You are on page 1of 3

Nunez v Ricafort (382 SCRA 381) Facts: An administrative complaint was by Soledad Nuez, a septuagenarian represented by her attorney-in-fact

Ananias B. Co, Jr., seeking the disbarment of Atty. Romulo Ricafort on the ground of grave misconduct. Sometime in October 1982, Soledad authorized Atty. Ricafort to sell her two parcels of land located in Legazpi City for P40,000. She agreed to the lawyer 10% of the price as commission. Atty. Ricafort succeeded in selling the lots, but despite Soledads repeated demands, he did not turn over the proceeds of the sale. This forced Soledad to file an action for a sum of money before the RTC, Quezon City. The court rendered its decision ordering the Atty. to pay Soledad the sum of P16,000 as principal obligation, with at the legal rate from the date of the commencement of the action. An appeal to the CA was made. However, the appeal was dismissed for failure to pay the required docket fee within the reglementary period despite notice. Soledad filed a motion for the issuance of an alias writ of execution. But it appears that only a partial satisfaction of the P16,000 judgment was made, leaving P13,800 unsatisfied. In payment for the latter, Atty. issued four postdated checks but was dishonored because the account against which they were drawn was closed. Hence, Soledad was forced to file four criminal complaints for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 before the MTC, Quezon City. In a joint affidavit, Atty. Ricafort admitted having drawn and issued said four postdated checks in favor of Soledad. Allegedly believing in good faith that said checks had already been encashed by Soledad, he subsequently closed his checking account in China Banking Corporation, Legazpi City, from which said four checks were drawn. He was not notified that the checks were dishonored. Had he been notified, he would have made the necessary arrangements with the bank. The court required Atty. to comment on the complaint. But he never did despite the favorable action on his three motions for extension of time to file the comment. His failure to do so compelled Soledad to file a motion to cite Atty. in contempt on the ground that his strategy to file piecemeal motions for extension of time to submit the comment smacks of a delaying tactic scheme that is unworthy of a member of the bar and a law dean. The IBP findings show that the Atty. had no intention to honor the money judgment against him. It recommended that Atty. be declared guilty of misconduct in his dealings with complainant and be suspended from the practice of law for at least one year and pay the amount of the checks issued to the complainant. Issue: Whether or not Atty. Romulo Ricafort is guilty of grave misconduct in his dealings with complainant. Held: YES. There is a blatant violation of Rule 1:01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides: A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest and immoral or deceitful conduct. By violating Rule 1:01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, Atty. diminished public confidence in the law and the lawyers. Instead of promoting such confidence and respect, he miserably failed to live up to the standards of the legal profession. His act of issuing bad checks in satisfaction of the alias writ of execution for money judgment rendered by the trial court was a clear attempt to defeat the ends of justice. His failure to make good the checks despite demands and the criminal cases for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 showed his continued defiance of judicial processes, which he, as an officer of the court, was under continuing duty to uphold. To further demonstrate his very low regard for the courts and judicial processes, he even had the temerity of making a mockery of the courts generosity to him. We granted his three motions for extension of time to file his comment on the complaint in this case. Yet, not only did he fail to file the comment, he as well did not even bother to explain such failure notwithstanding our resolution declaring him as having waived the filing of the comment. To the SC, Atty. openly showed a high degree of irresponsibility amounting to willful disobedience to its lawful orders. Atty. Ricafort then knowingly and willfully violated Rules 12.04 and 12:03 of Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility stating that: Lawyers should avoid any action that would unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a judgment or misuse court processes; and that lawyers, after obtaining extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, should not let the period lapse without submitting the same or offering an explanation for their failure to do so. The SC indefinitely suspended Atty. Ricafort from the practice of law and directed to pay Soledad P13,800.

JONAR SANTIAGO vs. ATTY. EDISON V. RAFANAN A.C. No. 6252, October 5, 2004 PANGANIBAN, J.: FACTS: Complainant Jonar Santiago, an employee of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, lodged a disbarment complaint against respondent Atty. Edison Rafanan before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines alleging, inter alia, that Atty. Rafanan violated Rule 12.07 and Rule 12.08 of Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility when the latter executed an affidavit in favour of his client and offered the same as evidence in a case where he is actively representing his client. The complaint also alleged that after the hearing of the case, respondent accompanied by several persons waited for Complainant and after confronting the latter disarmed him of his sidearm and thereafter uttered insulting words and veiled threats. In his answer, respondent denied having disarmed the complainant and uttered insulting words nor veiled threats against the latter. He however admitted that he executed an affidavit in favour of his client and offered the same as evidence in a case where he is actively representing his client but interposed the defense that lawyers could testify on behalf of their clients "on substantial matters, in cases where [their] testimony is essential to the ends of justice." Complainant charged respondents clients with attempted murder. Respondent averred that since they were in his house when the alleged crime occurred, "his testimony is very essential to the ends of justice. The IBP, while finding that administrative offense was committed by respondent for violating the notarial law, recommended the dismissal of the complaint for alleged violation of Rule 12.07 and Rule 12.08 of Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for insufficiency of evidence. Hence, the present action was commenced. ISSUE: May a lawyer testify on substantial matters relative to the cause of the party which he is actively representing in a case without violating the Code of Professional Responsibility? HELD: YES. Parenthetically, under the law, a lawyer is not disqualified from being a witness, except only in certain cases pertaining to privileged communication arising from an attorney-client relationship. The reason behind such rule is the difficulty posed upon lawyers by the task of dissociating their relation to their clients as witnesses from that as advocates. Witnesses are expected to tell the facts as they recall them. In contradistinction, advocates are partisans -- those who actively plead and defend the cause of others. It is difficult to distinguish the fairness and impartiality of a disinterested witness from the zeal of an advocate. The question is one of propriety rather than of competency of the lawyers who testify for their clients. Thus, although the law does not forbid lawyers from being witnesses and at the same time counsels for a cause, the preference is for them to refrain from testifying as witnesses, unless they absolutely have to; and should they do so, to withdraw from active management of the case. Notwithstanding this guideline and the existence of the Affidavit executed by Atty. Rafanan in favor of his clients, we cannot hastily make him administratively liable for the following reasons: First, we consider it the duty of a lawyer to assert every remedy and defense that is authorized by law for the benefit of the client, especially in a criminal action in which the latters life and liberty are at stake. 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. 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. Second, paragraph (b) of Rule 12.08 contemplates a situation in which lawyers give their testimonies during the trial. In this instance, the Affidavit was submitted during the preliminary investigation which, as such, was merely inquisitorial. Not being a trial of the case on the merits, a preliminary investigation has the oftrepeated purposes of securing innocent persons against hasty, malicious and oppressive prosecutions; protecting them from open and public accusations of crime and from the trouble as well as expense and anxiety of a public trial; and protecting the State from useless and expensive prosecutions. The investigation is advisedly called preliminary, as it is yet to be followed by the trial proper. Nonetheless, we deem it important to stress and remind respondent to refrain from accepting employment in any matter in which he knows or has reason to believe that he may be an essential witness for the prospective client. Furthermore, in future cases in which his testimony may become essential to serve the "ends of justice," the canons of the profession require him to withdraw from the active prosecution of these cases.