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G.R. No. 120420 April 21, 1999 PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. RUFINO MIRANDILLA BERMAS VITUG, J.

: FACTS: Complainant Manuela Bermas, 15 years old, was raped by her own father, appellant Rufino Bermas, while she was lying down on a wooden bed inside their house armed with a knife and by means of force and intimidation, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously has carnal knowledge of the undersigned complainant against her. Hence, complainant as assisted by her mother accuses Rufino Mirandilla Bermas, filed a complaint against the accused of the crime of Rape before the RTC of Paraaque. Accused Rufino Mirandilla Bermas pleaded not guilty. The accused denied the allegation hence he even performed the dual role of a father and a mother to his children since the time of his separation from his wife and he thinks that the complainant might have been motivated by ill-will or revenge in view of the numerous scoldings that she has received from him on account of her frequent coming home late at night. The trial court convicted the accused guilty of the offense charged and sentencing him to suffer the extreme penalty of death. ISSUE: WON the accused was denied his constitutional right to effective and vigilant counsel. RULING: YES, SC remanded the case to the trial court. Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility requires 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 the instant case, the aforenamed defense lawyers did not protect, much less uphold, the fundamental rights of the accused. Instead, they haphazardly performed their function as counsel de oficio to the detriment and prejudice of the accused Sevilleno, however guilty he might have been found to be after trial. Inevitably, this Court must advise Attys. Agravante, Pabalinas and Saldavia to adhere closely and faithfully to the tenets espoused in the Code of Professional Responsibility, otherwise, commission of any similar act in the future will be severely sanctioned. The Second Assistant Prosecutor issued a certification to the effect that the accused had waived his right to a preliminary investigation. On the day of his arraignment, the accused was brought before the trial court without counsel. The court thereupon assigned Atty. Rosa Elmira C Villamin of the Public Attorney's Office to be the counsel de officio. Accused forthwith pleaded not guilty. The pre-trial was waived.The prosecution placed complainant Manuela Bermas at the witness stand. The counsel de oficio testified on direct examination with hardly any participation by defense counsel who, inexplicably, later waived the cross-examination and then asked the court to be relieved of her duty as counsel de officio. Furthermore, Atty. Roberto Gomez was appointed the new counsel de officio and asked for a ten minute recess before he began his cross examination which is far too inadequate On the day the defense will present their evidence another lawyer Atty.Lonzame was appointed as counsel de oficio. Therefore, the accused has not properly and effectively been accorded the right to counsel. So important is the right to counsel that it has been enshrined in our fundamental law and its precursor laws.

A.C. No. 6155 March 14, 2006 MA. GINA L. FRANCISCO, JOSEPHINE S. TAN and CARLOS M. JOAQUIN vs. ATTY. JAIME JUANITO P. PORTUGAL TINGA, J.: FACTS: SPO1 Ernesto C. Francisco, SPO1 Donato F. Tan and PO3 Rolando M. Joaquin were involved in a shooting incident which resulted in the death of two individuals and the serious injury of another. As a result, Informations were filed against them before the Sandiganbayan for murder and frustrated murder eventually they were convicted. Complainants engaged the services of herein respondent for the accused. Respondent then filed a Motion for Reconsideration with the Sandiganbayan but it was denied still the respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Leave to File Second Motion for Reconsideration, with the attached Second Motion for Reconsideration and filed with this Court a Petition for Review on Certiorari. Thereafter, complainants never heard from respondent again despite the frequent telephone calls they made to his office. When respondent did not return their phone inquiries, complainants went to respondents last known address only to find out that he had moved out without any forwarding address. More than a year after the petition was filed, complainants were constrained to personally verify the status of the petition and they were shocked that their petition was denied due to late filing and non-payment of docket fees and said resolution had attained finality and warrants of arrest had already been issued against them. Complainants filed before the SC an affidavit-complaint against Atty. Jaime Juanito P. Portugal (respondent) for violation of the Lawyers Oath, gross misconduct, and gross negligence for alleged mishandling of the petition which eventually led to its denial with finality. Respondent contends that he was not the original counsel of the accused. He only met the accused during the promulgation of the Sandiganbayan decision convicting the accused of two counts of homicide and one count of attempted homicide. He was merely requested by the original counsel to be on hand, assist the accused, and be present at the promulgation of the Sandiganbayan decision and the petition was filed within the reglementary period. Respondent sent a letter the PO3 Joaquin for his formal withdrawal as counsel but the latter did not reply. Upon the investigation of the IBP, it ruled respondent guilty of violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility and recommended the imposition of penalty ranging from reprimand to suspension of six (6) months. ISSUE: Whether respondent committed gross negligence or misconduct in handling G.R. No. 152621-23, which eventually led to the ad cautelam petitions dismissal with finality.

RULING: YES, SC ordered for the suspension of the respondent from the practice of law for three (3) months. The SC agreed to the IBP that the dismissal of the ad cautelam petition was primarily due to the gross negligence of respondent Once he agrees to take up the cause of the client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. He must serve the client with competence and diligence, and champion the latters cause with wholehearted fidelity, care, and devotion. In a criminal case like that handled by respondent in behalf of the accused, respondent has a higher duty to be circumspect in defending the accused for it is not only the property of the accused which stands to be lost but more importantly, their right to their life and liberty. Thus, in the creation of lawyerclient relationship, there are rules, ethical conduct and duties that breathe life into it, among those, the fiduciary duty to his client which is of very delicate, exacting and confidential character, requiring a very high degree of fidelity and good faith that is required by reason of necessity and public interest. In this case, respondent ought to know that he was the one who should have filed the Notice to Withdraw and not the accused. His tale that he sent a registered letter to the accused and gave them instructions on how to go about respondents withdrawal from the case defies credulity. It should have been respondent who undertook the appropriate measures for the proper withdrawal of his representation. He should not have relied on his client to do it for him if such was truly the case. The rule in this jurisdiction is that a client has the absolute right to terminate the attorney-client relation at anytime with or without cause. The right of an attorney to withdraw or terminate the relation other than for sufficient cause is, however, considerably restricted. Among the fundamental rules of ethics is the principle that an attorney who undertakes to conduct an action impliedly stipulates to carry it to its conclusion. He is not at liberty to abandon it without reasonable cause. A lawyers right to withdraw from a case before its final adjudication arises only from the clients written consent or from a good cause Furthermore, after agreeing to take up the cause of a client, a lawyer owes fidelity to both cause and client, even if the client never paid any fee for the attorney-client relationship. Lawyering is not a business; it is a profession in which duty of public service, not money, is the primary consideration.

Ramos vs. Dajoyag - A.C. No. 5174 FACTS: This is a complaint filed by Ernesto M. Ramos against Atty. Mariano A. Dajoyag Jr. for negligence in failing to appeal a ruling of the NLRC, which affirmed the dismissal by the Labor Arbiter of a complaint for legal dismissal. It appears that Ramos was terminated from work for failure of his lawyer, Atty. Dajoyag, to file on time the petition for certiorari, when the Supreme Court dismissed it with finality. From the records, it can be gleaned that Atty. Dajoyag moved for an extension to file which was granted but the Resolution granting the 1st extension contained a warning that no further extension would be given. Atty. Dajoyag, on the other hand, explained that he was not aware of this because when he filed his motion for last extension for only 20 days, he had not yet received the copy of said resolution. He further explained that he relied on good faith that his Motion for 1st Extension of 30 days would be granted without the warning as this was only a first extension; and also that he requested for a second and last extension of 20 days for which he complied with the filing of the Petition for Certiorari on the last day of the supposed extended period.

ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Ramos is guilty of negligence.

RULING: Yes. Rule 12.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides: A lawyer shall not, after obtaining 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 ". Motions for extension are not granted as a matter of right but in the sound discretion of the court, and lawyers should never presume that their motions for extension or postponement will be granted or that they will be granted the length of time they pray for. Due diligence requires that they should conduct a timely inquiry with the division clerks of court of the action on their motions and, the lack of notice thereof will not make them any less accountable for their omission.

REGALA vs. SANDIGANBAYAN [1996] Special Civil Action in the SC. Certiorari RP instituted a Complaint before the Sandiganbayan (SB), through the Presidential Commission on Good Govt (PCGG) against Eduardo M. Cojuangco, Jr., as one of the principal defendants, for the recovery of alleged ill-gotten wealth, which includes shares of stocks in the named corps. in PCGG Case No. 33 (CC No. 0033) entitled "RP vs. Eduardo Cojuangco, et al." Among the defendants named in the case are herein petitioners and herein private respondent Raul S. Roco, who all were then partners of the law firm Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regala and Cruz (ACCRA) Law Offices. ACCRA Law Firm performed legal services for its clients and in the performance of these services, the members of the law firm delivered to its client documents which substantiate the client's equity holdings. In the course of their dealings with their clients, the members of the law firm acquire information relative to the assets of clients as well as their personal and business circumstances. As members of the ACCRA Law Firm, petitioners and private respondent Raul Roco admit that they assisted in the organization and acquisition of the companies included in CC No. 0033, and in keeping with the office practice, ACCRA lawyers acted as nominees-stockholders of the said corporations involved in sequestration proceedings. PCGG filed a "Motion to Admit 3rd Amended Complaint" & "3rd Amended Complaint" w/c excluded Roco from the complaint in PCGG Case No. 33 as party-defendant, Roco having promised hell reveal the identity of the principal/s for whom he acted as nominee/stockholder in the companies involved in PCGG Case # 33 Petitioners were included in 3rd Amended Complaint for having plotted, devised, schemed, conspired & confederated w/each other in setting up, through the use of coconut levy funds, the financial & corporate framework & structures that led to establishment of UCPB, UNICOM, COCOLIFE, COCOMARK, CIC, & more than 20 other coconut levy funded corps, including the acquisition of San Miguel Corp. shares & its institutionalization through presidential directives of the coconut monopoly. Through insidious means & machinations, ACCRA Investments Corp., became the holder of roughly 3.3% of the total outstanding capital stock of UCPB. In their answer to the Expanded Amended Complaint, petitioners alleged that their participation in the acts w/ w/c their co-defendants are charged, was in furtherance of legitimate lawyering. Petitioner Paraja Hayudini, who had separated from ACCRA law firm, filed a separate answer denying the allegations in the complaint implicating him in the alleged ill-gotten wealth. Petitioners then filed their "Comment &/or Opposition" w/ Counter-Motion that PCGG exclude them as parties-defendants like Roco. PCGG set the ff. precedent for the exclusion of petitioners: (a)the disclosure of the identity of its clients; (b)submission of documents substantiating the lawyer-client relationship; and (c)the submission of the deeds of assignments petitioners executed in favor of its clients covering their respective shareholdings. Consequently, PCGG presented supposed proof to substantiate compliance by Roco of the same conditions precedent. However, during said proceedings, Roco didnt refute petitioners' contention that he did actually not reveal the identity of the client involved in PCGG Case No. 33,

nor had he undertaken to reveal the identity of the client for whom he acted as nomineestockholder. In a Resolution, SB denied the exclusion of petitioners, for their refusal to comply w/ the conditions required by PCGG. It held, ACCRA lawyers cannot excuse themselves from the consequences of their acts until they have begun to establish the basis for recognizing the privilege; the existence and identity of the client. ACCRA lawyers filed MFR w/c was denied. Hence, ACCRA lawyers filed the petition for certiorari. Petitioner Hayudini, likewise, filed his own MFR w/c was also denied thus, he filed a separate petition for certiorari, assailing SBs resolution on essentially same grounds averred by petitioners, namely: o SB gravely abused its discretion in subjecting petitioners to the strict application of the law of agency. o SB gravely abused its discretion in not considering petitioners & Roco similarly situated &, thus, deserving equal treatment o SB gravely abused its discretion in not holding that, under the facts of this case, the attorney-client privilege prohibits petitioners from revealing the identity of their client(s) and the other information requested by the PCGG. o SB gravely abused its discretion in not requiring that dropping of party-defendants be based on reasonable & just grounds, w/ due consideration to constitutional rights of petitioners PCGG, through its counsel, refutes petitioners' contention, alleging that the revelation of the identity of the client is not w/in the ambit of the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege, nor are the documents it required (deeds of assignment) protected, because they are evidence of nominee status.

WON attorney-client privilege prohibits petitioners from revealing the identity of their client(s) & the other information requested by the PCGG YES. Nature of lawyer-client relationship is premised on the Roman Law concepts of locatio conductio operarum (contract of lease of services) where one person lets his services and another hires them without reference to the object of which the services are to be performed, wherein lawyers' services may be compensated by honorarium or for hire, and mandato (contract of agency) wherein a friend on whom reliance could be placed makes a contract in his name, but gives up all that he gained by the contract to the person who requested him. But the lawyer-client relationship is more than that of the principal-agent and lessor-lessee. An attorney is more than a mere agent or servant, because he possesses special powers of trust and confidence reposed on him by his client. An attorney occupies a "quasi-judicial office" since he is in fact an officer of the Court & exercises his judgment in the choice of courses of action to be taken favorable to his client. Thus, in the creation of lawyer-client relationship, there are rules, ethical conduct and duties that breathe life into it, among those, the fiduciary duty to his client which is of a very delicate, exacting and confidential character, requiring a very high degree of fidelity and good faith, that is required by reason of necessity and public interest based on the hypothesis that abstinence from seeking legal advice in a good cause is an evil which is fatal to the administration of justice.

Attorney-client privilege, is worded in Rules of Court, Rule 130:Sec. 24. Disqualification by reason of privileged communication. The following persons cannot testify as to matters learned in confidence in the following cases:xxx An attorney cannot, without the consent of his client, be examined as to any communication made by the client to him, or his advice given thereon in the course of, or with a view to, professional employment, can an attorney's secretary, stenographer, or clerk be examined, without the consent of the client and his employer, concerning any fact the knowledge of which has been acquired in such capacity. Further, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court states: Sec. 20. It is the duty of an attorney: (e) to maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to himself, to preserve the secrets of his client, and to accept no compensation in connection with his client's business except from him or with his knowledge and approval. This duty is explicitly mandated in Canon 17, CPR (A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him.) Canon 15, CPR also demands a lawyer's fidelity to client. An effective lawyer-client relationship is largely dependent upon the degree of confidence which exists between lawyer and client which in turn requires a situation which encourages a dynamic and fruitful exchange and flow of information. Thus, the Court held that this duty may be asserted in refusing to disclose the name of petitioners' client(s) in the case at bar. The general rule is that a lawyer may not invoke the privilege and refuse to divulge the name or identity of his client. Reasons advanced for the general rule: o Court has a right to know that the client whose privileged information is sought to be protected is flesh and blood. o Privilege begins to exist only after the attorney-client relationship has been established. o Privilege generally pertains to subject matter of relationship o Due process considerations require that the opposing party should, as a general rule, know his adversary. Exceptions to the gen. rule: o Client identity is privileged where a strong probability exists that revealing the client's name would implicate that client in the very activity for which he sought the lawyer's advice. Ex-Parte Enzor and U.S. v. Hodge and Zweig: The subject matter of the relationship was so closely related to the issue of the client's identity that the privilege actually attached to both. o Where disclosure would open the client to civil liability, his identity is privileged. Neugass v. Terminal Cab Corp.: couldnt reveal name of his client as this would expose the latter to civil litigation. Matter of Shawmut Mining Company: We feel sure that under such conditions no case has ever gone to the length of compelling an attorney, at the instance of a hostile litigant, to disclose not only his retainer, but the nature of the transactions to w/c it related, when such information could be made the basis of a suit against his client.

Where the government's lawyers have no case against an attorney's client unless, by revealing the client's 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 client's name is privileged. Baird vs. Korner: a lawyer could not be forced to reveal the names of clients who employed him to pay sums of money to govt voluntarily in settlement of undetermined income taxes, unsued on, & w/ no govt audit or investigation into that client's income tax liability pending Apart from these principal exceptions, there exist other situations which could qualify as exceptions to the general rule: o if the content of any client communication to a lawyer is relevant to the subject matter of the legal problem on which the client seeks legal assistance o where the nature of the attorney-client relationship has been previously disclosed & it is the identity w/c is intended to be confidential, the identity of the client has been held to be privileged, since such revelation would otherwise result in disclosure of the entire transaction. Summarizing these exceptions, information relating to the identity of a client may fall within the ambit of the privilege when the client's name itself has an independent significance, such that disclosure would then reveal client confidences. Instant case falls under at least 2 exceptions to the general rule. First, disclosure of the alleged client's name would lead to establish said client's connection with the very fact in issue of the case, which is privileged information, because the privilege, as stated earlier, protects the subject matter or the substance (without which there would be no attorneyclient relationship). The link between the alleged criminal offense and the legal advice or legal service sought was duly established in the case at bar, by no less than the PCGG itself as can be seen in the 3 specific conditions laid down by the PCGG which constitutes petitioners' ticket to non-prosecution should they accede thereto. From these conditions, particularly the third, we can readily deduce that the clients indeed consulted the petitioners, in their capacity as lawyers, regarding the financial and corporate structure, framework and set-up of the corporations in question. In turn, petitioners gave their professional advice in the form of, among others, the aforementioned deeds of assignment covering their client's shareholdings. Petitioners have a legitimate fear that identifying their clients would implicate them in the very activity for which legal advice had been sought, i.e., the alleged accumulation of ill-gotten wealth in the aforementioned corporations. Secondly, under the third main exception, revelation of the client's name would obviously provide the necessary link for the prosecution to build its case, where none otherwise exists. While the privilege may not be invoked for illegal purposes such as in a case where a client takes on the services of an attorney, for illicit purposes, it may be invoked in a case where a client thinks he might have previously committed something illegal and consults his attorney. Whether or not the act for which the client sought advice turns out to be illegal, his name cannot be used or disclosed if the disclosure leads to evidence, not yet in the hands of the prosecution, which might lead to possible action against him.

The Baird exception, applicable to the instant case, is consonant with the principal policy behind the privilege, i.e., that for the purpose of promoting freedom of consultation of legal advisors by clients, apprehension of compelled disclosure from attorneys must be eliminated. What is sought to be avoided then is the exploitation of the general rule in what may amount to a fishing expedition by the prosecution. In fine, the crux of petitioner's objections ultimately hinges on their expectation that if the prosecution has a case against their clients, the latter's case should be built upon evidence painstakingly gathered by them from their own sources and not from compelled testimony requiring them to reveal the name of their clients, information which unavoidably reveals much about the nature of the transaction which may or may not be illegal. The utmost zeal given by Courts to the protection of the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege and lawyer's loyalty to his client is evident in the duration of the protection, which exists not only during the relationship, but extends even after the termination of the relationship. We have no choice but to uphold petitioners' right not to reveal the identity of their clients under pain of the breach of fiduciary duty owing to their clients, as the facts of the instant case clearly fall w/in recognized exceptions to the rule that the client's name is not privileged information. Otherwise, it would expose the lawyers themselves to possible litigation by their clients in view of the strict fiduciary responsibility imposed on them in exercise of their duties.

HUMBERTO C. LIM, JR., in behalf of PENTA RESORTS CORPORATION/Attorney-in-Fact of LUMOT A. JALANDONI, Complainant, vs. ATTY. NICANOR V. VILLAROSA, Respondent. Facts: In this case, respondent ATTY. NICANOR V. VILLAROSA is a practicing lawyer and a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Lumot A. Jalandoni who is the Chairman/President of Penta Resorts Corporation (PRC) and owns the biggest shares of stocks in the corporation, was sued which involved the possession of land where Alhambra hotel, the only property owned by PRC, is situated. This is Civil Case No. 97-9865. The latter engaged the legal services of herein respondent. Respondent as a consequence of said Attorney-Client relationship represented Lumot A. Jalandoni et al in the entire proceedings of said case. Utmost trust and confidence was reposed on said counsel, hence delicate and confidential matters involving all the personal circumstances of his client were entrusted to the respondent. Later on, respondent, without due notice prior to a scheduled hearing, surprisingly filed a Motion to withdraw as counsel, one day before its scheduled hearing. A careful perusal of said Motion to Withdraw as Counsel will conclusively show that no copy thereof was furnished to Lumot A. Jalandoni, neither does it bear her conformity The grounds alleged by respondent for his withdrawal as counsel of Lumot A. Jalandoni, et al. was that he is a retained counsel of Dennis G. Jalbuena. This is an estafa case filed by the representatives of PRC itself against spouses Dennis and Carmen Jalbuena It is worthy to note that from the outset, respondent already knew that Dennis G. Jalbuena is the son-in-law of Lumot A. Jalandoni being married to her eldest daughter, Carmen J. Jalbuena. Petitioners alleged that as an offshoot of representing conflicting interests, breach of attorney-client confidentiality and deliberate withholding of records were committed by respondent. To effectively unravel the alleged conflict of interest, we must look into the cases involved. Petitioners alleged that as an offshoot of representing conflicting interests, breach of attorney-client confidentiality was committed by respondent.

Issues: 1. Whether there existed a conflict of interest in the cases represented and handled by respondent, and 2. Whether respondent properly withdrew his services as counsel of record of Jalandoni. Held: Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR) highlights the need for candor, fairness and loyalty in all the dealings of lawyers with their clients. Rule 15.03 of the CPR aptly provides: 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. It is only upon strict compliance with the condition of full disclosure of facts that a lawyer may appear against his client; otherwise, his representation of conflicting interests is reprehensible.

Conflict of interest may be determined in this manner: There is representation of conflicting interests if the acceptance of the new retainer will require the attorney to do anything which will injuriously affect his first client in any matter in which he represents him and also whether he will be called upon in his new relation, to use against his first client any knowledge acquired through their connection. The rule on conflict of interests covers not only cases in which confidential communications have been confided but also those in which no confidence has been bestowed or will be used. Another test of the inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney from the full discharge of his duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance thereof, and also whether he will be called upon in his new relation to use against his first client any knowledge acquire in the previous employment. The first part of the rule refers to cases in which the opposing parties are present clients either in the same action or in a totally unrelated case; the second part pertains to those in which the adverse party against whom the attorney appears is his former client in a matter which is related, directly or indirectly, to the present controversy. The rule prohibits a lawyer from representing new clients whose interests oppose those of a former client in any manner, whether or not they are parties in the same action or in totally unrelated cases. The cases here directly or indirectly involved the parties connection to PRC, even if neither PRC nor Lumot A. Jalandoni was specifically named as party-litigant in some of the cases mentioned. An attorney owes to his client undivided allegiance. After being retained and receiving the confidences of the client, he cannot, without the free and intelligent consent of his client, act both for his client and for one whose interest is adverse to, or conflicting with that of his client in the same general matter The prohibition stands even if the adverse interest is very slight; neither is it material that the intention and motive of the attorney may have been honest. The representation by a lawyer of conflicting interests, in the absence of the written consent of all parties concerned after a full disclosure of the facts, constitutes professional misconduct which subjects the lawyer to disciplinary action. Even respondents alleged effort to settle the existing controversy among the family members was improper because the written consent of all concerned was still required. A lawyer who acts as such in settling a dispute cannot represent any of the parties to it. The next bone of contention was the propriety of respondents withdrawal as counsel for Lumot A. Jalandoni. In his comment, respondent stated that it was he who was not notified of the hiring of Atty. Alminaza as the new counsel in that case and that he withdrew from the case with the knowledge of Lumot A. Jalandoni and with leave of court. The rule on termination of attorney-client relations may be summarized as follows: The relation of attorney and client may be terminated by the client, by the lawyer or by the court, or by reason of circumstances beyond the control of the client or the lawyer. The termination of the attorneyclient relationship entails certain duties on the part of the client and his lawyer.

Accordingly, it has been held that the right of an attorney to withdraw or terminate the relation other than for sufficient cause is considerably restricted. Canon 22 of the CPR reads: Canon 22 A lawyer shall withdraw his services only for good cause and upon notice appropriate in the circumstances. An attorney may only retire from a case either by 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 lawyer is recorded in the case. A lawyer who desires to retire from an action without the written consent of his client must file a petition for withdrawal in court. He must serve a copy of his petition upon his client and the adverse party at least three days before the date set for hearing, otherwise the court may treat the application as a "mere scrap of paper."Respondent made no such move. He admitted that he withdrew as counsel on April 26, 1999, which withdrawal was supposedly approved by the court on April 28, 1999. The conformity of Mrs. Jalandoni was only presumed by Atty. Villarosa because of the appearance of Atty. Alminaza in court, supposedly in his place. A client may discharge his attorney at any time with or without cause and thereafter employ another lawyer who may then enter his appearance. Thus, it has been held that a client is free to change his counsel in a pending case and thereafter retain another lawyer to represent him. That manner of changing a lawyer does not need the consent of the lawyer to be dismissed. Nor does it require approval of the court. The appearance of Atty. Alminaza in fact was not even to substitute for respondent but to act as additional counsel. Mrs. Jalandonis conformity to having an additional lawyer did not necessarily mean conformity to respondents desire to withdraw as counsel. Respondents speculations on the professional relationship of Atty. Alminaza and Mrs. Jalandoni find no support in the records of this case. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent Atty. Nicanor V. Villarosa is hereby found GUILTY of violating Canon 15 and Canon 22 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year, effective upon receipt of this decision, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely.

NICANOR GONZALES and SALUD PANTANOSAS vs. ATTY. MIGUEL SABAJACAN

ISSUE:

Whether or not it is justifiable for Atty. Sabajacan in holding the certificates of title and its refusal to deliver the said titles to the complainant despite a formal letter demand. Sometime in October 1994 complainants were informed by the Register of Deeds of Cagayan de Oro City that the complainants owners duplicate of title covering their lands were entrusted to the office secretary of the respondent who in torn entrusted the same to respondent but when demanded to deliver the said titles to the complainant in formal demand letter refused and continues to refuse without any justification to give their titles and that in spite of repeated demands, requests and pleas towards respondent, respondent still fail and stubbornly refused without justification to surrender the said titles to the rightful owners, the complainants. The Court required commenting on the foregoing complaint; the respondent admitted having met Salud Panatanosas but claims that, to his recollection, Nicanor Gonzales has never been to his office. He further denies complainants allegation that he is arrogant, in contrast to the innocence, simplicity and ignorance of said complainants. The Court finds that respondent admitted having taken possession of the certificate of titles and that all he did was to inform the Court that his obligation to deliver the certificates to Mr. Samto Uy excludes the delivery of said certificates to anyone else. Respondent attached some certificates of title to his answer to support his contention that complainants are notorious characters. However, the certifications indicate that most of the cases stated therein, especially those involving fraud, have been dismissed. Respondent likewise submitted Xerox copies of certain certificates of title in an effort to explain why he kept the certificates of title of complainants that is supposedly for the purpose of subdividing the property. Unfortunately, an examination of the same does not show any connection thereof to respondents claim. In fact, two sets of certificates of title appear to be entirely different from each other.

FACTS:

HELD: As a lawyer, respondent should know that there are lawful remedies provided by law to protect the interests of his client. The records do not show that he or his client has availed of said remedies. Also, he cannot be unaware of the imposable sanction on a counsel who resorts to unlawful means that would cause injustice to the adversaries of his client. The Court accordingly finds that the respondent has not exercises the good faith and diligence required of lawyers in handling the legal affairs of their clients. Apparently, respondent has disregarded Canon 15, Rule 15.07 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall impress upon his client the need for compliance with the laws and principles of fairness. Instead, he unjustly refused to give to complainants their certificates of titles supposedly to enforce payment of their alleged financial obligations to his client presumably to impress the latter of his power to do so. Canon 19, Rule 19.01 ordains that a lawyer shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client and shall not present, participate in presenting, or threaten to present unfounded charges to obtain an improper advantage in any case or proceeding. Respondent has closely skirted this proscription, if he has not in fact transgressed the same. The Court desires and directs that respondent should forthwith return the certificates of title of complainants. To ensure the same, he should be placed under suspension until he presents to the Court that the disputed certificates of title have been returned to and receipt thereof duly acknowledged by complainants, or can present a judicial order or appropriate legal authority justifying the possession by him or his client of said certificates. He is further WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar or any other administrative misconduct will be punished more severely.

IN RE: Paas AM No. 01-12-02-SC ISSUE: Whether or not allegations of Judge Paas and Almarvez to each other is meritorious. FACTS: Judge Paas administratively charges Court/Aide Utility Worker Edgar E. Almarvez that he is discourteous to his co-employees, lawyers and party litigants; has failed to maintain the cleanliness in and around the court premises despite order to do so, habitually absent from work or made it appear that he reported for work by signing the log book in the morning, only to stay out of office the whole day; asked from detention prisoners P100-P200 before he released to them their Release Orders and divulged confidential information to litigants in advance of its authorized release date for a monetary consideration, thus giving undue advantage or favour to the paying party. There were attestations of the members of the court with regard to this alleged complaint same attestation with the Jail Escort Officer that he witnessed Almarvez receive from detention prisoners P100-P200 in consideration of the release of their Release Orders. Almarvez filed an answer denying Judge Paas charges and alleged that the real reason why the latter filed the case against him was because she suspected him of helping her husband; Atty. Renerio G. Paas conceal his marital indiscretions; since she failed to elicit any information from him, she resorted to calling him names and other forms of harassment and insisted him to sign prepared resignation letter, a copy of which he was not able to keep. He further denied ever requesting for money in exchange for the release of court orders and claimed that Judge Paas ordered him to undergo a drug test per Memorandum even if he had no history of drug abuse on a periodic or continuous basis as shown by the test results of his examination. The administrative cases were consolidated and referred for evaluation to the OCA where in a separate case for inhibition Judge Paas husband, private practitioner Atty. Paas, was using his wifes office as his office address in his law practice wherein they vehemently denied the charge that the latter was using Room 203 of the Pasay City Hall of Justice as his address, they claiming that Atty. Paas actually holds office at 410 Natividad Building, Escolta, Manila. On January of 2002 Judge Paas admitted that her husband did use her office as his return address for notices and orders in a Criminal case but only to ensure and facilitate delivery of those notices, but after the cases were terminated, all notices were sent to his office address in Escolta. OCA laid its findings and recommendations that Almarvez be dismissed of its sharges of exacting money and be duly penalized for inefficiency in the performance of his official duties. On charges against Judge Paas, for lack of supporting evidence recommended the dismissal of

the charges of maltreatment, harassment and verbal abuse but instead be found guilty of simple misconduct in office and be penalized with reprimand and warning. HELD: A. On charges against Almarvez The Court finds no sufficient evidence to support the charge of violation of confidentiality of official communication against Almarvez while the charges of neglect of duty is too general to support a conviction and are contrary are to what is reflected in his performance rating that he cooperated willingly. Their claims remains hearsay. On the charge of inefficiency concurs with the findings and recommendations of OCA. The fact that respondent Almarvez never disputed the performance ratings given him is tantamount to an implied acceptance.

B. On charges against Judge Paas Regarding the charges of abuse of authority and oppression against Judge Paas, Almarvez failed to substantiate the same. Judge Paas order to undergo drug test is not an unlawful order. However Judge Paas indeed allowed his husband to ride on her prestige for purpose of advancing his private interest, in violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct. On his part, Atty. Paas was guilty of using fraudulent, misleading and deceptive address that had no purporse other than to try to impress either the court in which his cases are lodged, or his client, that he has close ties to a member of the judiciary. Therefore, violating Canons 3, Rule 3.01, Canon 10, Rule 10.01, Canon 13, Canon 15, Rule 15.06 which states that A lawyer shall not state or imply that he is able to influence any public official, tribunal or legislative body.

Wherefore, Almarvez is pronounced GUILTY of inefficiency and is hereby suspende for 1 month and Judge Paas GUILTY of conduct of unbecoming of a member of the judiciary and hereby REPRIMANDED, with warning that repetition of the same or similar acts shall be dealt with severely, she is further ordered to pay a FINe and that his husband Atty. Renerio Paas GUILTY of SIMPLE MISCONDUCT and hereby SUSPENDED from practice of law for a period of three months with warning.

RIZALINO FERNANDEZ v. ATTY. REYNALDO NOVERO, JR. Mendoza, J:

Facts: Rizalino Fernandez and others filed a disbarment case against Atty. Reynaldo Novero, Jr. for alleged patent and gross neglect in the handling of their civil case against the Bacolod City Water District. The complainant imputed that the respondent did not attend the scheduled hearing nor seek a postponement, for which reason the trial court considered respondent to have waived further presentation of his evidence and directed him to formally offer his exhibits. However, respondent failed to formally offer his exhibits, prompting the trial court to order the dismissal of the case. The respondent filed a motion for reconsideration of the order of dismissal however he did not file his motion within the reglementary period. He even tried to shift the blame on complainant by claiming that the latter insisted on presenting his sister from Manila as their last witness. The truth was that complainants sister had already testified. The respondent submitted his Answer and averred that the complaint filed against him was baseless, purely malicious and speculative considering the fact that it was not made under oath. He contended that complainant engaged his legal services after the first counsel had withdrawn and he had no knowledge of what had happened in the case before he handled it because complainant did not furnish him with the records and stenographic notes of the previous proceedings despite his repeated requests. He alleged that he failed to formally offer the exhibits because complainant tried to take over the handling of the case by insisting on presenting more witnesses who failed to appear during trial. The Office of the Bar Confidant submitted a report finding respondent guilty of violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility and recommending his suspension. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines also submitted a report and recommendation for the suspension of respondent from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months.

Issue: Whether or not respondent is guilty of gross neglect in the handling of the civil case?

Held: The Supreme Court held that a counsel must constantly keep in mind that his actions or omissions, even malfeasance or nonfeasance would be binding on his client. A lawyer owes to the client the exercise of utmost prudence and capability in that representation. The respondents attempt to evade responsibility by shifting the blame on complainant due to the latters failure to turn over to him records and stenographic notes of the case only highlights his incompetence and inadequacy in handling the complainants case. The respondent Atty. Novero is found guilty of neglect of his clients case and is Suspended from the practice of law for one (1) month with Warning that repetition of the same negligent act will be dealt with even more severely.

EDGAR O. PEREA vs. ATTY. RUBEN ALMADRO Austria-Martinez, J:


Facts: Edgar Perea filed a complaint for disbarment against his lawyer Atty. Ruben Aladro for gross neglect of his duties as a lawyer. The respondent was his counsel before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City where he is being charged with the crime of Frustrated Homicide. The RTC issued an order granting Atty. Almadros motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence within ten days from February 26, 1996. Perea thought that his counsel filed the said demurrer and the case against him was dismissed. However, he learned sometime in 1999 that his counsel failed to file any demurrer, thus there was a warrant issued for his arrest and he is not allowed to post bail. The respondent has not attended any of his hearings and such neglect of his responsibilities would result to the loss of freedom and livelihood of his client. Atty. Almadro submitted an Answer to the complaint through the law firm Sua and Alambra, which contended that: two days after the RTC granted the manifestation of defense to file motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence, he had finished the draft of the motion and the accompanying pleading which he stored in a magnetic computer diskette intended for editing prior to its submission in court; a few days before the deadline, he tried to retrieve the draft from the diskette but said drafts were nowhere to be found despite efforts to retrieve them; this led him to believe that the drafts must have been finalized and the edited versions accordingly filed. He became preoccupied with the congressional elections in Biliran where he ran and subsequently lost, then he was offered a position in the Philippine Stock Exchange as head of the Compliance and Surveillance Division which he accepted; his time and attention was spent in the performance of his demanding job which led to the neglect of his duties as counsel. The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation, report and recommendation. The IBP, through Commissioner Renato Cunanan submitted its report and recommendation. They are convinced that Atty. Almadros actuations reveal not only serious neglect or indifference to his duties as a lawyer but more gravely his open disrespect for the court and the authority it represents. The IBP strongly recommend that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for two years and that he be fined ten thousand pesos (PhP10,000.00). They also recommend that Atty. Sua and Alambra be ordered to explain why they should not be held in contempt for deliberately foisting a deliberate falsehood and misrepresentation.

Issue: Whether or not the recommendation of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for the suspension of Atty. Alambra for gross neglect of his duties as a lawyer is meritorious?

Held: The Supreme Court ruled in the affirmative, finding the respondent Atty. Alambra guilty of serious neglect of his duties as a lawyer and of open disrespect for the court and the authority it represents, as embodied in Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 and Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is Suspended from the practice of law for one (1) year and Fined in the amount of Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) pesos, with a Warning that any or similar acts of dishonesty would be dealt with more severely.