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INTRODUCTION to LAW - Case Digests for Legal Ethics

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INTRODUCTION to LAW - Case Digests for Legal Ethics
  INTRODUCTION TO LAW CASES FOR LEGAL ETHICS ____________________________ 1)JOSELANO GUEVARRA VS. ATTY. JOSE EALA FACTS: Joselano Guevarra filed a Complaint for Disbarment before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Committee on Bar Discipline (CBD) against Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala a.k.a. Noli Eala for grossly immoral conduct and unmitigated violation of the lawyers oath. Eala’s alleged grossly immoral conduct runs afoul of the Constitution and the laws he, as a lawyer, has been sworn to uphold. In pursuing obsessively his illicit love for Guevarra's wife, he mocked the institution of marriage, betrayed his own family, broke up Guevarra’s marriage, commits adultery with his wife, and degrades the legal profession. Guevarra was the fiancee of Irene Moje with whom Eala had a relationship while married to Marianne Tantoco with whom the latter had three children. Moje abandoned the conjugal house and following one incident, Moje went to the conjugal house and hauled o ff   all her personal belongings, pieces of furniture, and her share of the household appliances. Guevarra now contends that Eala and Moje were flaunting their adulterous relationship as they attended social functions together. Eala, on the other hand, claims that their relationship was low profile and known only to the immediate members of their respective families as he was still known to be married to Tantoco. He specifically denies the allegations regarding his adulterous relationship and that his acts demonstrate gross moral depravity thereby making him unfit to keep his membership in the bar, the reason being that his relationship with Moje was not under scandalous circumstances as would be a ground for disbarment pursuant to Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court and that he maintained a civil, cordial and peaceful relationship with Tantoco even if the latter was aware of his special friendship with Moje. Eala and Moje then had a child whose birth certificate the former is indicated as the father then proving their illicit relationship aside from Eala’s own admission. After investigation, IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan found the charge against respondent su ffi ciently proven. The Commissioner thus recommended that Eala be disbarred for violating Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility — immoral conduct — and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the same Code — conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law. The IBP Board of Governors, however, moved to dismiss the case and annulled and set aside the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner hence this petition.  RULING: The petition was granted. Respondent, Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala was disbarred for grossly immoral conduct, violation of his oath of o ffi ce, and violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. As Eala insists that disbarment does not lie because his relationship with Irene was not, under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court, it not being under scandalous circumstances, the Court held that said rule which provides the grounds for disbarment or suspension uses the phrase grossly immoral conduct, not under scandalous circumstances. Whether a lawyers sexual congress with a woman not his wife or without the benefit of marriage should be characterized as grossly immoral conduct depends on the surrounding circumstances. The case at bar involves a relationship between a married lawyer and a married woman who is not his wife. It is immaterial whether the a ff  air was carried out discreetly. As a lawyer, Eala should be aware that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife are presumed, unless proven otherwise, to have entered into a lawful contract of marriage. In carrying on an extra-marital a ff  air with Moje prior to the  judicial declaration that her marriage with complainant was null and void, and despite respondent himself being married, he showed disrespect for an institution held sacred by the law. And he betrayed his unfitness to be a lawyer. 2) People vs. Barrozo FACTS: Jennie Valeriano was a respondent in several cases for estafa and violation of Batas Pambasa Blg. 22 which were assigned to Barrozo as Assistant Public Prosecutor of Dagupan City, Pangasinan. Valeriano then claims that Barrozo told her that he would resolve the cases in her favor in exchange for ! 20,000.00 hence, Valeriano went to the O ffi ce of Regional State Prosecutor to report the matter. The Regional State Prosecutor introduced her to agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and then proceeded to carry out an entrapment operation. During the operation conducted of February 15, 2005, respondent was caught red-handed by the NBI agents receiving the amount of ! 20,000.00 from Valeriano. As a result, a case for direct bribery was filed against Barrozo. The Sandiganbayan found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt but only sentenced him to an Indeterminate Sentence. However, after said incident, the O ffi ce of the Bar Confidant (OBC) received a letter from Wat & Co. of Hong Kong stating that its client in Hong Kong received a letter from the Philippines signed by Atty. Joselito C. Barrozo, asking for long service payment from the employers of domestic helper Anita G. Calub who passed away. His conviction is a ground for disbarment from the practice of law under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. Barrozo argues that he did not engage in the practice of law as his act of signing the claim  letter does not constitute such practice. He averred that he signed it not for any monetary consideration, but out of his sincere desire to help the claimants. And since there is no payment involved, no lawyer-client relationship was established between him and the claimants. This therefore negates practice of the law on his part. RULING: The Court adopts the OBC’s recommendation of disbarment of Barrozo. His act therefore of extorting money from a party to a case handled by him does not only violate the requirement that cases must be decided based on the merits of the parties respective evidence but also lessens the people’s confidence in the rule of law. Lawyers in public o ffi ce are expected not only to refrain from any act or omission which tend to lessen the trust and confidence of the citizenry in government but also uphold the dignity of the legal profession at all times and observe a high standard of honesty and fair dealing. A government lawyer is keeper of public faith and is burdened with a high degree of social responsibility, higher than his brethren in private practice. The fact that the o ff  ender agrees to accept a promise or gift and deliberately commits an unjust act or refrains from performing an o ffi cial duty in exchange for some favors, denotes a malicious intent on the part of the o ff  ender to renege on the duties which he owes his fellowmen and society in general. Also the fact that the o ff  ender takes advantage of his o ffi ce and position is a betrayal of the trust reposed on him by the public. It is a conduct clearly contrary o the accepted rule of right and duty, justice, honesty, and good morals. In all respects, direct bribery is a crime involving moral turpitude. The Court is mindful that a lawyer’s conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude does not automatically call for the imposition of the supreme penalty of disbarment since it may, in its discretion, choose to impose the less severe penalty of suspension. Here, however, the circumstances surrounding the case constrain the Court to impose the penalty of disbarment as recommended by the OBC. 3) Pedro Linsangan vs. Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino FACTS: This is a complaint for disbarment filed by Pedro Linsangan of the Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan Law O ffi ce against Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of professional services. Linsangan alleges that Tolentino, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie Labiano, convinced his clients to transfer legal representation. To induce them to hire his services, he persistently called them and sent them text messages. To support his allegations, he presented the sworn a ffi davit   of James Gregorio attesting that Labiano tried to prevail upon him to sever his lawyer-client relations with Linsangan and utilize Tolentino’s services instead, in  exchange for a loan of    P50,000. Tolentino, in his defense, denied knowing Labiano and authorizing the printing and circulation of the said calling card. RULING: Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino was suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year   e ff  ective immediately from receipt of this resolution. He was likewise sternly warned   that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely. Tolentino had encroached on the professional practice of complainant, violating Rule 8.02 on his alleged intrusion into Linsangan’s professional practice. A lawyer should not steal another lawyer’s client nor induce the latter to retain him by a promise of better service, good result or reduced fees for his services. Lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a profession and not a business; lawyers should not advertise their talents as merchants advertise their wares. To allow a lawyer to advertise his talent or skill is to commercialize the practice of law, degrade the profession in the public’s estimation and impair its ability to e ffi ciently render that high character of service to which every member of the bar is called. Moreover, by engaging in a money-lending venture with his clients as borrowers, respondent violated Rule 16.04. The rule is that a lawyer shall not lend money to his client. The only exception is, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses (such as filing fees, stenographer’s fees for transcript of stenographic notes, cash bond or premium for surety bond, etc.) for a matter that he is handling for the client. If the lawyer lends money to the client in connection with the client’s case, the lawyer in e ff  ect acquires an interest in the subject matter of the case or an additional stake in its outcome. Any act of solicitation constitutes malpractice; however, in the absence of substantial evidence to prove his culpability, the Court is not prepared to rule that respondent was personally and directly responsible for the printing and distribution of Labiano’s calling cards. 4) Evangeline Leda vs. Trebonian Tabang FACTS: Leda and Tabang contracted marriage at Tigbauan,   Iloilo.   The marriage, solemnized by Judge Jose T. Tavarro of Tigbauan, was performed under Article 76 of the Civil Code   as one of exceptional character. The parties agreed to keep the fact of marriage   a secret until after Tabang had finished his law studies and taken the Bar. He finished his law studies in 1981 and thereafter applied to take the Bar.   In his application, he declared that he was “single. He then passed the examinations but   Leda blocked him from taking his Oath by instituting Bar Matter No. 78,   claiming that   Tabang   had   acted fraudulently in filling out his application and, thus, was unworthy to take the lawyer's Oath for lack of good moral character.   Tabang claims that he had acted in good faith in
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