of fair commentary and worse, would justify the same as an exercise of civil liberties, the Court cannot remain silent for such silence would have a grave implication on legal education in our country. With respect to the 35 respondents named in the Common Compliance, considering that this appears to be the first time these respondents have been involved in disciplinary proceedings of this sort, the Court is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that they were for the most part well-intentioned in the issuance of the Statement. However, it is established in jurisprudence that where the excessive and contumacious language used is plain and undeniable, then good intent can only be mitigating. As the Court expounded where the matter is abusive or insulting, evidence that the language used was justified by the facts is not admissible as a defense. Respect for the judicial office should always be observed and enforced.
RE : SUSPENSION OF ATTY. ROGELIO Z. BAGABUYO, FORMER SENIOR STATE PROSECUTOR.
Facts: This administrative case stemmed from the events of the proceedings of a criminal case (People v. Luis Bucalon Plaza) presided by Judge Jose Manuel P. Tan, Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Surigao City. The case was originally raffled to the sala of Judge Buyser. Judge Buyser declared that the evidence thus presented by the prosecution was sufficient to prove the crime of homicide and not the charge of murder. Consequently, the counsel for the defense filed a Motion to Fix the Amount of Bail Bond. Respondent Atty. Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo, then Senior State Prosecutor and the deputized prosecutor of the case, objected thereto mainly on the ground that the original charge of murder, punishable with reclusion perpetua, was not subject to bail under the Rules of Court. Judge Buyser inhibited himself from further trying the case. The case was transferred to Judge Jose Manuel P. Tan. Judge Tan favorably resolved the Motion to Fix the Amount of Bail Bond, and fixed the amount of the bond. Respondent moved to reconsider which was denied for lack of merit. Respondent appealed. Instead of availing himself only of judicial remedies, respondent caused the publication of an article regarding the Order granting bail to the accused in the August 18, 2003 issue of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily. The article was entitled "Senior prosecutor lambasts Surigao judge for allowing murder suspect to bail out." Bagabuyo said he would contest Tan's decision before the Court of Appeals and would file criminal and administrative charges of certiorari against the judge. Bagabuyuo said he was not afraid of being cited in contempt by Judge Tan. He said that this is the only way that the public would know that there are judges there who are displaying judicial arrogance. Issue: Should the respondent be reprimanded or sanctioned by the Court for his contemptuous remark against the court thus violating CANON 13, Rule 13.02 of the CPR? Held: YES. Lawyers are licensed officers of the courts who are empowered to appear, prosecute and defend; and upon whom peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities are devolved by law as a consequence. Membership in the bar imposes upon them certain obligations. Respondent's statements in the article, which were made while Crim. Case No. 5144 was still pending in court, violated Rule 13.02 of Canon 13, which states that a lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party. As a senior state prosecutor and officer of the court, respondent should have set the example of observing and maintaining the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers. It is the duty of the lawyer to maintain towards the courts a respectful attitude. As an officer of the court, it is his duty to uphold the dignity and authority of the court to which he owes fidelity, according to the oath he has taken. Respect for the courts guarantees the stability of our democratic institutions which, without such respect, would be resting on a very shaky foundation. The Court is not against lawyers raising grievances against erring judges but the rules clearly provide for the proper venue and procedure for doing so, precisely because respect for the institution must always be maintained.
CHAPTER IV. THE LAWYER AND THE CLIENT
CANON 14 - A LAWYER SHALL NOT REFUSE HIS SERVICES TO THE NEEDY. Rule 14.01 - A lawyer shall not decline to represent a person solely on account of the latter’s race, sex, creed or status of life, or because of his own opinion regarding the guilt of said person. Rule 14.02 - A lawyer shall not decline, except for serious and sufficient cause, an appointment as counsel de oficio or as amicus curiae, or a request from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or any of its chapters for rendition of free legal aid. Rule 14.03 - A lawyer may not refuse to accept representation of an indigent client unless: a) he is in no position to carry out the work effectively or competently; b) he labors under a conflict of interest between him and the prospective client or between a present client and the prospective client; Rule 14.04 - A lawyer who accepts the cause of a person unable to pay his professional fees shall observe the same standard of conduct governing his relations with paying clients.
FRANCISCO vs. PORTUGAL
Facts: Before the Court is an affidavit-complaint filed against Atty. Jaime Portugal for violation of the Lawyer’s Oath, gross misconduct, and gross negligence. Complainants are related to the policemen in a previous case in whose behalf respondent filed a Petition for Certoriari. The services of the respondent were engaged by the policemen who faced murder charges. Respondent filed Motions for Reconsideration with the Sandiganbayan and was never heard from again. The complainants learned that the Court denied the petition with finality; warrants of arrest were issued against them. The caseload as well as the lack of financial consideration were some reasons for the respondent’s withdrawal as their counsel. A commission formed by the IBP found the respondent guilty and recommended suspension for six months. Issue: Is the respondent’s refusal to aid the indigent policemen justified? Held: No. The respondent is suspended for three months. The Bar Confidant will annotate the record of the respondent. Respondent has a higher duty to be circumspect in defending the accused for their life and liberty are on the line. It is the strict sense of fidelity of a lawyer to his client that distinguishes him from any other profession in society. As to the respondent’s conduct in dealing with complainants, he definitely fell short of the high standard of assiduousness that a counsel must perform to safeguard the rights of his clients. Respondent had not been candid in his dealings with the complainants; the prudent step was at least to inform the clients of the adverse situation since they called him to check the status of the case. Had respondent truly intended to withdraw his appearance for the accused, he is lawyer who is presumably steeped in court procedures and practices, should have filed the notice of withdrawal himself. At the very least, he should have informed the Court through a proper notice that he had already given instructions on the proper way to file the Notice of Withdrawal. In not so doing, he was negligent in handling the case of the accused. While the client has absolute right to terminate the attorney-client relation at anytime; the right of an attorney to withdraw the relationship is considerably restricted. Among the fundamental rules of ethics is the principle that an attorney who undertakes to conduct an action impliedly stipulates to carry it to its conclusion. He is not at liberty to abandon it without reasonable cause. A lawyer’s right to withdraw from a case before its final adjudication arises only from the client’s consent. Once he agrees to take up the cause of the client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust reposed in him. After agreeing to take up the cause of the client, a lawyer owes fidelity to his cause and client, even if the client never paid any fee for the attorney-client relationship. Lawyering is not a business; it is a profession in which the duty of public service, not money, is the primary consideration.
PEOPLE vs. ADRIANO
Facts: The respondent, Lope Adriano was appointed by the Court as counsel de oficio for an indigent accused. In the notice of his appointment, he was required to prepare and file his brief within thirty days from notice. Adriano requested for multiple extensions but eventually, he failed to file his brief. Respondent was ordered to explain the failure to file the appellant’s brief but he did not respond. He was eventually fined by the Court for non-compliance with a warning that further non-compliance will result in a more drastic action. The Court again demanded an explanation why he should not be suspended “for gross misconduct and violation of his oath of office as attorney;” but he ignored it. Issue: Is the respondent’s failure to file a brief for the indigent equivalent to refusal to aid the needy? Held: Yes. The respondent is suspended from the practice of law for one year. The Court may assign an attorney to render professional aid to a destitute appellant in a criminal case who is unable to employ one. Correspondingly, a duty is imposed on the lawyer so assigned “to render the required service.” A lawyer so appointed should always exert his best efforts in the indigent’s behalf. No excuse at all was offered for non-presentation of appellant’s brief. And yet, when he received notice of his appointment and when the last show cause order was issued by this Court, more than sufficient time was afforded counsel to prepare and file his brief de oficio. In the face of the fact that no brief has been ever filed, counsel’s statements in his motions for extension have gone down to the level of empty and meaningless words; at best, have dubious claims to veracity. As counsel de oficio, he has a high duty to the accused as one employed and paid by the defendant himself. He must exercise his best efforts and professional ability in behalf of the person assigned to his care. Courts should have no hesitancy in demanding high standards of duty of attorneys appointed to defend indigent persons charged with crime. An attorney’s duty of prime importance is to “observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers.” Here in this case, a cause sufficient is present for suspension or disbarment. Despite repeated warnings, respondent refused to heed the court explain for his failure to file the indigent’s brief. Disrespect is present. Contumacy is as patent. Disciplinary action is in order. Jurisprudence dictated that when the lawyer’s explanation is unsatisfactory followed up by failure to justify his inaction will merit suspension.
CANON 15 - A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS DEALINGS AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENTS. Rule 15.01 - A lawyer, in conferring with a prospective client, shall ascertain as soon as practicable whether the matter would involve a conflict with another client or his own interest, and if so, shall forthwith inform the prospective client. Rule 15.02 - A lawyer shall be bound by the rule on privilege communication in respect of matters disclosed to him by a prospective client. Rule 15.03 - A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. Rule 15.04 - A lawyer may, with the written consent of all concerned, act as mediator, conciliator or arbitrator in settling disputes. Rule 15.05 - A lawyer when advising his client, shall give a candid and honest opinion on the merits and probable results of the client’s case, neither overstating nor understating the prospects of the case. Rule 15.06 - A lawyer shall not state or imply that he is able to influence any public official, tribunal or legislative body. Rule 15.07 - A lawyer shall impress upon his client compliance with the laws and principles of fairness. Rule 15.08 - A lawyer who is engaged in another profession or occupation concurrently with the practice of law shall make clear to his client whether he is acting as a lawyer or in another capacity.
ROLANDO B. PACANA, JR vs ATTY. MARICEL PASCUAL –LOPEZ Facts: Complainant was the Operations Director for Multitel Communications Corporation (MCC). Sometime in July 2002, MCC changed its name to Precedent Communications Corporation. Accorrding to complainant, in mid-2002, Multitel was besieged by demand letters from its members and investors because of the failure of its investment schemes. He alleges that he earned the ire of Multitel investors after becoming the assignee of majority of the shares of stock of Precedent and after being appointed as trustee of a fund amounting to Thirty Million Pesos deposited at Real Bank. Distraught, complainant sought the advice of respondent who also happened to be a member of the Couples for Christ, a religious organization where complainant and his wife were also active members. From then on, complainant and respondent constantly communicated with the former disclosing all his involvement and interests in Precedent and Precedent’s relation with Multitel. Respondent gave legal advice to complainant and even helped him prepare standard quitclaims for creditors. In sum, complainant avers that a lawyer-client relationship was established between him and respondent although no formal documentwas executed by them at that time. After a few weeks, complainant was surprised to receive a demand letter from respondent asking for the return and immediate settlement of the funds invested by respondent’s clients in Multitel. When complainant confronted respondent about the demand letter, the letter explained that she had to send it so that her client’s – defrauded investors of Multitel – would know that she was doing something for them and assured complainant that there was nothing to worry about. Both parties continued to communicate and exchange information regarding the president demamnds made by Multitel investors against complainant. Respondent also asked money from complainant allegedly for safekeeping to be sued only for his case whenever necessary. Said amounts were all part of Precedent’s collections and sales proceeds which complainant held as assignee of the company’s properties. By April 2004, however, complainant noticed that respondent was evading him. Respondent would either refuse to return complainant’s call or would abruptly terminate their telephone conversation, citing several reasons. This wenton for several months. Fed up and dismayed with respondent’s arrogance and evasiveness, complainant wrote respondent a letter formally asking for a full accounting of all the money, documents and properties given to the latter Respondent rendered an accounting through a letter. When complainant found respondent’s explanation to be inadequate, he wrote a latter expressing his confusion about the accounting. Complainant repeated his request for an audited financial report of all the properties turned over to. Respondent replied, explaining that all the properties and cash turned over to her by complainant had been returned to her clients who had money claims against Multitel. In exchange for this, she said that she was able to secure quitclaim documents clearing complainant from any liability. Still insatisfied, complainant decided to file an affidavit-complaint against respondent before the Commissionon Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) seeking the disbarment of respondent. Issue: 1. Whether there is a lawyer-client relationship despite the absenceof a written contract. 2. Whether respondent violated her duty to be candid, fair and loyal to her client when she allowed herself to represent conflicting interests and failed to render a full accounting of all cash and properties entrusted to her.
1. YES. The absence of a written contract will not preclude the finding that there was a professional relationship between the parties. Documentary formalism is not an essential element in the employment of an attorney; the contract may be express or implied. To establish the relation, it is sufficient that the advice and assistance of an attorney is sought and received in any matter pertinent to his profession. Respondent must have jnown that her act of constantly and actively communicating with complainant, who, at that time, was beleaguered with demands from investors of Multitel, eventually led to the establishment of a lawyer-client relationship. Respondent cannot shield herself from the inevitable consequences of her actions by simply saving that the assistance she rendered to complainant was onlyin the form of “friendly accommodations,” precisely because at the time she was giving assistance to complainant, she was already privy to the cause of the opposing parties who had been referred to her by the SEC. 2. YES. 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 full disclosure of the facts. This prohibition is founded on principles of public policy, good taste and more importantly upon necessity. It behooves lawyers not only to keep inviolate the client’s confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double - dealing for only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyers , which is paramount in the administration of justice . It is for these reasonsthat we have described the attorney-client relationship as one of trust and confidence of the highest degree. Given the situation, the most decent and ethical thing which respondent should have done was either to advise complainant to engage the services of another lawyer since she was already representing the opposing parties, or to desist from acting as representative of Multitel investors and stand as counsel for complainant. She cannot be permitted to both because that would amount to double-dealing and violate our ethical rules on conflict of interest. Indubitably, respondent took advantage of complainant’s hapless situation, initially, by giving him,legal advice and, later on, by soliciting money and properties from him. Thereafter, respondent impressed upon complainant that she had acted with utmost sincerity in helping him divest all the properties entrusted to him in order to absolve him from any liability. But simultaneously, she was also doing the same thing to impress upon her clients, the party claimants against Multitel, that she was doing everything to reclaim the money they invested with Multitel. Respondent herself admitted to complainant that without the latter’s help, she would not have been able to earn as much and that, as a token of her appreciation, she was willing to share some of her earnings with complainant. Clearly, respondent’s act is shocking, as it not only violated Rule 9.02, Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, but also toyed with decency and good taste. Respondent even had the temerity to boast that no Multitel client had ever complained of respondent’s unethical behavior. This remark indubitably displays respondent’s gross ignorance of disciplinary procedure in the Bar. As a memberof the Bar, she is expected to know that proceedings for disciplinary actions against any lawyer may be initiated and prosecuted by the IBP Board of Governors , motu proprio or upon referral by this Court or by the Board of Officers of an IBP Chapter even if no private individual files any administrative complaint. ABRAGAN vs. RODRIGUEZ
Facts: Petitioners hired the respondent Atty. Maximo Rodriquez as their lawyer in a case for forcibly entry. The case was won then a writ of execution was issued in favor of petitioners. However, respondent lawyer surreptitiously sell some property rights (land) to other persons without the consent of the petitioners, so the latter decided to sever their client-lawyer relationship. In the meantime, petitioners engaged the services of Atty. Salva Jr. in filling an indirect contempt case against Sheriff Fernando Loncion. The respondent represented and actively took up the defense of Loncion and filed in behalf of the petitioners a Motion to Withdraw the exhibits to the dismay, damage and prejudice of the petitioners. In his Comment, respondent flatly denied the accusations of petitioners. He explained that the withdrawal of the exhibits, having been approved by the trial court, was not illegal, obnoxious, undesirable and highly immoral. He added that he took over the 8,000 square meters of land only after it had been given to him as attorney’s fees. Issue: Whether there existed a conflict of interest in the cases represented and handled by respondent thereby violating Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility Held: The Supreme Court held that respondent falls short of the integrity and good moral character required from all lawyers. Lawyers are expected to uphold the dignity of the legal profession at all times. The trust and confidence clients repose in them require a high standard and appreciation of the latter’s duty to the former, the legal profession, the courts and the public. Indeed, the bar must maintain a high standard of legal proficiency as well as of honesty and fair dealings. To this end, lawyers should refrain from doing anything that might tend to lessen the confidence of the public in the fidelity, honesty and integrity of their profession. In the present case, respondent clearly violated Rule 15.03 of Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides that “a lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after full disclosure of the facts.” A lawyer represents conflicting interests when, in behalf of one client, it is his duty to contend for that which duty to another client requires him to oppose. Petitioners were the same complainants in the indirect contempt case and in the Complaint for forcible entry. Respondent should have evaluated the situation first before agreeing to be counsel for the defendants in the indirect contempt proceedings. Attorneys owe undivided allegiance to their clients, and should at all times weigh their actions, especially in their dealings with the latter and the public at large. They must conduct themselves beyond reproach at all times. The Court will not tolerate any departure from the “straight and narrow” path demanded by the ethics of the legal profession. Thus, the respondent is suspended for six months.
CANON 16 - A LAWYER SHALL 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 property collected or received for or from the client. Rule 16.02 - A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client separate and apart from his own and those of others kept by him. Rule 16.03 - 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 and may apply so much thereof as may be necessary to satisfy his lawful fees and disbursements, giving notice promptly thereafter to his client. He shall also have a lien to the same extent on all judgements and executions he has secured for his client as provided for in the Rules of Court. Rule 16.04 - A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the client’s interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling for the client.
REYNARIA BARCENAS vs. ATTY. ANORLITO A. ALVERO
Facts: Barcenas, through her employee Rodolfo San Antonio, entrusted Atty. Alvaro P300,000, which the latter was supposed give to a certain Amanda Gasta to redeem the rights of his deceased father as tenant of a ricefield in Laguna. Atty. Alvaro said that he would deposit the money in court because Gasta refused to accept the same. Barcenas found out that he did not deposit the money in court, but was using the same in cockfighting. Barcenas filed the instant complaint. Despite repeated demands, Atty. Alvero failed to return the same. Thus, Barcenas prayed that Atty. Alvero be disbarred from the legal profession. Atty. Alvero contended that there was no lawyer-client relationship between him and Barcenas for he does not know him prior the filing of the complaint. However, he insisted that there was still a lawyer-client relationship between him and San Antonio for his service was never severed by the latter. During the mandatory conference, San Antonio claimed that Alvero made him believe to give the P300,000 in order to file his complaint, as the same would deposited in court. Believing it was the truth, San Antonio borrowed money from Barcenas and gave the said amount to Alvero in addition to the professional fees. In the Report and Recommendation of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD), it recommended that Alvaro be suspended from the practice of law for one year and was ordered to return the P300,000 due to gross misconduct. The Notice of Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors modified the recommendation of the IBP-CBD and ordered to suspend Alvaro for two years and return the said amount. The Office of the Bar Confidant redocketed the instant case as a regular administrative complaint and recommended that the Supreme Court issue and extended resolution for final disposition of the case. Issue: Did the failure of Atty. Alvaro to account for and return the P300,000 entrusted to him by his client constitute gross misconduct and would subject him to disciplinary action under the Code? Held: Yes, Atty. Alvero breached Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 and Rules 16.01, 16.02 and 16.03 of Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is guilty of gross misconduct for his failure to immediately account for and return the money when due and upon demand. This violated the trust reposed in him, demonstrated his lack of integrity and moral soundness, and warranted the imposition of disciplinary action. The respondent is suspended for two years from the practice of law and warned that a repetition of the same or a similar act will be dealt more severely.
ARELLANO UNIVERSITY INC. vs. ATTY. LEOVIGILDO H. MIJARES III
Facts: Arellano University (University) engaged the services of Mijares for securing a certificate of title covering a dried-up portion of the Estero de San Miguel that the University had been occupying. The University alleged that it gave him all the documents he needed and that Mijares asked the University for and was given P500,000 on top of his attorney’s fees to cover for the expenses on “facilitation and processing.” He promised to give the money back in case he was unable to get the work done. Mijares informed the University that he succeeded in getting the approval of the MMDA and that the documents had already been sent to the DENR. The University asked for the copies of the approval but he failed to comply despite repeated demands. The University wrote a letter terminating the services of Mijares and demanding the return of the P500,000. Mijares said that he used the money to give it to MMDA Undersecretary Lacuna as bribe money. This was done without the University’s authorization. Commissioner Funa recommended that Mijares be disbarred and ordered to return the said amount. The IBP Board of Governors modified the penalty to indefinite suspension and the return of the P500,000. Issue: Whether or not Mijares is guilty of misappropriating the P500,000 that the University entrusted to him for use in facilitating and processing the titling of a property that it claimed. Held: Yes, as a mere trustee of said money or property, he must hold them separate from that of his own and make sure that they are used for their intended purpose. If not used, he must return the money or property immediately to his client upon demand, otherwise the lawyer shall be presumed to have misappropriated the same in violation of the trust reposed on him. Even more unfortunate for Mijares, he admitted under oath having bribed a government official to act favorable on his client’s application to acquire title tp a dried-up creek. There is no legitimate expense called “facilitation” fee. It is only another way of saying for bribe money. The Court finds Mijares guilty of violation 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 Code of Professional Responsibility and imposes him the penalty of disbarment. He is also ordered to return all the documents of the University in his possession covering the titling matter that it referred to him.
CANON 17 - A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM. CANON 18 - A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE. Rule 18.01 - A lawyer shall not undertake a legal service which he knows or should know that he is not qualified to render. However, he may render such service if, with the consent of his client, he can obtain as collaborating counsel a lawyer who is competent on the matter. Rule 18.02 - A lawyer shall not handle any legal matter without adequate preparation. Rule 18.03 - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection there with shall render him liable. Rule 18.04 - A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time to client’s request for information.
SENCIO vs. CALVADORES Facts: Emily Sencio (complainant) asked for the legal services of Atty. Robert Calvadores (respondent) when the former’s son died in a vehicular accident and she wants to prosecute the civil aspect of the case. Sencio initially paid P1,200.00 and then completed the P12,000.00 fee. From that time on, the complainant has regularly contacted the respondent to update her on the status of the case. The respondent said that everything would be alright. However the complainant found out that the respondent did not file a case which the latter admitted. Calvadores promised that we would return the money. Sencio returned several times to Calvadores’ house to no avail. Sencio filed a disbarment case against the respondent. The trial has been moved several times because of the absence of Calvadores even with due notice. Issue: Whether or not Atty. Calvadores violated the Code of Professional Responsibility. Held: Yes, a lawyer-client relationship existed between the respondent and the complainant. As such, the respondent, under Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, owed fidelity to the cause of his client. Once a lawyer agrees to handle a case, he should undertake the task with dedication and care; less than that, he is not true to his oath as a lawyer. He is also guilty of violation of Canon 16 for not delivering the funds or property of the client upon demand and of Canon 18 for neglecting a legal matter entrusted to him. Calvadores is suspended in the practice of law for six months and to return the amount of P12,000.00 to Sencia within 30 days with interest at 12% per annum from the date of the promulgation of this Resolution until its return.
OVERGAARD vs. VALDEZ Facts: Overgaard hired the legal services of Atty. Valdez for the two cases the former has filed and two cases filed against him all pending in Antipolo City. Complainant paid the respondent the amount of P900,000.00 that would cover acceptance and attorney's fees, expenses of litigation, other legal incidental expenses, and appearance fees. Four months after the execution of the agreement, the complainant demanded from the respondent a report of the action he had taken with respect to the cases entrusted to him. However, despite his continued efforts to contact the respondent to inquire on the status of the cases, he was unable to reach him; his phone calls were not answered and his electronic mails were ignored. Upon the complainant’s own inquiry, he has found out that the respondent has not done anything towards the cases and that the former already has a warrant of arrest from the criminal case filed against him. Complainant demanded from the respondent for the latter to return the money paid to him. However no answer came from the lawyer. Overgaard filed an administrative case against Valdez in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the IBP found the respondent guilty of violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Issue: Whether or not the respondent is guilty of violation the Code of Professional Responsibility. Held: Yes, Atty. Godwin R. Valdez have committed multiple violations of the canons of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Under Canon 17 of the CPR, a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. However, instead of devoting himself to the client's cause, the respondent avoided the complainant, forgot about the cases he was handling for him and ostensibly abandoned him. The client reposed his trust in his lawyer with full faith that the lawyer would not betray him or abscond from his responsibilities. By assuring the complainant that he would take care of the cases included in the Retainer Agreement, and even accepting fees, the respondent defrauded the complainant when he did not do a single thing he was expected to do. Respondent is also guilty of violating Canon 15, Canon 16, Rule 16.01, Canon 18, and Rule 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Respondent is disbarred and ordered to return the money the complainant has paid him.
SOLIDON vs. MACALALAD Facts: Atty. Solidon, petitioner, asked Atty. Macalalad, respondent, to handle the judicial titling of a parcel of land wherein Atty. Macalalad received P50,000 as initial payment. Petitioner claimed that he tried contacting respondent in order to follow-up on the status of the case 6 months after he paid the initial legal fees, but he did not receive any communication. Respondent did not file the petition for registration over the property sought to be titled and claimed that the delay in the filing of the petition was caused by the client’s failure to communicate with him. In addition, he also claimed that he could not file the petitioner because the client was unable to furnish the necessary documentary evidence needed and denied that petitioner tried to communicate with him. Issue: Whether or not respondent committed negligence for non-filing of the application despite the lapse of about a year from the time his services were engaged? Held: Yes. Respondent committed negligence for not filing the application despite the lapse of about a year since his services were engaged. Ratio: According to Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides for the rule on negligence, rule 18.03 states that a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable. The mere failure of the lawyer to perform the obligations due to the client is considered a violation and the circumstance that the client was also at fault does not eliminate the lawyer’s liability for his negligence in handling a case. A lawyer engaged to represent a client bears the duty to serve his client with competence and diligence, and exert his best efforts to protect the interest of his or her client within the bounds of the law. In this case, the respondent’s negligence in failing to file the petition for the registration of the property sought to be titled is an outright violation of rule 18.03 of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
GARCIA vs. PEOPLE
Facts: The petitioner is the accused in a criminal case for frustrated murder in the RTC. He was convicted of frustrated homicide after the trial. In response, he filed an appeal although it was abandoned because he failed to file his appellant’s brief within the reglementary period. The petitioner’s counsel admitted that he was at fault in failing to file the brief due to personal problems emanating from his wife’s recent surgical operation. The petitioner, himself, stated that his failure to file an appeal was solely the lawyer’s fault who is reportedly suffering from personal problems and depression. Issue: Whether the failure of petition to file his brief within the prescribed period due to his counsel’s mistake and negligence is binding on him? Held: Yes. The negligence and mistakes of counsel are binding on the client. The petitioner cannot simply allege that mistakes and negligence because despite the lawyer’s inability, the petitioner still allowed his counsel to represent him on appeal and even to the Supreme Court. On the other hand, a lawyer cannot justify his negligent behavior and mistakes in the performance of his duties on the existence of personal matters. According to Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which states that a lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence. A lawyer has a duty to provide competent and diligent service to his clients regardless of any personal matters.
CANON 19 - A LAWYER SHALL REPRESENT HIS CLIENT WITH ZEAL WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF THE LAW. Rule 19.01 - A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client and shall not present, participate in presenting or threaten to present unfounded criminal charges to obtain an improper advantage in any case or proceeding. Rule 19.02 - A lawyer who has received information that his client has, in the course of the representation, perpetrated a fraud upon a person or tribunal, shall promptly call upon the client to rectify the same, and failing which he shall terminate the relationship with such client in accordance with the Rules of Court. Rule 19.03 - A lawyer shall not allow his client to dictate the procedure on handling the case.
QUE vs REVILLA Facts: The complainant in this case filed charges against the respondent for (1) abuse of court remedies and processes (2) the commission of forum-shopping by filing the subject cases in order to impede, obstruct, and frustrate the efficient administration of justice for his own personal gain and to defeat the right of the complainant (3) the respondent’s lack of candor and respect towards his adversary and the courts by resorting to falsehood and deception to misguide, obstruct and impede the due administration of justice by fabricating an imaginary order issued by the presiding judge in open court which allegedly denied the motion to dismiss filed by the respondents in the said case. (4) the respondent’s willful and revolting falsehood that unjustly maligned and defamed the good name and reputation of the late Atty. Alfredo Catolico (Atty. Catolico), the previous counsel of the respondent’s clients (5) the respondent’s deliberate, fraudulent and unauthorized appearances in court in the petition for annulment of judgment for 15 litigants, three of whom are already deceased; and (6) the respondent’s willful and fraudulent appearance in the second petition for annulment of title as counsel for the Republic of the Philippines without being authorized to do so. Issue: Whether the respondent can be held liable for the imputed unethical infractions and professional misconduct, and the penalty these transgressions should carry. Held: The respondent is guilty of violations of the Lawyer’s Oath; Canon 8; Rules 10.01 and 10.03, Canon 10; Rules 12.02 and 12.04, Canon 12; Rule 19.01, Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility; and Sections 20(d), 21 and 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. The respondent failed to observe Rule 19.01, Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which reads: CANON 19 – A LAWYER SHALL REPRESENT HIS CLIENT WITH ZEAL WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF LAW Rule 19.01 – A lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his clients x x x This Canon obligates a lawyer, in defending his client, to employ only such means as are consistent with truth and honor. He should not prosecute patently frivolous and meritless appeals or institute clearly groundless actions. The recital of what the respondent did to prevent the execution of the judgment against his clients shows that he actually committed what the above rule expressly prohibits. Respondent is disbarred from the practice of law.
PENA vs APARICIO Facts: The respondent lawyer wrote a demand letter the contents of which threatened complainant with the filing of criminal cases for tax evasion and falsification of documents. The salient parts of the demand letter are as follows: “BUT if these are not paid on August 10, 2005, we will be constrained to file and claim bigger amounts including moral damages to the tune of millions under established precedence of cases and laws. In addition to other multiple charges like: 1. Tax evasion by the millions of pesos of income not reported to the government. 2. Criminal Charges for Tax Evasion 3. Criminal Charges for Falsification of Documents 4. Cancellation of business license to operate due to violations of laws. These are reserved for future actions in case of failure to pay the above amounts as settlements in the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC).” However, respondent does not find anything wrong with what he wrote, dismissing the same as merely an act of pointing out massive violations of the law by the other party, and, with boldness, asserting that “a lawyer is under obligation to tell the truth, to report to the government commission of offenses punishable by the State.” He further asserts that the writing of demand letters is a standard practice and tradition and that our laws allow and encourage the settlement of disputes. Issue: Whether or not the respondent is guilty of violating Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Held: Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that “a lawyer shall represent his client with zeal within the bounds of the law,” reminding legal practitioners that 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; and his conduct ought to and must always be scrupulously observant of law and ethics. In particular, Rule 19.01 commands that a “lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client and shall not present, participate in presenting or threaten to present unfounded criminal charges to obtain an improper advantage in any case or proceeding.” Under this Rule, a lawyer should not file or threaten to file any unfounded or baseless criminal case or cases against the adversaries of his client designed to secure a leverage to compel the adversaries to yield or withdraw their own cases against the lawyer’s client. In the case at bar, respondent did exactly what Canon 19 and its Rule proscribe. Through his letter, he threatened complainant that should the latter fail to pay the amounts they propose as settlement, he would file and claim bigger amounts including moral damages, as well as multiple charges such as tax evasion, falsification of documents, and cancellation of business license to operate due to violations of laws. The threats are not only unethical for violating Canon 19, but they also amount to blackmail. Respondent is reprimanded.
CANON 20 - A LAWYER SHALL CHARGE ONLY FAIR AND REASONABLE FEES. Rule 20.01 - A lawyer shall be guided by the following factors in determining his fees: a) The time spent and the extent of the services rendered or required; b) The novelty and difficulty of the questions involved; c) The importance of the subject matter; d) The skill demanded; e) The probability of losing other employment as a result of acceptance of the proffered case; f) The customary charges for similar services and the schedule of fees of the IBP chapter to which he belongs; g) The amount involved in the controversy and the benefits resulting to the client form the service; h) The contingency or certainty of compensation; i) The character of the employment, whether occasional or established; and j) The professional standing of the lawyer. Rule 20.02 - A lawyer shall, in cases of referral, with the consent of the client, be entitled to a division of fees in proportion to work performed and responsibility assumed. Rule 20.03 - A lawyer shall not, without the full knowledge and consent of the client, accept any fee, reward, costs, commission, interest, rebate or forwarding allowance or other compensation whatsoever related to his professional employment from anyone other than the client. Rule 20.04 - A lawyer shall avoid controversies with clients concerning his compensation and shall resort to judicial action only to prevent imposition, injustice of fraud.
MUNICIPALITY OF TIWI vs. ANTONIO B. BETITO, RESPONDENT. Facts: The Sangguniang Bayan of Tiwi passed Resolution No. 15-92 authorizing Mayor Naomi Corral of the Municipality of Tiwi to hire a lawyer to represent Tiwi and its barangays in the recovery of their rightful share in the unpaid realty estate taxes owing from the National Power Corporation (NPC). The NPC has been earlier made by the Court liable for unpaid realty taxes from June 11, 1984 to March 10, 1987 on its properties located in Albay. The Province of Albay, however, refused to remit Tiwi’s share; hence several administrative complaints and court cases stemmed that respondent allegedly handled on behalf of Tiwi to recover the latter’s rightful share in the unpaid realty taxes. The present controversy arose when respondent sought to enforce the Contract of Legal Services after rendering the aforementioned legal services which allegedly benefited Tiwi. In his complaint for sum of money against Tiwi, respondent claims that he handled numerous cases which resulted to the recovery of Tiwi’s share in the realty taxes. Under the Contract of Legal Services, respondent is entitled to 10% of whatever amount that would be collected from the NPC. However, despite repeated demands for the Sangguniang Bayan of Tiwi to pass an appropriate ordinance for the payment of his attorney’s fees, the former refused to pass the ordinance and to pay what is justly owed him. In their answers, petitioners admitted that the Sangguniang Bayan of Tiwi passed Resolution No. 15-92 but denied that said resolution authorized then Mayor Corral to enter into the subject contract. In particular, Mayor Corral exceeded her authority when she bound Tiwi to a gargantuan amount equivalent to 10% of the amount of realty taxes recovered from NPC. Issue: Whether Atty. Betito is entitled to the payment of his attorney’s fees Held: Yes. Respondent Atty. Betito is entitled to his attorney’s fees under the Contract of Legal Services entered into by him and the Mayor of Tiwi. Contrary to the averment of the petitioners, Mayor Corral was authorized to enter into the subject contract. Although pursuant to Section 444(b)(1)(vi) of the LG, the municipal mayor is required to secure the prior authorization of the Sangguniang Bayan before entering into a contract on behalf of the municipality; in the instant case, a perusal of Resolution 15-92 would reveal that the authorization did not set the terms and conditions of the compensation which signifies that the council empowered Mayor Corral to reach a mutually agreeable arrangement with the lawyer of her choice subject of course, to the general limitation that the contract’s stipulations should not be contrary to law, morals, good customs, public order or public policy, and considering that this is a contract of legal services, with the added restriction that the agreed attorney’s fees must not be unreasonable and unconscionable. On its face, and since there is no allegation to the contrary, this prior authorization appears to have been given by the council in good faith to the end of expeditiously safeguarding the rights of Tiwi. However, on the question of whether the 10% contingent fee is unreasonable and unconscionable, the same still needs to be resolved in a trial on the merits. The extent and significance of respondent's legal services that reasonably contributed to the recovery of Tiwi's share as well as the amount of realty taxes recovered by Tiwi arising from these alleged services requires a full-blown trial. The main source of respondent's claim for attorney's fees lies with respect to several administrative and court cases that he allegedly prosecuted and defended on behalf of Tiwi against the elective officials of Albay in order to
compel the latter to remit the rightful share of Tiwi in the unpaid realty taxes. Petitioners however, raise the main defense that the subject realty taxes were recovered by virtue of the opinion rendered by then Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Antonio T. Carpio and not through the efforts of respondent. It becomes necessary to weigh, based on the evidence that will be adduced during trial, the relative importance of the aforesaid opinion vis-Ã -vis the cases allegedly handled by respondent on behalf of Tiwi insofar as they aided in the eventual recovery of the unpaid realty taxes. Justice and fairness require that the issue of the reasonable attorney’s fees due to respondent be ventilated in a trial on the merits amidst the contentious assertions by both parties because in the end, neither party must be allowed to unjustly enrich himself at the expense of the other. More so here, because contracts for attorney’s services stand upon an entirely different footing from contracts for the payment of compensation for any other services. Verily, a lawyer’s compensation for professional services rendered are subject to the supervision of the court, not just to guarantee that the fees he charges and receives remain reasonable and commensurate with the services rendered, but also to maintain the dignity and integrity of the legal profession to which he belongs.
HICOBLINO M. CATLY (Deceased), Substituted by his wife, LOURDES A. CATLY vs. WILLIAM NAVARRO, ET. AL., and AYALA LAND, INC. Facts: Respondents Navarro, et. al. filed a Complaint against Las Piñas Ventures, Inc., was substituted by Ayala Land Inc. (ALI) because of merger, for annulment of TCT No. T-5332 and recovery of possession with damages. Respondents were represented by petitioner Atty. Catly, now deceased and substituted in this case by his wife, Lourdes Catly. Later on, Respondents Navarro, et. al., and ALI executed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), expressing their desire toward an amicable settlement. Petitioner later on filed a Manifestation and Motion alleging that should there be an amicable settlement of the case, his attorney’s fees should be awarded in full as stipulation in the Contract for Legal and Other Valuable Services. Hence, petitioner, respondents Navarro et. al., and ALI executed an Amendatory Agreement incorporating the provision that, in addition to the ten million attorney’s fees as previously agreed upon, petitioner would also be entitled to the amount of twenty million pesos as additional attorney’s fees. Issue: Whether the attorney’s fees are reasonable. Held: According to the SC, the high standards of the legal profession as prescribed by law and the Canons of Professional Ethics regulate if not limit the lawyer’s freedom in fixing his professional fees. The moment he takes his oath, ready to undertake his duties first, as a practitioner in the exercise of his profession, and second, as an officer of the court in the administration of justice, the lawyer submits himself to the authority of the court. It becomes axiomatic therefore, that power to determine the reasonableness or the unconscionable character of attorney's fees stipulated by the parties is a matter falling within the regulatory prerogative of the courts. And this Court has consistently ruled that even with the presence of an agreement between the parties, the court may nevertheless reduce attorney's fees though fixed in the contract when the amount thereof appears to be unconscionable or unreasonable. For the law recognizes the validity of stipulations included in documents such as negotiable instruments and mortgages with respect to attorney's fees in the form of penalty provided that they are not unreasonable or unconscionable. The principle of quantum meruit (as much as he deserves) may be a basis for determining the reasonable amount of attorney’s fees. Quantum meruit is a device to prevent undue enrichment based on the equitable postulate that it is unjust for a person to retain benefit without paying for it. It is applicable even if there was a formal written contract for attorney’s fees as long as the agreed fee was found by the court to be unconscionable. In fixing a reasonable compensation for the services rendered by a lawyer on the basis of quantum meruit, factors such as the time spent, and extent of services rendered; novelty and difficulty of the questions involved; importance of the subject matter; skill demanded; probability of losing other employment as a result of acceptance of the proferred case; customary charges for similar services; amount involved in the controversy and the benefits resulting to the client; certainty of compensation; character of employment; and professional standing of the lawyer, may be considered. Indubitably entwined with a lawyer’s duty to charge only reasonable fee is the power of the Court to reduce the amount of attorney’s fees if the same is excessive and unconscionable in relation to Sec. 24, Rule 138 of the Rules. Attorney’s fees are unconscionable if they affront one’s sense of justice, decency or unreasonableness.
The determination of the amount of reasonable attorney’s fees requires the presentation of evidence and a full-blown trial. It would be only after due hearing and evaluation of the evidence presented by the parties that the trial court can render judgment as to the propriety of the amount to be awarded. The SC finds that the trial court failed to hear the parties as to confirm the reasonableness of the attorney’s fees in favor of petitioner. Hence, the case was reprimanded to the trial court which shall forthwith conduct hearings with dispatch to resolve the issue of the amount of reasonable attorney’s fees, on quantum of merit basis.
CANON 21 - A LAWYER SHALL PRESERVE THE CONFIDENCE AND SECRETS OF HIS CLIENT EVEN AFTER THE ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATION IS TERMINATED Rule 21.01 - A lawyer shall not reveal the confidences or secrets of his client except: a) When authorized by the client after acquianting him of the consequences of the disclosure; b) When required by law; c) When necessary to collect his fees or to defend himself, his employees or associates or by judicial action. Rule 21.02 - A lawyer shall not, to the disadvantage of his client, use information acquired in the course of employment, nor shall he use he same to his own advantage or that of a third person, unless the client with full knowledge of the circumstances consents thereto. 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 auditing, statistical, bookkeeping, accounting, data processing, or any similar purpose. Rule 21.04 - A lawyer may disclose the affairs of a client of the firm to partners or associates thereof unless prohibited by the client. 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 confidences or secrets of the client. Rule 21.06 - A lawyer shall avoid indiscreet conversation about a client’s affairs even with members of his family. Rule 21.07 - A lawyer shall not reveal that he has been consulted about a particular case except to avoid possible conflict of interest.
REBECCA J. PALM vs ATTY. FELIPE ILEDAN, JR Facts: Complainant is the President of Comtech and respondent served as Comtech’s retained corporate counsel. In a meeting held on 1 October 2003, respondent suggested that Comtech amend its corporate by-laws to allow participation during board meetings, through teleconference, of members of the Board of Directors who were outside the Philippines. Comtech decided to terminate its retainer agreement with respondent effective November 2003 because of some other issue. On 10 January 2004, respondent attended as proxy for Gary Harrison (Harrison). Steven C. Palm (Steven) and Deanna L. Palm, members of the Board of Directors, were present through teleconference. When the meeting was called to order, respondent objected to the meeting for lack of quorum. Respondent asserted that Steven and Deanna Palm could not participate in the meeting because the corporate by-laws had not yet been amended to allow teleconferencing. Complainant filed a Complaint for disbarment against respondent. Issue: Whether or not the he made use of a privileged information he obtained while he was Comtech’s retained counsel. Held: Canon 21 states that “A lawyer shall preserve the confidence and secrets of his client even after the attorney-client relationship is terminated.” Although the information about the necessity to amend the corporate by-laws may have been given to respondent, it could not be considered a confidential information. It is settled that the mere relation of attorney and client does not raise a presumption of confidentiality. The client must intend the communication to be confidential. Since the proposed amendments must be approved by at least a majority of the stockholders, and copies of the amended by-laws must be filed with the SEC, the information could not have been intended to be confidential. Thus, the disclosure made by respondent during the stockholders’ meeting could not be considered a violation of his client’s secrets and confidence within the contemplation of Canon 21 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
ATTY. CARMEN LEONOR M. ALCANTARA vs. ATTY. EDUARDO C. DE VERA Facts: Pursuant to a favourable decision, a writ of execution pending appeal was issued on favour of Rosario P. Mercado (private respondent), as her legal counsel, garnished the bank deposits of the defendant, but did not turn over the proceeds to Rosario. Rosario demanded that the respondent turn over the proceeds of the garnishment, but the latter refused claiming that he had paid part of the money to the judge while the balance was his, as attorney’s fees. Such refusal prompted Rosario to file an administrative case for disbarment against the respondent. The IBP Board of Governors promulgated a Resolution holding the respondent guilty of infidelity in the custody and handling of client’s funds and recommending to the Court his one-year suspension from the practice of law. Following the release of the aforesaid IBP Resolution, the respondent filed a series of lawsuits against the Mercado family except George Mercado. The respondent also instituted cases against the family corporation, the corporation’s accountant and the judge who ruled against the reopening of the case where respondent tried to collect the balance of his alleged fee from Rosario. Later on, the respondent also filed cases against the chairman and members of the IBP Board of Governors who voted to recommend his suspension from the practice of law for one year. Complainants allege that the respondent committed barratry, forum shopping, exploitation of family problems, and the use of intemperate language when he filed several frivolous and unwarranted lawsuits against the complainants and their family members, their lawyers, and the family corporation. They maintain that the primary purpose of the cases is to harass and to exact revenge for the one year suspension from the practice of law meted out by IBP against him. Thus, they pray that the respondent be disbarred for malpractice and gross misconduct under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. Issue: Whether respondent Atty. Eduardo de Vera committed malpractice and gross misconduct when he filed the barrage of cases against complainant. Held: Yes, respondent violated Canon 21 and Rule 21.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Atty. Eduardo de Vera is disbarred from the legal profession. Respondent committed professional malpractice and gross misconduct particularly in his acts against his former clients after the issuance of the IBP Resolution suspending him from the practice of law for one year. In summary, the respondent filed against his former client, her family members, the family corporation of his former client, the Chairman and members of the Board of Governors of the IBP who issued the said resolution, the Regional Trial Court Judge in the case where his former client received a favourable judgment, and the present counsel of his former client, a total of twelve (12) different cases in various for a which included the Securities and Exchange Commission; the Provincial Prosecutors Office of Tagum, Davao; the Davao City Prosecutors Office; the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline; the Department of Agrarian Reform; and the Supreme Court.
In addition to the twelve (12) cases filed, the respondent also re-filed cases which had been previously been dismissed. The respondent filed six criminal cases against members of the Mercado family separately which with the exception of one, all the aforementioned cases are re-filling of previously dismissed cases. The nature of the cases filed by respondent, the fact of the re-filing them after being dismissed, the timing of the filing of cases, the fact that the respondent was in conspiracy with a renegade member of the complainants’ family, the defendants named in the cases and the foul language used in the pleadings and motions all indicate that the respondent was acting beyond the desire of justice and fairness. His act of filing a barrage of cases appears to be an act of revenge and hate driven by anger and frustration against his former client who filed the disciplinary complaint against him for infidelity in the custody of a client’s funds. The cases filed by the respondent against his former client involved matters and information acquired by the respondent during the time when he was still Rosario’s counsel. Information as to the structure and operations of the family corporation, private documents, and other pertinent facts and figures used as basis or in support of the cases filed by the respondent in the pursuit of his malicious motives were all acquired through the attorney- client relationship with herein complainants. Such act is in direct violation of the Canon 21 and Rule 21. 02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and will not be tolerated by the Court.
CANON 22 - A LAWYER SHALL WITHDRAW HIS SERVICES ONLY FOR GOOD CAUSE AND UPON NOTICE APPROPRIATE IN THE CIRTUMSTANCES. Rule 22.01 -A lawyer may withdraw his services in any of the following cases: a) When the client pursues an illegal or immoral course of conduct in connection with the matter he is handling; b) When the client insists that the lawyer pursue conduct violative of these canons and rules; c) When his inability to work with co-counsel will not promote the best interest of the client; d) When the mental or physical condition of the lawyer renders it difficult for him to carry out the employment effectively; e) When the client deliberately fails to pay the fees for the services or fails to comply with the retainer agreement; f) When the lawyer is elected or appointed to public office; and g) Other similar cases. Rule 22.02 - A lawyer who withdraws or is discharged shall, subject to a retainer lien, 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, including all information necessary for the proper handling of the matter.
HUMBERTO LIM JR. vs ATTY NICANOR VILLAROZA Facts: The respondent is a practicing lawyer and a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental Chapter. That sometime on September 19, 1997, Lumot A. Jalandoni, Chairman/President of PRC was sued. The latter engaged the legal services of herein respondent as counsel in Civil Case No. 97-986. Respondent as a consequence of said Attorney- Client relationship represented Lumot A. Jalandoni et al in the entire proceedings of said case. Utmost trust and confidence was reposed on said counsel, hence delicate and confidential matters involving all the personal circumstances of his client were entrusted to the respondent. However, on April 27, 1999 respondent, without due notice prior to a scheduled hearing, surprisingly filed a Motion to withdraw as counsel, one day before its scheduled hearing on April 28, 1999. A careful perusal of said Motion will conclusively show that no copy thereof was furnished to Jalandoni, neither does it bear her conformity. The far reaching effects of the untimely and unauthorized withdrawal by respondent caused irreparable damage and injury to Lumot A. Jalandoni, et al; a highly meritorious case in favor of his client suddenly suffered unexpected defeat. Issue: Whether or not respondent properly withdrew his services as counsel of record in Civil Case No. 97-9865. Held: No. It has been held that the right of an attorney to withdraw or terminate the relation other than for sufficient cause is considerably restricted. Canon 22 of the CPR reads: A lawyer shall withdraw his services only for good cause and upon notice appropriate in the circumstances. An attorney may only retire from a case either by written consent of his client or by permission of the court after due notice and hearing, in which event the attorney should see to it that the name of the new lawyer is recorded in the case. A lawyer who desires to retire from an action without the written consent of his client must file a petition for withdrawal in court. Respondent made no such move. He admitted that he withdrew as counsel on April 26, 1999, which withdrawal was supposedly approved by the court on April 28, 1999. The conformity of Mrs. Jalandoni was only presumed by Atty. Villarosa because of the appearance of Atty. Alminaza in court, supposedly in his place. The appearance of Atty. Alminaza in fact was not even to substitute for respondent but to act as additional counsel. Mrs. Jalandoni’s conformity to having an additional lawyer did not necessarily mean conformity to respondent’s desire to withdraw as counsel. Hence, Atty. Vilaroza was guilty of violating canon 22 of CPR and is suspended because he did not properly withdraw his services in the afore-cited case.
ANGELITA ORCINO vs ATTY. JOSUE GASPAR Facts: Complainant engaged the services of respondent to prosecute a criminal case she intended to file against several suspects in the slaying of her husband. In consideration thereof, complainant bound herself to pay respondent legal fees of P20,000.00. This agreement was embodied in a contract. In accordance with the contract, complainant paid respondent a total of P20,000.00. Forthwith, respondent entered into his duties. The case was thereafter filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 37, Baloc, Sto. Domingo, Nueva Ecija. As private prosecutor, respondent religiously attended the bail hearings for the accused although these were postponed on motion of the accused's counsel. Respondent however failed to attend the hearing scheduled in August 1991. It was at this nearing that the court, over complainant's objections, granted bail to all the accused. After the hearing, complainant immediately went to respondent's residence and confronted him with his absence. Respondent explained that he did not receive formal notice of the hearing. Complainant became belligerent and accused him of jeopardizing the case by his absence. She asked for the records of the case saying that she could refer them to another lawyer. Stung by her words, respondent gave her the records. Complainant never returned the records nor did she see respondent. On September 18, 1991, respondent filed before the trial court a "Motion to Withdraw as Counsel” which did not bear the consent of complainant. On October 23, 1991, the court issued an order directing respondent to secure complainant's consent to the motion "and his appearance as private prosecutor shall continue until he has secured this consent." Complainant refused to sign to respondent's withdrawal. Meanwhile, the hearings in the criminal case continued. Respondent did not appear at the hearings nor did he contact complainant. Complainant was thus compelled to engage the services of another lawyer. Hence, the letter-complaint. Issue: Whether or not the respondent can withdrew his services as counsel on the ground that there no longer exists confidence" between them and that there had been "serious differences between them relating to the manner of private prosecution Held: No. Pursuant to Canon 22 or the CPR, particularly in Rule 22.01, a lawyer may withdraw his services from his client only in the following instances: (a) when a client insists upon an unjust or immoral conduct of his case; (b) when the client insists that the lawyer pursue conduct violative of the Code of Professional Responsibility; (c) when the client has two or more retained lawyers and the lawyers could not get along to the detriment of the case; (d) when the mental or physical condition of the lawyer makes him incapable of handling the case effectively; (e) when the client deliberately fails to pay the attorney's fees agreed upon; (f) when the lawyer is elected or appointed to public office; (g) other similar cases. The instant case does not fall under any of the grounds mentioned. Neither can this be considered analogous to the grounds enumerated. As found by the Commission on Bar Discipline, this case arose from a simple misunderstanding between complainant and respondent. Assuming, nevertheless, that respondent was justified in terminating his services, he, however, cannot just do so and leave complainant in the cold unprotected. Until his withdrawal shall have been approved, the lawyer remains counsel of record who is expected by his client as well as by the court to do what the interests of his client require. Hence, the respondent is admonished to exercise more prudence and judiciousness in dealing with his clients and to return half of the legal fees paid to him with a warning that failure to do so would result in a stiffer disciplinary action.
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