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MARIA ELENA MORENO VS. ATTY. ERNESTO ARANETA A.C. No. 1109.

April 27, 2005 Facts: Ernesto Araneta issued two checks to Elena Moreno for his indebtedness which amounts to P11, 000.00, the checks were dishonored. It was dishonored because the account against which is drawn is closed. Thereafter the case was forwarded to the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline pursuant to Rule 139B of the Rules of Court. The Commission recommended the suspension from the practice of law for three (3) months. On 15 October 2002, IBP Director for Bar Discipline Victor C. Fernandez, transmitted the records of this case back to this Court pursuant to Rule 139-B, Sec. 12(b) of the Rules of Court. Thereafter, the Office of the Bar Confidant filed a Report regarding various aspects of the case. The Report further made mention of a Resolution from this Court indefinitely suspending the respondent for having been convicted by final judgment of estafa through falsification of a commercial document. Issue: Whether or not Araneta should be disbarred due to the issuance of checks drawn against a closed account. Held: The Court held that the act of a person in issuing a check knowing at the time of the issuance that he or she does not have sufficient funds in, or credit with, the drawee bank for the payment of the check in full upon its presentment, is a manifestation of moral turpitude. In Co v. Bernardino and Lao v. Medel, we held that for issuing worthless checks, a lawyer may be sanctioned with one years suspension from the practice of law, or a suspension of six months upon partial payment of the obligation. In the instant case, however, herein respondent has, apparently been found guilty by final judgment of estafa thru falsification of a commercial document, a crime involving moral turpitude, for which he has been indefinitely suspended. Considering that he had previously committed a similarly fraudulent act, and that this case likewise involves moral turpitude, we are constrained to impose a more severe penalty. In fact, we have long held that disbarment is the appropriate penalty for conviction by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude. As we said in In The Matter of Disbarment Proceedings v. Narciso N. Jaramillo, the review of respondent's conviction no longer rests upon us. The judgment not only has become final but has been executed. No elaborate argument is necessary to hold the respondent unworthy of the privilege bestowed on him as a member of the bar. Suffice it to say that, by his conviction, the respondent has proved himself unfit to protect the administration of justice. Spouses OLBES VS. Atty. VICTOR V. DECIEMBRE AC-5365. April 27, 2005 Facts: Atty. Victor V. Deciembre was given five blank checks by Spouses Olbes for security of a loan. After the loan was paid and a receipt issued, Atty. Deciembre filled up four of the five checks for P50, 000 with different maturity date. All checks were dishonored. Thus, Atty. Deciembre fled a case for estafa against the spouses Olbes. This prompted the spouses Olbes to file a disbarment case against Atty. Deciembre with the Office of the Bar Confidant of this Court. In the report, Commissioner Dulay recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for two years for violating Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Issue: Whether or not the suspension of Atty. Deciembre was in accord with his fault. Held: Membership in the legal profession is a special privilege burdened with conditions. It is bestowed upon individuals who are not only learned in the law, but also known to possess good moral character. A lawyer is an oath-bound servant of society whose conduct is clearly circumscribed by inflexible norms of law and ethics, and whose primary duty is the advancement of the quest for truth and justice, for which he

has sworn to be a fearless crusader. By taking the lawyers oath, an attorney becomes a guardian of truth and the rule of law, and an indispensable instrument in the fair and impartial administration of justice. Lawyers should act and comport themselves with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach, in order to promote the publics faith in the legal profession. It is also glaringly clear that the Code of Professional Responsibility was seriously transgressed by his malevolent act of filling up the blank checks by indicating amounts that had not been agreed upon at all and despite respondents full knowledge that the loan supposed to be secured by the checks had already been paid. His was a brazen act of falsification of a commercial document, resorted to for his material gain. Deception and other fraudulent acts are not merely unacceptable practices that are disgraceful and dishonorable; they reveal a basic moral flaw. The standards of the legal profession are not satisfied by conduct that merely enables one to escape the penalties of criminal laws. Considering the depravity of the offense committed by respondent, we find the penalty recommended by the IBP of suspension for two years from the practice of law to be too mild. His propensity for employing deceit and misrepresentation is reprehensible. His misuse of the filled-up checks that led to the detention of one petitioner is loathsome. Thus, he is sentenced suspended indefinitely from the practice of law effective immediately. NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, INC., and BEN A. NICOLAS vs. Atty. MACARIO D. ARQUILLO A.C. No. 6632. August 2, 2005 Facts: Atty. Macatrio D. Arquillo represented opposing parties in one a case before the before the National Labor Relations Commission, Regional Arbitration Branch in San Fernando, La Union. Herein, complainants accuse Atty. Arquillo of deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct and/or violation of his oath as attorney by representing conflicting interests. The case was filed with the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline which found Atty. Arquillo guilty of the charge and recommended a penalty of suspension for 6 months. The governors of the IBP increased the penalty for 2 years. Issue: Whether or not the acts of Arquillo merits his suspension from the practice of law. Held: The Code of Professional Responsibility requires lawyers to observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all their dealings and transactions with their clients. Corollary to this duty, lawyers shall not represent conflicting interests, except with all the concerned clients written consent, given after a full disclosure of the facts. When a lawyer represents two or more opposing parties, there is a conflict of interests, the existence of which is determined by three separate tests: (1) when, in representation of one client, a lawyer is required to fight for an issue or claim, but is also duty-bound to oppose it for another client; (2) when the acceptance of the new retainer will require an attorney to perform an act that may injuriously affect the first client or, when called upon in a new relation, to use against the first one any knowledge acquired through their professional connection; or (3) when the acceptance of a new relation would prevent the full discharge of an attorneys duty to give undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or would invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance of that duty. An attorney cannot represent adverse interests. It is a hornbook doctrine grounded on public policy that a lawyers representation of both sides of an issue is highly improper. The proscription applies when the conflicting interests arise with respect to the same general matter, however slight such conflict may be. It applies even when the attorney acts from honest intentions or in good faith. In accordance with previous rulings from this court Atty. Arquillo is suspended for 1 year from the practice of law. RE: LETTER DATED 21 FEBRUARY 2005 OF ATTY. NOEL S. SORREDA. A.M. No. 05-3-04-SC July 22, 2005

Facts: Atty. Noel S. Sorreda wrote a letter addressed to the Chief Justice over his frustrations of the outcome of his cases decided by the Supreme Court. The letter contained derogatory and malignant remarks which are highly insulting. The Court accorded Atty. Sorreda to explain, however, instead of appearing before the court, he wrote another letter with insulting remarks as the first one. The court was thus offended with his remarks. Issue: Whether or not Atty. Sorreda can be held guilty of contempt due to the remarks he has made in his letters addressed to the court. Held: Unfounded accusations or allegations or words tending to embarrass the court or to bring it into disrepute have no place in a pleading. Their employment serves no useful purpose. On the contrary, they constitute direct contempt of court or contempt in facie curiae and a violation of the lawyers oath and a transgression of the Code of Professional Responsibility. As officer of the court, Atty. Sorreda has the duty to uphold the dignity and authority of the courts and to promote confidence in the fair administration of justice.[24] No less must this be and with greater reasons in the case of the countrys highest court, the Supreme Court, as the last bulwark of justice and democracy Atty. Sorreda must be reminded that his first duty is not to his client but to the administration of justice, to which his clients success is wholly subordinate. His conduct ought to and must always be scrupulously observant of law and ethics. The use of intemperate language and unkind ascription can hardly be justified nor can it have a place in the dignity of judicial forum. Civility among members of the legal profession is a treasured tradition that must at no time be lost to it. Hence, Atty. Sorreda has transcended the permissible bounds of fair comment and constructive criticism to the detriment of the orderly administration of justice. Free expression, after all, must not be used as a vehicle to satisfy ones irrational obsession to demean, ridicule, degrade and even destroy this Court and its magistrates. Thus, ATTY. NOEL S. SORREDA is found guilty both of contempt of court and violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility amounting to gross misconduct as an officer of the court and member of the Bar. Heirs of Herman Rey, represented by ARACELI Vda. DE ROMERO vs. Atty. Venancio Reyes, Jr. A.C. No. 6192 June 23, 2005 Facts: Atty. Venancio Reyes is counsel for Heirs of Herman Rey for which they are intervenors in a civil case involving multiple sale of a piece of land. There were three buyers however, and to settle the case, they had agreed to a Compromise Agreement. The Compromise Agreement, dated June 16, 1995, was signed in three stages, first by Elizabeth Reyes and her husband, then by complainants and their counsel, Atty. Renato Samonte Jr., and last, by Antonio Gonzales, Veronica Gonzales for and on behalf of V.R. Credit Enterprises, Inc. and by herein respondent. Later, the RTC which houses the records of the case was destroyed by fire, thus The complainants filed a motion for reconstitution of the records of the case, which was granted by the RTC of Bulacan. The documents attached to the motion were the basis for the reconstituted records. Because of the circumstances of signing of the Compromise Agreement, the copy submitted to the RTC bore only the signatures of Elizabeth Reyes, her husband, complainants, and that of their counsel, Atty. Renato Samonte. After a lapse of two (2) years from the date of the Compromise Agreement, V.R. Credit Enterprises, Inc. still has not complied with its obligation toward complainants. Hence, complainants filed a motion for issuance of writ of execution against V.R. Credit Enterprises, Inc. for such failure. Atty. Reyes filed a motion for the case was premature. Later he raised the issue that the Compromise Agreement was not valid since it was not signed by Veronica Gonzales. Hence, the RTC rued that the Compromise as unenforceable. Thus, herein, complainants filed this administrative case against Atty. Venancio Reyes Jr. charging him with willful and intentional falsehood, in violation of his oath as a member of the Philippine bar. IBP investigating commissioner found him guilty of violation of his oath.

Issue: Whether or not Atty. Venancio Reyes is administratively liable. Held: Lawyers are indispensable instruments of justice and peace. Upon taking their professional oath, they become guardians of truth and the rule of law. Verily, when they appear before a tribunal, they act not merely as the parties representatives but, first and foremost, as officers of the court. Thus, their duty to protect their clients interests is secondary to their obligation to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. In assailing the legality of the Compromise Agreement, he claims good faith. He maintains that he should not be faulted for raising an allegedly valid defense to protect his clients interests. The records show, however, that his actions bear hallmarks of dishonesty and doublespeak. Atty. Reyes is one of negotiating panel in the compromise agreement. He impressed upon the parties and the trial judge that his clients were bound to the Compromise Agreement. Then, suddenly and conveniently, he repudiated it by falsely alleging that one of his clients had never signed it. True, lawyers are obliged to present every available remedy or defense to support the cause of their clients. However, their fidelity to their causes must always be made within the parameters of law and ethics, never at the expense of truth and justice. In Choa v. Chiongson this principle was explained thus: While a lawyer owes absolute fidelity to the cause of his client, full devotion to his genuine interest, and warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his rights, as well as the exertion of his utmost learning and ability, he must do so only within the bounds of the law Thus, herein, Atty. Venancio Reyes, was ordered suspended for 1 year. JESUS M. FERRER vs. ATTY. JOSE ALLAN M. TEBELIN A.C. No. 6590. June 27, 2005 Facts: Ferrer obtained the services of Atty. Tebelin in a case against Global Link as a result of a vehicular accident through the falut of Global Links driver. Ferrer paid Atty. Tebelin P5, 000.00 as acceptance fee and gave him all pertinent documents. However, Ferrer filed an administrative case against Atty. Tebelin alleging that the said lawyer abandoned his case. However, Atty. Tebelin expressed his willingness to return the money and denied having abandoned the case. However, during the proceedings, herein Ferrer died. Atty. Tebelin was nowhere to be found in his given address. Issue: Whether or not Atty. Tebellin may still be held liable despite the death of the complainant. Held: The court held that Atty. Tebelin may still be held liable despite the death of the complainant. The death of a complainant in an administrative case notwithstanding, the case may still proceed and be resolved. As in the case of Tudtud v. Colifores, the court ruled that The death of the complainant herein does not warrant the non-pursuance of the charges against respondent Judge. In administrative cases against public officers and employees, the complainants are, in a real sense, only witnesses. Hence, the unilateral decision of a complainant to withdraw from an administrative complaint, or even his death, as in the case at bar, does not prevent the Court from imposing sanctions upon the parties subject to its administrative supervision. This Court also finds respondent, for ignoring the notices of hearing sent to him at his address which he himself furnished, or to notify the IBP-CBD his new address if indeed he had moved out of his given address. His actuation betrays his lack of courtesy, his irresponsibility as a lawyer. This Court faults respondent too for welting on his manifestation-undertaking to return the P5,000.00, not to mention the documents bearing on the case, to complainant or his heirs. Such is reflective of his reckless disregard of the duty imposed on him by Rule 22.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility: Rule 22.02 A lawyer who withdraws or is discharged shall, subject to a retaining lien, immediately turn over all papers and property to which the client is entitled, and shall cooperate with his successor in the orderly transfer of the matter, including all information necessary for the proper handling of the matter. Thus, the court suspended Atty. Jose Allan M. Tebelin from the practice of law for Two (2) Months and is

ordered to return to complainants heirs the amount of P5, 000.00, with legal interest. JUDGES; UNDUE DELAY IN RENDERING JUDGMENT , A VIOLATION OF RULE 70 SECTION 11 OF THE RULES OF COURT DORCAS PETALLAR VS. JUDGE JAUNILLO PULLOS A.M. No. MTJ-03-1484. January 15, 2004 Facts: Complainant Dorcas Petallar averred that after the preliminary conference in a case for forcible entry, he, as plaintiff and the defendants were ordered to submit their respective position papers and evidence. Two months from the submission of their position papers, complainant personally went to the Court to verify the judgment had been rendered. He caused his lawyer to file a motion for rendition of judgment which was duly received by the court on August 6, 2001 but still no judgment was rendered on December 27, 2001 when the complaint was filed. Hence, complainant Petallar charged Judge Juanillo Pullos, former presiding judge of the MCTC of Surigao del Norte of violating Canon 1, Rule 1.02 & Canon 3, Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct as well as Rule 140, Section 4 & Rule 70, Section 10 & 11 of the Rules of the Court for undue delay in rendering a decision in a case for forcibly entry. Issue: Whether or not respondent be held liable for undue delay in rendering judgment. Held: Respondent is guilty of undue delay in rendering judgment. The records show that the parties had filed their respective position papers as early as February 2, 2000. thus, respondent had until March 4, 2000. Had there been circumstances which presented him from handling down his decision within the prescribed period, respondent should have at least requested from the Court for an extension within which to render judgment. Failure to resolve cases submitted for decisions within the period fixed by law constitutes serious violation of Article III, section 16 of the Constitution. Judges must perform their official duties with utmost diligence if public confidence in the judiciary is to be preserved. A judge cannot by himself prolong the period for deciding cases beyond that authorized by law. Without any order of extension granted by the court, failure to decide a case within the prescribed period constitutes gross inefficiency that merits administrative sanction. COMPLAINTS FOR DISBARMENT; FORMAL INVESTIGATION MERCEDES NAVA VS. ATTY. BENJAMIN SORONGON AC No. 5442. January 26, 2004 Facts: Respondent Atty. Sorongon had been the counsel of complainant Mercedes Nava for years. The former informed her of his intention to withdraw as her counsel in two of her cases due to a stroke that paralyzed his right body but proposed to be retained in two other criminal cases with lesser paper works. He filed his withdrawal on December 4, 1996 and was granted by the court. Complainant alleged that while she continuously paid for the respondents services, the latter represented other clients with hostile interests and cases filed against her. Complainant cried that respondent assisted one Francisco Atas in filing a formal complaint for 11 counts of violation of B.P. 22 against her. She sent a letter to respondents expressing her disbelief and reminding him of his ethical and moral responsibility as a lawyer. Complainant prayed that an investigation be conducted regarding this unfortunate actuation and deplorable behavior as well as respondents double standard attitude. Thereafter, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline issued a resolution suspending respondent from the practice of law for one year considering his clear violation of the prohibition against representing conflicting interest. Issue: Whether or not a formal investigation is mandatory in complaints for disbarment.

Held: In complaints for disbarment, a formal investigation is a mandatory requirement. The court may dispense with the normal referral to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines if the records are complete and the question raised is simple. Similarly, if no further, factual determination is necessary, the court may decide the case on the basis of the extensive pleading on record. Complaints against lawyers for misconduct are normally addressed to the Court. If, at the outset, the Court finds a complaint to be clearly wanting in merit, it out rightly dismisses the case. If, however, the Court deems it necessary that further inquiry should be made, such as when the matter could not be resolved by merely evaluating the pleadings submitted, a referral is made to the IBP for a formal investigation of the case during which the parties are accorded an opportunity to be heard. An ex parte investigation may only be conducted when respondent fails to appear despite reasonable notice. ABANDONMENT OF LAWFUL WIFE AND MAINTAINING ILLICIT RELATIONSHIP AS GROUND FOR DISBARMENT JOVITA BUSTAMANTE-ALEJANDRO VS. ATTY. WARFREDO TOMAS ALEJANDRO and MARICRIS VILLARIN AC No. 4256. February 13, 2004 Facts: Complainant submitted a photocopy of the marriage contract between her and respondent Atty. Alejandro in support of her charge of bigamy and concubinage against the latter and Villarin. She also submitted a photocopy of the birth certificate of a child of the respondent and also stated that they were married in May 1, 1990 in Isabela, Province. The Supreme Court directed respondents to file their comment on the complaint within 10 days but they failed to comply. Copies of the resolution, complaint and its annexes were returned to both respondents unserved with notation moved, same as when served personally. Complainant was required anew to submit the correct, present address of respondents under pain of dismissal of her administrative complaint. She disclosed respondents address at 12403 Develop Drive Houston, Texas in a handwritten letter. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) recommended that both respondents be disbarred. The Supreme Court ordered Atty. Alejandro to be disbarred while the complaint against his co-respondent Atty. Villarin was returned to the IBP for further proceedings or it appears that a copy of the resolution requiring comment was never deemed served upon her as it was upon Atty. Alejandro. Issue: Whether or not abandonment of lawful wife and maintaining an illicit relationship with another woman are grounds for disbarment. Held: Sufficient evidence showed that respondent Atty. Alejandro, lawfully married to complainant, carried on an illicit relationship with co-respondent Atty. Villarin. Although the evidence was not sufficient to prove that he co0ntracted a subsequent bigamous marriage, that fact remains of his deplorable lack of that degree of morality required of him as member of the bar. A disbarment proceeding is warranted against a lawyer who abandons his lawful wife and maintains an illicit relationship with another woman who had borne him a child. We can do no less in this case where Atty. Alejandro even fled to another country to escape the consequences of his misconduct. Therefore, Atty. Alejandro disbarred from the practice of law while the complaint against Atty. Villarin was referred back to the IBP. VIOLATION OF THE CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY; FAILURE OF COUNSEL TO FILE BRIEF BIOMIE SARENAS-OCHAGABIA VS. ATTY. BALMES OCAMPOS

AM No. 4401. January 29, 2004 Facts: Complainant Biomie Sarenas-Ochagabia and her aunts engaged the services of respondent Atty. Balmes Ocampos in a civil case for recovery of possession and ownership of a parcel of land. An adverse decision was rendered against complainants. Atty. Ocampos filed a Notice of Appeal at their behest. The Court of Appeals gave them 45 days from notice to file their brief but Atty. Ocampos was granted a 90-day extension. The extended period lapsed without an appellants brief being filed, hence their appeal was dismissed. The dismissal was not challenged, but complainants filed a complaint contending that respondent violated his duty to inform them of his failure to file appellants brief and of the dismissal of the appeal. Issue: Whether or not respondent has exercised due diligence for the protection of the clients interests. Held: A lawyer engaged to represent a client in a case bears the responsibility of protecting the latters interest with utmost diligence. By failing to file appellants brief, respondent was remiss in the discharge of such responsibility. He thus violated the Code of Professional which states: Rule 12.03 A lawyer shall not, after attaining extensions of time to file pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let the period lapse without submitting the same or offering an explanation for his failure to do so. Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable. That respondent accepted to represent complainants gratis et amore does not justify his failure to exercise due diligence in the performance of his duty. Every case deserves full attention, diligence, and competence regardless of its importance and whether he accepts it for a fee or free. Until his final release from the professional relation with a client, a counsel of record is under obligation to protect the clients interest. If a party has a counsel of record, a court does not recognize any other representation in behalf thereof unless in collaboration with such counsel of record or until a formal substitution of counsel is effected. Since respondent had not then withdrawn as counsel as he in fact filed a motion for extension of time to file brief, he was under obligation to discharge his professional responsibility.

egal Ethics Digests

A. LAWYER
1. Duty to the Court/Negligence of a Lawyer In Re: Vicente Y. Bayani A.C. No. 5307. August 9, 2000 Facts: Atty. Vicente Bayani was the lawyer for the appellant in a criminal case. He failed to submit his proof of service in his appellant's brief which subsequently caused the inability of the appellee to file his own brief. The IBP was order to investigate on the matter and despite

repeated notices, Bayani failed to submit the proof of service and his answer to the IBP's query. Hence, this administrative complaint.

Held: GUILTY. Atty. Bayani's failure to submit proof of service of appellant's brief and his failure to submit the required comment manifest willful disobedience to the lawful orders of the Supreme Court, a clear violation of the canons of professional ethics. It appears that Atty. Bayani has fallen short of the circumspection required of a member of the Bar. A counsel must always remember that his actions or omissions are binding on his clients. A lawyer owes his client the exercise of utmost prudence and capability in that representation. Further, lawyers are expected to be acquainted with the rudiments of law and legal procedure and anyone who deals with them has the right to expect not just a good amount of professional learning and competence but also a whole-hearted fealty to his client's cause. Having been remiss in his duty to the Court and to the Bar, Atty. Bayani was suspended from the practice of law for 3 months and until the time he complies with the Order of the Supreme Court to submit the required proof of service. 2. Duty to Client/Accounting of Clients Money/Negligence
Teodulfo B. Basas vs. Atty. Miguel I. Icawat

A.C. No. 4282. August 24, 2000


Facts: Atty. Miguel Icawat was the lawyer for Teodulfo Basas and some other laborers in their complaint against their employer. The NLRC rendered an adverse decision. Basas and his fellow workers, however, insisted that they appeal the decision. Atty. Icawat, however, failed to file the required memorandum of appeal. Basas filed an administrative complaint, also alleging that Atty. Icawat issued a receipt for an amount less than that which they had paid him. Held: GUILTY. Respondent's failure to file the memorandum of appeal required by the NLRC Rules of Procedure reveals his poor grasp of labor law. Respondent practically admitted that he did not file the memorandum. His failure to file the memorandum clearly prejudiced the interests of his clients. Respondent manifestly fell short of the diligence required of his profession, in violation of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which mandates that a lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence. Rule 18.03 further provides that a lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable. For his failure to issue the proper receipt for the money he received from his clients, respondent also violated Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which states that a lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client. The Court fined Atty. Icawat in the amount of PhP 500, with a warning that a repetition of the same offense or a similar misconduct will be dealt with more severely. 3. Duty of Lawyer to Client/Proper Conduct Teodoro R. Rivera vs. Atty. Sergio Angeles A.C. No. 2519. August 29, 2000 Facts: Atty. Sergio Angeles was the legal counsel of Teodoro Rivera and 2 others in a civil case. Rivera and his 2 co-plaintiffs received a favorable decision. Atty. Angeles received almost PhP 50,000 from one of the defendants in the case as partial fulfillment of the judgement against the latter. Atty. Angeles, however, never told his clients of the amount he had received and never

remitted the same to him, leaving them to discover such fact on their own. Rivera and his coplaintiffs filed an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Angeles. Held: GUILTY. Atty. Angeles was not disbarred but the Court ruled that his act amounted to serious misconduct. The Court has repeatedly stressed the importance of integrity and good moral character as part of a lawyers equipment in the practice of his profession. For it cannot be denied that the respect of litigants for the profession is inexorably diminished whenever a member of the Bar betrays their trust and confidence. The Court is not oblivious of the right of a lawyer to be paid for the legal services he has extended to his client but such right should not be exercised whimsically by appropriating to himself the money intended for his clients. There should never be an instance where the victor in litigation loses everything he won to the fees of his own lawyer. For deceit in dealing with his client, Atty. Angeles was suspended from the practice of law for 1 year. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. vs. Attys. Antonio M. Llorente and Ligaya P. Salayon A.C. No. 4690. August 29, 2000 Facts: Attys. Antonio Llorente and Ligaya Salayon were election officers of the COMELEC and held the position of Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively for the Pasig City Board of Candidates. The respondents helped conduct and oversee the 1995 elections. Then Senatorial candidate Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. alleged that the respondents tampered with the votes received by them by either adding more votes for particular candidates in their Statement of Votes (SoV) or reducing the number of votes of particular candidates in their SoV. Pimentel filed an administrative complaint for their disbarment. Respondents argued that the discrepancies were due to honest mistake, oversight and fatigue. Respondents also argued that the IBP Board of Governors had already exonerated them from any offense and that the motion for reconsideration filed by Pimentel was not filed in time.

Held: GUILTY. Respondents do not dispute the fact that massive irregularities attended the canvassing of the Pasig City election returns. The only explanation they could offer for such irregularities is that the same could be due to honest mistake, human error, and/or fatigue on the part of the members of the canvassing committees who prepared the SoVs. There is a limit, we believe, to what can be construed as an honest mistake or oversight due to fatigue, in the performance of official duty. The sheer magnitude of the error renders the defense of honest mistake or oversight due to fatigue, as incredible and simply unacceptable. Indeed, what is involved here is not just a case of mathematical error in the tabulation of votes per precinct as reflected in the election returns and the subsequent entry of the erroneous figures in one or two SoVs but a systematic scheme to pad the votes of certain senatorial candidates at the expense of the petitioner in complete disregard of the tabulation in the election returns. A lawyer who holds a government position may not be disciplined as a member of the bar for misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a government official. However, if the misconduct also constitutes a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility or the lawyers oath or is of such character as to affect his qualification as a lawyer or shows moral delinquency on his part, such individual may be disciplined as a member of the bar for such misconduct. Here, by certifying as true and correct the SoVs in question, respondents committed a breach of Rule 1.01 of the Code which stipulates that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. By express provision of Canon 6, this is made applicable to lawyers in the government service. In addition, they likewise violated their oath of office as lawyers to do

no falsehood. The Court found the respondents guilty of misconduct and fined them PhP 10,000 each and issued a stern warning that similar conduct in the future will be severely punished.

4. Misrepresentation and Non-payment of IBP Dues Soliman M. Santos, Jr. v. Atty. Francisco R. Llamas
A.C. No. 4749. January 20, 2000 Facts: Complaint for misrepresentation and non-payment of bar membership dues. It appears that Atty. Llamas, who for a number of years now, has not indicated the proper PTR and IBP OR Nos. and data in his pleadings. If at all, he only indicated IBP Rizal 259060 but he has been using this for at least 3 years already. On the other hand, respondent, who is now of age, averred that he is only engaged in a limited practice of law and under RA 7432, as a senior citizen, he is exempted from payment of income taxes and included in this exemption is the payment of membership dues. Held: GUILTY. Rule 139-A requires that every member of the Integrated Bar shall pay annual dues and default thereof for six months shall warrant suspension of membership and if nonpayment covers a period of 1-year, default shall be a ground for removal of the delinquents name from the Roll of Attorneys. It does not matter whether or not respondent is only engaged in limited practice of law. Moreover, the exemption invoked by respondent does not include exemption from payment of membership or association dues. In addition, by indicating IBP Rizal 259060 in his pleadings and thereby misprepresenting to the public and the courts that he had paid his IBP dues to the Rizal Chpater, respondent is guilty of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides: Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. His act is also a violation of Rule 10.01 which provides that: A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; nor mislead or allow the court to be misled by any artifice. Lawyer was suspended for 1 year or until he has paid his IBP dues, whichever is later.

B. JUDGES 1. Gross Ignorance of the Law Improper Imposition of the Punishment of Contempt Flaviano B. Cortes v. Judge Felina Bangalan A.M. No. MTJ-97-1129. January 19, 2000
Facts: Complainant was one of the co-accused in an adultery case filed before the sala of respondent Judge Bangalan. In a letter-complaint, he moved for the voluntary inhibition of

respondent judge on the ground that the latter cannot be impartial over the criminal case because complainant previously filed an opposition to the appointment of respondent as RTC judge. For this, respondent judge issued an order citing Complainant in direct contempt of court, averring further that his pleading contained derogatory, offensive or malicious statements "equivalent to misbehavior committed in the presence of or so near a court or judge as to interrupt the proceedings before the same within the meaning of Rule 71. When complainant appealed said order in the same court, after posting a notice of appeal, respondent judge ordered him to submit a record on appeal. Upon failure to do so, respondent judge issued a warrant of arrest against Complainant for which he was arrested and jailed for 1 day with a fine of P10.00. Thus, Complainant charges respondent judge with gross ignorance of the law, oppressive conduct and abuse of authority when the latter held him in contempt of court on account of the statements he made in his letter-complaint which statements, complainant insists, are absolutely privileged in nature. Complainant further alleges that he filed a notice of appeal from the order of contempt but respondent directed him to submit a record on appeal despite the fact that the same is not required under the rules. Held: GUILTY. Judge B was fined in the amount equivalent to 1-month salary with a stern warning that a repetition of the same shall be dealt with more seriously. The Court said that while it is true that the complainant attached the administrative letter-complaint in his letter for respondent judge to inhibit in the criminal case, it was used merely to support his contention in his motion for inhibition. A judge is bound never to consider lightly a motion for his inhibition that questions or puts to doubt, however insignificant, his supposed predilection to a case pending before him. Furthermore, the alleged offensive and contemptuous language contained in the letter-complaint was not directed to the respondent court. A judge may not hold a party in contempt of court for expressing concern on his impartiality even if the judge may have been insulted therein. While the power to punish in contempt is inherent in all courts so as to preserve order in judicial proceedings and to uphold the due administration of justice, judges, however, should exercise their contempt powers judiciously and sparingly, with utmost restraint, and with the end in view of utilizing their contempt powers for correction and preservation not for retaliation or vindication. Anent the charge of gross ignorance of the law in requiring complainant to submit a record on appeal, we find the respondent judge's order to be not it accord with the established rule on the matter. Contempt proceedings is not one of those instances where a record on appeal is required to perfect an appeal. Thus, when the law is elementary, so elementary, not to know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law.

Payment of Docket Fees in Election Cases


Alfredo B. Enojas v. Judge Eustaquio Z. Gacott, Jr. A.M. No. RTJ-99-1513. January 19, 2000 Facts: Judge Gacott is being administratively charged in this case with serious misconduct, inefficiency and gross ignorance of the law. This complaint arose when respondent Judge dismissed an election case on the ground of non-payment of docket fees, although the case was had been previously admitted and was deemed properly filed by the original Judge (inhibited himself due to relationship to ones of the parties) whom Judge Gacott replaced.

Jugde G issued the dismissal order relying on a case (Manchester vs. CA) which states that - a case is deemed commenced only upon the payment of the proper docket fees. To his opinion, the required fees in this case was not yet paid by the protestant. Hence, this complaint charging him primarily with gross ignorance of the law. Held: GUILTY. Based on the facts and circumstances attendant to the case, the election protest was properly filed. In fact, the original Judge already made an order that from the deposit given by the protestant for the expenses of reopening the questioned ballots, an amount shall be allocated for the payment of the required fees. More importantly, the Court held that the Manchester ruling relied upon by respondent Judge does not apply to election cases. In a latter case ( Pahilan), the evil sought to be avoided in the Manchester case does not exist in election cases. Truth is, the filing fee in an election case is fixed and the claim for damages, to which the docket fees shall be made to apply, is merely ancillary to main cause of action and is not even determinative of the courts jurisdiction. While it is true that not every error or mistake of a judge renders him administratively liable, in this case, it is clear that the respondent judge was in utter disregard of established rules amounting to gross ignorance of the law. The Pahilan case was decided long before the respondent made a ruling on the election case. Thus, the respondent judge was duty bound to adhere to, and apply the recent ruling, and he cannot feign ignorance thereof, because the Code of Judicial Ethics requires him to be an embodiment of, among other things, judicial competence. On e of the principal duties of a judge is to be abreast with law and jurisprudence since the administration of justice requires continuous study of the law and jurisprudence. A perusal of the challenge order reveals that respondent judge failed to live up to what is expected of him as a dispenser of justice.

Granting of Bail
Romulo Tolentino v. Judge Policarpio S. Camano, Jr. A.M. RTJ-00-1522 January 20, 2000

Facts: Respondent Judge is being charged with gross ignorance of the law, grave abuse of discretion, grave abuse of authority, violation of Canons 1, 2, and 3 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics and incompetence in connection with granting bail to the accused in a criminal case for child abuse. The complaint alleges that respondent Judge granted bail while pending the holding of a preliminary investigation. The defense moved to quash the information against the accused on the alleged absence of a preliminary investigation. Consequently, respondent Judge ordered that a preliminary investigation be had by the state prosecutor. During the pendency of this, he granted bail in favor of the defendant after several notices of hearing to the state prosecutor to which the latter failed to appear. After such grant, complainant herein now accuses respondent of denying the prosecution the chance to adduce evidence to show that the guilt of the accused was strong and that bail should not have been granted in his favor.
Held: NOT GUILTY. There was no denial of due process. It was not necessary to hold hearing so that the prosecution could show that evidence of guilt of the accused was strong since a preliminary investigation had been ordered by the court. At that point, bail was still a matter of right. Respondent judge, knowing that bail was indeed a matter of right at that stage, nevertheless set the hearing for the petition for bail four times. However, complainant failed to appear and present evidence to show that the guilt of the accused was strong. It thus appears that complainant is actually the one who was remiss in the performance of his duties.

Considering that the case was referred to the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor for preliminary investigation, the accused could be considered as entitled to bail as a matter of right. Thus, respondent judges decision granting bail to the accused was proper and in accordance with law and jurisprudence.

Issuance of an Order of Release


Jesusa Santiago vs. Judge Eduardo Jovellanos Margarita Sanchez vs. Judge Eduardo Jovellanos A.M. No. MTJ-00-1289. August 1, 2000 Facts: Jesusa Santiago and Margarita Sanchez were complainants in two different criminal cases before the MTC of San Ildefonso, Bulacan and the RTC of Rosales, Pampanga, respectively. The suspects in each of the criminal cases were caught by authorities and detained. However, both suspects were released by order of Judge Eduardo Jovellanos, presiding judge of the MCTC of Alcala-Bautista, Pangasinan. The complainants questioned both Orders for Release issued by Judge Jovellanos, alleging that the requirements for the bailbond had not been fulfilled and that the said judge had no jurisdiction to order the release. Held: GUILTY. There are two defects in the Orders for Release signed by Judge Jovellanos. First, in both cases, the detainees had not registered the bailbond in accordance with the Rules of Criminal Procedure. One may not be given provisional liberty if the bailbond is not registered with the proper office. Secondly, Judge Jovellanos did not have jurisdiction to order the release of the detainees. The Rules of Criminal Procedure provide that when a suspect is arrested outside of the province, city or municipality where his case is pending, he may either apply for bail with the court where his case is pending or with any RTC in the province, city or municipality where he was arrested. If a RTC judge is not available, he may apply for bail with any MTC or MCTC in the place where he was arrested. In this case, Judge Jovellanos entertained motions for bail and ordered release for suspects whose cases were not pending in his court nor were they arrested within his jurisdiction. As an advocate of justice and a visible representation of the law, a judge is expected to keep abreast with and be proficient in the interpretation of our laws. A judge should be acquainted with legal norms and precepts as well as with statutes and procedural rules. Unfamiliarity with the Rules of Court is a sign of incompetence which goes against Canon 3, specifically Rule 3.01, of the Code of Judicial Conduct. Having accepted the exalted position of a judge, Judge Jovellanos owes the public and the court he sits in proficiency in the law. He must have the basic rules at the palm of his hands as he is expected to maintain professional competence at all times. Judge Jovellanos was suspended for 1 year without pay issued the warning that similar conduct in the future shall be dealt with more severely.

Grant of a Motion for Reconsideration Gloria Lucas v. Judge Amelia A. Fabros


A.M. No. MTJ-99-1226. January 31, 2000

Facts : Complainant Lucas was the defendant in an ejectment case pending before respondent judge. She alleges that Judge Fabros granted the plaintiffs motion for reconsideration after the case had been dismissed the case for failure of plaintiff and her counsel to appear at the Preliminary Conference. She averred that it is elementary, under

Section 19(c) of the Rules of Summary Procedure, that a motion for reconsideration is prohibited, but respondent judge, in violation of the rule, granted the motion for reconsideration. She added that, notwithstanding the fact that the respondent herself had pointed out in open court that the case is governed by the Rules on Summary Procedure, the judge ordered the revival of the case out of malice, partiality and with intent to cause an injury to complainant. Thus, the instant complaint, charging respondent judge with Gross Ignorance of the Law and Grave Abuse of Discretion
Held: NOT GUILTY. The SC held that respondent judge not guilty of gross ignorance of the law and grave abuse of discretion. As a rule, a motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading under Section 19 of the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure. This rule, however, applies only where the judgment sought to be reconsidered is one rendered on the merits. Here, the order of dismissal issued by respondent judge due to failure of a party to appear during the preliminary conference is obviously not a judgment on the merits after trial of the case. Hence, a motion for the reconsideration of such order is not the prohibited pleading contemplated under Section 19 (c) of the present Rule on Summary Procedure. Thus, respondent judge committed no grave abuse of discretion, nor is she guilty of ignorance of the law, in giving due course to the motion for reconsideration subject of the present

Imposition of Proper Penalty


Felicidad Dadizon vs. Judge Aniceto Lirios A.M. No. MTJ-00-1295. August 1, 2000 Facts: Felicidad Dadizon was the complainant in a prosecution for Falsification of a Public Document (Art. 172, RPC) which was tried and decided by Judge Aniceto Lirios of the MTC of Naval, Biliran. Judge Lirios convicted the accused, Pablo Suzon, and sentenced him to a straight penalty of 7 months imprisonment and imposed a PhP 1,000 fine. Dadizon questioned the punishment meted by the said judge, alleging that the straight penalty of 7 months is way below the penalty provided by law. Judge Lirios defended his decision, stating that he had to appreciate the mitigating circumstance that Suzon was already 70 years of age. Held: GUILTY. As judge of thirty-three (33) years, respondent should have known that the Indeterminate Sentence Law provides for the imposition of a prison sentence in the minimum and maximum term for offenses punishable by the Revised Penal Code or the special laws. The offense committed was Falsification by a Private Individual and Use of Falsified Document punishable under Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code which provides for a penalty of imprisonment of prision correccional in its medium and maximum periods (ranging from 2 years, 4 months and 1 days to 6 years) and a fine of not more than Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00). Respondent Judge appreciated one (1) mitigating circumstance (old age), which is merely an ordinary mitigating circumstance. The imposition of a straight penalty of seven (7) months by respondent Judge is clearly erroneous. While a judge may not always be subjected to disciplinary action for every erroneous order or decision he renders, that relative immunity is not a license to be negligent or abusive and arbitrary in performing his adjudicatory prerogatives. It is true that a judge may err in fixing the minimum and maximum terms of an indeterminate sentence. However, the unawareness of or unfamiliarity with the application of the Indeterminate Sentence Law and duration and graduation of penalties merit disciplinary action from reprimand to removal. Every judge should know that in applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law for offenses penalized under the Revised Penal Code, the indeterminate

sentence should have a fixed minimum and maximum. And when the law is so elementary, not to know it or to act as if one does not know it constitutes gross ignorance of the law. Judge Aniceto Lirios was fined in the amount of PhP 5,000 and issued stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely by the Court.

Application of Rules of Procedure


Alfonso C. Ortiz vs. Judge Alex L. Quiroz A.M. No. MTJ-00-1259 August 4, 2000 Facts: Alfonso Ortiz initiated a criminal complaint against Inocencia Hernandez for malicious mischeif and grave threats. The case was assigned to Judge Alex Quiroz, presiding judge of Branch 69 of the MTC of Pasig City. Before trial, however, Judge Quiroz ruled that the case would be governed by ordinary rules of procedure rather than the summary rules of criminal procedure because the case fell within the exceptions in P.D. 1508. Ortiz filed an administrative complaint against Judge Quiroz, arguing that the summary rules not the ordinary rules should be followed for his case. Held: GUILTY. Under the Revised Penal Code, grave threats is penalized with imprisonment of 1 month and 1 day to 6 months (arresto mayor) and a fine not exceeding PhP 500, if the threat is not subject to a condition (Article 282). Malicious mischief, on the other hand, is penalized with imprisonment of 2 months and 1 day to 6 months (arresto mayor in its medium and maximum periods) if the value of the damage caused exceeds PhP 1,000 (Article 329). In this case, the alleged damage to complainant was estimated to be PhP 50,000. Thus, the subject criminal cases should have been tried under the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure, considering that such rule is applicable to criminal cases where the penalty prescribed by law for the offense charged is imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding PhP 1,000 or both, irrespective of other imposable penalties, accessory or otherwise or of the civil liability arising therefrom [Section 1 B(4), Revised Rule on Summary Procedure]. Respondent judge, therefore, erred in applying the ordinary rules of procedure instead of the rules of summary procedure. A judge has a duty to exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with the statutes and procedural rules. In fact, the Code of Judicial Conduct mandates that judges must be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence. He must have the basic rules at the palm of his hand and be proficient in the interpretation of laws and procedural rules. Judge Quiroz was reprimanded, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act would be dealt with more severely.

Issuance of a Writ of Execution


Teresita Jason vs. Judge Briccio Ygana A.M. No. RTJ-00-1543. August 4, 2000 Facts: Teresita Jason was the defendant in an ejectment case before the MTC of Pasig City. Having received an adverse judgement, Jason appealed the decision to Branch 153 of the RTC of Pasig City, presided by Judge Briccio Ygana. Respondent judge affirmed the decision of the MTC and subsequently issued a Writ of Execution for the judgement. The Sheriff of Branch 153 executed upon some personal properties of Jason and gave a Notice to Vacate. Jason filed an administrative complaint against Judge Ygana, arguing that the Writ of Execution should have been issued by the court of origin and not the appellate court.

Held: GUILTY. The case should have been remanded back to the MTC for execution. The rule is that if the judgment of the metropolitan trial court is appealed the regional trial court and the decision of the latter is itself elevated to the Court of Appeals, whose decision thereafter become final, the case should be remanded through the regional trial court to the metropolitan trial court for execution. The only exception is the execution pending appeal which is not evident from the records of this case. A judge is called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules; it is imperative that he be conversant with basic legal principles. Canon 4 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics requires that the judge should be studious of the principles of law. Canon 18 mandates that he should administer his office with due regard to the integrity of the system of the law itself, remembering that he is not a depository of arbitrary power, but a judge under the sanction of law. Judge Ygana was fined PhP 10,000 for gross ignorance of the law.

Conducting Hearings for Probation


Carlos B. Creer vs. Judge Concordio Fabillar A.M. No. MTJ-99-1218. August 14, 2000 Facts: Respondent Judge Concordio Fabillar, acting presiding judge of the 9th MCTC of Giporlos-Quinapundan, Eastern Samar, convicted Carlos Creer of grave coercion. Creer appealed the conviction to the RTC where it was affirmed. Creer subsequently filed a Motion for Reconsideration. Creer was then apprehended and jailed by order of Judge Fabillar. Creer alleged that respondent judge made him sign an application for probation which the said judge denied. The RTC subsequently reversed the conviction of Creer and ordered his release. Creer filed an administrative complaint against Judge Fabillar, charging the latter with gross ignorance of the law for conducting hearings for probation despite his pending appeal. Held: GUILTY. The rule is that no application for probation shall be entertained or granted if the defendant has perfected the appeal from the judgment of conviction. At the time complainant applied for probation, an appeal had already been perfected. Although respondent Judge eventually denied the application, the fact still remained that he had acted on it by asking the probation officer to conduct a post-sentence investigation instead of outrightly denying the same as so explicitly mandated by the law. Observance of the law, which he is bound to know and sworn to uphold, is required of every judge. When the law is sufficiently basic, a judge owes it to his office to know and to simply apply it; anything less than that would be constitutive of gross ignorance of the law. Judge Fabillar was suspended from service for 6 months without pay and ordered to pay a PhP 20,000 fine. He was further warned with the most severe penalty for another infraction by him. Order of Acquittal Fredesminda Dayawon v. Judge Maximino A. Badilla A.M. No. MTJ-00-1309. September 6, 2000 Facts: Ms. Fredesminda Dayawon charged Judge Maximino A. Badilla of the Municipal Trial Court of Pili, Camarines Sur, with "Gross Ignorance of the Law and Incompetence" relative to Criminal Case for estafa. Complainant averred that respondent Judge acquitted the accused and declared her to only be liable civilly, despite Alamos admittance in open court that she had received the subject goods from complainant to be sold on commission basis with the obligation to remit the

proceeds of the sale or to return the items, if unsold, but had failed to comply seasonably therewith despite demand. Complainant stressed that these admissions, together with the finding that the accused had acted in bad faith, were clearly sufficient to convict the accused of the crime of estafa. Held: GUILTY. A judge is called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules; so long as he remains on the bench, it is imperative that he continues to be conversant with the basic law and maintain the desired professional competence. The Court finds it fit, however, to reduce the recommended fine of P5,000.00 to P2,000.00 considering that no nefarious motive on the part of respondents judge has been shown. Issuance of Hold Departure Order Re: Hold-Departure Order Dated August 9, 1999 Issued by Judge Salvador B. Mendoza, MCTC, Poro-San Francisco-Tedela-Pilar, Poro, Cebu Office of the Court Administrator v. Judge Salvador B. Mendoza A.M. No. 00-1281-MTJ. September 14, 2000 Facts: MTC Judge Mendoza issued a Hold Departure Order in Criminal Case No. T-1806, entitled "People of the Philippines v. Arnie Pena Osabel." pending before him in the Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Poro-San Francisco-Tedela-Pilar, Poro, Cebu. The Secretary urged the Court Administrator to look into the fact that the order in question was issued in violation of Supreme Court Circular No. 39-97 dated June 19, 1997. Held: GUILTY. Circular No. 39-97 limits the authority to issue hold-departure orders to the Regional Trial Courts in criminal cases within their exclusive jurisdiction. Canon 3, Rule 3.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct exhorts judges to be "faithful to the law and maintain professional competence." The Court has not been remised in reminding judges to exert diligent efforts in keeping abreast with developments in law and jurisprudence. Needless to state, the process of learning the law and the legal system is a never-ending endeavor, hence, judges should always be vigilant in their quest for knowledge so they could discharge their duties and responsibilities with zeal and fervor.

2. Habitual Tardiness Antonio Yu-Asensi vs. Judge Francisco D. Villanueva


A.M. No. MTJ-00-1245. January 19, 2000 Facts: Complainant charges Judge Villanueva for serious misconduct and/or inefficiency particularly violating the Canons of Judicial Ethics on promptness and punctuality. Judge V had been consistently late for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours during scheduled hearings, thus delaying the cause of complainant where he was the plaintiff in a reckless imprudence case. Due to his tardiness, C's lawyer had also been compelled to extend trial even beyond the prescribed period provided for by law.

Held: GUILTY. Habitual tardiness amounts to serious misconduct and inefficiency in violation of the Canons of Judicial Ethics. Several SC Circulars have been issued which enjoin judges to be punctual in the performance of their judicial duties, recognizing that the time of litigants, witnesses, and attorneys are of value, and that if the judge is not punctual in his habits, he sets a bad example to the bar and tends to create dissatisfaction in the administration of justice. Furthermore, Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct mandates: "A judge shall dispose of the court's business promptly and decide cases within the required periods."

3. Gross Inefficiency and Duty/Liability over Court Personnel


Atty. Martin Pantaleon v. Judge Teofilo Guadiz A.M. No. RTJ-00-1525 January 25, 2000

Facts: In this case, respondent Judge is charged with Gross Inefficiency, Neglect and Delay in Elevating the Records of Civil Case No. 88-2187, to which the complainant was the plaintiffs counsel. After receiving an adverse decision, complainant filed a Notice of Appeal within the reglementary period and consequently, respondent Judge issued an order for the transmittal of the records of the case to the appellate court. However, despite constant follow-up by counsel, three years have passed and the records of the case have not been transmitted. In his Answer, respondent judge contends that the court stenographer misplaced the transcript of the testimony of one of the witnesses, hence the record could not be transmitted to the Court of Appeals. He further averred that complainant should have invited his attention by filing the proper motion or by writing a personal letter informing him of the non-transmittal of the records within three months from the date of his order of transmittal.
Held: GUILTY. A judge cannot hide behind the incompetence of his subordinates. He should be the master of his own domain and take responsibility for the mistakes of his subjects. The non-transmission of the records by reason of inefficiency of the staff cannot exonerate respondent judge from administrative liability. As administrative officer of the court, a judge is expected to keep a watchful eye on the level of performance and conduct of the court personnel under his immediate supervision who are primarily employed to aid in the administration of justice as required by Canon 3, Rule 3.09 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. In the case of Re: Judge Fernando Agdamag, the Court stated: he (judge) sits not only to judge litigated cases with the least possible delay but that his responsibilities include being an effective manager of the court and its personnel. He is presumed to be cognizant of his responsibilities as a worthy minister of the law. At the very least, he is expected to keep abreast with his docket. Certainly, a delay of three years in the transmission of court records to the appellate court, where only a period of 30 days is required, is inexcusable.

Acting Judge Reynaldo B. Bellosilo v. Dante dela Cruz Rivera, Sheriff III, Branch 34, Metropolitan Trial Court, Quezon City

A.M. No. P-00-1424. September 25, 2000

Dante dela Cruz Rivera, Sheriff III, Branch 34, Metropolitan Trial Court, Quezon City vs. Acting Judge Reynaldo B. Bellosilo, Branch 34, Metropolitan Trial Court, Quezon City. A.M. No. MTJ-00-1316. September 25, 2000
Facts: Sheriff Dante Rivera allegedly falsified his Personal Data Sheet. For this, respondent Judge accused him of dishonesty and subsequently prevented him from reporting for work. Afterwhich, respodent Judge filed an administrative complaint against the sheriff. Held: GUILTY. A judge has no authority or power to prevent an employee from reporting for work. If indeed complainant Rivera committed falsification in the accomplishment of his personal data sheet, the most that Judge Bellosillo could have done was to file an administrative charge against complainant Rivera, which he later on did but after the complainant Rivera filed an administrative charge against him (Judge Bellosillo) for conduct unbecoming. While a judge may have supervision over his employees, he should not however exercise his authority over them in an oppressive or despotic manner. Judge Bellosillo should have realized that it is the Supreme Court which has the authority to discipline/dismiss his subordinate. The most that he can do is merely to file an administrative complaint against the erring employee. 4. Impartiality and Impropriety of a Judge Issuance of Conflicting Orders Daniel & Suprema Dumo v. Judge Romeo V. Perez A.M. No. MTJ-00-1242 January 20, 2000

Facts: Spouses Dumo filed this administrative complaint against respondent Judge Perez for gross ignorance of the law, grave abuse of discretion and patent partiality. Respondent MTC Judge issued a Writ of Execution to enforce the decision of a case involving quieting of title and recovery of ownership of real property. However, said writ was returned unsatisfied because the herein complainants was the actual owners and occupants of the questioned property without being impleaded in the original case. Subsequently, respondent Judge issued an order stating that complainants shall not be affected by said writ because they were not made parties to the case. Despite such order, he moved on to issue a Writ of Possession in favor of the original plaintiff (Espinas). As a consequence, Espinas used such Writ of Possession against the herein complainants in order to eject them from their property and deprived them from the enjoyment of the same. The crux of this controversy therefore is the issuance of respondent Judge of conflicting orders, which according to complainants, showed patent partiality over Espinas, the original plaintiff in the case for quieting of title.
Held: GUILTY. First of all, respondent Judge is guilty of ignorance of the law. As a municipal trial court judge, he obviously had no jurisdiction over the action for quieting of title and recovery of ownership filed by Espinas against the original defendants. It must be stressed that the case was NOT for ejectment over which MTCs have original jurisdiction, but for quieting of title and/or ownership falling within the exclusive jurisdiction of regional trial courts. The question of jurisdiction if so basic and elementary a matter that a judges ignorance of it is simply inexcusable. Secondly, the judges act of issuing conflicting orders is likewise inexcusable. After declaring that the Writ of Execution cannot be made enforceable against herein complainants as

they were not made parties to the case, he reversed himself nevertheless by issuing the Writ of Possession. Under said writ of possession, it was patent that he was contradicting his previous ruling by ordering therein to eject all adverse occupants, which of course, was so broad to affect all persons including herein complainants. The issuance of said writ gave rise to the suspicion of partiality or bias in favor of Espinas. The presumptions of regularity and good faith in the performance of judicial functions on respondents part are negated by the circumstances of record. While a judge cannot be made liable for any criminal, civil, or administrative charge for an erroneous decision rendered in good faith and in the absence of fraud, it is imperative that he should have basic knowledge of the law. Judges must keep abreast of the laws and jurisprudence to be able to render justice and maintain public confidence in our legal system. More importantly, judges should not only be impartial but should also appear impartial. Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct provides that: a judge should also avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities. A judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. (Rule 2.01, Canon 2). Leopoldo G. Dacera, Jr. vs. Judge Teodoro A. Dizon A.M. No. RTJ-00-1573. August 2, 2000 Facts: Leopoldo Dacera, Jr. was the complainant in a prosecution for Qualified Theft filed with Branch 37 of the RTC of General Santos City with Judge Teodoro Dizon presiding. The prosecutor later filed a Motion to Dismiss on the grounds that Dacera had executed and signed an Affidavit of Desistance from pursuing the prosecution. Dacera, however, opposed the Motion to Dismiss, alleging that Judge Dizon had unduly influenced him to sign the Affidavit of Desistance and that he had not been fully appraised of the consequences of his actions in doing so. The Supreme Court assigned an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals to investigate into the matter. Held: NOT GUILTY. The investigation did not find any conclusive evidence that Judge Dizon was personally biased in favor of either party in the disposition of the case in question. It must be noted that respondent judge did not actually dismiss the case upon motion of the prosecutor and even voluntarily inhibited himself upon motion of Dacera to disqualify him. However, the investigation did reveal that Judge Dizon had made telephone calls to Dacera and even had discussions with him inside his chambers in order to verify the truth about the Affidavit of Desistance. While there is no clear proof of malice, corrupt motives or improper considerations, the acts of respondent in calling and meeting with the complainant still leave much to be desired and are deserving of reprimand. A judge is not only required to be impartial; he must also appear to be impartial. Fraternizing with litigants tarnishes this appearance. Canon II of the Code of Judicial Conduct basically provides that judges should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities and should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. It is clear that the acts of the respondent judge have been less than circumspect. He should have kept himself free from any appearance of impropriety and should have endeavored to distance himself from any act liable to create an impression of indecorum. The complaint filed by Dacera against Judge Dizon, Jr., was dismissed for lack of merit. However, respondent Judge was admonished to refrain from making calls to any parties-litigant and/or counsel with cases pending in his sala and sternly warned that a repetition of the same will be dealt with more severely. William R. Adan vs. Judge Anita Abucejo-Luzano

A.M. No. MTJ-00-1298. August 3, 2000 Facts: William Adan was the complainant in 2 criminal cases for Grave Oral Defamation tried and decided by Judge Anita Abucejo-Luzano of the MCTC of Lopez Jaena, Misamis Occidental. Respondent judge convicted the accused and sentenced them accordingly. Upon Motion for Reconsideration, however, respondent judge reversed her decision and rendered a judgement for acquittal. Adan questioned the reversal of the conviction, alleging that Judge AbucejoLuzano had modified her judgement because having received new information from the accused, she conducted a personal ocular inspection of the place where the crime was committed without the presence of the parties involved.

Held: GUILTY. Respondent Judge should have known that an ex-parte ocular inspection without notice to nor presence of the parties and after the case had already been decided was highly improper. If respondent Judge had entertained doubts that she wished to clarify after the trial had already terminated, she should have ordered motu proprio the reopening of the trial for the purpose, with due notice to the parties, whose participation therein is essential to due process. Thus, it is error for the judge to go alone to the place where the crime was committed and make an inspection without previous knowledge or consent of the parties. The conduct of the ex-parte inspection, the result of which apparently influenced her to reconsider her earlier decision, was highly improper as she, in effect, admitted additional evidence without giving the prosecution a chance to object to its introduction or to controvert the same. Her actions show an ignorance of the law and proper procedure to be followed for a situation such as this. Furthermore, respondent judge has opened herself to charges of partiality and bias by meeting with the accused privately. No matter how noble her intentions may have been, it was improper for respondent judge to meet the accused without the presence of complainant. Respondent Judge has failed to live up to the norm that judges should not only be impartial but should also appear impartial. She thus violated Canon 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which provides that a judge should avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities. Judge Abucejo-Luzano was fined PhP 10,000 and issued a stern warning that any similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely.

5. Gross Misconduct amounting to Violation of a Constitutional Right/ Serious/Grave Misconduct


Atty. NapoleonS. Valenzuela v. Judge Reynaldo Bellosillo A.M. No. MTJ-00-1241 January 20, 2000 Facts: Respondent Judge is being charged with gross violation of the constitutional right of subject accused to assistance by counsel of her own choice, gross misconduct, oppression, partiality and violation of the Code of Judicial Ethics. In a BP 22 case, Judge allegedly granted bail to the accused despite not being accompanied and represented by her counsel at that time. It appears that Judge granted bail without the assistance of the counsel of record, Atty. Valenzuela and he even suggested that the latter should be replaced by another counsel. Aghast by such decision, Atty. V filed his

Notice of Withdrawal, in conformity with his clients decision, Meriam Colapo. Subsequently, he filed the instant administrative complaint against respondent Judge. To support his position, he attached an Affidavit allegedly executed by his client Colapo. However, during the hearing of the case, he failed to present Colapo as Witness as she was allegedly out of the country although she was willing to testify at that time. Held: NOT GUILTY. On the issue of granting bail without the assistance of counsel, the Court held that it was valid and sufficiently based on the Manifestation filed by Atty. Valenzuela. With regard to the alleged act of respondent Judge suggesting to the accused that she should change her counsel (complainant Atty. V) and recommending a different lawyer, the Court found that the evidence adduced by the complainant was insufficient to substantiate the charges against him. The only evidence offered by complainant was the Affidavit of his client Meriam Colapo, and it cannot be the basis of a finding of guilt even in an administrative case. The complainants failure to present his principal witness, in the absence of other evidence to prove his charges was fatal and said Affidavit cannot be given credence and is inadmissible without the said affiant being placed on the witness stand. The employment or profession of a person is a property right within the constitutional guaranty of due process of law. This applies also to Judges. Respondent judge cannot therefore be adjudged guilty of the charges against him without affording him a chance to confront the said witness, Meriam Colapo. Otherwise, his right to due process would be infringed. Erlinda Sy vs. Danilo Norberte

A.M. No. 00-1398-P. August 1, 2000


Facts: In her civil case versus Antoinetta Galvez, complainant Erlinda Sy obtained a writ of preliminary attachment against all properties of the former. She alleged, however, that respondent Danilo Norberte, Sheriff of Branch 125 of the RTC of Kalookan City, tipped off Galvez about the said writ. She further alleged that Norberte actively assisted Galvez in the removal of her personal property from the latter's residence. Sy filed a complaint with Branch 125 of the RTC of Kalookan City which was submitted for investigation. Held: GUILTY. The investigation revealed that Norberte was positively identified and seen by the complainant Sy and 2 other witnesses in the act of helping Galvez remove her personal property from her residence. Norberte's alibi did not prove to be credible. The offense of serious or grave misconduct refers to such misconduct that shows the element of corruption, clear intent to violate the law or flagrant disregard of established rules. In tipping off and assisting Galvez, Norberte's actions are an attempt to circumvent a valid court order. Even if Norberte did not tip off Galvez, his mere presence at the scene is punishable. Being an officer of the Court, respondent sheriff should have refrained from actuations though innocent and in good faith which may result in suspicion of impropriety and may consequently taint the good image of the judiciary. The nature and responsibilities of officers of the judiciary are not mere idealistic sentiments but true working standards and attainable goals that should be matched with actual deeds. They are expected to serve with the highest degree of responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency and to conduct themselves with propriety and decorum at all times. Norberte was suspended for 1 month without pay and issued the warning that similar conduct in the future will be punished more severely. In Re: Procedure adopted by Judge Daniel Liangco (A.M. No. 99-11-158-MTC. August 1, 2000)

Facts: RTC Judge Pedro Sunga of San Fernando, Pampanga received information about irregularities in the disposition of jueteng cases before the MTC's of the said region. Upon investigation, Judge Sunga discovered that of the 55 jueteng cases filed in July 1999, 53 were assigned to Branch 1 of the MTC of San Fernando presided by Judge Daniel Liangco. Noting that statistical improbability that 53 out of 55 jueteng cases should be assigned to only 1 Branch, Judge Sunga demanded a written explanation as to how such a situation had come about. In his letter, Judge Liangco explained that it has been his practice to automatically take over all jueteng cases without the need for raffling. The reason he cited is that the accused in such cases are deprived of their liberty and that by automatically assigning these cases to his branch, the accused can file motions for bail and the same can be entertained immediately without waiting for the raffle. In short, because of the need for provisional liberty, all jueteng cases are considered to be automatically raffled to his branch so that he may entertain motions for bail and the accused can be immediately released upon filing of the bond. The Supreme Court ordered further investigation of the case and placed Judge Liangco on preventive suspension. Held: GUILTY. Judge Liangco clearly violated Supreme Court Circular No. 7 which provides: "All cases filed with the Court in stations or groupings where there are two or more branches shall be assigned or distributed to the different branches by raffle. No case may be assigned to any branch without being raffled." There is no connection at all between respondents alleged desire to facilitate the release of such accused on bail and his questionable act of retaining the records of the cases for direct assignment to his own sala. For after granting bail to the accused, his alleged purpose of immediately extending provisional liberty to the accused shall already have been served. There is thus no need or justification to retain the records of the cases and consider them raffled off to his own sala. The questioned acts of respondent Judge Liangco constitute a clear breach of his duty as a judge. The Code of Judicial Conduct mandates that: A judge should so behave at all times as to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Respondent judges manner of automatically assigning jueteng cases to its own branch without the benefit of raffle, casts doubt on his integrity as a judge and erodes the confidence of the people in the judicial system. A judges official conduct and his behavior in the performance of judicial duties should be free from the appearance of impropriety and must be beyond reproach. Judge Liangco was suspended from service for 6 months without pay and issued the warning that similar conduct in the future shall be dealt with more severely. 6. Neglect of Duty/Abuse of Authority

Zenaida S. Beso v. Judge Juan Daguman


A.M. No. MTJ-99-1211. January 28, 2000 Facts: In a Complaint-Affidavit dated December 12, 1997, Zenaida S. Beso charged Judge Juan J. Daguman, Jr. with solemnizing marriage outside of his jurisdiction and of negligence in not retaining a copy and not registering the marriage contract with the office of the Local Civil Registrar. In his comment, the respondent judge alleged that the marriage of the complainant had to be solemnized in Calbayog City though outside his territory as municipal Judge of Sta. Margarita, Samar because : 1) physically indisposed and unable to report to his station in Sta. Margarita; 2) complainant said she had to fly abroad that same day; 3) that for the parties to go to another

town for the marriage would be expensive and would entail serious problems of finding a solemnizing officer and another pair of witnesses or sponsors; 4) if they failed to get married on August 28, 1997, complainant would be out of the country for a long period and their marriage license would lapse and necessitate another publication of notice; 5) if the parties go beyond their plans for the scheduled marriage, complainant feared it would complicate her employment abroad. Held: GUILTY. The authority of a judge to solemnize marriage is only limited to those municipalities under his jurisdiction. Clearly, Calbayog City is no longer within his area of jurisdiction. Additionally, there are only three instances, as provided by Article 8 of the Family Code, wherein a marriage may be solemnized by a judge outside his chamber[s] or at a place other than his sala, and the circumstances of this case do not fall in any of these exceptions. Moreover, as solemnizing officer, respondent Judge neglected his duty when he failed to register the marriage of complainant to Bernardito Yman. Such duty is entrusted upon him pursuant to Article 23 of the Family Code which provides:

"It shall be the duty of the person solemnizing the marriage to furnish either of the contracting parties the original of the marriage certificate referred to in Article 6 and to send the duplicate and triplicate copies of the certificates not later than fifteen days after the marriage, to the local civil registrar of the place where the marriage was solemnized. xxx" Lastly, a judge is charged with exercising extra care in ensuring that the records of the cases and official documents in his custody are intact. There is no justification for missing records save fortuitous events. The records show that the loss was occasioned by carelessness on respondent Judges part. This Court reiterates that judges must adopt a system of record management and organize their dockets in order to bolster the prompt and efficient dispatch of business. It is, in fact, incumbent upon him to devise an efficient recording and filing system in his court because he is after all the one directly responsible for the proper discharge of his official functions.
7. Prompt Disposition of Cases/ Inefficiency/Abuse of Authority State Prosecutor Romulo Tolentino vs. Judge Nilo Malanyaon A.M. No. RTJ-99-1444. August 3, 2000 Facts: Judge Nilo Malanyaon, presiding judge of Branch 30 of the RTC of Camarines Sur, dismissed 5 separate criminal cases for lack of evidence and also refused to issue warrants of arrest on the ground of lack of probable cause. Acting State Prosecutor for Camarines Sur Romulo Tolentino assailed the orders for dismissal and the refusal to issue the warrants for arrest alleging that Judge Malanyaon had abused his authority and knowingly rendered unjust orders. Tolentino also complained that several motions had been filed before respondent judge and have yet to be resolved and decided upon. Issues: (1) Did Judge Malanyaon exercise grave abuse of discretion and act in excess of jurisdiction in dismissing the criminal cases? (2) Was Judge Malanyaon guilty of unreasonable delay for failing to act on the motions filed by State Prosecutor Tolentino?

Held: (1) NO. The allegations that respondent judge had violated Canons 1, 2 and 3 of the Canons of Judicial Conduct are without merit. Good faith and absence of malice, corrupt or improper consideration are sufficient defenses protecting a judicial officer charged with ignorance of the law and promulgation of an unjust decision from being held accountable for errors of judgment on the premise that no one called upon to try the facts or interpret the law in the administration of justice can be infallible. There is no proof of grave abuse of discretion. These charges were dismissed by the Court. (2) YES. The motions/incidents were left unacted upon from 3 to 5 months and were still pending when the administrative complaint was filed against respondent. Respondent should be aware of his duties as an arbiter of justice. Under Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, a judge shall dispose of the court's business promptly and decide cases within the required periods. While the prosecutor in this case is not without fault, the respondent cannot escape responsibility for his inaction of the pending motions before him. Even assuming arguendo that the various motions filed by the prosecutor were considered to be mere scraps of paper or without merit, the judge must nevertheless resolve on those matters promptly by granting or denying them. It is the duty of the judge to rule upon the motions filed before him even if his actions are merely to deny them. Respondent judge was found guilty for his failure to resolve pending motions and/or incidents and, accordingly, a penalty of reprimand was imposed upon him with the warning that a repetition of the same or similar violation will be dealt with a more severe penalty by the Court. Juan Luzarraga vs. Hon. Amaro M. Meteoro A.M. No. 00-1572. August 3, 2000 Facts: Juan Luzarraga was the plaintiff in a civil case assigned to Branch 41 of the RTC of Camarines Norte. After the said plaintiff had rested his case and presented his evidence, the case was transferred to the newly-created Branch 64 of the RTC of Camarines Norte, presided by Judge Amaro Meteoro. It was only 2 years later that Judge Meteoro proceeded with the presentation of the defendant's evidence. The case was finally submitted for decision a year later. After an elapse of more than 7 months without a decision on the case, Luzarraga filed an administrative complaint against Judge Meteoro. Respondent judge pleaded for the understanding and compassion of the Court, citing that his branch had more than 300 cases pending before it, that he had trouble recruiting and training competent personnel and that he had suffered a stroke. Held: GUILTY. More than one year had already elapsed since the submission of the case and respondent Judge has not decided the same despite the Motion for Early decision filed the complainant. The Court has consistently held that the failure of a judge to decide a case within the required period is not excusable and constitutes gross inefficiency and non-observance of said rule is a ground for administrative sanction against the defaulting judge. Rule 3.05 of Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct admonishes all judges to dispose of the court's business promptly and to decide cases within the periods fixed by law. The failure to render a decision within the 90-day period constitutes serious misconduct in derogation of the speedy administration of justice. When circumstances arise that would prevent the judge from disposing a case within the reglementary period, all that he has to do is to file an application with the Court asking for a reasonable extension of time within which to resolve the case. However, the record of this administrative matter does not show that respondent made an attempt to make such a request. Instead, he preferred to keep the case pending, thereby inviting suspicion that something sinister or corrupt is afoot. That he was burdened with a heavy case load and is a stroke victim, serve only to mitigate the penalty, not to exonerate him. Judge Meteoro was fined P20,000 with the warning that a repetition of the same shall be dealt with more severely. He

was further directed to decide the subject case within a non-extendible period of 30 days from receipt of resolution, and to submit to the Office of the Court Administrator a copy of his decision within 10 days from promulgation thereof. Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted in the RTC, Branches 87 and 98, Quezon City A.M. No. 99-11-423-RTC. August 16, 2000 Facts: On September 15 to 17, 1999, the Office of the Court Administrator conducted an audit and physical inventory of pending cases in Branches 87 and 98 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, presided over by Judge Elsie Ligot-Telan and Judge Justo M. Sultan, respectively. The audit team reported that Judge Ligot-Telan had a well-managed docket. Judge Sultan, however, was a different story. Of the 57 cases submitted for decision, 34 were already beyond the reglementary period, some of which involve detention prisoners. It was observed that the said branch gave the least preference to cases submitted for decision, and it has no effective docket system and recording of cases. In fact, the Branch Clerk of Court had not submitted the required docket and inventory of cases for a number of years. Records did not show that Judge Sultan ever requested for an extension of time within which to decide the cases submitted before him. Held: GUILTY. The Court reiterates that failure to decide cases within the required period is inexcusable and constitutes gross inefficiency which is a ground for administrative sanction against the defaulting judge, either by a fine or suspension from the service, depending on factors that tend to aggravate or mitigate his liability. This is in accordance with the mandate that the judge shall dispose of the business of the court promptly and decide cases within the prescribed periods. Conformably, the rules require the courts to decide cases ready for decision within 3 months from date of submission. The Court is not unmindful of the Herculean task trial judges are faced with the perennial clogged dockets of the lower courts. However, this should not be an excuse for them to abdicate their duty to dispense justice. Judges must adopt a system of record management and organize their dockets in order to bolster the prompt and efficient dispatch of business. Furthermore, if the caseload of the judge prevents the disposition of cases within the reglementary periods, he should ask this Court for a reasonable extension of time to dispose of the cases involved. This is to avoid or dispel any suspicion that something sinister is going on. The Court fined Judge Sultan PhP 20,000 to be taken from his retirement benefits. Dominga D. Quillal-Lan vs. Judge Alicia L. Delos Santos A.M. No. MTJ-00-1269. August 24, 2000 Facts: The daughter of complainant Dominga Quillal-Lan was the defendant in a Forcible Entry case before Judge Alicia Delos Santos of the MTC of Digos, Davao del Sur. The complainant alleges that respondent judge failed to decide the case within the mandatory 30-day period as provided by the Rules on Summary Procedure. Judge Delos Santos avers that she was on sick leave and therefore could not be expected to decide upon the case within the said period.

Held: GUILTY. There is no doubt that a case of Forcible Entry falls within the Rules of Summary Procedure and as stated therein, must be decided within 30-days. Respondent should have rendered judgment in the forcible entry case before she went on leave. Delay in the disposition of cases covered by the Revised Rule on Summary Procedure defeats the very purpose of said rule, which is the expeditious and inexpensive determination of cases. Failure to decide such cases on time renders the rationale for the rule meaningless and

inutile. Respondent appears to be remiss in her duties as judge when she failed to render judgment in the case as mandated by the rules. Under Rule 3.05 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, she is required to dispose of the courts business promptly and to decide cases within the required time frame. We have time and again reminded judges to comply with the rules regarding the period to decide cases, in pursuance of the Courts oft-repeated policy of speedy disposition of quality justice for all. Judge Delos Santos was fined PhP 1,000 and issued a warning that similar conduct in the future will be dealt with more severely.
Cob C. Dela Cruz v. Judge Rodolfo M. Serrano A.M. No. RTJ-00-1582. September 4, 2000

Facts: Complainant contends, among others, that it took one (1) year and five (5) months instead of three months to render a decision in civil case. The civil case was submitted for decision on April 1996, but the decision thereon was only promulgated on October 8, 1997.
Held: GUILTY. It is not disputed that it took respondent Judge one (1) year and five (5) months, after Civil Case No. 908 was submitted for decision, to decide it which is way beyond the threemonth period mandated by the Constitution. Section 15 (1) of Article VIII of the Constitution provides that all cases filed before the lower courts must be decided or resolved within three (3) months from date of submission. The Code of Judicial Conduct likewise provides that a judge should administer justice impartially and without delay [Rule 1.02.] and directs a judge to dispose of the courts business promptly and decide cases within the required periods. [Rule 3.05.] It is an oft-repeated maxim that justice delayed is often justice denied. Thus, any delay in the administration of justice may result in depriving the litigant of his right to a speedy disposition of his case and will ultimately affect the image of the judiciary. A delay in the disposition of cases amounts to a denial of justice, brings the court into disrepute and ultimately erodes public faith and confidence in the judiciary.

Rolando Sulla v. Hon. Rodolfo C. Ramos A.M No. MTJ-00-1319. September 27, 2000
Facts: Dr. Rolando A. Sulla charging respondent Judge Rodolfo C. Ramos, presiding judge of the Municipal Trial Court of Jaro, Leyte, with unreasonable delay or refusal to render a decision in criminal Case No. 8121. The case was submitted for decision in April 1997. But as of May 21, 1999, date of complainants letter, and despite constant requests for its early resolution, respondent Judge Ramos has not rendered any decision in the said case.

Held: GUILTY. This Court has consistently impressed upon judges the need to decide cases promptly and expeditiously pursuant to Rule 3.05, Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct and Section 15(1) and (2), Article VIII of the Constitution. Judges are presumed to be aware of Rule 3.01 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which calls for a judge to be faithful to the law and maintain professional competence. Rule 3.05 admonishes all judges to dispose of the courts business promptly and decide cases within the period fixed by law.
8. Negligence/Incompetence of a Judge Norma Esguerra vs. Judge Guillermo Loja

A.M. No. RTJ-00-1523. August 15, 2000


Facts: Norma Esguerra was the complainant in a criminal case for Falsification of a Public Document tried before Judge Guillermo Loja of Branch 26 of the RTC of Manila. Complainant alleged that Judge Loja failed to decide the case within the 90-day reglementary period and further accused him of falsifying his certificate of service in order to make it appear that he had decided the case. Judge Loja countered by stating that he had indeed decided upon the case but rather, the decision was just not dated. Held: GUILTY. A careful study of the facts shows that Judge Loja is guilty only of SIMPLE NEGLIGENCE and not of the administrative complaint filed against him. There is no clear proof that the respondent judge falsified his certificate of service simply because his decision was dated. Even assuming that there was a slight delay in deciding the case, it must be taken into consideration that Judge Loja has a heavy case load (almost 800 cases pending) and that this is the first offense by a judge who provided long and consistent service to the Judiciary. The Court fined Judge Loja PhP 2,000 and issued a warning that similar conduct in the future will be more severely punished. 9. Duty of Court Employees Marta Bucatcat v. Edgar Bucatcat and Gene Jaro A.M. No. P-93-985. January 28, 2000 Facts:Marta T.Bucatcat (complainant) charged her husband, Edgar Y. Bucatcat, and Gene S. Jaro (respondents), Court Interpreter respectively, of the Third Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Gandara, Samar, with immorality. Complainant avers that she is the legal wife of respondent Bucatcat. She claims that respondents are having an illicit relationship with each other. Moreover, respondents allegedly have two (2) children together and that respondent Jaro, at the time of the filing of the letter-complaint, was pregnant with their third child. Held: GUILTY. There is sufficient evidence to hold respondents liable for immorality for maintaining an illicit relationship with each other. Every employee of the judiciary should be an example of integrity, uprightness and honesty. Like any public servant, he must exhibit the highest sense of honesty and integrity not only in the performance of his official duties but in his personal and private dealings with other people, to preserve the courts good name and standing. It cannot be overstressed that the image of a court of justice is mirrored in the conduct, official and otherwise, of the personnel who work thereat, from the judge to the lowest of its personnel. Court employees have been enjoined to adhere to the exacting standards of morality and decency in their professional and private conduct in order to preserve the good name and integrity of courts of justice. Respondents DISMISSED from service.

JUNE 1998-1999
A. JUDGES 1. Good Faith in Rendering Decisions

Atty. Antonio T. Guerrero v. Hon. Adriano Villamor (296 SCRA 88)

Facts: Carlos and his counsel, Guerrero, charged respondent with gross ignorance of the law and knowingly rendering an unjust judgment after they lost a civil and a criminal case tried by respondent. They were also thwarted on appeal. However, in the pleadings before the CA, they used abusive language in describing the respondents acts, hence, respondent judge cited them for direct contempt, which was later set aside by the SC.
Held: Case dismissed. The order of direct contempt may only be considered as an error of judgment. A judge may not be administratively charged for mere errors of judgment, in the absence of showing of any bad faith, malice or corrupt purpose. Moreover, judges cannot be held to account criminally, civilly, or administratively for an erroneous decision rendered by them in good faith.

Impartiality Re: Inhibition of Judge Eddie R. Rojas (292 SCRA 306)


Facts: Atty. Rojas was appointed a judge. One of the criminal cases he inherited was one in which he acted as prosecutor. He explained that his delay in inhibiting himself from presiding on that case was because it was only after the belated transcription of the stenographic notes that he remembered that he handled that case. He also says that the counsels did not object and he never held full-blown hearings anyway.
Held: Judge is filed & reprimanded. The Rules of Court prevent judges from trying cases where they acted as counsel without the consent of the parties. This prevents not only a conflict of interest but also the appearance of impropriety on the part of the judge. A judge should take no part in a proceeding where his impartiality might reasonably be questioned. He should administer justice impartially & without delay. The prohibition does not only cover hearings but all judicial acts (e.g. orders, resolutions) some of which Judge Rojas did make.

Carlito D. Lazo v. Judge Antonio V. Tiong (300 SCRA 214) Facts: Judge Tiong was accused of failing to inhibit himself in a criminal case because he was related within the fourth degree of affinity to the accused. The judge claims he did so in the hopes that his presence would allow the parties to settle amicably.
Held: Judge reprimanded. A judge should take no part in a proceeding where his impartiality might reasonably be questioned. Also, Rule 137, Rules of Court, provides that no judge or judicial officer shall sit in any case in which he, inter alia, is related to either party within the sixth degree pf consanguinity or affinity, or to counsel within the fourth degree computed according to the rules of the civil law. Under this provision, the Presiding Judge is mandated to disqualify himself from sitting in a case. He cannot exercise his discretion whether to inhibit himself or not. 2. Speedy Administration of Justice

Baltazar D. Amion v. Judge Roberto S. Chiongson (301 SCRA 614) Facts: A is a policeman charged with murder. During the trial, J ordered that he be represented by counsel de officio because As attorney was ill. A then charged J with

ignorance of the law & oppression because the fact that the counsel de officio did not know the particulars of the case meant that A would be denied due process. Held: Complaint dismissed. The Code of Judicial Conduct mandates that a judge should administer justice impartially and without delay. A judge should always be imbued with a high sense of duty & responsibility in the discharge of his obligation to promptly administer justice. In this case, the reason J appointed a FLAG lawyer was because As lawyer had postponed several hearings because he was ill or out of town. Also, A had various lawyers during the said case who always postponed the hearings for various reasons such as illness, lack of knowledge of the case or unavailability for trial. These are all legal but clearly dilatory means used by the complainant to delay the case for 4 years. J should be commended for his efforts to expedite the case. Fe T. Bernardo v. Judge Amelia A. Fabros (307 SCRA 28) Facts: B accused F of inaction in an unlawful detainer case for 7 months when the rules on summary procedure call for a decision in 30 days. F does not deny the inaction but says B has no standing as she is only the attorney-in-fact of the plaintiffs to the civil case.
Held: FINED. Judges must decide cases expeditiously, especially in summary proceedings. She should either ask for additional time to decide or devise an efficient filing system to expedite decision. Finally, standing or personal interest of the complainant is immaterial in administrative cases which involves the public good.

Dolores Gomez v. Judge Rodolfo A. Gatdula (293 SCRA 433) Facts: Gomez is the complainant in 2 different criminal cases before Judge Gatdula. When she petitioned the SC to change the venue of 1 of the cases, Respondent suspended the scheduled hearings in both cases. When required by the SC to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him, he delayed his comment thereto. He eventually explained that the suspension of hearing was made because the request for change of venue was pending in the SC.
Held: Judge Gatdula acted vindictively & oppressively, apparently irked by the request of petitioner. He need not have suspended both hearings as the change of venue only involved one case. His delay in commenting on the change of venue also effectively delayed both cases by 5 months. His acts are not free from the appearance of impropriety, let alone beyond reproach, as required by Canon 3 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics.

Re: Cases Left Undecided by Judge Narciso M. Bumanlag, Jr. (306 SCRA 50) Facts: Upon retirement, B left 7 criminal and 3 civil cases undecided within the 90-day period required by section 15, Article VIII of the Constitution. He said his failure was due to a serious illness.
Held: FINED. Members of the bench have a duty to administer justice without undue delay. Failure to do so within the reglementary period constitutes a neglect of duty warranting administrative penalties. If hindered by illness, a judge should inform the Office of Court Administrator and ask for additional time to decide in order to avoid the sanctions. However, if

there is no malice or bad faith, and the judge is prevented by factors beyond his control, the penalty will be mitigated.

Re: Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted in the Regional Trial Court Branch 24, Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur; Branch 2, Isabela, Basilan; and Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Labason, Zamboanga del Norte (303 SCRA 208) Facts: Judge Apostol had a backlog of 280 cases. Also, there had been no actions on 268 other cases assigned to him. Judge says he has constant medical problems and no legal researchers to help him. These and the peace and order problems in his locality prevent him from expediting.
Held: Fined for gross neglect of duty. The Code of Judicial Conduct provides that a judge should administer justice without delay and dispose of the courts business promptly and decide cases within the reglementary periods. If his health problems were preventing him from doing his duty, he should have retired early so a healthier successor could act on the case load.

Re: Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted in the RTC, Branch 68 of Camilang, Tarlac (305 SCRA 61) Facts: Judge R was due for compulsory retirement. The OCA found that he had many pending cases, some of which were undecided beyond the 90-day period.
Held: FINED but penalty mitigated. Rule 3.05 of Canon 3 enjoins all judges to attend promptly to the business of the court and decide cases within the time fixed by law. A judge is mandated to render judgment not more than ninety (90) days from the time the case is submitted for decision. Failure to render the decision within the prescribed period of ninety (90) days from submission of a case for decision constitutes serious misconduct and gross inefficiency. However, since after being reminded of this, Judge R cleared most of his docket (even those not overdue for decision) before retiring, the fine is mitigated.

Atty. Raula A. Sanchez v. Judge Augustine A. Vestil (298 SCRA 1) Facts: Complainant charged RTC Judge Vestil with falsifying his monthly certificate of service submitted to the SC by stating that he has no pending case submitted for decision or resolution that has gone beyond the NINETY (90) day period allowed by law when in fact there were numerous civil & criminal cases which the respondent failed to resolve within the said period. Respondents say most of the cases were either inherited & substantially heard by other judges, or that they require further study or whose stenographic notes were yet to be transcribed and these are excepted from being included the certificate by a proviso contained therein.
Held: Respondent Judge suspended and fined. Judges are mandated to decide cases seasonably. Judges who cannot comply with such mandate should ask for additional time, explaining in their request the reasons for the delay. Neither the proviso nor the fact that notes are to be transcribed is a valid defense for not deciding within the required time. The SC has consistently held that the failure of a judge to decide a case within the required period is not excusable and constitutes gross inefficiency & the non-observance of said rule is ground for administrative sanction against the defaulting judge.

B. LAWYERS 1. Assisting in the Speedy Administration of Justice

Eternal Gardens Memorial Park Corporation vs. Court of Appeals (293 SCRA 622) Facts: Judgment was rendered against the petitioner ordering it to reconvey the cemetery to the rightful owners. Despite the final decision of the SC, petitioner was able to prevent the execution for 17 years, and thus render the judgment ineffectual. They filed several petitions and motions for reconsideration with the trial court and the CA despite the fact that it would never prosper as the trial courts decision had long become final before the said petitions were filed. Held: Petition denied. While lawyers owe their entire devotion to the interest of the client and zeal in the defense of their clients right, they are also officers of the court, bound to exert every effort to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. They should not misuse the rules of procedure to defeat the ends of justice or unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a judgment or misuse court processes. The facts and the law should advise them that a case such as this should not be permitted to be filed to merely clutter the already congested judicial dockets. They do not advance the cause of law or their clients by commencing litigations that for sheer lack of merit do not deserve the attention of the courts.

Duty to Protect Clients Interest Development Bank of the Philippines and Asset Privitization Trust v. Court of Appeals and Continental Cement Corporation (302 SCRA 362)
Facts: CCC filed an injunction suit to prevent the DBP and APT from foreclosing on its mortgages. During trial, DBP & APT were unable to appear for cross-examining CCCs witnesses because the respective counsels were unprepared, unavailable or ill. The lower court decided this as a waiver, hence judgment was rendered for CCC. DBP & APT filed this petition alleging denial of due process. Held: Petition denied. There can be no denial of due process where a party had the opportunity to participate in the proceedings but did not do so. Counsel for APT was absent on several occasions because of withdrawal of previous counsel, unreadiness to conduct the cross-examinations and serious illness. The withdrawal of APTs previous counsel in the thick of the proceedings would be a reasonable ground to seek postponement of the hearing. However, such necessitates a duty on the part of the new counsel to prepare himself for the next scheduled hearing. The excuse that it was due to the former counsels failure to turn over the records of the case to APT, shows the negligence of the new counsel to actively recover the records of the case. Counsel should have taken adequate steps to fully protect the interest of his client, rather than pass the blame on the previous counsel. A motion to postpone trial on the ground that counsel is unprepared for trial demonstrates indifference and disregard of his clients interest. A new counsel who appears in a case in midstream is presumed and obliged to acquaint himself with all the antecedent processes

and proceedings that have transpired prior to his takeover. Also, even if counsel had been ill with dengue, he chose not to notify his co-counsels who could have conducted the crossexamination.
2. Falsehood/Forum-shopping/Dilatory Tactics

Ban Hua U. Flores v. Atty. Enrique S. Chua (306 SCRA 465) Facts: Chua was charged with many offenses. The evidence was found to support the charges that he notarized a forged deed of sale, that he caused to be published an advertisement of a SEC decision in order to bring ridicule and shame upon a corporation, that he filed a civil case knowing that the reliefs he prayed for were probably granted in the SEC case thus belying his certification against forum shopping. He has also been previously reprimanded for bribing a judge and for consistently using dilatory tactics to prolong a litigation. Held: DISBARRED. He has thus violated Rules 10.01, 12.02, 12.04 (foisting or commission of falsehood, forum-shopping and causing in court proceedings), Canon 19 (failing to resort to lawful means in representing his client), 27, 3.01 and 13.02 (causing undue publication of a pending action). He had an active role in committing fraud since he falsely stated that the person making the deed of sale appeared before him and stated that the same was his free act and deed- when evidence shows the signature was forged; also, he prolonged a family dispute by using dilatory tactics and placing an advertisement in order to ridicule his opponents in violation of Rule 1.04 that lawyers should encourage their clients to end a controversy by a fair settlement. A lawyer must uphold the integrity of the profession. He brings honor to it by honesty and fair dealing and by performing his duties to society, the bar, the courts and his clients.
3. Good Moral Character

Tomas Cabulisan v. Judge Adrian N. Pagalilauan (297 SCRA 593) Facts: Cabulisan filed an administrative complaint against respondent for grave misconduct committed as follows : (1) peeping into the bathroom where Marilyn C. Dumayas, a public health nurse, and daughter of the owner of the house where he was boarding, was then taking a bath; (2) having a mistress in the neighboring town; and (3) allowing local practitioners to write decisions for him.
Held: Respondent filed for voyeurism, other charges dismissed for lack of evidence. People who run the judiciary, particularly justices and judges, must not only be proficient in both the substantive and procedural aspects of the law, but more importantly, they must possess the highest degree on integrity and probity and an unquestionable moral uprightness both in their public and private lives. By committing the acts in question, respondent violated the trust reposed in him and utterly failed to live up to the noble ideals and rigid standards of morality required in the judicial profession.

Victoriano P. Resurreccion v. Atty. Ciriaco C. Sayson (300 SCRA 129)

Facts: respondent was accused of having appropriated for his own benefit the amount of P 2, 5000.00 representing the amount which was delivered by the Resurreccion to the respondent as compensation or settlement money of a case for homicide thru reckless imprudence. Sayson did not turn over the amount to his client, the Complainant in the criminal case, forcing Resurreccion to pay the same amount again. Sayson was later convicted for estafa.
HELD: SAYSON DISBARRED. GOOD MORAL CHARACTER IS NOT ONLY A CONDITION PRECEDENT TO ADMISSION TO THE LEGAL PROFESSION, BUT IT MUST ALSO REMAIN EXTANT IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN ONES GOOD STANDING IN THAT EXCLUSIVE AND HONORED FRATERNITY. ACTS OF MORAL TURPITUDE (I.E. DONE CONTRARY TO JUSTICES, HONESTY & GOOD MORALS) SUCH AS ESTAFA OR FALSIFICATION RENDER ONE UNFIT TO BE A MEMBER OF THE LEGAL PROESSION. ALSO, SAYSONS ACTS OF DELAYING THE HEARINGS BEFORE THE OSG AND THE IBP REINFORCE THIS VIEW. 4. ABUSE OF AUTHORITY

Rosalia Villaruel, et al v. Grapilon, et al: In the Matter of the Petition to Remove Atty. Jose A. Grapilon as President, IBP (302 SCRA 138) Facts: G was accused of 16 IBP employees who sought his removal as IBP President for: Immorality, questionable disbursements of funds, dishonesty, failure to turn over IBP donations from private individuals, refusal to turn over records and money pertaining to the Employees Loan Savings Association, Appropriation of Office Property, Extending loans to IBP employees, oppression/harassment, appointment of unworthy employees and relatives and organization of a secret society. The issue regarding legal ethics is whether the SC can assume jurisdiction or should it be considered a labor dispute under the jurisdiction of the NLRC. Held: Charges dropped. All the accusations of the petitioners were either unsubstantiated or refuted by controverting evidence. As to the issue of jurisdiction, the SC has previously assumed administrative jurisdiction over the IBP president. If the petitioners allege that the IBP terminated them as an act of reprisal and with malice or bias, this would constitute gross abuse of authority and serious misconduct warranting the use of the SCs supervisory powers over the IBP. Lastly, even if there was no wrongful act, G is ordered to transfer the funds of the savings and loan association to an account in their name to prevent the appearance and suspicion of impropriety.
5. GROSS IGNORANCE OF THE LAW

Jesus Conducto vs. Judge Iluminado C. Monzon (291 SCRA 619) Facts: Respondent judge was charged with gross ignorance of the law. He refused to suspend the mayor due to criminal charges against the latter for the crime of unlawful appointment. The judge opined that an official cannot be suspended for something that has

happened in a previous term. Settled jurisprudence says this only applies to administrative, not criminal cases.
Held: Fined for P5000. While judges should not be disciplined for inefficiency on account merely of occasional mistakes or errors of judgment, it is imperative that they be conversant with basic legal principles. A judge is called upon to exhibit more than just cursory acquaintance with the statutes and procedural rules; it is imperative that he be conversant with the basic legal principles and aware of well-settled and authoritative doctrines. Also, if he did the act deliberately, he violated Canon 18 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics directs a judge to administer his office with due regard to the integrity of the system of the law itself, remembering that he is not a depository of arbitrary power, but a judge under the sanction of law. An RTC judge cannot overturn a settled doctrine laid down by the Supreme Court, otherwise, litigation would be endless. 6. GROSS IMMORAL CONDUCT Julieta B. Narag vs. Atty. Dominador M. Narag (291 SCRA 451)

Facts: Atty. Narags spouse filed a petition for disbarment in the IBP alleging that her husband courted one of his students, later maintaining her as a mistress and having children by her. Atty. Narag claims that his wife was a possessive, jealous woman who abused him and filed the complaint out of spite. IBP disbarred him, hence, this petition.
Held: Narag failed to prove his innocence because he failed to refute the testimony given against him and it was proved that his actions were of public knowledge and brought disrepute and suffering to his wife and children. Good moral character is a continuing qualification required of every member of the bar. Thus, when a lawyer fails to meet the exacting standard of moral integrity, the Supreme Court may withdraw his or her privilege to practice law. (Canons 1&7, Rule 7.03, Code of Ethics for Lawyers) It is not only a condition precedent to the practice of law, but a continuing qualification for all members. Hence when a lawyer is found guilty of gross immoral conduct, he may be suspended or disbarred. Grossly immoral means it must be so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree or committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the common sense of decency. As a lawyer, one must not only refrain from adulterous relationships but must not behave in a way that scandalizes the public by creating a belief that he is flouting those moral standards.

Remedios Tapucar vs. Atty. Lauro L. Tapucar (293 SCRA 331) Facts: Respondent was previously dismissed as CFI judge for maintaining and cohabiting with his mistress. Despite this, he later married the same woman and had children with her. He even made statements displaying contempt for the SC and mocking the law and said court. Petitioner, his lawful wife, filed a letter-complaint for disbarment against her husband. IBP disbarred him. Held: Disbarred (ratio is the same as the Narag case). A judge is a visible representation of the law and, more importantly of justice. Ordinary citizens consider him as a source of strength that fortifies their will to obey the law. A judge should avoid the slightest infraction of the law in all actuations, lest it be a demoralizing example to others. Likewise, an attorney

is also invested with public trust. As officers of the court, lawyers must ensure the faith and confidence of the public that justice is administered with dignity and civility. A high degree of moral integrity is expected of a lawyer in the community where he resides. The Court may disbar or suspend a lawyer for misconduct whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, in honesty, probity, and good demeanor, thus proving unworthy to continue as an officer of the court. The power to disbar, however, is one to be exercised with great caution and only in a clear case of misconduct which seriously affects the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and a member of the bar. Keeping a mistress, entering into another marriage while a prior one subsists, as well as abandoning and/or mistreating complainant and their children, show his disregard of family obligations, morality and decency, the law and the lawyers oath. Such gross misbehavior over a long period of time clearly shows a serious flaw in respondents character, his moral indifference to scandal in the community, and his outright defiance of established norms.
GROSS MISCONDUCT

Erlinda Alonto-Frayna v. Judge Abdulmajid Astih (300 SCRA 199) Facts: Judge Asith did not act on the case of the herein complainant for over 2 years despite the orders and directives of the Office of the Court Administrator to resolve it without delay. In addition, when asked to explain his actions before the SC, respondent failed to reply.
Held: A Judge who deliberately and continuously refuses to comply with the resolution of the SC is guilty of gross misconduct & insubordination. It is gross misconduct & even without outright disrespect for the SC for the respondent judge to exhibit indifference to the resolutions requiring him to comment on the accusations contained in the complaint against him. Furthermore, failure to render a decision beyond the 90 day period from its submission constitutes serious misconduct to the detriment of the honor & integrity of his office & in derogation of a speedy administration of justice.

Romulo F. Manuel v. Judge Demetrio d. Calimag (307 SCRA 657) Facts: M charged C with selling him a stolen car, for which he was arrested.
Held: CASE DISMISSED. No evidence to substantiate the charges. The SC also said that to warrant dismissal for misconduct, it must be shown that the misconduct is serious and has a direct relation to his official duties amounting to misadministration, or intentional neglect and failure to discharge said duties. The judicial acts complained of must be so corrupt or inspired by an intention to violate the law.

Felicidad L. Oronce, et al. v. Court of Appeals, et. al. (298 SCRA 133) Facts: During a dispute over land, Flaminiano illegally took possession of the property in litigation using abusive methods. She was aided by her husband, a lawyer. The illegal entry took place while the case was pending in the CA & while a writ of preliminary injunction was in force.

Held: Atty. Flaminianos acts of entering the property without the consent of its occupants & in contravention of the existing writ or preliminary injunction & making utterances showing disrespect for the law & this Court, are unbecoming of a member of the Bar. Although he says that they peacefully took over the property, such peaceful take-over cannot justify defiance of the writ of preliminary injunction that he knew was still in force. Through his acts, he has flouted his duties as a member of the legal profession. Under the Code of Professional Responsibility, he is prohibited from counseling or abetting activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system. Re: Leaves of Absence Without Approval of Judge Eric T Calderon, Municipal Trial Court Judge of Calumpit, Bulacan (302 SCRA 92) Facts: Administrative case against Judge C for incurring leaves of absence for an almost straight period of 3 years. His excuse is that he was suffering from a lingering illness of malignant hypertension. However, despite the fact that medical certificates were presented in his favor, most were made by his personal doctor (an orthopedic doctor). Also, the tests given by the Court physician contradict the diagnosis given by his doctor.
Held: Guilty of gross misconduct and abandonment of office, judge dismissed. Judge C should have been more conscious of his court duties, as well as more cautious of his actuations, than he has shown in the performance of his functions and the discharge of his responsibilities to the Court and the citizenry. Further, he should have been aware that, in frequently leaving his station, he has caused great disservice to many litigants and has denied them speedy justice. From the record it could be fairly concluded that he had habitually abandoned his sala for no justifiable excuse at all. The doctrine of res ipsa loquitor , that the Court may impose its authority upon erring judges whose actuations, on their face, would show gross incompetence, ignorance of the law, or misconduct, is patently applicable to the instant case. Republic of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals (296 SCRA 171)

Facts: Petitioner filed a case for recission against the Quetulios and Abadillas alleging that the former sold the land that had already been expropriated. The Quetulios did not file an answer, but at the hearing on the motion for default, co-defendant Hernando was permitted by the judge to appear as counsel for the defendants and file an answer.
Held: Case reinstated. Evidently, when respondent Hernando appeared before the trial court and filed the Answer/Motion to dismiss, he was still under suspension from the practice of law. A suspended lawyer, during his suspension, is certainly prohibited from engaging in the practice of law, and if he does so, he may be disbarred. The reason is that, his continuing to practice the profession during his suspension constitutes a gross misconduct and a willful disregard of the suspension order, which should be obeyed though how erroneous it may be until set aside. IMPROPRIETY

Flaviano B. Cortes v. Judge Emerito M. Agcaoili (249 SCRA 423) Facts: Respondent was charged with impropriety and gross ignorance of the law. In a case for illegal logging, he dismissed the case and returned illegally cut timber to the defendants

because the search warrant was invalid. He was also seen in eating and drinking in the company of said defendants, and this supposedly influenced his decision.
Held: Judge Agcaoili is fined and suspended. Respondent erred in returning the seized articles even though the warrant was invalid, illegal articles (illegally cut lumber) are not returned to the possessor. He also violated Canon 2, Rule 2.01 of the Code of Judicial Ethics i.e. to avoid impropriety or even or even the appearance of impropriety. Even though it was not proven that he was influenced by the defendants (the dismissal was proper), he should not have fraternized with litigants who had a pending case before him. To do so erodes public confidence in the integrity and independence of the judiciary. A judge must avoid even the semblance of impropriety.

Carlos Dionisio v. Hon. Zosimo V. Escano (302 SCRA 411) Facts: E posted an advertisement for waitresses and singers to work at his restaurant at the RTC bulletin board. He also conducted interviews for this in his sala. He was later caught when a reporter from Hoy Gising! taped an interview which revealed that he intended to operate a drinking pub with scantily clad waitresses.
Held: SUSPENDED. Rules 2.00, 5.02 and 5.03 provide that a judge should avoid impropriety and even the appearance of impropriety. He should also refrain from financial and business dealings that tend to reflect adversely on the courts impartiality, interfere with the proper performance of judicial activities, or increase involvement with lawyers and litigants. He should also manage financial interests so as to minimize the number of cases giving grounds for disqualification. Finally, the halls of justice should not be used for unrelated purposes.

Benalfre J. Galang v. Judge Abelardo H. Santos (307 SCRA 582) Facts: S was a judge and the publisher/columnist for a tabloid; he was also a writer for another paper. G charges him with using his columns to ventilate his views. He has repeatedly used insulting and inflammatory language against the governor and the provincial prosecutor and legal adviser.
Held: JUDGE DISMISSED. While S has the right to free speech, his writing of vicious editorials compromise his duties as judge in the impartial administration of justice. They reflect both on his office and on the officers he ridicules. The personal behavior of a judge in his professional and everyday life should be free from the appearance of impropriety. Improper conduct erodes the public confidence in the judiciary.

Benjamin Sia Lao vs. Hon. Felimon C. Abelila III (295 SCRA 267) Facts: in a family dispute over a parcel of land, respondent judge committed acts of forcible entry, attempted to deny complainant of possession despite a lease in the latters favor. He also gave firearms to his men in order to assault complainants workers. Respondent also fled from police when called in for questioning.
Held: Respondent DISMISSED. A judge is the visible representation of the law and the embodiment of the peoples sense of justice and that, accordingly, he should constantly keep himself away from any act of impropriety, not only in the performance of his official duties but

also in his everyday actuations. No other position exacts a greater demand on moral righteousness and uprightness of an individual than perhaps a seat in the judiciary. A judge must be the first to abide by the law and to weave an example for the others to follow.

Spouses Benedicto & Rose Godinez v. Hon. Antonio Alano and Sheriff Alberto Ricardo Alano (303 SCRA 259) Facts: G charged A with committing irregularities in a civil case for sum of money. In said case, a writ of preliminary attachment was issued and the effects seized were kept in Judge As house. The court investigator found that the writ was improperly issued because the allegations of fraud and attempts to abscond in the affidavit were bare assertions and not substantiated by the facts.
Held: FINED. The writ was issued in error. But in order to merit a disciplinary sanction, the error or mistake committed by a judge should be patent, gross, malicious, deliberate, or done in bad faith. Absent a clear showing that the judge has acted arrantly, the issue becomes judicial in character and would not properly warrant the imposition of administrative punishment. Judge A is fined for storing the effects in his house and their intent to charge storage fees. Judges should avoid impropriety of the appearance of impropriety.

Gregorio & Teresita Lorena v. Judge Adolfo Encomienda (302 SCRA 632) Facts: Spouses Lorena were evicted from the property of Judge Es brother. They refused to vacate. The mayor invited the parties to a conciliation meeting but they still refused. The owners allowed them to stay on the condition that they sign a written promise to leave after the grace period. When L refused, E phoned him and tried to convince him to sign. L still refused, E then said: mga tarantado, mabulok kayo sa kalabos! and slammed the phone down. L accuses E and his conspirators of abuse of authority for later throwing them in jail.
Held: REPRIMANDED. Although the charges against E were refuted by evidence, the serious nature of the tasks of judges requires them to be circumspect in both their public and their private dealings. As they are expected to rise above human frailties they must, in all their activities, avoid not only impropriety but even the appearance of impropriety. Hence, E should not have called L by [hone which gave the impression of undue pressure and influence. He should not have cursed L over the phone as a judges behavior must be beyond reproach.

Office of the Court Administrator vs. (Judge) Florentino S. Barron (297 SCRA 376) Facts: Judge Barron was arrested during an entrapment operation when he tried to solicit bribes from an American national in exchange for ruling in the latters favor in a pending case.
Held: Judge dismissed. A judge should always be a symbol of rectitude and propriety, comporting himself in a manner that will raise no doubt whatsoever about his honesty. The conduct of respondent shows that he can be influenced by monetary considerations. His act of demanding and receiving money from a party-litigant constitutes serious misconduct in office. It is this kind of gross and flaunting misconduct, no matter how nominal the amount involved, which erodes the respect for the law and the courts.

Sarah B. Vedana vs. Judge Eudarlo B. Valencia (295 SCRA 1) Facts: Complainant is the court interpreter and a relative of respondent judge. She claims that he kissed and fondled her when she went to his sala to inform him that the cases for the day were ready for trial. Held: Respondent guilty of violating Canons 2, 3 and 22 of the Code of Judicial Ethics. The Code mandates that the conduct of a judge must be free of a whiff of impropriety not only with respect to his performance of his judicial duties, but also to his behavior outside his sala and as a private individual. A public official is also judged by his private morals. A judge, in order to promote public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, must behave with propriety at all times. A judges official life can not simply be detached or separated from his personal existence.
NEGLIGENCE

Corazon T. Reontoy v. Atty. Liberato R. Ibadlit (302 SCRA 604) Facts: On January 28, 1998 the SC found Ibadlit administratively liable and suspended him from the practice of law for 1 year for failing to appeal within the reglementary period the decision rendered against his client. His reason was, an appeal would only be futile. SC declared that it was highly improper for him to have adopted such opinion. SC said that a lawyer was without authority to waive his clients right to appeal and that his failure to appeal within the reglementary period constituted negligence and malpractice, proscribed by Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides (a) lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable. This is a motion for reconsideration.

Held: Suspension lowered to 2 months his arguments are partly persuasive, he believed in good faith that his clients case was weak and that she accepted his explanation that the adverse decision was not worth appealing anymore. Besides, it was only several years later that she complained when no more relief was available to her. Also, complainant had reasonable opportunity to hire another counsel for a second opinion whether to appeal from the judgment or file a petition for relief, that he did not commit to handle his clients case on appeal and that the testimonies of complainant and her brother were unpersuasive. This is also his first offense. People of the Philippines v. Sevilleno ( 304 SCRA 519) Facts: In a criminal case for rape with homicide, the accused pleaded guilty. However, the 3 PAO lawyers assigned as counsel de officio did not perform their duty. The first did not advise his client of the consequences of pleading guilty, the second left the courtroom during trial and thus did not cross-examine the prosecution witnesses. The third postponed the presentation of evidence for the defense, and when he did appear, he said he would rely solely on the plea in the mistaken belief that it would lower the penalty to reclusion perpetua.
Held: Case remanded. Canon 18 required every lawyer to serve his client with utmost dedication, competence and diligence. He must not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and

his negligence in this regard renders him administratively liable. In this case, the defense lawyers did not protect, much less uphold, the fundamental rights of the accused.

N.B. Case remanded because of error by the judge in not using searching questions to find if the plea was made knowingly. Rodolfo P. Velasquez v. CA & PCIB (GR No. 124049, June 30, 1999) Facts: As an incident in the main case, V appointed his counsel as attorney-in-fact to represent him at the pre-trial. Counsel failed to appear, hence V was declared in default. The order of default was received by counsel but no steps were taken to have it lifted or set aside. Held: Binding on V. V was also guilty of negli8gence because after making the special power of attorney, he went abroad and paid no further attention to the case until he received the decision. Thus, no FAME which will warrant a lifting of the order.
PROPERTY UNDER LITIGATION

Regalado Daroy vs. Esteban Abecia Facts: Daroy was plaintiff in a forcible entry case. He hired Abecia as his lawyer and won. To satisfy the award for damages, a parcel of land of the defendant was sold to Daroy at an execution sale. The land was then sold to Daroys relative, who then sold it to Abecias wife. He now claims that these sales are void because Abecia forged his signature on the deeds of sale. IBP disbarred Abecia.
Held: Reversed. The evidence shows that Daroy was a party to the sale at the time ot was made and did not discover it 9 years later as he claimed. He was not defrauded <real issue the parties thought that because the land had been acquired at a public sale to satisfy a judgment in a case in which respondent was complainants counsel, the latter could not acquire the land. The parties made this arrangement to circumvent Art. 1491 of the Civil Code which prevents lawyers from acquiring property and rights that may be the object of any litigation in which they may take by virtue of their profession. The prohibition in Art. 1491 does not apply to the sale of a parcel of land acquired by a client to satisfy a judgment in his favor, to his attorney was not the subject of the litigation. While judges, prosecuting attorneys, and others connected with the administration of justice are prohibited from acquiring property or rights in litigation or levied upon in execution the prohibition with respect to attorneys in the case extends only to property and rights that may be the object of any litigation in which they may take part by virtue of their profession. QUALIFICATIONS

Ruferto Gutierrez and Maritess Passion vs. Judge Estanislao S. Belan (294 SCRA 1) Facts: Concerned citizens of Binan Laguna charged respondent MTC judge with conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service. They claim he committed perjury for failure to disclose a previous charge for two criminal offenses in his written application to the JBC.

Held: Judge is dismissed. Every prospective appointee to the judiciary must apprise the appointing authority of every matter bearing on his fitness for judicial office, including such circumstances as may reflect on his integrity and probity. These are qualifications specifically required of appointees to the judiciary by Article VIII, Sec. 7(3) of the Constitution. The act of concealing the two criminal cases against him is a clear proof of his lack of the said qualification and renders him unworthy to sit as a judge- even if he was ultimately acquitted. He is not being chastened for having had a pending criminal case at the time of his application for a judicial position but for his dishonesty and misrepresentation in the process of seeking that office.

Unlawful Conduct

Cleto Docena vs. Atty. Dominador Q. Limon (295 SCRA 262) Facts: Respondent was petitioners lawyer in a civil case. During that case, he asked the petitioners to post a supersedeas bond to stay execution of the appealed decision. Petitioners forwarded the money to Limon. Later, the case was decided in their favor. They were unable to recover the money because the clerk of court said no such bond had ever been filed. IBP suspended him for one year. Hence this petition. Held: Disbarred (see Canon 1.01 and 16.01). Respondents allegation that the money was payment of his fees was overcome by other evidence. The law is not a trade nor craft but a profession. Its basic ideal is to render public service and to secure justice for those who seek its aid. If it has to remain an honorable profession and attain its basic ideal, lawyers should not only master its tenets and principles but should also, by their lives, accord continuing fidelity to them. By extorting money from his client through deceit, Limon has sullied the integrity of his brethren in the law and has indirectly eroded the peoples confidence in the judicial system. He is disbarred for immoral, deceitful and unlawful conduct. Victor Nunga v. Atty. Verancio Viray (306 SCRA 487) Facts: N accused V of notarizing documents without a commission. It appears that in 1987 and 1991 he notarized deeds of sale of property between the bank he works for and his minor son. At those times, he was not commissioned as a notary public.
Held: SUSPENDED. Notarization is invested with public interest because3 it converts a private document into a public one. Notarizing without commission is a violation of the lawyers oath to obey the laws (the Notarial Law) and by making it appear that he is so authorized is a deliberate falsehood which violates the lawyers oath and Rule 1.01 (CPR) that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

Atty. Prudencio Penticostes v. Prosecutor Diosdado Ibaez (304 SCRA 281) Facts: Pascual was sued for non-remittance of SSS benefits. She gave the contested amount to respondent, who was supposed to forward the same to the SSS and drop the charges. Respondent did not forward the amount. He only remitted the amount after his complaint for misconduct was filed with the IBP.

Held: REPRIMANDED. A high sense of morality, honesty and fair dealing is expected and required of a member of the bar. Rule 1.01 provides that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. While Pascual may not strictly be considered a client of respondent, the rules relating to a lawyers handling of funds of a client is still applicable, thus, lawyers are bound to promptly account for money or property received by them on behalf of their clients and failure to do so constitutes professional misconduct. Also, even if he was acting as a prosecutor, Canon 6 provides that these canons shall apply to lawyers in government service in the discharge of their official tasks. ATTORNEYS FEES

Renato S. Ong & Francia N. Ong v. Court of Appeals, Inland Trailways, Inc. & Philtranco Service Enterprise, Inc. (301 SCRA 387) Facts: Renato Ong was injured during a vehicular collision. He was awarded damages by the trial court. On appeal, the CA, the awards for actual damages, moral damages & attorneys fees were reduced because (1) the cost & feasibility of corrective surgery had not been adduced in evidence, (2) the document relied upon to prove actual damages was not formally offered in evidence and (3) no evidence but the bare assertion of counsel was put forward to prove damages for unearned income.
Held: Attorneys fees is an indemnity for damages ordered by a court to be paid by the losing party to the prevailing party, based on any of the cases authorized by law. It is payable not to the lawyer but to the client, unless the 2 have agreed that the award shall pertain to the lawyer as additional compensation or as part thereof. The Court has established a set of standards in fixing the amount of attorneys fees. Counsels performance, however, does not justify the award of 25 percent attorneys fees. The nature of the case was not exceptionally difficult, and his handling of the case was sorely inadequate, as shown by his failure to follow elementary norms of civil procedure & evidence. It is well-settled that such award is addressed to sound judicial discretion and subject to judicial control.

A.C. No. 6707, March 24, 2006 (Legal Ethics) FACTS Respondent Atty. Gutierrez, a Bureau of Immigration and Deportation officer, received US$20,000 from complainant Huyssen. Accused of falsely representing that it was needed in complainants application for visa and failing to return the same, respondent denied

misappropriating the said amount, claiming that he gave it to a certain Atty. Mendoza who assisted complainant and children in their application for visa. He failed however to substantiate such denial. Atty. Gutierrez had many alibis on why the money could not immediately be returned to the complainant, and promised her several times that he would repay her out of his personal funds. He even issued personal post-dated checks on this, but which later bounced. ISSUE Whether or not respondents conduct violated the Code of Professional Responsibility and merits the penalty of disbarment? RULING Yes, the respondent should be disbarred. The defense of denial proferred by respondent is not convincing. It is settled that denial, which is inherently a weak defense, to be believed must be buttressed by a strong evidence of non-culpability. The evidence, respondents letters to the complainant, shows that he made it appear that the US$20,000 was officially deposited with the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation. If this is true, how come only Petty Cash Vouchers were issued by respondent to complainant to prove his receipt of the said sum and official receipts therefore were never issued by the said Bureau? Also, why would respondent issue his personal checks to cover the return of the money to complainant if said amount was really officially deposited with the Bureau of Immigration? All these actions of respondent point to the inescapable conclusion that respondent received the money from complainant and appropriated the same for his personal use. Lawyers in government service in the discharge of their official task have more restrictions than lawyers in private practice. Want of moral integrity is to be more severely condemned in a lawyer who holds a responsible public office. Considering that respondent was able to perpetrate the fraud by taking advantage of his position with the Board of Special Inquiry of the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, makes it more reprehensible as it has caused damage to the reputation and integrity of said office. It is submitted that respondent has violated Rule 6.02 of Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which reads: "A lawyer in the government service shall not use his public position to promote or advance his private interests, nor allow the latter to interfere with his public duties." Also, the act of issuing a bouncing check shows moral turpitude. Respondent's acts are more despicable, for not only did he misappropriate the money of complainant; worse, he had the gall to prepare receipts with the letterhead of the BID and issued checks to cover up his misdeeds.

Time and again, we have declared that the practice of law is a noble profession. It is a special privilege bestowed only upon those who are competent intellectually, academically and morally. A lawyer must at all times conduct himself, especially in his dealings with his clients and the public at large, with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach. More importantly, possession of good moral character must be continuous as a requirement to the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice; otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground for the revocation of such privilege. As a lawyer, who was also a public officer, respondent miserably failed to cope with the strict demands and high standards of the legal profession. Section 27 Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court mandates that a lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for, among other acts, gross misconduct in office. WHEREFORE, Atty. Gutierrez is hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law and ordered to return the amount he received from the complainant with legal interest from his receipt of the money until payment. The case shall be referred to the Office of the Ombudsman for criminal prosecution for violation of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Acts and to the Department of Justice for appropriate administrative action.

legal ethics
A.C. No. 3523 January 17, 2005 RASMUS G. ANDERSON, JR., petitioner, vs. ATTY. REYNALDO A. CARDEO, respondent. Administrative case against Atty. Reynaldo A. Cardeo for malpractice and neglect of duty, stemming from his alleged neglect or deliberate mishandling of a case. Held: SUSPENDED (6) months and WARNED that any similar infraction in the future will be dealt with more severely. Thus, respondents defenses that the complainant was "uncooperative" as a client, that the voluminous records turned over to him were in disarray, and that the complainant did not disclose to him certain particulars of the case, are all unavailing. Thus, in view of the fact that he remained counsel of record for the complainant, it was highly irregular for him to entrust the filing of the Motion for Reconsideration to other people who did not lawfully appear interested in the subject litigation. As a lawyer representing the cause of his client, he should have taken more control over the handling of the case. Respondent should know that as a lawyer, he owes fidelity to the cause of his client. When a lawyer

accepts a case, his acceptance is an implied representation that he possesses the requisite academic learning, skill and ability to handle the case. The lawyer has the duty to exert his best judgment in the prosecution or defense of the case entrusted to him and to exercise reasonable and ordinary care and diligence in the pursuit or defense of the case.

[A.M. No. 5925. March 11, 2003] RUBY MAE BARNACHEA, complainant, vs. ATTY. EDWIN T. QUIOCHO, respondent. Complainant engaged the legal services of respondent for the latter to cause the transfer under her name of the title over a property previously owned by her sister. Complainant was able to pay respondent for legal fees. Respondent failed. Complainant demanded that respondent refund to her the legal fees and return the documents which she earlier entrusted to him. However, respondent failed to comply with said demands. Held: SUSPENDED for 1 year; repetition of violation will be dealt severely. PAY the complainant. Even if it were true that no attorney-client relationship existed between them, case law has it that an attorney may be removed or otherwise disciplined not only for malpractice and dishonesty in the profession but also for gross misconduct not connected with his professional duties, making him

unfit for the office and unworthy of the privileges which his license and the law confer upon him. A lawyer is obliged to hold in trust money or property of his client that may come to his possession. The conversion by a lawyer funds entrusted to him by his client is a gross violation of professional ethics and a betrayal of public confidence in the legal profession. The relation of attorney and client is highly fiduciary in nature and is of a very delicate, exacting and confidential character. A lawyer is duty-bound to observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with his clients. The profession, therefore, demands of an attorney an absolute abdication of every personal advantage conflicting in any way, directly or indirectly, with the interest of his client. In this case, respondent miserably failed to measure up to the exacting standard expected of him.

[A.C. No. 4349. December 22, 1997] LOURDES R. BUSIOS, complainant, vs. ATTY. FRANCISCO RICAFORT, respondent. Complainant charged respondent with having committed the crime of estafa by misappropriating the sum of P32,000.00. Of this amount, P30,000.00 was entrusted to respondent for deposit in the bank account of complainants husband, while P2,000.00 represented the amount respondent demanded from complainant supposedly for a bond in a Civil Case when no such bond was required. Respondent did not appear in the administrative proceedings to clear his name. Respondent was able to pay the amount, complainant withdrew the estafa case but proceeded with the administrative case.

Held: DISBARRED. There is no doubt that respondent is guilty of having used the money of his clients without their consent. Money collected by a lawyer in pursuance of a judgment in favor of his clients is held in trust and must be immediately turned over to them Respondent, by converting the money of his clients to his own personal use without their consent , and by deceiving the complainant into giving him the amount of P2,000.00 purportedly to be used as a bond which was not required, is, undoubtedly, guilty of deceit, malpractice and gross misconduct. By so doing, he betrays the confidence reposed in him by his clients. Not only has he degraded himself but as an unfaithful lawyer he has besmirched the fair name of an honorable profession. When an attorney unjustly retains in his hands money of his client after it has been demanded he may be punished for contempt as an officer of the Court who has misbehaved in his official transactions; but proceedings under this section shall not be a bar to a criminal prosecution.

[A. C. No. 5485. March 16, 2005] ELMER CANOY, complainant, vs. ATTY. JOSE MAX ORTIZ, respondent. Canoy was among those low-income clients whom Atty. Ortiz deigned to represent. He claims having

prepared the position paper of Canoy, but before he could submit the same, the Labor Arbiter had already issued the order dismissing the case. Atty. Ortiz admits though that the period within which to file the position paper had already lapsed. He attributes this failure to timely file the position paper to the fact that after his election as Councilor because he was too busy. Eventually, he withdrew from his other cases and his free legal services. Complainant filed this complaint but later on withdrew . Held: SUSPENDED: (1) month, with WARNING that a repetition of the same negligence will be dealt with more severely. Still, the severance of the relation of attorney-client is not effective until a notice of discharge by the client or a manifestation clearly indicating that purpose is filed with the court or tribunal, and a copy thereof served upon the adverse party, and until then, the lawyer continues to be counsel in the case. Assuming that Atty. Ortiz was justified in terminating his services, he, however, cannot just do so and leave complainant in the cold unprotected. Indeed, Rule 22.02 requires that a lawyer who withdraws or is discharged shall, subject to a lien, immediately turn over all papers and property to which the client is entitled, and shall cooperate with his successor in the orderly transfer of the matter. Atty. Ortiz claims that the reason why he took no further action on the case was that he was informed that Canoy had acquired the services of another counsel. Assuming that were true, there was no apparent coordination between Atty. Ortiz and this new counsel. There are no good reasons that would justify a lawyer virtually abandoning the cause of the client in the midst of litigation without even informing the client of the fact or cause of desertion. That the lawyer forsook his legal practice on account of what might be perceived as a higher calling, election to public office, does not mitigate the dereliction of professional duty. Suspension from the practice is the usual penalty, and there is no reason to deviate from the norm in this case.

[A.C. No. 5817. May 27, 2004] EMMA V. DE JUAN, complainant, vs. ATTY. OSCAR R. BARIA III, respondent. Petitioner was terminated without notice or explanation so she filed a complaint before the NLRC against the company for illegal dismissal. In search of a lawyer, she asked the assistance of BBC which assigned respondent to handle her labor case. On December 29, 1999, the Labor Arbiter rendered a decision in favor of complainant. The Company appealed to the NLRC. In a decision promulgated on September 24, 2001, the NLRC reversed the Labor Arbiter and declared there was no illegal dismissal. Complainant blamed respondent for the reversal. She said that she came to know of the reversal of the Labor Arbiters decision when she called respondent in October 2001. When she asked the respondent what they should do, respondent answered, Paano iyan ihaehhindi ako marunong gumawa ng Motion for Reconsideration. Issue: The core issue is whether the respondent committed culpable negligence, as would warrant disciplinary action, in failing to file for the complainant a motion for reconsideration from the decision of the NLRC. Held: FINED with WARNING that a repetition of the same will be dealt with severely. No lawyer is obliged to advocate for every person who may wish to become his client, but once he agrees to take up the cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and must be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. Further, among the fundamental rules of ethics is the principle that an attorney who undertakes an action impliedly stipulates to carry it to its termination, that is, until the case becomes final and executory. A lawyer is not at liberty to abandon his client and withdraw his services without reasonable cause and only upon notice appropriate in the circumstances. Any dereliction of duty by a counsel, affects the client. This means that his client is entitled to the benefit of any and every remedy and defense that is authorized by the law and he may expect his lawyer to assert every such remedy or defense. The records reveal that indeed the respondent did not file a motion for reconsideration of the NLRC such that the said decision eventually had become final and executory. Respondent does not refute this. His excuse that he did not know how to file a motion for reconsideration is lame and unacceptable. After complainant had expressed an interest to file a motion for reconsideration, it was incumbent upon counsel to diligently return to his books and re-familiarize himself with the procedural rules for a motion for reconsideration. Filing a motion for reconsideration is not a complicated legal task. We are however, not unaware that respondent had been forthright and candid with his client when he warned her of his lack of experience as a new lawyer. We are also not unaware that he had advised complainant to get a new lawyer. However, his candor cannot absolve him. Without a proper revocation of his authority and withdrawal as counsel, respondent remains counsel of record and whether or not he has a valid cause to withdraw from the case, he cannot just do so and leave his client out in the cold. An attorney may only retire from the case either by a written consent of his client or by permission of the court after due notice and hearing, in which event the attorney should see to it that the name of the new attorney is recorded in the case. Respondent did not comply with these obligations. Negligence of lawyers in connection with legal matters entrusted to them for handling shall render them liable.

A.C. No. 5162 March 20, 2003 EMILIANO COURT TOWNHOUSES HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, complainant, vs. ATTY. MICHAEL DIONEDA, respondent. ECTHA and respondent entered into a Retainers Agreement wherein respondent lawyer agreed to handle the case of the complainant for P20,000.00 as attorneys fees and P1,000.00 as appearance fee per hearing. It was further agreed that respondent lawyer would update the complaint and work on the development of the case. Respondent failed to do such. Demands to give back the money were made but to no avail, thus this administrative charge. Despite due notice, respondent never attended the IBP administrative hearings. Held: SUSPENDED for six (6) months, with WARNING that repetition of the same will merit more severe penalty, and is ORDERED to RETURN to complainant their money with interest. A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY to the cause of his client mindful always of the trust and confidence reposed in him. An attorney-at-law must serve his client with competence and diligence at all times, and never neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, for it is his sworn duty to delay no man for money or malice and to conduct himself in a proper manner not just to his client, but also to the court, the legal profession and society at large. Respondents lamentable attitude towards his clients case is clearly evident from his apparent disinterest in his own case for disbarment. Dioneda never bothered to present evidence in his defense. He disregarded all notices sent to him by the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, which were personally served at his office address. He never appeared before the Commission despite several opportunities to do so and explain his side. The primary objective of administrative cases against lawyers is not only to punish and discipline the erring individual lawyers but also to safeguard the administration of justice by protecting the courts and the public from the misconduct of lawyers, and to remove from the legal profession persons whose utter disregard of their lawyer's oath has proven them unfit to continue discharging the trust reposed in them as members of the bar. A lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity and good demeanor or unworthy to continue as an officer of the court.

[A.C. No. 1526. January 31, 2005] NAZARIA S. HERNANDEZ (DECEASED), SUBSTITUTED BY LUCIANO S. HERNANDEZ, JR., complainant, vs. ATTY. JOSE C. GO, respondent. Complainant engaged respondents services, she entrusted to him her land titles and allowed him to sell her lots, believing that the proceeds thereof would be used to pay her creditors. Respondent abused her trust and confidence when he did not sell her properties to others but to himself and spent his own money to pay her obligations. Obviously, had he sold the lots to other buyers, complainant could have earned more. Records show that she did not receive any amount from respondent. Held: DISBARRED. A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession. Such conduct on the part of respondent degrades not only himself but also the name and honor of the legal profession. He violated this Courts mandate that lawyers must at all times conduct themselves, especially in their dealing with their clients and the public at large, with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach. A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. Membership in the legal profession is a privilege. When it appears that an attorney is no longer worthy of the trust and confidence of his clients and the public, it becomes not only the right but also the duty of this Court to withdraw the privilege. Respondent, by his conduct, blemished not only his integrity as a member of the Bar, but also the legal profession. Public interest requires that an attorney should exert his best efforts and ability to protect the interests of his clients. A lawyer who performs that duty with diligence and candor not only protects his clients cause; he also serves the ends of justice and does honor to the bar and helps maintain the respect of the community to the legal profession.

G.R. No. L-961 September 21, 1949 BLANDINA GAMBOA HILADO, petitioner, vs. JOSE GUTIERREZ DAVID, VICENTE J. FRANCISCO, JACOB ASSAD and SELIM JACOB ASSAD, respondents. Petitioner alleged that she and the counsel for the defendant had an attorney-client relationship with her when, before the trial of the case, she went to defendants counsel, gave him the papers of the case and other information relevant thereto, although she was not able to pay him legal fees. That respondents law firm mailed to the plaintiff a written opinion over his signature on the merits of her case; that this opinion was reached on the basis of papers she had submitted at his office; that Mrs. Hilado's purpose in submitting those papers was to secure Attorney Francisco's professional services. Atty. Francisco appeared as counsel for defendant and plaintiff did not object to it until (4) months after. Then, plaintiff moved to dismiss the case between her and defendant. Issue: Was there an attorney-client relationship between plaintiff and Atty. Francisco? Held: YES. In order to constitute the relation a professional one and not merely one of principal and agent, the attorneys must be employed either to give advice upon a legal point, to prosecute or defend an action in court of justice, or to prepare and draft, in legal form such papers as deeds, bills, contracts and the like. To constitute professional employment it is not essential that the client should have employed the attorney professionally on any previous occasion. It is not necessary that any retainer should have been paid, promised, or charged for; neither is it material that the attorney consulted did not afterward undertake the case about which the consultation was had. If a person, in respect to his business affairs or troubles of any kind, consults with his attorney in his professional capacity with the view to obtaining professional advice or assistance, and the attorney voluntarily permits or acquiesces in such consultation, then the professional employment must be regarded as established. An attorney is employed-that is, he is engaged in his professional capacity as a lawyer or counselorwhen he is listening to his client's preliminary statement of his case, or when he is giving advice thereon, just as truly as when he is drawing his client's pleadings, or advocating his client's cause in open court. An acceptance of the relation is implied on the part of the attorney from his acting in behalf of his client in pursuance of a request by the latter. That only copies of pleadings already filed in court were furnished to Attorney Agrava and that, this being so, no secret communication was transmitted to him by the plaintiff, would not vary the situation even if we should discard Mrs. Hilado's statement that other papers, personal and private in character, were turned in by her. Precedents are at hand to support the doctrine that the mere relation of attorney and client ought to preclude the attorney from accepting the opposite party's retainer in the same litigation regardless of what information was received by him from his first client.

An attorney, on terminating his employment, cannot thereafter act as counsel against his client in the same general matter, even though, while acting for his former client, he acquired no knowledge which could operate to his client's disadvantage in the subsequent adverse employment "A retaining fee is a preliminary fee given to an attorney or counsel to insure and secure his future services, and induce him to act for the client. It is intended to remunerate counsel for being deprived, by being retained by one party, of the opportunity of rendering services to the other and of receiving pay from him, and the payment of such fee, in the absence of an express understanding to the contrary, is neither made nor received in payment of the services contemplated; its payment has no relation to the obligation of the client to pay his attorney for the services which he has retained him to perform." [A.C. No. 5804. July 1, 2003] BENEDICTO HORNILLA and ATTY. FEDERICO D. RICAFORT, complainants, vs. ATTY. ERNESTO S. SALUNAT, respondent. An SEC Case was filed by the PPSTA against its own Board of Directors. Respondent admits that the ASSA Law Firm, of which he is the Managing Partner, was the retained counsel of PPSTA. Yet, he appeared as counsel of record for the respondent Board of Directors in the said case. Complainants contend that respondent was guilty of conflict of interest because he was engaged by the PPSTA, of which complainants were members, and was being paid out of its corporate funds where complainants have contributed. Despite being told by PPSTA members of the said conflict of interest, respondent refused to withdraw his appearance in the said cases. Held: GUILTY of representing conflicting interests and is ADMONISHED to observe a higher degree of fidelity in the practice of his profession. WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. RULE 15.03. A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. In other jurisdictions, the prevailing rule is that a situation wherein a lawyer represents both the corporation and its assailed directors unavoidably gives rise to a conflict of interest. The interest of the corporate client is paramount and should not be influenced by any interest of the individual corporate officials. The rulings in these cases have persuasive effect upon us. After due deliberation on the wisdom of this doctrine, we are sufficiently convinced that a lawyer engaged as counsel for a corporation cannot represent members of the same corporations board of directors in a derivative suit brought against them. To do so would be tantamount to representing conflicting interests, which is prohibited by the Code of Professional Responsibility.

A.C. No. 3283 July 13, 1995 RODOLFO MILLARE, petitioner, vs. ATTY. EUSTAQUIO Z. MONTERO, respondent. Complainant obtained a favorable judgment from the MTC which ordered respondents client to vacate the premises subject of the ejectment case. respondent as counsel, appealed the decision. CA dismissed Co's appeal from the decision of the RTC for failure to comply with the proper procedures. Respondent thereafter resorted to devious and underhanded means to delay the execution of the judgment rendered by the MTC adverse to his client. Held: SUSPENDED for (1) year. Rule 12.02. A lawyer shall not file multiple actions arising from the same cause. Rule 12.04. A lawyer shall not unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a judgment or misuse court processes. Under Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer is required to represent his client "within the bounds of the law." The Code enjoins a lawyer to employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client (Rule 19.01) and warns him not to allow his client to dictate the procedure in handling the case (Rule 19.03). In short, a lawyer is not a gun for hire. It is unethical for a lawyer to abuse or wrongfully use the judicial process, like the filing of dilatory motions, repetitious litigation and frivolous appeals for the sole purpose of frustrating and delaying the execution of a judgment. A judgment can be annulled only on two grounds: (a) that the judgment is void for want of jurisdiction or for lack of due process of law, or (b) that it has been obtained by fraud. Judging from the number of actions filed by respondent to forestall the execution of the same judgment, respondent is also guilty of forum shopping. Forum shopping exists when, by reason of an adverse decision in one forum, defendant ventures to another for a more favorable resolution of his case.

[A.C. No. 5085. February 6, 2003] PABLITO SANTOS, complainant, vs. ATTY. ALVARO BERNABE LAZARO, respondent. Respondent failed to win the cause of his client. Failed to follow proper procedure in submitting memorandums for client with feeble excuses. Demanded unconscionable amount of legal fees considering the grinding poverty his client. Held: GUILTY of negligence in protecting the interest of his client. SUSPENDED for (6) months. Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility explicitly provides that negligence of lawyers in connection with legal matters entrusted to them for handling shall render them liable. It is a basic postulate in legal ethics that when a lawyer takes a clients cause, he covenants that he will exercise due diligence in protecting his rights. The failure to exercise that degree of vigilance and attention expected of a good father of a family makes such lawyer unworthy of the trust reposed upon him by his client and makes him answerable to him, to the courts and to society. By neglecting to file the memorandum/brief, respondent set off a chain of events which eventually ended in the demolition of complainants home. Respondents failure to exercise due diligence in attending to the interest of complainant caused the latter material prejudice. As a lawyer, respondent was wanting in the exercise of reasonable care demanded of every member of the Bar; his measure of diligence is several notches below the standard required of his office.

[A.C. No. 4219. December 8, 2003] LOTHAR SCHULZ, complainant, vs. ATTY. MARCELO G. FLORES, respondent. Atty. Flores knew too little of the provisions and application of PD No. 1508 which mandates that all disputes, except those specifically cited (the dispute between Lothar Schulz and Wilson Ong not included), between and among residents of the same city or municipality should be brought first under the system of barangay conciliation before recourse to the court can be allowed. Because of respondents transgressions, his client was haled to court as part-defendant. Respondent also refused to return petitioners money in spite of his meager service. Held: GUILTY of negligence and incompetence. SUSPENDED for (6) months. RETURN the money of complainant with interest. STERNLY WARNED that a commission of the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely. The breach of respondents sworn duty as a lawyer and of the ethical standards he was strictly to honor and observe has been sufficiently established. Respondent has fallen short of the competence and diligence required of every member of the Bar. CANON 17. A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE MINDFUL OF THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN HIM. CANON 18. A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable. Respondent erred in not returning complainants money despite demands after his failure to file the case and his devious act of compelling complainant to sign a document stating that he has no

financial obligation to complainant in exchange of the return of complainants papers. This conduct violated the following Canon: CANON 15. A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR, FAIRNESS, AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS DEALINGS AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENT. Rule 16.03. A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of client when due or upon demand. The failure of an attorney to return the clients money upon demand gives rise to the presumption that he has misappropriated it for his own use to the prejudice and violation of the trust reposed in him by the client. It is not only a gross violation of the general morality as well as of professional ethics; it also impairs public confidence in the legal profession and deserves punishment. In short, it is settled that the unjustified withholding of money belonging to his client, as in this case, warrants the imposition of disciplinary action. A lawyer must conduct himself, especially in his dealings with his clients, with integrity in a manner that is beyond reproach. His relationship with his clients should be characterized by the highest degree of good faith and fairness.

Regala vs. Sandiganbayan PCGG want to build up their case against Eduardo Coujuanco for the anomalies in the COCO LEVY FUNDS. PCGG wants petitioners divulge that Cojuangco indeed was a client of their firm, as well as other information regarding Cojuangco. Issue: Can the PCGG compel petitioners to divulge its clients name? Held: NO. As a matter of public policy, a clients identity should not be shrouded in mystery. The general is that a lawyer may not invoke the privilege and refuse to divulge the name or identity of his client. 1) the court has a right to know that the client whose privileged information is sought to be protected is flesh and blood. 2) the privilege begins to exist only after the attorney-client relationship has been established. The attorney-client privilege does not attach until there is a client. 3) the privilege generally pertains to the subject matter of the relationship. Finally, due process considerations require that the opposing party should, as a general rule, know his adversary. A party suing or sued is entitled to know who his opponent is. He cannot be obliged

to grope in the dark against unknown forces. Except: 1) Client identity is privileged where a strong probability exists that revealing the clients name would implicate that client in the very activity for which he sought the lawyers advice. 2) Where disclosure would open the client to civil liability, his identity is privileged. 3) Where the governments lawyers have no case against an attorneys client unless, by revealing the clients name, the said name would furnish the only link that would form the chain of testimony necessary to convict an individual of a crime, the clients name is privileged. That client identity is privileged in those instances where a strong probability exists that the disclosure of the client's identity would implicate the client in the very criminal activity for which the lawyers legal advice was obtained.

Here are select February 2012 rulings of the Supreme Court of the Philippines on legal and judicial ethics: Administrative cases against lawyers; prescriptive period. The two-year prescriptive period for initiating a complaint against a lawyer for disbarment or suspension provided under Section 1, Rule VIII of the Rules of Procedure of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline should be construed to mean two years from the date of discovery of the professional misconduct. Nesa Isenhardt vs. Atty. Leonardo M. Real, A.C. No. 8254, February 15, 2012. Attorney; disqualification as notary public. A notary public should not notarize a document unless the person who signs it is the same person who executed it, personally appearing before him to attest to the contents and the truth of what are stated therein. This is to enable the notary public to verify the genuineness of the signature of the acknowledging party and to ascertain that the document is the partys free act. The duties of a notary public is dictated by public policy and impressed with public interest. It is not a meaningless ministerial act of acknowledging documents executed by parties who are willing to pay the fees for notarization. It is of no moment that the subject SPA was not utilized by the grantee for the purpose it was intended because the property was allegedly transferred from complainant to her brother by virtue of a deed of sale consummated between them. What is being penalized is respondents act of notarizing a document despite the absence of one of the parties. A notarized document is by law entitled to full credit upon its face and it is for this reason that notaries public must observe the basic requirements in notarizing documents. Otherwise, the confidence of the public in notarized documents will be undermined. Nesa Isenhardt vs. Atty. Leonardo M. Real, A.C. No. 8254, February 15, 2012. Attorney; government service; applicability of Code of Professional Responsibility. The Code of Professional Responsibility does not cease to apply to a lawyer simply because he has joined the government service. Where a lawyers misconduct as a government official is of such

nature as to affect his qualification as a lawyer or to show moral delinquency, then he may be disciplined as a member of the bar on such grounds. Martin Lahn III and James P. Concepcion vs. Labor Arbiter Jovencio Li. Mayor, Jr., A.C. No. 7430, February 15, 2012. Attorney; gross ignorance of the law. The respondent labor arbiter, being part of the quasijudicial system of our government, performs official functions that are akin to those of judges. Accordingly, the present controversy may be approximated to administrative cases of judges whose decisions, including the manner of rendering the same, were made subject of administrative cases. While a judge may not always be held liable for ignorance of the law for every erroneous order that he renders, it is also axiomatic that when the legal principle involved is sufficiently basic, lack of conversance with it constitutes gross ignorance of the law. The unfounded insistence of the respondent on his supposed authority to issue writs of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order, taken together with the delay in the resolution of the said motion for reconsideration, would clearly show that the respondent deliberately intended to cause prejudice to the complainants. Martin Lahn III and James P. Concepcion vs. Labor Arbiter Jovencio Li. Mayor, Jr., A.C. No. 7430, February 15, 2012. Court personnel; dishonesty. Dishonesty has been defined as the disposition to lie, cheat, deceive, or defraud; untrustworthiness; lack of integrity; lack of honesty, probity or integrity in principle; lack of fairness and straightforwardness; disposition to defraud, deceive or betray. Dishonesty, being in the nature of a grave offense, carries the extreme penalty of dismissal from the service with forfeiture of retirement benefits except accrued leave credits, and perpetual disqualification for reemployment in government service. Given the total absence of evidence to the contrary, the presumption that respondent clerk of court punched his DTR to make it appear he was at the office on February 26, 2010 when he was in fact absent still prevails. Dishonesty is a malevolent act that has no place in the judiciary. Public service requires utmost integrity and discipline. A public servant must exhibit at all times the highest sense of honesty and integrity, for no less than the Constitution declares that a public office is a public trust, and all public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, and serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency. Leave Division, Office of the Adrministrative Services, Office of the Court Administrator vs. Leoncio K. Gutierrez III, Clerk III, Regional Trial Court, Branch 116, Pasay City. A.M. No. P-11-2951, February 15, 2012. Court personnel; dishonesty, misrepresentation. OCA Circular No. 49-2003 provides that court personnel who wish to travel abroad must secure a travel authority from the Office of the Court Administrator. Section 67 of the Omnibus Rules on Leave provides that any violation of the leave laws, rules or regulations, or any misrepresentation or deception in connection with an application for leave shall be a ground for disciplinary action. The respondent court stenographer traveled without securing a travel authority and did not state her foreign travel in her leave application. She is guilty of violating at least two office rules and regulations. This shows deception amounting to dishonesty.

Dishonesty means the concealment of truth in a matter of fact relevant to ones office or connected with the performance of his duties. It is an absence of integrity, a disposition to betray, cheat, deceive or defraud, bad faith. The discrepancy in the respondents date of birth in her records does not amount to dishonesty, as she made no false statement. No deliberate intent to mislead, deceive or defraud appears from the cited circumstances of this case. The respondents date of birth is not a fact directly relevant to her functions or qualification to office or connected with the performance of her duties. Sheila G. Del Rosario, Court Stenographer III, RTC, Br. 36, Santiago City, Isabela vs. Mary Anne C. Pascua, Court Stenographer III, same court. A.M. No. P-112999. February 27, 2012. Court personnel; habitual absenteeism. Administrative Circular No. 14-2002 provides that an employee is considered habitually absent if the employee incurred unauthorized absences exceeding the 2.5 days allowed per month for three months in a semester or at least three consecutive months during the year. In imposing penalty of habitual absenteeism in administrative cases, however, the court may take into consideration mitigating circumstances. The presence of factors such as length of service in the judiciary, acknowledgment of infractions and feeling of remorse, and family circumstances, among other things, play an important role in the imposition of penalties. Judge Lucina Alpez Dayaon, etc. vs. Jesusa V. De Leon. A.M. No. P-112926, February 1, 2012 Judge; gross ignorance of law and undue delay. Well- settled is the rule that an injunction cannot be issued to transfer possession or control of a property to another when the legal title is in dispute between the parties and the legal title has not been clearly established. In this case, respondent judge evidently disregarded this established doctrine when he granted the preliminary injunction in favor of Pagels whose legal title is disputed. When the law involved is simple and elementary, lack of conversance with it constitutes gross ignorance of the law. Gross ignorance of the law is the disregard of basic rules and settled jurisprudence. When the inefficiency springs from a failure to consider so basic and elemental a rule, a law or a principle in the discharge of his functions, a judge is either too incompetent and undeserving of the position and title he holds or he is too vicious that the oversight or omission was deliberately done in bad faith and in grave abuse of judicial authority. A judge may also be administratively liable if shown to have been motivated by bad faith, fraud, dishonesty or corruption in ignoring, contradicting or failing to apply settled law and jurisprudence. Atty. Rene Medina, et al. vs. Judge Victor Canoy, et al. A.M. RTJ-11-2298, February 22, 2012. Judges; delay in conducting summary hearing to extend the 72-hr TRO; gross ignorance of law; requirement of bad faith, fraud, dishonesty, or corruption. Judges are not administratively responsible for what they may do in the exercise of their judicial functions when acting within their legal powers and jurisdiction. Not every error or mistake that a judge commits in the performance of his duties renders him liable, unless he is shown to have acted in bad faith or

with deliberate intent to do an injustice. To hold otherwise would be to render judicial office untenable, for no one called upon to try the facts or interpret the law in the process of administering justice can be infallible in his judgment. To constitute gross ignorance of the law, it is not enough that the subject decision, order or actuation of the respondent judge in the performance of his official duties is contrary to existing law and jurisprudence but, most importantly, he must be moved by bad faith, fraud, dishonesty or corruption. Complainants failed to adduce proof to show that respondent judge was motivated by bad faith, ill will or malicious motive when he granted the TRO and preliminary injunction. In addition, respondent judge should not be penalized for failing to conduct the required summary hearing within 72 hours from the issuance of the original TRO. Though the Rules require the presiding judge to conduct a summary hearing before the expiration of the 72 hours, it could not be complied with because of the remoteness and inaccessibility of the trial court from the parties addresses. Sps. Democrito and Olivia Lago vs. Judge Godofredo B. Abul, Jr. RTC, Br. 43, Gingoog City. A.M. No. RTJ-10-2255, February 8, 2012. Judges; immorality vs. simple misconduct. The New Code of Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary provides that, as a subject of constant public scrutiny, judges must accept personal restrictions that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen. In particular, judges must conduct themselves in a way that is consistent with the dignity of the judicial office. Occupying as he does an exalted position in the administration of justice, a judge must pay a high price for the honor bestowed upon him. Thus, the judge must comport himself at all times in such a manner that his conduct, official or otherwise, can bear the most searching scrutiny of the public that looks up to him as the epitome of integrity and justice. There was no evidence that respondent judge engaged in scandalous conduct that would warrant the imposition of disciplinary action against him. His admission of homosexuality does not make him automatically immoral. However, respondent judge is guilty of simple misconduct in causing the registration of title in his sons name with the intention of defrauding a possible judgment-obligee. Simple misconduct is a transgression of some established rule of action, an unlawful behavior, or negligence committed by a public officer. Aida R. Campos, et al. vs. Judge Eliseo M. Campos, MTC, Bayugan, Agusan del Sur. A.M. No. MTJ-101761, February 8, 2012. Judges; undue delay in rendering a decision. Judges must resolve matters pending before them promptly and expeditiously within the constitutionally mandated three-month period. If they cannot comply with the same, they should ask for an extension from the Supreme Court upon meritorious grounds. The rule is that the reglementary period for deciding cases should be observed by all judges, unless they have been granted additional time. Judges must dispose of the courts business promptly. Delay in the disposition of cases erodes the faith and confidence of our people in the judiciary, lowers its standards, and brings it to disrepute. Hence, judges are enjoined to decide cases with dispatch. Their failure to do so constitutes gross inefficiency and warrants the imposition of administrative sanctions on them.

Although there are no promulgated rules on the conduct of judicial audit, the absence of such rules should not serve as license to recommend the imposition of penalties to retired judges who, during their incumbency, were never given a chance to explain the circumstances behind the results of the judicial audit. Judicial audit reports and the memoranda which follow them should state not only recommended penalties and plans of action for the violations of audited courts, but also give commendations when they are due. To avoid similar scenarios, manual judicial audits may be conducted at least six months before a judges compulsory retirement. Office of the Court Administrator vs. Judge Celso L. Mantua, Regional Trial Court, Branch 17, Palompon, Leyte. A.M. No. RTJ-11-2291. February 8, 2012.