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Zaldivar v.

Gonzalez
166 SCRA 316
7 October 1988

Facts:

Petitioner Enrique A. Zaldivar was the governor of Antique. He was charged before the Sandiganbayan for violations of
the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Respondent Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez was the then Tanodbayan who was
investigating the case. Zaldivar then filed with the Supreme Court a petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus
assailing the authority of the Tanodbayan to investigate graft cases under the 1987 Constitution. The Supreme Court, acting
on the petition issued a Cease and Desist Order against Gonzalez directing him to temporarily restrain from investigating
and filing informations against Zaldivar. Gonzalez however proceeded with the investigation and he filed criminal
informations against Zaldivar. Gonzalez even had a newspaper interview where he proudly claims that he scored one on
the Supreme Court; that the Supreme Court’s issuance of the TRO is a manifestation that the “rich and influential persons
get favorable actions from the Supreme Court, [while] it is difficult for an ordinary litigant to get his petition to be given
due course”.

Zaldivar then filed a Motion for Contempt against Gonzalez. The Supreme Court then ordered Gonzalez to explain his side.
Gonzalez stated that the statements in the newspapers were true; that he was only exercising his freedom of speech; that he
is entitled to criticize the rulings of the Court, to point out where he feels the Court may have lapsed into error. He also
said, even attaching notes, that not less than six justices of the Supreme Court have approached him to ask him to “go
slow” on Zaldivar and to not embarrass the Supreme Court.

Issue:
Whether respondent Gonzalez’s statements constitute both professional misconduct calling for the exercise of disciplinary
action against him, and contumacious conduct warranting application of the contempt power.

Held:
Yes. Respondent Gonzalez’s statements constitute both professional misconduct and contumacious conduct warranting
application of the contempt power.

Code of Professional Responsibility

CANON 11 - A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE AND MAINTAIN THE RESPECT DUE TO THE COURTS AND TO
THE JUDICIAL OFFICERS AND SHOULD INSIST ON SIMILAR CONDUCT BY OTHERS.

Rule 11.03 - A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive or menacing language or behavior before the Courts.
Contempt of court may be committed both by lawyers and non-lawyers, both in and out of court. Frequently, where the
contemnor is a lawyer, the contumacious conduct also constitutes professional misconduct which calls into play the
disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court. Where the respondent is a lawyer, however, the Supreme Court’s disciplinary
authority over lawyers may come into play whether or not the misconduct with which the respondent is charged also
constitutes contempt of court. The power to punish for contempt of court does not exhaust the scope of disciplinary
authority of the Court over lawyers. The disciplinary authority of the Court over members of the Bar is but corollary to the
Court’s exclusive power of admission to the Bar. A lawyer is not merely a professional but also an officer of the court and
as such, he is called upon to share in the task and responsibility of dispensing justice and resolving disputes in society. Any
act on his part, which visibly tends to obstruct, pervert or impede and degrade the administration of justice constitutes both
professional misconduct calling for the exercise of disciplinary action against him, and contumacious conduct warranting
application of the contempt power.
Accordingly, the Court resolved to suspend Atty. Raul M. Gonzalez from the practice of law indefinitely and until further
orders from this Court, the suspension to take effect immediately.