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ANNEX 1

Cases on Canons 19 22 of
the Code of Professional
Responsibility
Problem Areas in Legal Ethics
Concepcion | Domingo | Martinez | Tagumpay | You
May 18, 2015

The digests compiled are Supreme Court decided cases related to Canons 19, 20, 21, and 22 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility, submitted as part of the written report for Problem Areas in Legal Ethics.

Atty. George C. Briones vs. Atty. Jacinto D. Jimenez


A.C. No. 6691, April 27, 2007

FACTS:
Atty. George C. Briones is the Special Administrator of the Estate of Luz J. Henson while Atty. Jacinto D.
Jimenez is the counsel for the Heirs of Henson. After the probate proceedings, the RTC issued an Order
directing Jimenez to deliver the residue of the estate to the Heirs in proportion to their shares. Briones
refused to deliver the estate. Consequently, Jimenez and the Heirs filed a criminal complaint and
executed an affidavit against Briones for resisting and seriously disobeying the RTC Order. Briones filed
an administrative complaint against Jimenez for forum shopping and violation of Canons 19 and 12
of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Respondent claims that he acted in good faith and in fact, did
not violate Rule 19.01 because he assisted the Heirs in filing the criminal complaint against herein
complainant after the latter ignored the demand letters sent to him; and that a lawyer owes his client
the exercise of utmost prudence and capability.
ISSUE:
Whether Jacinto violated Rule 19.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
HELD:
Respondent is found guilty of and REPRIMANDED for violation of Rule 19.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.
RATIO:
There is sufficient ground in support of complainants claim that respondent violated Rule 19.01 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility. Respondent claims that he acted in good faith and did not violate
Rule 19.01 because he assisted the Heirs in filing the criminal complaint against herein complainant after
the latter ignored the demand letters sent to him; and that a lawyer owes his client the exercise of
utmost prudence and capability. The Court, however, is not convinced. Fair play demands that
respondent should have filed the proper motion with the RTC to attain his goal of having the residue of
the estate delivered to his clients and not subject complainant to a premature criminal prosecution. The
filing of the criminal complaint was evidently premature.
Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility enjoins a lawyer to represent his client with zeal.
However, the same Canon provides that a lawyers performance of his duties towards his client must
be within the bounds of the law. Rule 19.01 of the same Canon requires, among others, that a lawyer
shall employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client. Canon 15, Rule
15.07 also obliges lawyers to impress upon their clients compliance with the laws and the principle of
fairness. To permit lawyers to resort to unscrupulous practices for the protection of the supposed rights
of their clients is to defeat one of the purposes of the state the administration of justice. While lawyers
owe their entire devotion to the interest of their clients and zeal in the defense of their clients right,
they should not forget that they are, first and foremost, officers of the court, bound to exert every effort
to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice.

Canon 19

Valeriana U. Dalisay vs. Atty. Melanio Mauricio


A.C. No. 5655, January 23, 2006

FACTS:
The case is a motion for reconsideration of a Decision finding Atty. Melanio "Batas" Mauricio, Jr.,
respondent, guilty of malpractice and gross misconduct and imposing upon him the penalty of
suspension from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months. Valeriana U. Dalisay, complainant,
engaged respondents services as counsel a civil case. Notwithstanding his receipt of documents and
attorneys fees in the total amount of P56,000.00, respondent never rendered legal services for
complainant. As a result, she terminated the attorney-client relationship and demanded the return of
her money and documents, but respondent refused.
Upon learning of our Decision, respondent went to the MTC to verify the status of the civil case. There,
he learned that the tax declarations and title submitted by complainant are not official records of the
Municipal Assessor and the Registry of Deed. Thereupon, respondent filed a complaint against
complainant, charging her with falsification (tampered evidence). Complainant contends that
respondent violated the principle of confidentiality between a lawyer and his client when he filed
falsification charges against her.
ISSUE:
Whether Mauricio violated the Code of Professional Responsibility
HELD:
The motion for reconsideration is denied.
RATIO:
As a lawyer, respondent is expected to know this Rule. Instead of inaction, he should have confronted
complainant and ask her to rectify her fraudulent representation. If complainant refuses, then he should
terminate his relationship with her.
There is also no truth to his claim that he did not render legal service to complainant because she
falsified the documentary evidence in Civil Case No.00-044. Pleadings show that he learned of the
alleged falsification long after complainant had terminated their attorney-client relationship. It was a
result of his active search for a justification of his negligence in Civil Case No. 00-044. As a matter of fact,
he admitted that he verified the authenticity of complainants title only after the "news of his
suspension spread in the legal community." To our mind, there is absurdity in invoking subsequent
knowledge of a fact as justification for an act or omission that is fait accompli.

Canon 19

Luzviminda Lijauco vs. Atty. Rogelio Terrado


A.C. No. 6317, August 31, 2006

FACTS:
On February 13, 2004, an administrative complaint was filed by complainant Luzviminda C. Lijauco
against respondent Atty. Rogelio P. Terrado for gross misconduct, malpractice and conduct unbecoming
of an officer of the court when he neglected a legal matter entrusted to him despite receipt of payment
representing attorneys fees.
According to the complainant, she engaged the services of respondent sometime in January 2001 for
P70,000.00 to assist in recovering her deposit with Planters Development Bank, Buendia, Makati branch
in the amount of P180,000.00 and the release of her foreclosed house and lot located in Calamba,
Laguna. The property identified as Lot No. 408-C-2 and registered as TCT No. T-402119 in the name of
said bank is the subject of a petition for the issuance of a writ of possession then pending before the
Regional Trial Court of Binan, Laguna, Branch 24 docketed as LRC Case No. B-2610.
Complainant alleged that respondent failed to appear before the trial court in the hearing for the
issuance of the Writ of Possession and did not protect her interests in the Compromise Agreement
which she subsequently entered into to end LRC Case No. B-2610.
Respondent denied the accusations against him. He averred that the P70,000.00 he received from
complainant was payment for legal services for the recovery of the deposit with Planters Development
Bank and did not include LRC Case No. B-2610 pending before the Regional Trial Court of Bian, Laguna.
ISSUE:
Whether Atty. Terrado violated the Code of Professional Responsibility
HELD:
Atty. Rogelio P. Terrado is found GUILTY of violating Rules 1.01, 9.02, 18.02 and 20.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. He is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for 6 months effective from
notice, and STERNLY WARNED that any similar infraction will be dealt with more severely. He is further
ordered to RETURN, within 30 days from notice, the sum of P70,000.00 to complainant Luzviminda C.
Lijauco and to submit to this Court proof of his compliance within 3 days therefrom.
RATIO:
By openly admitting he divided the Php70,000.00 to other individuals as commission/referral fees
respondent violated Rule 9.02, Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that a
lawyer shall not divide or stipulate to divide a fee for legal services with persons not licensed to practice
law. Worse, by luring complainant to participate in a compromise agreement with a false and misleading
assurance that complainant can still recover after Three (3) years her foreclosed property respondent
violated Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which says a lawyer shall not
engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

Canon 19

Rural Bank of Calape, Inc. (RCBI) vs. Atty. Benedict Florido


A.C. No. 5371, June 18, 2010

FACTS:
This is a complaint for disbarment filed by the members of the Board of Directors of the Rural Bank of
Calape, Inc. (RBCI) Bohol against Atty. James Benedict Florido, herein respondent.
RBCI alleged that respondent violated his oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility. According to
RBCI, respondent and his clients, Dr. Domeciano Nazareno, Dr. Remedios Relampagos, Dr. Manuel
Relampagos, and Felix Rengel, through force and intimidation, with the use of armed men, forcibly took
over the management and the premises of RBCI. They also forcibly evicted Cirilo A. Garay, the bank
manager, destroyed the banks vault, and installed their own staff to run the bank.
In his comment, respondent denied RBCIs allegation and explained that he acted in accordance with the
authority granted upon him by the Nazareno-Relampagos group, the lawfully and validly elected Board
of Directors of RBCI. Respondent said he was merely effecting a lawful and valid change of management.
Respondent alleged that a termination notice was sent to Garay but he refused to comply and to ensure
a smooth transition of managerial operations, respondent and the Nazareno-Relampagos group went to
the bank to ask Garay to step down. However, Garay reacted violently and grappled with the security
guards long firearm. Respondent then directed the security guards to prevent entry into the bank
premises of individuals who had no transaction with the bank and also, through the orders of the
Nazareno-Relampagos group, also changed the locks of the banks vault.
ISSUE:
Whether Atty. Floridos act is a ground for violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility
HELD:
Atty. James Benedict Florido is GUILTY of violating Canon 19 and Rules 1.02 and 15.07 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. He is accordingly suspended from the practice of law for one year effective
upon finality of the Decision.
RATIO:
Canon 19 of the Code provides that a lawyer shall represent his client with zeal within the bounds of the
law. Lawyers are indispensable instruments of justice and peace. Upon taking their professional oath,
they become guardians of truth and the rule of law. Verily, a lawyers duty is not to his client but to the
administration of justice. Thus, their duty to protect their clients interests is secondary to their
obligation to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice. While they are obliged to
present every available legal remedy or defense, their fidelity to their clients must always be made
within the parameters of law and ethics, never at the expense of truth, the law, and the fair
administration of justice.

Canon 19

Alex B. Cueto vs. Atty. Jose B. Jimenez, Jr.


A.C. No. 5798, January 20, 2005

FACTS:
Engineer Alex Cueto, for P5,000,000.00, was contracted to build a building for Jose Jimenez III. Cueto
decided to have the contract be notarized and he chose Atty. Jose Jimenez, Jr., father of Jimenez III, to
notarize said contract. Before the notarization, Cueto did not ask how much will Atty. Jimenez be
charging. So he was surprise when after the notarization, he was being asked to pay P50,000.00. He paid
the P30,000.00 and he issued a check worth P20,000.00 to Atty. Jimenez.
Later, Cueto advised Atty. Jimenez not to encash the check yet because he has insufficient funds.
Notwithstanding, Atty. Jimenez still tried to encash the check hence it was dishonored. Atty. Jimenez
then filed a criminal suit against Cueto.
ISSUE:
Whether Jimenez violated Canon 20 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
HELD:
Atty. Jose Jimenez, Jr. is SEVERELY REPRIMANDED for violating Canon 20, Rule 20.4 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.
RATIO:
Rule 20.4 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that A lawyer shall avoid controversies with
clients concerning his compensation and shall resort to judicial action only to prevent imposition,
injustice or fraud. There was no imposition, injustice or fraud in the present case to justify Atty.
Jimenezs complaint against Cueto. According to records, Cueto has already paid more than half of the
amount of the respondents fee. Cueto already informed Atty. Jimenez that there is an insufficiency of
funds because the latters son has failed to pay him the obligation stated in the Construction
Agreement. Respondent should have been more tolerant of the delay incurred by Cueto.

Canon 20

Romeo G. Roxas et al. vs. Antonio De Zuzuarregui Jr. et al


G.R. No. 152072, January 31, 2006

FACTS:
The National Housing Authority (NHA) filed expropriation proceedings against the Zuzuarreguis for
parcels of land belonging to them situated in Antipolo, Rizal. The Zuzuarreguis engaged the legal services
of Attys. Romeo G. Roxas and Santiago N. Pastor. They executed a Letter-Agreement which indicated
that the contingent fees that the lawyers will receive at P11 or more per square meter is thirty percent
of the just compensation.
Another Letter-Agreement was executed by and between the Zuzuarreguis and Attys. Roxas and Pastor
which fixed the just compensation due the Zuzuarreguis at P17, and anything in excess of that shall be
the contingent fees of Attys. Roxas and Pastor for their legal services. Resolution No. 1174, issued by the
NHA, stated that the property would be acquired at a cost of P19.50 per square meter and that it will be
paid in NHA Bonds which the yield would be based on the Central Bank rate at the time of the payment.
As a result of the Resolution, a Compromise Agreement was executed and it was approved by the Court.
A letter was sent by the Zuzuarreguis new counsel to Attys. Roxas and Pastor demanding that the latter
deliver to the Zuzuarreguis the yield corresponding to bonds paid by the NHA within a period of 10 days
from receipt. Attys. Roxas and Pastor answered stating that the amount that they go seems huge from
the surface but it just actually passed their hands. A letter was again sent to Attys. Roxas and Pastor
formally terminating their services. The Zuzuarreguis then filed a civil action for Sum of Money and
Damages, they demanded that the yield on the NHA bonds be turned over to them.
ISSUE:
Whether the contingent fees are reasonable
HELD:
Attys. Romeo G. Roxas and Santiago N. Pastor are ordered to return to the Zuzuarreguis the amount of
P17,073,224.84.
RATIO:
The contingent fees were not reasonable. Under the contract in question, Atty. Roxas and Pastor are to
receive contigent fees for their professional services. Rule 20.01 states that a lawyer shall be guided by
the following factors in determining his fees:
a) The time spent and the extent of the services rendered or required;
b) The novelty and difficulty of the questions involved;
c) The importance of the subject matter;
d) The skill demanded;
e) The probability of losing other employment as a result of acceptance of the proffered case;
f) The customary charges for similar services and the schedule of fees of the IBP chapter to which he
belongs;
g) The amount involved in the controversy and the benefits resulting to the client form the service;
h) The contingency or certainty of compensation;
i) The character of the employment, whether occasional or established; and
j) The professional standing of the lawyer.

Canon 20

Valentina C. Miranda vs. Atty. Macario D. Carpio


A.C. No. 6281, September 21, 2011

FACTS:
Complainant Valentin C. Miranda is one of the owners of a parcel of land consisting of 1,890 square
meters located at Barangay Lupang Uno, Las Pinas. In 1994, complainant initiated Land Registration
Commission (LRC) Case No. M-226 for the registration of the aforesaid property. Miranda engaged the
services of respondent Atty. Macario D. Carpio as counsel in the said case when his original counsel,
Atty. Samuel Marquez, figured in a vehicular accident. Complainant and respondent agreed that
complainant was to pay respondent Twenty Thousand Pesos (PhP20,000.00) as acceptance fee and Two
Thousand Pesos (PhP2,000.00) as appearance fee. Respondent demanded the additional amount of Ten
Thousand Pesos (PhP10,000.00) for the preparation of a memorandum, which he said would further
strengthen complainant's position in the case, plus twenty percent (20%) of the total area of the subject
property as additional fees for his services. However complainant did not accede to respondent's
demand for it was contrary to their agreement. Respondent insisted that complainant first pay him the
P10,000.00 and the 20% share in the property equivalent to 378 square meters, in exchange for which,
respondent would deliver the owner's duplicate of the Original Certificate of Title (OCT).
ISSUE:
Whether Atty. Macario violated Canon 20 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
HELD:
Atty. Macario D. Carpio is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of 6 months, effective upon
receipt of the Decision. He is ordered to RETURN to the complainant the owner's duplicate of OCT No. 094 immediately upon receipt of this decision.
RATIO:
In collecting from complainant excessive fees, respondent violated Canon 20 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, which mandates that a lawyer shall charge only fair and reasonable fees. It is highly
improper for a lawyer to impose additional professional fees upon his client which were never
mentioned nor agreed upon at the time of the engagement of his services.

Canon 20

Spouses Manuel G. Rafols, Jr. & Lolita B. Rafols vs. Atty. Ricardo Barrios, Jr.
A.C. 4973, March 15, 2006

FACTS:
The complainants were the plaintiffs in a civil case before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in General
Santos City, where they sought the cancellation of a Deed of Sale. The case was assigned to Judge Dizon,
Jr. The complainants were represented by the respondent, paying to him P15,000.00 as acceptance fee.
On December 22, 1997, the respondent visited the complainants at their residence and informed
complainant Manuel that the judge handling their case wanted to talk to him. The respondent and
Manuel thus went to the East Royal Hotel's coffee shop where Judge Dizon, Jr. was already waiting. The
respondent introduced Manuel to the judge, who informed Manuel that their case was pending in his
sala. The judge likewise said that he would resolve the case in their favor, assuring their success up to
the Court of Appeals, if they could deliver P150,000.00 to him.
ISSUE:
Whether respondent Atty. Ricardo Barrios, Jr. is guilty of misconduct
HELD:
Atty. Ricardo Barrios, Jr. is disbarred.
RATIO:
Atty. Ricardo Barrios, Jr. is guilty of misconduct. Respondent's act of introducing the complainants to the
judge strongly implied that the respondent was aware of the illegal purpose of the judge in wanting to
talk with the respondent's clients. Thus, the court unqualifiedly accepted the aptness of the following
evaluation made in the Office of the Bar Confidant's Report and Recommendation. Being the Officer of
the Court, he must have known that meeting litigants outside the court is something beyond the bounds
of the rule and that it can never be justified by any reason.

Canon 20

Ligaya Maniago vs. Atty. Lourdes I. De Dios


A.C. No. 7472, March 20, 2010

FACTS:
Complainant seeks for a disbarment case against respondent, Atty. Lourdes de Dios, for engaging in the
practice of law despite having been suspended by the Court. The petitioner alleged that she filed a
criminal case against a certain Hiroshi Miyata, which was then represented by the respondent.
Petitioner then discovered from an RTC staff that the respondent had an outstanding suspension order
from the Supreme Court since 2001.
In her response, respondent explained that though it is true that an administrative case was indeed filed
against her where she meted a penalty of six months suspension. However, she already served such
suspension immediately after the receipt of the Courts resolution on May November 2001; that she
formally informed the Court that she was resuming he practice of law, which she actually did.
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), after evaluation, recommended the lifting of the order of
suspension, allowing the respondent to resume from her practice of law, even despite the fact of
neglecting to submit the required certifications that respondent has already served her desistance.
ISSUE:
Whether the respondents resumption to the practice of law is valid despite her failure to submit
required certifications and passing through OBC for evaluation
HELD:
The respondents resumption to the practice of law is valid.
RATIO:
The Supreme Court resolved the foregoing case based from the following guidelines:
1) After a finding that respondent lawyer must be suspended from the practice of law, the Court shall
render a decision imposing the penalty;
2) Unless the Court explicitly states that the decision is immediately executory upon receipt thereof,
respondent has 15 days within which to file a motion for reconsideration thereof. The denial of said
motion shall render the decision final and executory;
3) Upon the expiration of the period of suspension, respondent shall file a Sworn Statement with the
Court, through the Office of the Bar Confidant, stating therein that he or she has desisted from the
practice of law and has not appeared in any court during the period of his or her suspension;
4) Copies of the Sworn Statement shall be furnished to the Local Chapter of the IBP and to the
Executive Judge of the courts where respondent has pending cases handled by him or her, and/or
where he or she has appeared as counsel;
5) The Sworn Statement shall be considered as proof of respondents compliance with the order of
suspension; and
6) Any finding or report contrary to the statements made by the lawyer under oath shall be a ground
for the imposition of a more severe punishment, or disbarment, as may be warranted.

Canon 20

Teresita D. Santeco vs. Atty. Luna Avance


A.C. No. 5834, February 22, 2011

FACTS:
In an en banc Decision dated December 11, 2003, the Court found respondent guilty of gross
misconduct for, among others, abandoning her clients cause in bad faith and persistent refusal to
comply with lawful orders directed at her without any explanation for doing so. She was ordered
suspended from the practice of law for a period of five years.
Subsequently, while respondents five-year suspension from the practice of law was still in effect, Judge
Consuelo Amog-Bocar, Presiding Judge of the RTC of Iba, Zambales, Branch 71,sent a letter-report dated
November 12, 2007 to the Court Administrator informing the latter that respondent had appeared and
actively participated in three cases wherein she misrepresented herself as Atty. Liezl Tanglao. When
opposing counsels confronted her and showed to the court a certification regarding her suspension,
respondent admitted and conceded that she is Atty. Luna B. Avance, but qualified that she was only
suspended for three years and that her suspension has already been lifted.
Acting on Judge Amog-Bocars letter-report, the Court, in a Resolution dated April 9, 2008, required
respondent to comment within ten days from notice. Respondent, however, failed to file the required
comment. On June 10, 2009, the Court reiterated the directive to comment. Still, respondent failed to
comply despite notice. Accordingly, this Court issued a Resolution on September 29, 2009 finding
respondent guilty of indirect contempt. Respondent was ordered to pay a fine in the amount of Php
30,000.00 which respondent failed to pay.
ISSUE:
Whether Atty. Luna Avance should be disbarred
HELD:
Respondent ATTY. LUNA B. AVANCE is DISBARRED for gross misconduct and willful disobedience of
lawful orders of a superior court. Her name is ORDERED STRICKEN OFF from the Roll of Attorneys.
RATIO:
Respondents cavalier attitude in repeatedly ignoring orders of the Supreme Court constitute disrespect
to the judicial institution. Respondents conduct indicates a high degree or irresponsibility. A Courts
Resolution is not to be construed as a mere request, nor should it be complied with partially,
inadequately, or selectively. Respondents obstinate refusal to comply with the Courts orders not only
betrays recalcitrant flaw in her character; it also underscores her disrespect of the Courts lawful orders
which is only too deserving of reproof.

Canon 20

Florence Teves Macarubbo vs. Atty. Edmundo L. Macarubbo


A.C. No. 6148, January 22, 2013

FACTS:
For resolution is the petition (for Extarordinary Mercy) filed by respondent Edmundo L. Macarubbo, who
seeks to be reinstated in the Rolls of Attorneys. The court disbarred respondent from the practice of law
for having contracted a bigamous marriage with Florence Tevez complainant and a third marriage with
Josephine Constantino while his first marriage to Helen Esparza was still subsisting.
ISSUE:
Whether respondent should be reinstated for violations of Code of Professional Responsibility
HELD:
Petition is GRANTED. Respondent Edmundo L. Macarubbo is ordered REINSTATED in the Roll of
Attorneys.
RATIO:
The respondent is hereby reinstated to the practice of law. He is, however, reminded that such privilege
is burdened with conditions whereby adherence to the rigid standards of intellect, moral uprightness
and strict compliances with the rules and the law are continuing requirements.

Canon 20

Bun Siong Yao vs. Atty. Eduardo A. Aurelio


A.C. No. 7023, March 30, 2006

FACTS:
Bun Siong Yao is a majority stockholder of Solar Farms & Livelihood Corporation and Solar Textile
Finishing Corporation and, since 1987, he retained the services of another stockholder, Atty. Leonardo
Aurelio, as his personal lawyer and also the brother-in-law of Yaos wife. In 1999, they had a
disagreement. Aurelio then filed cases against Yao and his wife. Yao alleged that the series of suits filed
against him and his wife constitute an abuse of the confidential information which Aurelio obtained by
virtue of his employment as counsel. Aurelio, on the other hand, claimed that he filed those which he
obtained by virtue of his being a stockholder of Solar Textile Finishing Corporation. The investigating
commissioner found that Yao discontinued paying dividends to Aurelio which compelled the latter to file
multiple criminal and civil cases in the exercise of his rights as a stockholder. He recommended that
Aurelio be suspended from practice of law. The IBP approved and adopted the said recommendation.
ISSUE:
Whether Aurelio violated the Code of Professional Responsibility
HELD:
Atty. Leonardo A. Aurelio is ordered SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of SIX (6) MONTHS
effective upon receipt of the Decision.
RATIO:
Atty. Leonardo Aurelio is ordered suspended from the practice of law for a period of six months. He took
advantage of his being a lawyer in order to get back at Yao and in doing so, he has inevitably utilized
information he has obtained from his dealings with Yao and his companies for his own end. It is essential
to note that the relationship between an attorney and his client is a fiduciary one. Canon 17 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and shall be
mindful of the trust and confidence reposed on him. An attorney is not permitted to disclose
communications made to him in his professional character by a client, unless the latter consents. It is to
preserve the confidences and secrets of a client arise at the inception of their relationship. It does not
cease with the termination of the litigation, nor is it affected by the party's ceasing to employ the
attorney and retaining another, or by any other change of relation between them. It even survives the
death of the client.

Canon 21

Ma. Gina Francisco, et al. vs. Atty. Jaime J. Portugal


A.C. No. 6255, March 14, 2006

FACTS:
Before the Court is an affidavit-complaint filed against Atty. Jaime Portugal for violation of the Lawyers
Oath, gross misconduct, and gross negligence. Complainants are related to the policemen in a previous
case in whose behalf respondent filed a Petition for Certoriari. The services of the respondent were
engaged by the policemen who faced murder charges. Respondent filed Motions for Reconsideration
with the Sandiganbayan and was never heard from again. The complainants learned that the Court
denied the petition with finality; warrants of arrest were issued against them. The case load, as well as
the lack of financial consideration, was one of the reasons for the respondents withdrawal as their
counsel. A commission formed by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) found the respondent guilty
and recommended suspension for six months.
ISSUE:
Whether the respondents refusal to aid the indigent policemen is justified
HELD:
Respondent is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) months.
RATIO:
Respondent has a higher duty to be circumspect in defending the accused for their life and liberty is on
the line. It is the strict sense of fidelity of a lawyer to his client that distinguishes him from any other
profession in society. As to the respondents conduct in dealing with complainants, he definitely fell
short of the high standard of assiduousness that a counsel must perform to safeguard the rights of his
clients. Respondent had not been candid in his dealings with the complainants; the prudent step was at
least to inform the clients of the adverse situation since they called him to check the status of the case.
Had respondent truly intended to withdraw his appearance for the accused, he is lawyer who is
presumably steeped in court procedures and practices, should have filed the notice of withdrawal
himself. At the very least, he should have informed the Court through a proper notice that he had
already given instructions on the proper way to file the Notice of Withdrawal. In not so doing, he was
negligent in handling the case of the accused. While the client has absolute right to terminate the
attorney-client relation at any time; the right of an attorney to withdraw the relationship is 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 consent.
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 reposed in him. After agreeing to take up the cause of the client, a lawyer
owes fidelity to his 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 the duty of public service, not
money, is the primary consideration.

Canon 22