Grounds for Disbarment or Suspension of a Lawyer

1.    Deceit

Cham vs. Atty. Edilberto D. Pizarro

A.C. No. 5499, August 16, 2005

A lawyer was subjected to disciplinary action for selling a non-disposable land of the public domain. He violated his oath not to do falsehood and misrepresentation to the buyer-complainant.

Co vs. Bernardino, 285 SCRA 102 [1998]

Lao vs. Medel, 405 SCRA 227 [2003]

For a lawyer to be dealt with by the Supreme Court, the transaction entered into need not be in the performance of professional services. It can be in his private capacity.

Professional honesty and honor are not to be expected as the accompaniment of dishonesty and dishonor in other relations.

Case references:

Santos vs. Atty. Maria Vivane

Cacho-Calicdan, September 19, 2006

2.    Malpractice

Nakpil vs. Atty. Carlos J. Valdes

March 4, 1998

A lawyer violated the trust and confidence of the client when he represented conflicting interest. He represented the creditors when his accounting firm prepared and computed the claims of the creditors while his law firm represented the estate.

Case references:

Buted vs. Hernando, 203 SCRA 1

Maturan vs. Gonzales, March 12, 1998

Conflict of interest

(Pormento vs. Pontevedra, March 31, 2005)

A lawyer has to disclose to his client all the circumstances of his relations to the parties in connection with the controversy which might influence the client in the selection of counsel.

It is unprofessional to represent conflicting interests except by express consent of all concerned given after full disclosure of the facts.

Tests to determine if there is conflicting interests:

1.            If the acceptance of the new retainer will require the attorney to do anything which will injuriously affect his first client in any matter in which he represents him and also whether he will be called upon in his new relation, to use against his first client any knowledge acquired thru their connection;

2.            Whether the acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney from full discharge of his duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance thereof.

Reason for prohibition

The reason for the prohibition is found in the relation of attorney and client, which is one of trust and confidence of the highest degree. A lawyer becomes familiar with all the facts connected with his client’s case. He learns from his client the weak points of the action as well as the strong ones. Such knowledge must be considered sacred and guarded with care. No opportunity must be given him to take advantage of his client’s secrets. A lawyer must have the fullest confidence of his client. For, if the confidence is abused, the profession will suffer by the loss thereof.

The prohibition applies however slight such adverse interest may be (Nakpil vs. Valdes, 286 SCRA 758).

The essence of the rule is to maintain inviolate the client’s confidence or to refrain from obtaining anything which will injuriously affect in any matter in which he previously represented him.

3.            Grossly immoral conduct

Emma Dantes vs. Atty. Crispin Dantes

A.C. No. 6488, September 22, 2004

The wife complained that her husband was a philanderer, having illicit relationship with two women. He was disbarred. A lawyer must demonstrate that he or she has good moral character and should behave in accordance with the standards.

Case references:

Barrientos vs. Daarol, 218 SCRA 30

Toledo vs. Toledo, 7 SCRA 757

Obusan vs. Obusan, 128 SCRA 485

Terre vs. Terre, July 3, 1992

Santos vs. Tan, 196 SCRA 16

St. Louis Univ. Laboratory High School Faculty & Staff vs. Atty. Dela Cruz, A.C. No. 6010, August 28, 2006

Disbarment should never be decreed where any lesser penalty could accomplish the end desired; hence, the penalty of two years suspension was more appropriate.

A lawyer got married again after his failed marriage. He never absconded his obligations to his first wife and child. After the annulment of his second marriage, he remained celibate. He was humble enough to offer no defense save for his lone and declaration of his commitment to his wife and child. (Conjuangco vs. Palma, 438 SCRA 306; 462 SCRA 310 [2005]).

Zaguirre vs. Castillo

398 SCRA 658 [2003]

465 SCRA [2005]

4.            Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude

a.            In the Matter of Disbarment Proceedings vs. Narciso Jaranillo, 101 Phil. 323

A lawyer was disbarred for having been convicted of estafa.

b.         In Re: Dalmacio delos Angeles, 106 Phil. 1

A lawyer was convicted of the crime of bribery. He was disbarred.

Case references:

In Re: Disbarment of Rodolfo Pajo, 203 Phil. 79

In Re: Atty. Isidro Vinzons, 126 Phil. 96

Barrios vs. Atty. Francisco Martinez, A.C. No. 4885,   November 12, 2004

5.            Violation of the Lawyer’s Oath

a.            Judge Ubaldino Larucon vs. Atty. Ellis Jacoba, A.C. No. 5921, March 10, 2006

In his motion, the lawyer stated:

The judgment is an “abhorrent nullity”, “legal monstrosity”, “horrendous mistake”, “horrible error”, “an insult to the judiciary”, and “an anachronism in the judicial process”.

The lawyer was suspended. The language exceeded the vigor required of a lawyer to defend ably his client’s cause.

b.            Almendrez vs. Atty. Minervo Langit, A.C. No. 7057, July 25, 2006

A lawyer was suspended for having appropriated the rental deposits for his client in an ejectment suit.

c.            Suspension from the Practice of Law in the Territory of Guam of Atty. Leon G. Maquera, 435 SCRA 417

A lawyer who was suspended from the practice of law abroad may likewise be sanctioned in the Philippines for infraction he committed abroad. (Velez vs. De Vera, A.C. No. 6697, July 25, 2006).

6.            Willful disobedience to any lawful order of a superior court

a.            People vs. Dalusog, 62 SCRA 540;

Luzon Mahogany Timber Ind., Inc. vs. Castro, 69 SCRA 384;

People vs, Medina, 62 SCRA 253;

Geeslin vs. Navarro, 185 SCRA 230

7.            Willfully appearing as attorney for any party without authority

(Sec. 27, Rule 138, Rules of Court; Atty. Edilberto D. Pizarro, A.C. No. 5499, August  16, 2005)

a.            Porac Trucking Corp. vs. CA, 202 SCRA 674; Garrido vs. Quisumbing, 28    

SCRA 614

A lawyer was suspended from the practice of law in appearing for a party defendant without authority.

A judge may require a lawyer to prove that he is authorized to appear for a client.

b.            Mercado vs. Ulay, 187 SCRA 720