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In Re: Almacen

FACTS:Atty. Almacen was the counsel of one Virginia Yaptinchay in a civil case. They lost in said civil case
but Almacen filed a Motion for Reconsideration. He notified the opposing party of said motion but he failed
to indicate the time and place of hearing of said motion. Hence, his motion was denied. He then appealed
but the Court of Appeals denied his appeal as it agreed with the trial court with regard to the motion for
reconsideration. Eventually, Almacen filed an appeal on certiorari before the Supreme Court which
outrightly denied his appeal in a minute resolution.
This earned the ire of Almacen who called such minute resolutions as unconstitutional. He then filed before
the Supreme Court a petition to surrender his lawyer’s certificate of title as he claimed that it is useless to
continue practicing his profession when members of the high court are men who are calloused to pleas for
justice, who ignore without reasons their own applicable decisions and commit culpable violations of the
Constitution with impunity. He further alleged that due to the minute resolution, his client was made to pay
P120k without knowing the reasons why and that he became “one of the sacrificial victims before the altar
of hypocrisy.” He also stated “that justice as administered by the present members of the Supreme Court
is not only blind, but also deaf and dumb.”
The Supreme Court did not immediately act on Almacen’s petition as the Court wanted to wait for Almacen
to actually surrender his certificate. Almacen did not surrender his lawyer’s certificate though as he now
argues that he chose not to. Almacen then asked that he may be permitted “to give reasons and cause why
no disciplinary action should be taken against him . . . in an open and public hearing.” He said he preferred
this considering that the Supreme Court is “the complainant, prosecutor and Judge.” Almacen was however
unapologetic.
ISSUE: Whether or not Almacen should be disciplined.
HELD: Yes. The Supreme Court first clarified that minute resolutions are needed because the Supreme
Court cannot accept every case or write full opinion for every petition they reject otherwise the High Court
would be unable to effectively carry out its constitutional duties. The proper role of the Supreme Court is to
decide “only those cases which present questions whose resolutions will have immediate importance
beyond the particular facts and parties involved.” It should be remembered that a petition to review the
decision of the Court of Appeals is not a matter of right, but of sound judicial discretion; and so there is no
need to fully explain the court’s denial. For one thing, the facts and the law are already mentioned in the
Court of Appeals’ opinion.
On Almacen’s attack against the Supreme Court, the High Court regarded said criticisms as uncalled for;
that such is insolent, contemptuous, grossly disrespectful and derogatory. It is true that a lawyer, both as
an officer of the court and as a citizen, has the right to criticize in properly respectful terms and through
legitimate channels the acts of courts and judges. His right as a citizen to criticize the decisions of the
courts in a fair and respectful manner, and the independence of the bar, as well as of the judiciary, has
always been encouraged by the courts. But it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall be
bona fide, and shall not spill over the walls of decency and propriety. Intemperate and unfair criticism is a
gross violation of the duty of respect to courts.
In the case at bar, Almacen’s criticism is misplaced. As a veteran lawyer, he should have known that a
motion for reconsideration which failed to notify the opposing party of the time and place of trial is a mere
scrap of paper and will not be entertained by the court. He has only himself to blame and he is the reason
why his client lost. Almacen was suspended indefinitely.