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MA. LIBERTAD SJ CANTILLER vs ATTY. HUMBERTO V. POTENCIANO 180 SCRA 246 Dece !

e" 18# 1$8$ PER CURIAM %ACTS& Complainant is the sister of Peregrina who is a defendant in an action for ejectment. Later on Peregrina likewise filed an action for reconveyance with damages. Both actions involved the apartment unit being rented by complainant and her sister. Peregrina came out the losing party in both cases. They were served a notice to vacate. The sisters consulted Sheriff Pagalunan and the latter introduced them to respondent. The parties impliedly agreed that respondent would handle their case. ccording to complainant! they were made to sign a "hastily prepares! poorly conceived and haph#ardly composed petition for annulment of judgement. $espondent promised for the necessary restraining order because the judge was his " katsukaran" %close friend&. $espondent demanded '((( for attorney)s fees. *hen the case was raffled! presiding judge asked respondent to withdraw on ground of their friendship. $espondent asked for +((( from complainant to be given to another judge who will issue the restraining order. Sister were only able to raise '(((. $espondent could not find the judge so they went to ,a-)s instead. $espondent ordered + plastic bags of food! allegedly for the judge! and demanded the other '((( from the sisters. They only had a .'( bill. $espondent informed complainant that they needed to file another case of "Specific performance! nnulment of simulated or spurious sale with damages" to retain possession and that they needed to prepare '(!((( to be deposited with the Treasurer)s /ffice of Pasig. nother '((( was asked from them to cover the e-penses of the suit. The complaint was filed. t the hearing for preliminary injunction! respondent withdrew his appearance as counsel. Complainant was not able to secure another lawyer. 0o preliminary injunction was obtained. The complainant later came to know that the '(!((( deposit was not needed and despite the demands of complainant for respondent to return the amount! the money was never returned. ISSUE& *hether or not the lawyer acted with propriety. HELD&

N'. The court agrees that the petitions filed by respondent were poorly prepared and written. The little time involved is no e-cuse. Complainant reposed full faith in him. 1is first duty was to file the best pleading within his capability. *hen a lawyer takes a client)s cause! he thereby covenants that he will e-ert all effort for its prosecution until its final conclusion. The failure to e-ercise due diligence or the abandonment of a client)s cause makes such lawyer unworthy of the trust which the client had reposed on him. The acts of respondent in this case violate the most elementary principles of professional ethics . ( The Court finds that respondent failed to e-ercise due diligence in protecting his client)s interests. $espondent had knowledge beforehand that he would be asked by the presiding judge in Civil Case 0o. 22''3 to withdraw his appearance as counsel by reason of their friendship. 4espite such prior knowledge! respondent took no steps to find a replacement nor did he inform complainant of this fact. 5ven assuming that respondent had no previous knowledge that he would be asked to withdraw! the record is 6uite clear that four %7& days prior to the hearing of the preliminary injunction in Civil Case 0o. 22''3 respondent already filed a motion therein withdrawing as complainant)s counsel interposing as reason therefor his fre6uent attacks of pain due to hemorrhoids. 4espite this void! respondent failed to find a replacement. 1e did not even ask complainant to hire another lawyer in his stead. 8 1is actuation is definitely inconsistent with his duty to protect with utmost dedication the interest of his client and of the fidelity! trust and confidence which he owes his client. $ ,ore so in this case! where by reason of his gross negligence complainant thereby suffered by losing all her cases 1is actions reveal his lack of good faith as an advocate. 8t was all a show to get more money from complainant. *hen confronted with this evident irregularity! he lamely stated that while he did not physically appear for complainant he nevertheless prepared and drafted the pleadings. The allegation of respondent that the ten thousand pesos %P '(!(((.((& was given to him as fee for his services! is simply incredible. 8ndeed! such amount is grossly disproportionate with the service he actually rendered. 11 nd his failure to return even a portion of the amount upon demand of complainant all the more bolsters the protestation of complainant that respondent does not deserve to remain as an officer of the court. Lawyers are indispensable part of the whole system of administering justice in this jurisdiction. t a time when strong and disturbing criticisms are being hurled at the legal profession! strict compliance with one)s oath of office and the canons of professional ethics is an imperative.

Lawyers should be fair! honest! respectable! above suspicion and beyond reproach in dealing with their clients. The profession is not synonymous with an ordinary business proposition. 8t is a matter of public interest. SUSPENDED INDE%INITELY.