FACTS: Vicente Raul Almacen’s “Petition to Surrender Lawyer’s Certificate of Title,” filed on Sept. 26, 1967, in protest against what he therein asserts is “a great injustice committed against his client by Supreme Court”. He indicts SC, in his own phrase, as a tribual “peopled by men who are calloused to our pleas for justice, who ignore without reasons their own applicable decisions and commit culpable violations of the Constitution with impunity.” His client’s he continues, who was deeply aggrieved by this Court’s “unjust judgment,” has become one of the sacrificial victims before the altar of hypocrisy.”
He ridicules the members of the Court, saying “that justice as administered by the present members of the Supreme Court is not only bline, but also deaf and dumb.” He then vows to argue the cause of his client ”in the people’s forum,” so that “ people may know of the silent injustices committed by this court’ and that “whatever mistakes, wrongs and injustices that were committed must never be repeated.” He ends his petition with a prayer that:
“………a resolution issue ordering the Clerk of Court to receive the certificate of the undersigned attorney that at any time in the future and in the event we regain our faith and confidence, we may retrieve our title to assume the practice of the noblest profession.”
The genesis of this unfortunate incident was a civil case entitled Yaptichay v. Calero, in which Atty. Almacen was counsel for the defendant. The trial court rencered judgment agains his client. On June 15, 1966 atty. Almacen receive acopy of the decision. Twenty days later on he moved for its reconsideration but did not notify the latter of the time and plce of hearing on said motion. Meanwhile, onJuly 18, 1966, the plaintiff moved for execution of the judgment. For lack of proof of service, ‘the trial court denied both motions. To prove that he did serve on the adverse party a copy of his first motion for reconsideration, atty. Almacen filed on August 17, 1966 a second motion for reconsideration, however, was ordered withdrawn by the trial court on August 30, 1966, upon verbal motion of Atty. Almacen himself, who earlier, that is, on Aug. 22, 1966 had already perfected the appeal. Motion for reconsideration was denied by Court of Appeals.
HELD: Well-recognized is the right of a lawyer, both as an officer of the court and as citizen, to criticize in properly respectful terms and through legitimate channels the acts of courts and judges.
As a citizen and as officer of the court, a lawyer is expected not only to exercise the right, but also to consider it his duty to avail of such right. No law may abridge this right. Nor is he “professionally answerable for a scrutiny into the official conduct of the judges, which would not expose him to legal animadversion as a citizen. Atty. Almacen is suspended from the practice of law until further orders.