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EDUARDO M. CONJUANCO, JR., complainant vs. ATTY. LEO M.

PALMA, respondent

Supreme Court
September 15, 2004
Case No. 2474

FACTS:
- Complainant was a client of ACCRA Law offices and the respondent was the assigned
lawyer to handle his cases. Former hired latter because of his growing business concerns.
- Respondents relationship with the complainant’s family became intimate. He traveled
with them, he frequented their house, and tutored the complainant’s daughter, Maria Luisa
Conjuanco (Lisa), a student of Assumption Convent.
- June 1982, respondent married Lisa in Hong Kong without the knowledge of the
complainant.
- It was only the day after when the respondent revealed that he married his daughter and
even assured him that everything was legal.
- The complainant was shocked because he knows that respondent is married and has 3
children.
- Upon investigation, complainant found out that respondent courted Lisa during their
tutoring lessons.
Complainant also found out that:
a. On the date of the supposed marriage, respondent requested from his office a plane
ticket to and from Australia, with a stop over in Hong Kong.
b. Respondent misrepresented himself as a “bachelor” Hong Kong authorities in order
for him to marry Lisa
c. Respondent was married to Elizabeth Hermosisima and has three children, Eugene,
Elias, and Eduardo.
- August 1982, complainant filed a case with the CFI of Pasay City a petition for the
declaration of nullity of marriage; it was granted null and void, ab initio
- Thereafter, complainant filed a complaint for disbarment on the grounds of:
a. In grave abuse and betrayal of the trust and confidence reposed in him by complainant
and his family and taking undue advantage of his tutoring sessions with Lisa
b. Resp. courted Lisa with persistence and determination even following her travel
abroad under false pretenses
c. With his moral ascendancy over Lisa and his misinterpretation that there was no legal
impediment or prohibition in relation with his second marriage thus succeeding in
inducing and beguiling her to marry him. Without complying to Philippine laws that
he must first obtain a nullity of his current marriage to Elizabeth Palma in order to
have the capacity to have another marriage. Without obtaining the advice of the
parents of Lisa before marrying being that she is only 22 years of age. And falsely
representing himself as a bachelor in Hong Kong.
- Respondent filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of cause of action. He
contended that the complaint fails to allege acts of deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct,
or violation of his lawyer’s oath and no allegation of wanton recklessness, lack of skill or
ignorance of law
- March 1983, the SC referred the case to the Office of the Solicitor General.
- First Division of this court issued a resolution setting aside the CFI dec. declaring the
marriage of Lisa and respondent null and void; and remanding the case to the CFI for
proper proceeding and determination.
- March 1984, respondent filed with the OSG to suspend proceedings. It was denied
- Respondent then sought for refuge in the SC through an urgent motion for an issuance of a
restraining order enjoining the OSG from continuing the investigation of the disbarment
proceedings.
- Case was then referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar
Discipline.
- The respondent sought several postponement of hearings stating that he needed more time
to collect documents for the support of his defense. From Dec 4, 2001, it was set to Jan
24, 2002 with a warning that if he fails to appear or present disposition, the case will be
deemed submitted for for resolution. Respondent failed to re-appear.

ISSUE: W/N the respondent is guilty of grossly immoral conduct and violation of his oath as a
lawyer.

HELD: YES
- March 2003, Investigating Commissioner, Milagros San Juan, submitted a report and
recommendation finding the respondent guilty.
- There is no doubt that respondent as a lawyer well versed in the law knew fully well that
in marrying Lisa, he was entering into a bigamous marriage defined and penalized under
Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. The respondent betrayed the trust given to him by
complainant.
- It is recommended that respondent be disbarred for a period of 3 years. The IBP board of
governors adopted and approved the report and recommendation but it reduced the
suspension to a period of 1 year.
- While, complainant himself admitted that respondent was a good lawyer, however
professional competency alone does not make a lawyer a worthy member of the Bar.
Good moral character is always an indispensable requirement.