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Gayya, Lorenzo Luigi T.

3B
Problem Area in Legal Ethics
JOY A. GIMENO, Complainant, v. ATTY. PAUL CENTILLAS ZAIDE, Respondent.
A.C. No. 10303, April 22, 2015, BRION, J.
Facts:
Joy Gimeno filed a complaint with the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD), charging Atty. Paul Zaide with the
following allegations:
1.

2.
3.

4.

Usurpation of a notary publics office;


Atty. Zaida allegedly notarized a partial extrajudicial partition with deed of absolute sale even before he became a
lawyer;
Falsification;
Atty. Zaida allegedly made false and irregular entries in his notarial registers.
Use of intemperate, offensive and abusive language; and
Gimeno contended that Atty. Zaide called her a "notorious extortionist" in the same administrative complaint that
Somontan filed against her. In another civil case where she was not a party, Gimeno observed that Atty. Zaide
referred to his opposing counsel as someone suffering from "serious mental incompetence" in one of his pleadings.
Violation of lawyer-client trust
According to Gimeno, she was a former client of Atty. Zaide who was then with the firm Zaragoza-MakabangkitZaide Law Offices (ZMZ) in an annulment of title case. But, despite this previous relationship, Atty. Zaide appeared
against her in the complaint for estafa and violation of RA 3019 filed against her with the Ombudsman. Hence, Atty.
Zaide violated the prohibition against representing conflict of interest.

Atty. Zaide denied the allegations. According to him, he never notarized the mentioned partial extrajudicial partition, as his
notarial stamp and falsified signature were superimposed over the name of the lawyer who actually notarized the document. He also
said that Gimeno was never his client since Gimeno engaged the services of ZMZ and not him personally. IBP-CBD recommended
Atty. Zaides suspension for nine months, but this was increased into one year by the IBP Board of Governors.
Issue: Whether or Atty. Zaide is administratively liable.
Ruling: Yes. At the onset, Atty. Zaide was absolved from the charge of usurpation of a notary publics office due to insufficient
evidence. However, he violated Sec. 1 (a), Rule VI of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice by maintaining different notarial registers in
several offices. The one active notarial register rule is in place to deter a notary public from assigning several notarial registers to
different offices manned by assistants who perform notarial services on his behalf.
With respect to the allegation of conflict of interest, the Supreme Court held that the lawyer-client relationship between Atty.
Zaide and Gimeno ceased when Atty. Zaide left ZMZ. Moreover, the case where Gimeno engaged ZMZ's services (annulment of title)
is an entirely different subject matter and is not in any way connected to the complaint that Somontan filed against Gimeno with the
Ombudsman (estafa). And besides, there is no showing that Zaide used against Gimeno any confidential information which he
acquired while he was still their counsel in the annulment of title case. Under these circumstances, Atty. Zaide should not be held
liable for violating the prohibition against the representation of conflicting interests.
However, Atty. Zaide violated Canon 81, Rule 8,012, Canon 113 and Rule 11.034 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
when he called Gimeno a notorious extortionist and his opposing counsel in another case as suffering from serious mental
incompetence. This clearly confirms Atty. Zaide's lack of restraint in the use and choice of his words a conduct unbecoming of an

1 Canon 8 A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues, and shall avoid
harassing tactics against opposing counsel.

2 Rule 8.01 A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper.
3 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.

4 Rule 11.03 A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behavior before the Courts.

officer of the court. While a lawyer is entitled to present his case with vigor and courage, such enthusiasm does not justify the use of
offensive and abusive language. Language abounds with countless possibilities for one to be emphatic but respectful, convincing but
not derogatory, and illuminating but not offensive. In keeping with the dignity of the legal profession, a lawyer's language even in his
pleadings, must be dignified.