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Roberto Soriano vs. Atty.

Manuel Dizon
AC 6792
January 25, 2006

FACTS:
Atty. Manuel Dizon was driving his car under the influence of liquor when along Abanao Street, Baguio
City, a taxi driver overtook him. Incensed, Dizon tailed the taxi, pulled it over, and berated Roberto
Soriano, the taxi driver, and held him by his shirt. To stop the aggression, Soriano forced open his door,
causing Dizon to fall to the ground. Soriano tried to help Dizon get up, but the latter was about to punch
him so Soriano punched Dizon first to fend off an impending attack. Soriano prevented another attempt
by Dizon to hit him. Dizon went back to his car and got his revolver with the handle wrapped in a
handkerchief. As Soriano was handing Dizons eyeglasses, which he just picked up from the pavement,
Dizon fired and shot him. Soriano fell on the thigh of the accused, and the latter merely pushed him out
and sped off. The bullet hit Sorianos neck and lacerated his carotid artery. According to the doctors who
treated him, he would have died if not for the timely medical assistance. Soriano sustained spinal cord
injury causing the left side of his body to be paralyzed, disabling him for his job as a taxi driver.

Dizon was eventually convicted for frustrated homicide but was allowed probation, conditioned on
payment of civil liabilities. However, four years after judgment was rendered, Dizon has not yet fulfilled
his civil obligation.

Soriano filed complaint before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP for Dizons disbarment. The
Commissioner of the CBD recommended that respondent be disbarred for having been convicted of a
crime involving moral turpitude and for violating Rule. 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. The IBP adopted the recommendation of the CBD and sent their resolution to the Supreme
Court for review.

ISSUES:
1. Whether or not the crime of frustrated homicide committed by Atty. Dizon involved moral
turpitude.
2. Whether or not Atty. Dizons guilt warrants his disbarment.

HELD:
1. The Supreme Court agreed with the findings of the CBD that the crime of frustrated homicide
committed by Atty. Dizon involved moral turpitude. The court defined moral turpitude as
everything which is done contrary to justice, modesty, or good morals; an act of baseness,
vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes his fellowmen, or to
society in general, contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals. Moral turpitude was
shown when Atty. Dizon shot a taxi driver for no justifiable reason. His act definitely did not
constitute self-defense. It was he who was the aggressor because he first tried to punch Soriano.
The latter was merely defending himself when he counterpunched Dizon. Moreover, Dizons act
was aggravated with treachery when he shot Soriano when the latter was not in a position to
defend himself. Soriano was handing Dizons eyeglasses, which he just picked up, when he was
shot. Furthermore, Dizon tried to escape punishment by wrapping the handle of his gun in
handkerchief in order not to leave fingerprints on the gun used. Dizons violent reaction to a
simple traffic incident indicated his skewed morals.

2. The Supreme Court held that Dizon also violated Canon 1 of the 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. Dizon failed to obey the laws of the land
through his illegal possession of an unlicensed firearm. He failed to respect legal processes
through his unjust refusal to satisfy his civil liabilities, the condition for his probation.

Dizon also violated Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides that A
lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Dizons violation
was exhibited when he tried to reach an out-of-court settlement with the family of Soriano but
when the negotiations failed, he made it appear as if it was the family who approached him to
get a referral to a neurosurgeon. In addition, Dizon fabricated a story that it was Soriano and two
other persons who mauled him. According to the three doctors who examined Dizon, his injuries
were so minor that his allegation was so improbable.
The court ruled that the appalling treachery and brazen dishonesty of respondent clearly showed
his unfitness to continue as a member of the bar. Membership in the legal profession is a
privilege demanding a high degree of good moral character, which is not only a condition
precedent to admission, but also a continuing requirement for the practice of law. While the
power to disbar must be exercised with great caution, and that disbarment should never be
decreed when any lesser penalty would accomplish the end desired, the court held that meting
out a lesser penalty would be irreconcilable with the lofty aspiration that every lawyer be a
shining exemplar of truth and justice. Atty. Dizon was disbarred.