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Cantiller vs Potenciano

(180 SCRA 246)


Facts:
Atty. Potenciano was charged with deceit, fraud, and misrepresentation, and also
with gross misconduct, malpractice and of acts unbecoming of an officer of the
court. An action for ejectment was filed against Peregrina Cantiller which decision of
the court was against the latter. Cantiller then asked the Atty. Potenciano to handle
their case. The complainant was made to sign by respondent what she described as
a "hastily prepared, poorly conceived, and haphazardly composed petition for
annulment of judgment. Respondent demanded from the complainant P l,000.00 as
attorney's fee. However the judge of the said court asked the respondent to
withdraw as counsel by reason of their friendship. Later, Cantiller paid Potenciano
P2,000.00 as demanded by the latter which was allegedly needed to be paid to
another judge who will issue the restraining order but eventually Potenciano did not
succeed in locating the judge.
Issue: Whether or not Potenciano breached his duties as counsel of Cantiller.
Held:
Respondent failed to exercise due diligence in protecting his client's interests. He
had knowledge that he would be asked by the presiding judge to withdraw his
appearance as counsel by reason of their friendship. Despite such prior knowledge,
respondent took no steps to find a replacement. When a lawyer takes a client's
cause, he thereby covenants that he will exert all effort for its prosecution until its
final conclusion. The failure to exercise due diligence or the abandonment of a
client's cause makes such lawyer unworthy of the trust which the client had reposed
on him. Lawyers should be fair, honest, respectable, above suspicion and beyond
reproach in dealing with their clients.

Cantiller vs Potenciano
(180 SCRA 246)
Facts:

Atty. Potenciano was charged with deceit, fraud, and misrepresentation, and also
with gross misconduct, malpractice and of acts unbecoming of an officer of the
court. An action for ejectment was filed against Peregrina Cantiller. The court issued
a decision against the latter. A notice to vacate was then issued against
Cantiller. Cantiller then asked the respondent to handle their case. The complainant
was made to sign by respondent what she described as a "[h]astily prepared, poorly
conceived, and haphazardly composed petition for annulment of
judgment. The petition was filed with the Regional Trial Court in Pasig, Manila.
Respondent demanded from the complainant P l,000.00 as attorney's fee.
However the judge of the said court asked the respondent to withdraw as counsel
by reason of their friendship. Later, Cantiller paid Potenciano P2,000.00 as
demanded by the latter which was allegedly needed to be paid to another judge
who will issue the restraining order but eventually Potenciano did not succeed
in locating the judge.
Complainant paid P 10,000.00 to Potenciano by virtue of the demand of the latter.
The amount was allegedly to be deposited with the Treasurer's Office of Pasig as
purchase price of the apartment and P 1,000.00 to cover the expenses of the suit
needed in order for the complainant to retain the possession of the property. But
later on Cantiller found out that the amounts were not necessary to be paid. A
demand was made against Potenciano but the latter did not answer and the
amounts were not returned.
Contrary to Potencianos promise that he would secure a restraining order, he
withdrew his appearance as counsel for complainant. Complainant was not able to
get another lawyer as replacement. Hence, the order to vacate was eventually
enforced and executed.
Issue: Whether or not Potenciano breached his duties as counsel of Cantiller.
Held:
When a lawyer takes a client's cause, he thereby covenants that he will exert all
effort for its prosecution until its final conclusion. The failure to exercise due
diligence or the abandonment of a client's cause makes such lawyer unworthy of
the trust which the client had reposed on him. The acts of respondent in this case
violate the most elementary principles of professional ethics.
The Court finds that respondent failed to exercise due diligence in protecting his
client's interests. Respondent had knowledge beforehand that he would be asked by
the presiding judge to withdraw his appearance as counsel by reason of their
friendship. Despite such prior knowledge, respondent took no steps to find a
replacement nor did he inform complainant of this fact.
Lawyers should be fair, honest, respectable, above suspicion and beyond reproach
in dealing with their clients. The profession is not synonymous with an ordinary
business proposition. It is a matter of public interest.