Case Digest for Legal Profession

Prepared by: Evelyn B. De Matias

Pepsi Cola vs Court of Appeals, 299 SCRA 518 (1998)

Facts: The case is a petition for review and certiorari by the petitioner upon the denial by the lower and appellate court on their motion for reconsideration for the postponement of the hearing due to unavailability of their witnesses and for declaring that the petitioner waived its right to present evidence in support to its defense. The case began from the civil action filed by private respondents who won from the Pepsi Number Fever Promotion" sponsored by petitioner Pepsi Cola Products Philippines, Inc., wherein numerous holders of the supposedly winning "349" crowns were not honored and paid by petitioner due to an alleged mistake in the security codes in the crowns. While the private respondents are finished presenting their evidence, the petitioner continues to file a motion for postponement due to unavailability of witnesses. The schedule for presentation of evidence began on May 28, 1993 and with frequent postponement, the court issued a warning to the petitioner’s counsel that the scheduled hearing on January 20, 1995 shall be intransferrable in character. Notwithstanding said warning, petitioner moved for postponement again which motion was denied by the court for unreasonable delay on the case. The court of appeals affirmed the said decision hence this petition for certiorari

ISSUE: WON the court erred in denying the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.

RULING: The court held that the petitioner was given ample time to prepare for their witnesses causing the trial to take up to 2 years due to their motion for postponement and reminded the counsel of the petitioner that they have the duty to give proper administration of justice without any delay and dismissed the petition for lack of merit.

Yumol vs Atty. Ferrer, Sr. A.C. No. 6585 April 21, 2005

Facts: The petitioner, OIC of the Commission on Human Rights, files a disbarment case against respondent, Attorney IV said commission on ground for grave misconduct. The respondent was found to have issued 2 orders awarding custody of a child to a complainant in the Commission, ordered a bank to reinstate the bank account of the said complainant, engaging in private practice, notarizing public documents, and attending court hearings while filling up his DTR at the Commission as present at the same time. The case was referred to the IBP and the investigating commissioner recommended suspension for 2 years which was modified by the IBP Board to 6 months.

ISSUE: WON respondent has committed gross misconduct arising from the following alleged acts:
1. Engaging in the private practice of his profession while being a government employee;
2. Falsifying his Daily Time Records;
3. Issuing unauthorized orders; and
4. Continuously engaging in private practice even after the filing of case against him for engaging in private practice.

RULING: The court held on the following:
1. CHR Resolution No. (III) A2002-133 authorizes CHR lawyers to engage in private practice (adopting the Civil Service Commission Resolution) subject to some conditions with indispensable requirement to secure approval from the CHR. In the absence of such approval, the respondent is not allowed in private practice and proved to have falsified his attendance in the DTR while appearing in court at the same time without approved leave of absence.
2. The respondent has been notarizing even before the CHR authorized his practice as a notary public.
3. The authority granted with the CHR in their function is merely to investigate all forms of human rights violation. They cannot try and decide cases.
With the above constituting grounds for suspension of lawyers stated in Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, the court ruled to modify the suspension of 1 year as sufficient sanction.

Cruz v Atty. Cabrera AC No. 5737 October 25, 2004

Facts: The complainant files an administrative charge against the respondent for misconduct in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The complainant, a fourth year law student, appears in court in his own behalf as he instituted a case against his neighbor who is represented by the respondent as counsel. During a hearing, the respondent uttered remarks that the complainant finds arrogant and misconduct in the performance of his duties as a lawyer. The complaint was referred to the IBP commissioner who recommended suspension of respondent in the practice of law for 3 months which was annulled by a resolution of the IBP Board recommending dismissal of the case for lack of merit.

ISSUE: WON the manner of respondent may constitute misconduct.

RULING: The court ruled that although the outburst of the respondent is uncalled for, it is not to such a magnitude as to warrant his suspension in the practice of his profession. The court thereby dismissed the case due to lack of merit.

Aguirre v Rana B.M. No. 1036 June 10, 2000

FACTS: Respondent is a successful bar passer who was allowed only to take oath but not to sign the roll of attorneys pending the resolution of the complaint of the petitioner who charges respondent with unauthorized practice of law, grave misconduct, violation of law, and grave misrepresentation. Apparently, the respondent appeared as counsel to an election candidate before the Municipal Board of Election Canvassers (“MBEC”) of Masbate before he took his oath and signed the rolls of attorneys. In his comment, respondent alleges he only provide specific assistance and advice not as a lawyer but as a person who knows the law. He contends that he did not sign the pleadings as a lawyer. The Office of the Bar Confidant was tasked to investigate and its findings disclosed that according to the minutes of the meeting of the MBEC, the respondent actively participated in the proceeding and signed in the pleading as counsel for the candidate.

I: WON the respondent is fit for admission to the bar.

R: The court held that respondent did engaged in unauthorized practice of law. It held that all the activities he participated during that time involves the practice of law despite the fact that he is not yet a member of the Bar. The right to practice law is not a right but a privilege extended to those morally upright and with the proper knowledge and skills. It involves strict regulation, one of which is on the moral character of its members. Passing the bar is not the only qualification to become an attorney-at-law. Respondent should know that two essential requisites for becoming a lawyer still had to be performed, namely: his lawyer’s oath to be administered by this Court and his signature in the Roll of Attorneys. Because the court finds respondent not morally fit to be admitted in the Bar, notwithstanding the fact that he already took his oath, he was denied admission to the bar.

In Re: Lanuevo 66 SCRA 254 August 29, 1975

FACTS: This is an administrative proceeding against Victorio Lanueva who was the Bar Confidant during the 1971 Bar Examination emanating from the revelation of one Oscar Landicho, a bar examinee of the same bar exam, in his confidential letter that the result of the bar exam of one of the bar examinee later identified as Ramon Galang was raised before the result was released to make him pass the bar. Acting upon said letter, the court called the 5 bar examiners and the Bar Confident Lanuevo to submit their sworn statements on the matter. It appears that each of the 5 bar examiners were approached by Lanuevo with the examination booklet asking them to re-evaluate the grades of the bar examiner explaining that it is a practice policy in bar exams that he will review the grades obtained in all subjects by an examinee and when he finds a candidate to have extraordinary high grades in other subjects and low grade in one subject he can bring it to the examiner for reconsideration to help the candidate pass. In good faith of trust and confidence to the authority of Lanuevo, the examiners re-evaluated the exam of the candidate and reconsider the grade they give for each subject matter. Further investigation also revealed that Ramon Galang was charged with crime of slight physical injuries in the Mla. MTC but did not revealed the information in his application to take the bar examination.

ISSUE: WON Lanuevo has the authority to ask bar examiners to re-evaluate and re-correct the examination result of a bar candidate.

RULING: The court ruled that it is evident that Lanuevo has deceptively staged a plot to convince each examiner individually to re-evaluate the grades of Galang in order to help him pass the bar without prior authorization of the Court. His duty as a Bar Confident is limited only as a custodian of the examination notebooks after they are corrected by the examiners where he is tasked to tally the general average of the bar candidate. All requests for re-evaluation of grades from the bar exam shall be made by the candidate themselves. With the facts fully established that Lanuevo initiated the re-evaluation of the exam answers of Galang without the authority of the Court, he has breached the trust and confidence given to him by the court and was disbarred with his name stricken out from the rolls of attorneys. Galang was likewise disbarred for fraudulently concealing the criminal charges against him in his application for the bar exam while under oath constituting perjury. The court believed that the 5 bar examiners acted in good faith and thereby absolved from the case but reminded to perform their duties with due care.

Tapucar vs Tapucar A.C. No. 4148

FACTS: Disbarment was filed against Atty. Lauro Tapucar by his wife on grounds for gross immoral conduct for cohabiting with a certain Elena (Helen) Peña under scandalous circumstances. Prior to the disbarment case, an administrative case was filed against Atty. Tapucar in connection with his co-habitation in which he was penalized with 6 months suspension without pay. He continued the illicit affair that gave rise to another charge against him on grounds for conduct unbecoming for a court officer and gross immoral conduct which caused his dismissal and separation from the service as a judge. He continued his cohabitation that born 2 children and he eventually marry the paramour in the subsistence of his previous marriage and completely abandoned his real family. The wife migrated in the States but was receiving complaints from their children left in the Philippines who are humiliated with said act of Atty, Tapucar. This caused the wife to institute a disbarment case to shield their daughter with her daughter-lawyer representing her case. The IBP commissioner recommended the disbarment of Atty. Tapucar.

RULING: The court held that it is a settled rule that good moral character is a precedent condition for admission in the legal profession and must be remain intact to maintain one’s good standing as member in the Bar. The facts showed that despite previous sanction to Atty. Tapucar, he continued his illicit affair and he even showed arrogance in the face of charges against him in the presence of the IBP commission. Thus, he was disbarred and his name was stricken out from the rolls of attorneys.

In Re: Argosino B.M. No. 712 July 13, 1995

FACTS: This is a matter for admission to the bar and oath taking of a successful bar applicant. Argosino was previously involved with hazing that caused the death of Raul Camaligan but was sentenced with homicide through reckless imprudence after he pleaded guilty. He was sentenced with 2 years imprisonment where he applied for a probation thereafter which was granted by the court with a 2 yr probation. He took the bar exam and passed but was not allowed to take oath. He filed a petition to allow him to take the attorney’s oath of office averring that his probation was already terminated. The court note that he spent only 10 months of the probation period before it was terminated.

ISSUE: WON Argosino may take oath of office.

RULING: The court upheld the principle of maintaining the good morals of all Bar members, keeping in mind that such is of greater importance so far as the general public and the proper administration of justice are concerned, than the possession of legal learning. Hence he was asked by the court to produce evidence that would certify that he has reformed and have become a responsible member of the community through sworn statements of individuals who have a good reputation for truth and who have actually known Mr. Argosino for a significant period of time to certify he is morally fit to the admission of the law profession. The court also ordered that said a copy of the proceeding be furnished to the family/relatives of Raul Camaligan.

Re: Application for Admission to the Philippine Bar, Vicente Ching B.M No. 914, October 1, 1999.

Facts: Vicente Ching is born from a Filipino mother and a father of Chinese national on April 11, 1964. He took the bar exam subject upon submission of proof of his Phil. Citizenship. He passed the bar at the age of 35 years old. There was a question regarding his citizenship therefore he was not allowed to take oath. The Solicitor General was asked to give comment on the case at bar.

ISSUE: WON Ching can be admitted to take oath in consideration of the status of his citizenship.

RULING: The court ruled that Ching, being the "legitimate child of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother born under the 1935 Constitution was a Chinese citizen and continued to be so, unless upon reaching the age of majority he elected Philippine citizenship" 1 in strict compliance with the provisions of Commonwealth Act No. 625 entitled "An Act Providing for the Manner in which the Option to Elect Philippine Citizenship shall be Declared by a Person Whose Mother is a Filipino Citizen." He should elect his Phil. Citizenship within a reasonable period of time upon reaching the age of majority which is 21 years old at that time. With almost 14 years that elapsed upon reaching his age of majority, Ching failed to exercise such right of citizenship election beyond a reasonable period of time therefore he cannot be admitted in the Phil. Rolls of atty. for being a Chinese citizen.

Tan vs Sabandal B.M. No. 44 February 24, 1992

Facts: Petitioner files a motion for reconsideration after the court allows respondent to finally take oath and practice the law profession after considering his plea for forgiveness and showing willingness to reform along with testimonials attesting to his good moral character among which is a testimonial by the IBP Zamboanga. Petitioners contend that such testimonial was only signed by its President, a counsel for the in-laws of Sabandal, without the authorization of the IBP Board members. The court allowed the IBP to manifest testimony to certify as to the good moral character of the respondent and asked for a comment from the RTC Judge in Zamboanga. Members of the IBP manifested that they see no impediments as to the moral character of Sabandal while the RTC Judge informed the court of the civil case against the respondent concerning the mortgaged land which he secured for a free patent which turned out to be a swampland and not susceptible for acquisition for a free patent. The civil case however was settled amicably and the respondent was not charged of any crime. Subsequently, Tan already forgave the respondent and withdrew her opposition for the taking of oath of office of the respondent while the other 2 petitioners leave upon the court to decide.

ISSUE: WON Sabandal should be allowed to take oath of office

RULING: The court ruled that in the development of the case, they find Sabandal to have concealed the civil case brought against him in the course of his series of petitions to be allowed to take oath together with the testimonies attesting to his good moral character without any mention of the pending case against him. The court finds this as manipulative and gross dishonesty on the part of the respondent. Although there were testimonials on his good moral characters those were made without any knowledge of the case against him. The commission of his offense itself is devoid of honesty. With the practice of law a matter of privilege and not as a right, they find respondent unfit to be a member of the law profession therefore it recalled the court resolution of allowing the respondent to take oath.

In Re: Atty. Marcial Edillion A.M. 192 August 3, 1978

FACTS: The IBP adopted a resolution on Admin case against Atty. Edillion on matter involving his membership due delinquency, recommending striking his name from the rolls of attorneys for stubborn refusal to pay his membership dues. Atty. Edillion contends that the Rules of Court 139-A and the IBP by-laws are unconstitutional and thereby questioning the power of the court to compel him to become an IBP member as well as the provision of the Rules of Court requiring payment for membership fee of the IBP.

ISSUE: WON the court may compel Atty. Edillion to pay his membership fee to the IBP.

RULING: Yes. The Integrated Bar is a State-organized Bar which every lawyer must be a member of as distinguished from bar associations in which membership is merely optional and voluntary. All lawyers are subject to comply with the rules prescribed for the governance of the Bar including payment a reasonable annual fees as one of the requirements. The Rules of Court only compels him to pay his annual dues and it is not in violation of his constitutional freedom to associate. Furthermore, the Court has jurisdiction over matters of admission, suspension, disbarment, and reinstatement of lawyers and their regulation as part of its inherent judicial functions and responsibilities thus the court may compel all members of the Integrated Bar to pay their annual dues.

Re: Application of A.M. Hernandez July 27, 1993

FACTS: Hernandez is a Filipino citizen who have a degree of Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School in New York and passed the bar examinations in the same City in 1990. He is currently taking bar subjects in Ateneo Law School and taking a 5 month bar review course there. He now asks the court to allow him to take the bar exam in the Phils.

ISSUE: WON the S.C. may allow him to take the bar exam in the Phils.

RULING: Yes, he may be allowed to take the bar because there were some instances in the past where a Filipino studied law in a foreign law school and were allowed to take the bar in the Philippines. However, the court held this time that in the following year, applicants for the Bar must study in a local law school in the Phils. And must present certifications required by Section 5 and 6 of Rule 138 to be able to take the bar. Such certification however is not issued to foreign law school graduates therefore anyone who wants to take the bar in the country should study in any of the law schools in the Phils. to be able to take the bar exam.

In re: Amparo 65 SCRA 120 (1974)

FACTS: Amparo is a bar examinee who was caught by the head watcher reading a piece of paper during the bar examination in Criminal Law. He refuses to surrender the paper until the head watcher threatened to report him to the authorities. The paper contains the list of duration of penalties and formula computing them, which Amparo justifies as just a piece of paper that fell out of his pocket as he tried to get his handkerchief. A report was filed and an investigation ensued.

ISSUE: WON Amparo is guilty for his actions.

RULING: Yes. He violated Rule 133, section 10 prohibiting examinees from bringing papers, books, or notes into the examination room. Amparo committed an overt act indicative of an attempt to cheat by reading notes. The report of the bar showed that he did not passed the bar thus the court ordered he will not be allowed to re-take the bar the following year.

Letter of Atty. Cecilio Y. Arevalo, Jr. B.M. No. 1370 May 9, 2005

FACTS: Petitioners files a motion for exemption for paying his IBP dues from 1977-2005 in the amount of P12,035.00. He contends that after admission to the Bar he worked at the Phil. Civil Service then migrated to the US until his retirement. His contention to be exempt is that his employment with the CSC prohibits him to practice his law profession and he did not practice the same while in the US. The compulsion that he pays his IBP annual membership is oppressive since he has an inactive status as a lawyer. His removal from the profession because of non-payment of the same constitutes to the deprivation of his property rights bereft of due process of the law.

ISSUE: WON inactive practice of the law profession is an exemption to payment for IBP annual membership.

RULING: The court held that the imposition of the membership fee is a matter of regulatory measure by the State, which is a necessary consequence for being a member of the Philippine Bar. The compulsory requirement to pay the fees subsists for as long as one remains to be a member regardless whether one is a practicing lawyer or not. Thus, his petition for exemption from paying his IBP membership fee dues is denied.

Santos Jr. v Llamas A.C. No. 4749 1.20.00

FACTS: This is a complaint against respondent for misrepresentation and non-payment of IBP membership dues. For years, the respondent does not indicate proper PTR no. in his practice of the law profession. Now of old age, he contends that he is engaged in the limited practice of his profession and as a senior citizen, he is exempt from paying taxes and membership dues with the IBP.

ISSUE: WON the respondent is exempt from paying his membership dues owing to limited practice of law and for being a senior citizen.

RULING: No. He is not exempt since Rule 139-A requires all IBP members to pay the annual fee and failure thereof for 6 months merits suspension of the membership and for 1 year becomes a ground for removal of the member’s name from the Rolls of Attorney regardless one is a practicing lawyer or not. His non-renewal of his PTR is a misrepresentation to the public and the courts that he has paid his dues violating the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Diao v Martinez 7 SCRA 745 3.29.63

FACTS: 2 years after passing the Bar exam, a complaint was filed against Diao on false representation of his application to the Bar examination that he has the requisite academic qualification. The Solicitor General made an investigation and recommended to strike the name of Diao off the rolls of attorney because contrary to the allegations in his petition for examination in this Court, he had not completed, before taking up law subjects, the required pre-legal education prescribed by the Department of Private Education.

I: WON Diao may continue to practice the law profession.

RULING: The court held that his admission to the bar was under the pretense that he had acquired a pre-legal education, an academic requirement before one could take the bar exam. Such admission having been obtained under false pretenses is thereby revoked. The fact that he hurdled the Bar examinations is immaterial. Passing such examinations is not the only qualification to become an attorney-at-law, taking the prescribed courses of legal study in the regular manner is equally essential. His name thus was stricken out from the Rolls of Attorneys.

Vda. De Mijares v Justice Villaluz A.C. No. 4431 6.19.97

FACTS: Complainant files a disbarment case against the respondent on grounds of bigamy after contracting a marriage with another woman several months after their marriage. Respondent contends theirs was a sham marriage in an effort to protect the complainant from the administrative case on immorality to be charged against her by her legal researcher and that during their marriage his marriage with his first wife was subsisting since the declaration of its annulment was not yet final and executory pending publication of the decision. The administrative case was referred to Associate Justice Purisima of CA for investigation who recommended suspension of the respondent for 2 years with a warning that similar future misconduct shall be dealt with more severely.

ISSUE: WON respondent be disbarred.

RULING: Yes. The mere admission of the respondent of contracting the marriage with the complainant while knowingly his first marriage subsists and then married another woman after said marriage with complainant is a gross misconduct. His claim that he married complainant to protect her from the administrative charge against her is unfounded since one cannot correct a wrong by doing another wrongful act. Finding the respondent morally unfit in the practice of the law profession, the court upheld the recommendation of Justice Purisima.

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